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World Travel Guide > Guides > South America > Falkland Islands

Falkland Islands travel guide

About Falkland Islands

Nineteenth-century shipwrecks and a plethora of marine life are among the attractions awaiting visitors to the Falkland Islands. Although these islands are perhaps best known as the battleground of the eponymous 1982 war between Britain and Argentina, but this archipelago in the Atlantic is an intriguing and relaxing holiday destination.

Situated nearly 500km from Patagonia, the Falklands – or Islas Maldivas, depending on who you talk to – are a frequent stopping point on Antarctic voyages, and with such an abundance of rare animal life, it's not hard to see why. There are two main islands, East and West Falkland, as well as several hundred islets. Wildlife lovers will find strewn among them five different species of penguins (including macaroni, king, Magellanic, gentoo, and rockhopper), as well whales, and sea birds. Head to Volunteer Point for the islands' largest group of king penguins, while there are a predictably vast amount of sea lions to be found on Sea Lion Island.

Reminders of the 1982 conflict do remain, with battlefields, such as Goose Green and Pebble Island, now tourist attractions. Also claimed by Spain, France and Argentina over the years, the Falklands have been British Overseas Territory since 1833. Argentina famously still contests this status and there have been recent political ramblings on the matter by that country's government. However, a recent referendum found that an overwhelming majority of the 3,000 or so islanders want to remain under British rule.

Most of the Falkland Islands' population live in the capital Stanley, over whose harbour much avian life can be seen circling above the waves. More than a thousand members of the British military live at the Mount Pleasant Base. There's a rural feel to the islands, with hamlets and sheep abounding, while you'll find no traffic lights on the Falklands' country roads. There are more than a dozen endemic plants, including Felton's flower, thought to be extinct in the wild until recently, which gives off a whiff of caramel. Also, look out for the ubiquitous snakeplant.

Key facts

Area:

12,173 sq km (4,700 sq miles).

Population:

2,912 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density:

0.2 per sq km.

Capital:

Stanley.

Government:

British Overseas Territory, which is not recognised by Argentina, as it considers the Falkland Islands to be part of Argentina.

Head of state:

Queen Elizabeth II since 1952, represented locally by Governor Nigel Phillips since 2017.

Head of government:

Chief Executive Barry Rowland since 2016.

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Falkland Islands on the TravelHealthPro website

See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Entry and borders

See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Falkland Islands.

Returning to the UK

When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK. You are normally required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test to your airline before being allowed to board. However, you do not need to take a test if you began your journey to the UK from the Falkland Islands because travellers starting their journey from there are currently exempt.

Be prepared for your plans to change

No travel is risk-free during COVID. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.

Plan ahead and make sure you:

  • can access money
  • understand what your insurance will cover
  • can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned

Healthcare in Falkland Islands

View Health for further details on healthcare in Falkland Islands.

COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Falkland Islands

The UK Government has been supplying vaccines to the people of the UK’s Overseas Territories. The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is the UK authority responsible for assessing the safety, quality and efficacy of vaccines. MHRA has temporarily authorised under Regulation 174 of Human Medicines Regulations 2012, the Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine for supply in the UK, Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories for use in the Falkland Islands. Further information on the vaccine programme in the Falkland Islands can be found at https://www.fig.gov.fk/covid-19/vaccinations.

Finance

For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Further Information

If you’re a British nationals who is stranded in the Falkland Islands and unable to return to the UK, contact Government House at the following email address: ghouse@sec.gov.fk

Weather

The weather can change rapidly and it is often possible to experience several seasons in a single day. The sun can be very strong, wear good sunglasses, a hat and high-factor sunscreen.

Air travel

If you arrive into the Falkland Islands by air you are expected to self-isolate for a period of 14 days. This can be reduced to 8 days using the test to release option outlined in the Quarantine Requirements section. You should call the hospital on 28000 for advice if you need medical help.

You can fly between the Islands with the Falkland Islands Government Air Service (FIGAS) who operate four Britten Norman ‘Islander’ aircraft from Stanley airport; book directly through FIGAS or with a local tour operator. Check that your flight has been confirmed the afternoon before you are due to fly. In bad weather, check your flight is going ahead before you travel to the airport.

LATAM normally operates two once weekly services to Mount Pleasant Airport, from Chile and Brazil. Neither of these routes are currently in operation. Check with LATAM in advance for up to date information on air services.

The RAF operates a fare-paying service from RAF Brize Norton to Mount Pleasant Airport twice weekly. Due to necessary repairs required to the Ascension Island runway, the Ministry of Defence has temporarily re-routed the flight (known as the South Atlantic Airbridge) via an alternative location.

This service can be subject to delays due to poor weather, especially during the southern hemisphere winter. Total journey time is approximately 22 hours. For further information and how to book this service visit the Falkland Islands Tourist Board website or contact the Falkland Islands Government Office.

Carry some US dollars in case the flight is diverted to South America or North Africa.

Other charter aircraft from the UK occasionally operate a route to the Falkland Islands depending on demand.

The Falkland Islands tourist board can advise further.

Sea Travel

Cruise vessels will be allowed to call into the Falkland Islands if:

  • Everyone on board has been on board for a minimum of 14 days
  • No-one on board is suffering from symptoms which makes them a “suspect case” for Covid-19.

The Falkland Island Government consider symptoms of a “suspect case” to include a fever and a cough, and a shortness of breath, if there is no other explanation for those symptoms.

Cruise vessels will be allowed to disembark passengers only to allow passengers to return home. Arrangements for this will be agreed between the cruise operator and the Falkland Islands Government, for example by direct charter flight.

Road travel

Four wheel drive vehicles are most commonly used. Roads in Stanley are surfaced, as is some of the 35-mile Mount Pleasant Airport to Stanley road. There are around 600 miles of unsurfaced roads on the Islands. Coach, local bus and taxi services to and from Mount Pleasant Airport are available and can be booked in advance. Taxis are available in Stanley. Speed limits are 25mph in the Stanley area and 40mph on other roads.

Because of the condition of most roads, and the strong winds, you should take great care when driving outside Stanley, especially on the road between Mount Pleasant Airport and Stanley. Deaths have occurred on this road and accidents are commonplace. Self-drive four-by-four vehicles are available for hire and a UK driving licence is sufficient. Laws on the wearing of seat belts and drink driving are strictly enforced.

Mines

Mines and unexploded ordnance from the 1982 conflict remains on the Falkland Islands and occasionally can be found on any of the major battle fields. All mine fields have been identified, are well mapped and fenced-off. The fences are hung with red warning triangles stating ‘mines’. It is an offence, punishable by imprisonment or large fine, to enter these areas, remove, damage or obscure the signs, or cut or remove any part of the fence.

If you come across anything you think may be ordinance, please follow the below guidance from the Royal Falkland Islands Police:

  • Do NOT touch the item
  • Clearly mark the area where the item is
  • If safe to do so take a picture of the item but do not approach

Call 999 from a safe distance and wait for the police to arrive.

Detailed maps of minefield locations are available locally.

Falkland Islands Government London office

The Falkland Islands Government maintains an office in London that can provide further information for visitors:

Falkland Islands Government Office

Falkland House

14 Broadway

Westminster

LONDON

SW1H OBH

Telephone: 020 7222 2542

Fax: 020 7222 2375

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in the Falkland Islands, attacks can’t be ruled out.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.

There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Customs officers are on duty for all inward international flights. Drug trafficking is a serious offence and will be dealt with severely, normally with a custodial sentence.

Mount Pleasant Airport is a military site and photography is not permitted.

LGBT people are unlikely to encounter difficulties in the Falkland Islands. The Falkland Islands Government legalised same sex marriage in April 2017. This followed a public consultation which found high levels of support for same sex marriage from the Falkland Islands community. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

Entry rules in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Entry to Falkland Islands

Current visitor restrictions mean tourists are not permitted to visit the Falkland Islands, including via cruise vessels. Friends of residents are permitted to visit if sponsored by an Island resident who is present in the Falkland Islands at the time of arrival. These visitors will be subject to the same quarantine requirements as all other visitors.

Quarantine requirements

Any entrants into the Falkland Islands are expected to self-isolate and to be swabbed for Covid-19 on or before day 2 and on day 8 after their arrival in the Islands. If both tests are negative, they will be able to leave quarantine. Quarantine will otherwise last for 14 days. If you develop symptoms after arrival which makes you a suspect case, you should call the hospital on 28000 for advice if you need medical help.

A suspect case is a person with a fever and a cough or shortness of breath, if there is no other explanation for those symptoms.

Regular entry requirements

Residents and other permit holders

On arrival in the Falkland Islands you must have a valid passport.

Visitors

On arrival in the Falkland Islands you must have:

  • a passport valid for the proposed duration of your stay. No additional period of validity beyond this is required.
  • a return air ticket (or other evidence of pre‑paid onward travel)
  • evidence of accommodation with family/friends/hotel/business  
  • sufficient funds to cover your stay in the Islands

British nationals do not need a visa to enter the Falkland Islands, but you may need a visa to transit Chile, Brazil, or Argentina. Visitors are prohibited from taking paid employment without a work permit. Work permits can only be applied for outside of the Falkland Islands.

For further information on entry requirements, check with the Falkland Islands Government Office in London.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from the Falkland Islands.

Departure tax

There is a £26 departure tax on leaving the Islands that is not included on LATAM airline flight tickets.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Falkland Islands on the TravelHealthPro website

See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in Falkland Islands.

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.

General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).

The general standard of healthcare in the Falkland Islands is good. The only hospital is located in Stanley and offers very modern facilities with medical, dental and nursing staff. There is no resident qualified optician. More complex treatments might require medical evacuation.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 999 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Healthcare arrangements for visiting UK residents

Under a reciprocal arrangement with the NHS, all UK residents are entitled to receive the treatment below free while visiting the Falkland Islands. Evidence of UK residency (NHS medical card or passport) will be required.

  • Hospital treatment
  • Other medical treatment
  • Prescribed medicines
  • Ambulance travel

Make sure you have appropriate travel insurance cover for medical air ambulance evacuation.

The Falkland Island pound is fixed at a rate of one pound Sterling. Bank of England coins and notes are accepted in the Islands at full value. However, some travellers have experienced difficulties exchanging Falkland Islands’ notes at their bank on return to the UK. You should therefore limit the amount of Falkland Islands currency you carry on departure.

In Stanley, many of the main shops, hotels and restaurants will accept MasterCard or Visa. A small number of places accept debit cards. Credit and debit cards are not widely accepted outside Stanley. Check when making bookings and bring some cash in pounds Sterling (or US Dollars). There are no ATM cash machines on the Islands, but a cash advance facility is available at the bank using Visa or Mastercard.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCDO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

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