Antarctica: Is it legal for a private citizen to take up residence?

Antarctica is inhabited (I assume: usually on a temporary basis) by women and men who work for government agencies, research organizations and the military.

Let’s say an individual, maybe a multi-billionaire, has the financial means to build a structure or a set of structures in Antarctica which offer(s) adequate shelter against the inhospitable conditions and who is also able and willing to pay for the logistics to keep this private residence amply supplied with energy, food, fresh water and all the perks of living in the civilized world.

Would this be legal and if not (which I assume), which law enforcement agency of which country would be charged with evicting this individual from Antarctica?


Antarctic_Treaty_System says nothing about individuals. As long as they don’t set up a government or military, what’s the problem?

It seems that Greenpeace had a base (inhabited, I guess) in Antarctica for some time. So if an NGO can set up base, I don’t see what would stop a crazy individual from doing so.

Argentine Antarctica:

I was going to say that the Argentine bases are permanent, but not the residents. But then I found this at the end of that same article:

On the other hand, even if they are there somewhat permanently, they are part of whatever it is that the bases do, not as private individuals like the OP asked.


One should ask what is their ability to stay there based on, it seems like it is because it is working for the base. The country would obviously want to keep the base as it supports their claim of their Antarctic territory.

Even Penguins, the only land animal (except for humans) to stay there during the winter months, are not able to support themselves from the land, but live off of reserves carried with them (stored as fat) gathered from someplace else (the sea).
So I do not think it’s a question of if it will be allowed, it may even be welcome if you also opened up a McD’s or Home Depot near one of those bases, but who has such resources and would desire to do so.

I can’t see that there’s anything in international law to stop an individual from living in parts of Antarctica that are unclaimed.

From the Australian Antarctic Division website

In other words it’s all a hodge-podge. If you’re not a signatory to the Treaty (and as an individual you wouldn’t be) it seems to me that you could set up shop in some unclaimed piece and live there. Would the fact that you were a citizen of a signatory nation bar you in international law from doing that? That I don’t know.

I would thnk that the clause about “set up as a scientific reserve” would allow any signatory to claim that in their “territory” they cannot allow non-scientific construction. Any construction or habitat has some impact.

It would be better than Detroit.