How to apply for a mooring permit
As of Monday 30 November 2020 the BIOT Administration will be issuing visiting vessel permits for vessels entering BIOT from 1 February 2021.
This page aims to help you understand the circumstances under which permits are granted; the restrictions in place; and finally, the process and documentation you need in order to apply for a permit. Please read this page and understand it fully before applying for your permit.
The British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) is not a tourist destination. You may apply for a permit to moor in the Outer Islands of BIOT only where it is essential for your safe passage across the Indian Ocean, which we must be convinced of before granting you a permit. Access to Diego Garcia is only allowed for those on pre-authorised official duty.
The Outer Islands of the Chagos Archipelago are isolated and uninhabited. They act as an oasis for marine and island species. The BIOT Administration is committed to preserving the rich environmental heritage of the British Indian Ocean Territory. Marine Protected Areas are recognised by scientists and the international community as essential to the conservation and sustainable management of oceans and fisheries. BIOT hosts one of the world’s largest contiguous ‘no take’ marine reserve, along with several strict nature reserves.
BIOT is extremely remote. There are no facilities available to visiting yachts. Yachts need to be completely self-sufficient whilst in BIOT and respect the local environment and restrictions designed to protect it.
Visits to the islands are tightly controlled and certain restrictions put in place; some of the islands have been designated as Strict Nature Reserves and it is illegal to enter them. If you are granted permission to visit, you must moor your vessel at BIOT approved sites only, to help conserve BIOT’s fragile coral environment. Diving, spear-fishing, removal of flora or fauna and commercial activity (including charter trips and fishing other than for subsistence purposes) are strictly prohibited and any offences will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
There is no fishing in the entire BIOT Marine Protected Area. The only exception to this is to allow visiting yachts to fish for their own consumption (no more than three days’ worth, without freezing) and only with a hand line. A fishing log must be kept up to date whilst in BIOT waters, as a Fisheries Protection Officer may wish to see it.
Strict Nature Reserves
It is forbidden for any person to approach within 3 nautical miles, land on or anchor at the Strict Nature Reserves. The following islands are strict nature reserves:
Great Chagos Bank:
- The Three Brothers and Resurgent Islands (6º09’-4S 71º31’-4E).
- Eagle Island (6º12’-0S 71º19’-0E) and Cow Island (6º14’-1S 71º17’-7E).
- Danger Island (6º23’-3S 71º14’-4E) and the drying coral reef (6º27’-3S 71º14’-5E).
- Nelson’s Island (5º40’-9S 72º19’-0E).
Or to enter the following area within the Peros Banhos Atoll:
All territorial sea, internal water, land and inter-tidal of Peros Banhos (5º20’-5S 71º51’-0E) to the east of a line between the eastern extremities of Moresby Island and Fouquet Island and extended on the same azimuth to the territorial sea limit.
The islands are a conservation area and all flora and fauna, such as fish, turtles, coconut crabs, coral and shells, are protected.
Penalties for infringement of the regulations are severe.
Permits are required in advance of travel.
The permit system is only in place to allow vessels to rest at specific anchorages in order to provide safe passage through the Indian Ocean. In keeping with this, mooring permits will have a maximum validity of 28 days and are valid for the Outer Islands only. You can apply for one, two, three or four weeks.
The charges for a permit are £100 per week from 27 November 2020 (set rate).
Please note, if you are paying from an international (non-UK) bank account, you will need to add £1 for transfers of £100 and under, or £7 for transfers over £100. This is to cover bank charges.
- Permits cannot be extended once your initial application has been approved (neither before your arrival nor in the Territory) so please think carefully about how much time you will need to stop in BIOT, bearing in mind weather conditions and other factors
- Changes will not be considered for those arriving within the window of their permit.
- Changes to crew members will also not be considered after the permit has been issued.
- Applications will not be considered from charter vessels, cruise ships, or vessels with fee-paying crews.
- If you encounter exceptional circumstances (e.g. severe vessel malfunctions, medical emergencies or dangerous weather conditions) and cannot enter BIOT during the period outlined in your permit please contact the BIOT Administration as soon as possible. Any changes to the terms of your permit are solely at the discretion of the Administration.
You should be aware that any person who enters BIOT without permission may be liable to imprisonment for 3 years and/or a fine of £10,000 and the vessel used to enter BIOT waters may be seized and forfeited.
The COVID-19 pandemic poses both a grave public health risk and a major disruption of maritime traffic on a global scale. There are no medical facilities or air ambulances (helicopter or SAR) in BIOT and private medical evacuation takes several days to transport a patient to hospital. As such BIOT authorities have taken steps to limit the vectors through which the COVID-19 virus could spread to the Territory.
Only three vessels will be permitted to be in the Territory at any one time. Permits will be issued on a first-come-first-served basis from the point at which your application has been approved and payment has been received.
We ask that you provide both a primary destination and a secondary destination, to be used in the event that COVID restrictions limit access to your preferred port of call.
Whilst you are in BIOT you must obey the following protocols to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus:
- You must not board a vessel other than your own, either at anchor or at sea
- You must not transfer equipment or supplies between vessels except in case of serious mechanical failure or medical necessity.
- You must maintain a distance of six feet (two metres) from members of other crews whilst in anchorages
The application process is as follows:
You must read the BIOT Guidance For Yachts (PDF document) document before applying. Please also take a moment to read our information leaflet on invasive species and vessels in transit (PDF document).
Once you have read the guidance please complete the BIOT Outer Islands Permit Request (Word document) form.
You will also need to complete a COVID 19 Declaration for Visiting Vessels (Word document).
Send the following to BIOTAdmin@fco.gov.uk:
- The completed permit request form
- A signed COVID-19 declaration
- A copy of your insurance documents covering medical evacuation (minimum US$100,000 per person) and wreck recovery, clean up and removal in BIOT. Please highlight the sections in your documentation that cover this. These documents must be in English and it is your responsibility to request translations from your insurance company in advance of your application if needed.
- Copies of the passports for all persons aboard the vessel, which must be valid for at least six months from the planned date of entry to BIOT
Please ensure your emails are no larger than 5MB (otherwise we will not receive them nor will we receive notification of them) and that your emails have the name of your yacht in the subject field.
Please apply for a permit at least six weeks prior to your intended arrival date, as the application process can take several weeks. There is no right to receive a permit, and they are granted solely at the discretion of the Administration.
Failure to provide a full application or necessary documentation will lead to your application being rejected. If you are unsure please submit queries in advance of submitting your application, and take care to read all documentation carefully and in full.
If your application is approved, you will then be sent payment instructions (bank transfer only). Please make the payment and send the receipt to the BIOT Administration. Only when payment is received will your application be processed and a permit issued.
You will then be sent the following documents:
- Your mooring permit
- BIOT Guidance For Yachts (PDF document)
- Visitors and Visiting Vessels Ordinance 2018 (PDF document)
- A blank Fishing Log (Word document) for completion during your stay in BIOT (nil returns required)
Upon arrival in the Territory, follow the arrival reporting procedures as outlined in the guidance document; Once you have left the Territory, please send your fishing log back to the Senior Fisheries Protection Officer within 28 days, including nil returns.