How to apply for a mooring permit

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.

Restrictions

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 day’s 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:

  1. The Three Brothers and Resurgent Islands (6º09’-4S 71º31’-4E).
  2. Eagle Island (6º12’-0S 71º19’-0E) and Cow Island (6º14’-1S 71º17’-7E).
  3. Danger Island (6º23’-3S 71º14’-4E) and the drying coral reef (6º27’-3S 71º14’-5E).
  4. 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

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, but permits now 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.

Given the remoteness of the islands and the lack of medical facilities in BIOT, before issuing a permit we will ask you to provide proof of insurance for a minimum of US$100,000 for each person on board to cover the cost of a medevac as well as insurance that covers the cost of wreck recovery, clean up and removal.

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of six months from the date of entry into the British Indian Ocean Territory.

Application Process

The application process is as follows:

  1. Read the BIOT Guidance for Yachts and complete the BIOT Outer Islands Permit Request form;
  2. Send your completed form together with a copy of your insurance documents covering medevac and wreck recovery and clean up (highlighting these sections) to the BIOT Administration with the name of your yacht in the subject line;
  3. Your application will then be reviewed and you may have to answer further questions if anything is unclear;
  4. If your application is approved, you will then be sent payment instructions;
  5. Make the payment and send the receipt to the BIOT Administration;
  6. Your application will then be processed and your will receive your permit and accompanying documentation in due course;
  7. If you need to change the date of your permit because of a change in circumstances, you may but this has to be done before arrival in the Territory or the date on your permit: the important thing to note is you cannot stop in the Outer Islands if your permit is not active, even if it is only a couple of days out;
  8. Upon arrival in the Territory, follow the arrival reporting procedures as outlined in the guidance document;
  9. Once you have left the Territory, please send your fishing log back to the Senior Fisheries Protection Officer within 28 days, including nil returns.

Further details are as follows:

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.

To apply for a permit complete and send the following documents to the BIOT Administration at BIOTAdmin@fco.gov.uk:

  • BIOT Outer Islands Permit Request – Yachts
  • A copy of your insurance documents covering medevac (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.

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.

Payment is due once your application has been approved by the Administration. Payment details will be sent to you on approval and are by bank transfer only.

The charges are £75 per week from 1 August 2018 (set rate), maximum 28 days, plus any bank transfer fee on top of this. 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.

Once you have made the transfer, please send your transfer confirmation documentation to BIOTAdmin@fco.gov.uk

Be aware that it may take several weeks to issue your permit upon receipt of funds.

You will then be sent the following documents:

You can request an amendment to the dates on your permit, but only if you do this before the issued permit start date or before you enter the Territory (whichever is first).

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.

Finally, please also take a moment to read our information leaflet on invasive species and vessels in transit. The production of this leaflet was made possible with funding from the EU BEST initiative for our projects aimed at raising awareness on protecting species and habitats in BIOT.