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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:

HM King Charles III since 2022, represented locally by Governor Alison Blake since 2022.

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.

Travelling from and returning to the UK

Check what you must do to travel abroad and return to England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

If you plan to pass through another country to return to the UK, check the travel advice for the country you’re transiting.

Be prepared for your plans to change

No travel is risk-free during COVID-19. 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.

Finance

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

Further Information

If you’re a British national 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

The latest Falkland Islands Government advice for travel to the islands is: https://www.falklands.gov.fk/covid-19/travel/southbound

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 weekly scheduled air services to Mount Pleasant Airport on the Falkland Islands, from Chile and Brazil. Both commercial services were suspended due to COVID-19. The service to Chile recommenced on 2 July 2022. The service linking the Falkland Islands with Brazil remains suspended. 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. This flight has a refuelling stop in Cape Verde, though passengers are not permitted to disembark.

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.

The Falkland Islands Tourist Board can advise further.

Sea Travel

The latest Falkland Islands Government advice is at: https://www.falklands.gov.fk/covid-19/travel/shipping

Road travel

Four wheel drive vehicles are most commonly used. Roads in Stanley are surfaced, as is the majority 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 20mph 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.

Unexploded Ordnance

The Falkland Islands completed its mine clearance programme in late 2020. The result is that the islands were declared mine free, though visitors should be aware that mines and unexploded ordnance from the 1982 conflict can still be found on any of the major battlefields or be washed up on beaches.

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

  • Do NOT touch the item
  • Clearly mark the area where the item is located
  • 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.

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.

This page has information on travelling to the Falkland Islands.

This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in the Falkland Islands set and enforce entry rules. If you’re unsure how Falkland Islands’ entry requirements apply to you, contact its UK embassy, high commission or consulate.

All COVID-19 related restrictions relating to entry into the Falkland Islands were lifted on 4 May 2022. Proof of vaccination or a negative test result is no longer required for entry. However, airlines may request proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative PCR/ Antigen test as a condition for travel. You should check directly with the carrier.

Check your passport and travel documents before you travel

Passport validity

You should ensure that your passport and other travel documents meet entry requirements for the Falkland Islands.

If you are visiting the Falkland Islands, your passport should be valid from the date you arrive and for the proposed duration of your stay. No additional period of validity beyond this is required.

If you are a resident in the Falkland Islands, you must have a valid passport. There are no additional requirements relating to your passport.

Check with your travel provider to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Visas

If you are a visitor and hold a passport from one of the countries in the list on the Falkland Islands Government website, you will need to get a visa.

If you are seeking a work permit, the visa will be included as part of the work permit process.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

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

If you have a health condition, or you are pregnant, you may need specialist healthcare abroad. Check whether your destination country can provide the healthcare you may need and ensure you have appropriate travel insurance for unexpected medical evacuation or local treatment.

See the Coronavirus travel health and Healthcare sections in the Coronavirus page for COVID-19 health information

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:

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

Evidence of UK residency (NHS medical card or passport) will be required. 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 is one ATM machine on the Islands, but if this is out of service a cash advance facility is available at the bank in Stanley 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, or contact us on Twitter or Facebook. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

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