Registering for an Expedition
The cost of participating in an Earthwatch Expedition is called a “contribution.” The contribution is subject to change without notice. Earthwatch cannot guarantee a contribution until a nonrefundable deposit has been received.
Your contribution covers basic research costs, including room and board, research permits, scientific equipment, on-site staff, and more. Emergency medical and evacuation (MedEvac) insurance for your Earthwatch Expedition is included in the contribution you pay to Earthwatch. However, medical or other costs not covered by this insurance policy will be your responsibility. Please see https://earthwatch.org/expeditions/insurance for more information on this policy.
The contribution does not cover your travel to the rendezvous site, costs incurred before or after the expedition, or the cost of passports, visas, and vaccinations. In some cases, additional costs may exist, so please check with Earthwatch if you have any questions.
Your space on the expedition will be reserved upon receipt of a $500 U.S.D. (£400/€460/$748 AUD) nonrefundable deposit, except when you sign up 90 days or less from the expedition start date, at which time full nonrefundable payment is required. You will then receive an email confirming your reservation on the expedition. This email will also outline the next steps in your preparation to join the expedition, including which Volunteer Forms you need to complete, and when your final payment is due (if you have not already paid in full).
Final acceptance onto a team is contingent on Earthwatch receiving and approving your completed Volunteer Forms.
Note: In Australia, full payment of one day-expeditions must be paid upon signup. This expedition amount is non-refundable and transfer can only be made to another expedition date within 60 days of the expedition. The one day forms are due 30 days before the expedition begins.
If you have made a deposit, your final payment is due 90 days before the expedition start date. Please refer to your confirmation email for the specific date on which the final payment is due. If you have not paid in full by this date, Earthwatch reserves the right to cancel your expedition place and your nonrefundable deposit will be retained by Earthwatch.
Note: If you register online within 90 days of your expedition start date, the full contribution amount will be charged at the time of sign-up.
Participants Living in Australia and New Zealand
All payments must be submitted in AU dollars. You may pay with MasterCard or Visa. To pay by check, please make the check payable to Earthwatch Institute and mail it to Earthwatch,126 Bank St, South Melbourne, VIC 3205.
You can also pay via bank transfer. For Bank details please contact the Earthwatch office. You may wish to consider starting an Expedition Fund. You can open an Expedition Fund for yourself or for a friend or relative with a minimum contribution of $10 made by check or credit card.
Fund contributions can be used toward the cost of an expedition for yourself or for anyone you designate for up to three years after you make the initial contribution.
Note: All Expedition Fund donations are non-refundable. Any Expedition Fund donation not used toward an expedition within three years will be considered a donation to Earthwatch.
Participants Living in North, Central, or South America
All payments must be submitted in U.S. dollars. You may pay with MasterCard, American Express or Visa. To pay by check, please make the check payable to Earthwatch Institute and mail it to Earthwatch, 300 Washington Street, Suite 713, Newton, MA 02458, USA.
You may wish to consider starting an Expedition Fund. You can open an Expedition Fund for yourself or for a friend or relative with a tax-deductible minimum contribution of $25 made by check or credit card. Contributions are tax deductible in the year that they are made (U.S. residents only). After you open the Expedition Fund, you, friends, or family can add donations of $5 or more at any time. Expedition Fund contributions can be used toward the cost of an expedition for yourself or for anyone you designate for up to three years after you make the initial contribution.
Note: All Expedition Fund donations are nonrefundable. Any Expedition Fund donation not used toward an expedition within three years will be considered a donation to Earthwatch.
Participants Living in the U.K. or Europe
All payments must be submitted in pounds sterling or euros. We prefer to receive your deposit and final payment by debit card, credit card, or bank transfer. To pay by check, please make the check payable to Earthwatch Institute (Europe) and mail it to Earthwatch, Mayfield House, 256 Banbury Road, Oxford, OX2 7DE, United Kingdom.
Participants Living in Other Parts of the World
All payments must be submitted in U.S. dollars, pounds sterling, or euros. We prefer to receive your deposit and final payment by debit card, credit card or bank transfer.
Additional donations made via our online sign-up form are welcome charitable gifts made directly to Earthwatch in support of our mission. These additional donations are not intended to be used for the expedition payment and are completely nonrefundable.
Cancellations and Transfers
Expedition Transfer Policy
You may transfer from one expedition to another 90 days or more before your expedition start date. For each original reservation with a deposit, you are allowed one free transfer to another expedition or to an Expedition Fund. For each additional transfer, you will be charged $500 U.S.D. (£400/€460/$748 AUD). You may not transfer within 90 days before your expedition start date. However, if you used a promotional offer when registering for your expedition, your reservation is subject to the terms and conditions of that offer. It is your responsibility to ensure you understand any such terms prior to signing up.
Cancellation by Earthwatch and Refund Policy
On rare occasions, your expedition may be canceled by Earthwatch. This usually occurs if the expedition does not meet the minimum number of volunteers required. If Earthwatch cancels your expedition for this reason or for any other reason within Earthwatch's control, we will refund 100% of what you have paid at the time of cancellation.
Earthwatch cannot offer refunds for cancellations due to circumstances beyond Earthwatch’s control that would make travel or participation in the program unsafe or inadvisable.
Earthwatch can take no responsibility for any cancellation or amendment penalties that your travel company may charge you if you have to change your travel plans as a result of cancellation by Earthwatch. Your travel arrangements are subject to the terms and conditions of the travel company through which you booked your travel. Volunteers are encouraged to buy flexible, refundable tickets. We strongly advise you to purchase Trip Cancellation insurance.
Cancellation by Volunteer and Refund Policy
If you wish to cancel your expedition place please inform Earthwatch as soon as possible. Your cancellation will be confirmed with an email from Earthwatch; you should not consider your expedition canceled until you have received this confirmation.
If you cancel less than 90 days before your expedition start date, Earthwatch will retain 100% of your contribution. If you cancel 90 days or more before your expedition start date, your balance payment will be refunded, but your nonrefundable deposit* will either be put in an Expedition Fund upon request or be retained by Earthwatch. If you used a promotional offer when registering for your expedition, your reservation is subject to the terms and conditions of that offer. It is your responsibility to ensure you understand any such terms prior to signing up.
Note: Any funds retained due to cancellation will support expedition field research and are considered a charitable donation to Earthwatch. Additional donations made above the minimum contribution are also nonrefundable and nontransferable and are considered a charitable gift to Earthwatch.
*AU one-day expeditions are treated as a non-refundable deposit and full payment is retained by Earthwatch.
Discount Terms and Conditions:
- Discounts do not apply to expeditions that have already been booked.
- Only one discount may be applied per individual expedition booking.
- Discounts may not be used toward school group expeditions. Students and teachers returning from group expeditions may use their discount toward standard teen or adult teams, respectively.
Each country has a different set of tax rulings. In the United States, Earthwatch Institute is a public charity described under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. It is not a private foundation, as it is an organization described in Section 509(a)(1) and 170(b)(1)(A)(VI) of the Internal Revenue Code. In general, contributions of cash, securities and property donated by US citizens to support scientific research expeditions sponsored by Earthwatch are tax-deductible.
Note: In the Unites States, contributions of cash or securities to a charity are tax-deductible only upon completion of giving. As such, your payment(s) toward an Earthwatch Expedition may be tax deductible only after you have fielded on the expedition. Under certain circumstances, volunteers may deduct reasonable out-of-pocket expenses associated with their participation in an Earthwatch Expedition including some expenses for transportation to and from the research site. AS WITH ALL TAX MATTERS, PLEASE CONSULT YOUR PERSONAL TAX ADVISOR ON ALL ISSUES CONCERNING TAX DEDUCTIBILITY.
For your tax purposes, please note the following numbers you may need if you have contributed to Earthwatch:
- United States: 23-7168440 (Tax ID Number)
- United Kingdom: Registered as Conservation Education and Research Trust as 1094467 (Charity Number) and 4373313 (Company Number)
- Australia: ABN 25 875 253 851 (Australian Business Number). Note: Expedition payments are non-tax deductible in Australia.
- India: Registration number 2302. Earthwatch Institute India Trust is Public Charitable Trust and a nonprofit organization.
Preparing for your Team
Expedition Briefing and Logistics
The expedition briefing located on the Earthwatch website (see link on each expedition web page) contains vital information about the project you will be joining, such as the research aims, project activities, physical requirements, and safety information. Please read it thoroughly, well in advance of fielding.
Once you book your space on an expedition team, you will also receive an "Expedition Logistics" document through your My Earthwatch portal on our website as soon as it is available. This document will include a planning checklist, a letter from your Principal Investigator, contact details, and travel planning information, among other items. Earthwatch updates these documents every year, and we make every effort to have the updated expedition briefing and logistics documents ready approximately 90 days before the start date of the first team of the expedition.
Please remember that Earthwatch Expeditions are scientific research expeditions, not tours or holidays. Earthwatch makes every effort to describe field conditions accurately both in its publications and orally, but fieldwork in remote locations is a delicate business and prone to last-minute change. Volunteers must accept this as part of what makes an Earthwatch Expedition a special experience.
Please be sure that you are clear about the physical demands of the expedition BEFORE you register, as some expeditions are more strenuous than others. It is your responsibility to review the project conditions and physical demands as described in the project briefing (described above) and determine if you are able to safely participate in the expedition. Discuss your participation in this expedition with your doctor if you have a question or concern about your health and/or ability to participate. Earthwatch reserves the right to require that a doctor approve your participation on a project. If you are 80 years of age or older, or will be prior to departure for your expedition, a doctor´s signature is required.
All required volunteer forms must be completed in full and returned to Earthwatch no later than 90 days before your expedition start date. We reserve the right to cancel your expedition place without refund if we do not receive your fully completed Volunteer Forms 90 days before your expedition start date. If you sign up for an expedition within 90 days before the expedition start date you will need to complete and return all volunteer forms within two business days, unless otherwise approved by Earthwatch.
Earthwatch strongly recommends that travelers investigate their destination prior to departure. Familiarity with the destination’s entry/exit requirements, visas, local laws, and customs can go a long way to ensuring smooth travel. The U.S. Department of State's Traveler’s Checklist and Destination Guides are helpful resources. For LGBTI travelers, the U.S. Department of State's LGBTI Travelers page contains many useful tips and links.
Volunteers need to book their own travel to and from the expedition’s designated rendezvous point and time as stated in the expedition briefing. We recommend that you purchase adequate travel insurance and tickets that are refundable or exchangeable, bearing in mind that there is always a slim possibility that expedition dates or rendezvous times might change. Travel insurance can also be very beneficial in the event of an Earthwatch or your cancellation.
Visas and Passports
Volunteers are responsible for making sure their passports are up to date and for securing any necessary visas. In many cases, your passport must be valid for a minimum of six months beyond your stay in the country you are visiting. Our expedition may be based in a country for which you need a visa or you may also need a visa to travel through a country en route to your expedition. If you are unsure about the applicable requirements, check with your travel company, the relevant embassy or consulate, or the U.S. Department of State's travel website, which lists entry requirements for U.S. citizens by country.
If you do have to apply for a visa for your expedition, always ask for a tourist visa (unless stated otherwise in the expedition briefing). Remember that the purpose of your visit is for vacation, holiday or travel. Immigration officials do not always understand the concept of a “working vacation,” or even “volunteering.” Words such as “working,” “volunteering,” “research” or “scientific expedition” can raise questions concerning the country’s foreign labor laws and/or prompt questions about official scientific research permits and credentials, etc., to which volunteers will not be equipped to respond on their own. All required research permits for the project are in place and have been approved by the proper authorities.
Obtaining a visa can take weeks or even months so be sure to allow plenty of time. We strongly recommend using a visa agency, which can both expedite and simplify the process.
Note: If you are a citizen of one of the countries in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program and are traveling to the United States or through the United States en route to another country, you must complete an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) form online at least 72 hours before you depart for the U.S..
Travelers Under 18 Years of Age
In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have procedures at entry and exit points to protect minors. Thus, if a minor will be traveling with only one guardian or alone, he or she may need a notarized letter from all legal guardians stating that the minor may travel unaccompanied or in the presence of a single guardian. Check with your nearest embassy or consulate of the destination country for its requirements. Be sure to check with your airline as well because most carriers have their own policies and documentation requirements for unaccompanied minors, e.g., a birth certificate.
Important: Requirements of specific countries and airlines vary and change frequently. You must keep informed of the requirements on your own to avoid problems at immigration. If the minor is refused entry into a country or onto a flight because of lack of documentation, there may be nothing Earthwatch can do to help.
Vaccination against COVID-19 is required for participation on all expeditions.
Other than COVID-19, decisions about which other vaccinations to receive should be made between you and your doctor. Information on vaccinations found in the project briefing are recommendations based on our research and experience only. Health conditions around the world are constantly changing, so keep informed and consult your physician, a local travel health clinic, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and/or The World Health Organization for the latest health information for travelers.
YOUR SUPPORT MATTERS
Earthwatch depends on donations—above and beyond what we raise from volunteers who participate on our expeditions—in order to deliver our global conservation mission. In fact, volunteer contributions provide only half of the total resources Earthwatch needs to sustain over 40 field research expeditions, a wide variety of educational programs, corporate sustainability trainings, and more each year.