Terms and Conditions
Registering for an Expedition Place
The cost of participating on an Earthwatch expedition is called a contribution. Contributions for a particular expedition may vary depending on the expedition start date. The contribution is subject to change without notice. Earthwatch cannot guarantee a contribution until a non-refundable deposit has been received.
Your contribution covers the most basic research costs, such as room and board, research permits, basic scientific equipment, on-site staff, carbon offsets, basic insurance, and more. The contribution does not cover your travel to the rendezvous site and, in some cases, additional costs may exist so please check with Earthwatch if you have any questions.
Your registration is accepted upon receipt of a $300 non-refundable deposit, except when you sign up 90 days or less from the expedition start date, at which time full non-refundable payment is required to accept your registration. All payments must be submitted in $US.
Note: online sign ups are not confirmed until you are contacted by Earthwatch via email or phone.
If you have made a deposit, final payment is due 90 days prior to the expedition start date. Please refer to your Confirmation Email for the specific date on which 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 non-refundable deposit will be retained by Earthwatch. All payments must be submitted in $US.
Note: when registering online at or within 90 days of your expedition start date, the non-refundable deposit of $300 will be charged to your credit card at the time of sign up and the balance of your contribution will be requested by Earthwatch before confirming your expedition place.
All payments must be submitted in $US. You can pay with MasterCard, American Express or Visa. We also accept transfers of most US securities.
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 $100 made by check or credit card. Contributions are tax deductible in the year that they are made (US residents only). After you open the Expedition Fund, you, friends, or family can add donations of $25 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 non-refundable. Any Expedition Fund donation not used toward an expedition within 3 years will be considered a donation to Earthwatch.
Additional donations made via our online sign-up form are welcome charitable gifts made directly to the organization in support of our mission. These additional donations are not intended to be used for the expedition payment and are completely non-refundable.
After You Have Registered
You will be sent a Confirmation Email confirming your expedition place and when your final payment is due (if you have not already paid in full). It will also outline the next steps in your preparation to join the expedition including which Volunteer Forms you need to complete. You can download from our website all required Volunteer Forms. One of the forms you need to complete includes a Health Declaration section*.
Important Note: Please ensure that you are clear about the physical demands of the expedition BEFORE you register, as some expeditions are more strenuous than others. Please call or email Earthwatch if you have any questions at all before you sign up. We can provide you more detailed information to help with your decision. If you will be age 80 or older upon the start date of your expedition, our insurance regulations require that you obtain a doctor’s signature to be sent in with your Volunteer Forms before your expedition begins. Additionally, Earthwatch reserves the right to request a doctor’s signature of any volunteer under certain circumstances.
All required Volunteer Forms must be completed in full and returned to Earthwatch for screening no later than 90 days before your expedition start date. This date will be specified in your Confirmation Email. Earthwatch cannot accept any volunteer on an expedition without full and detailed completion of all Volunteer Forms by the due 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 of the expedition start date you will need to complete and return all Volunteers Forms as soon as possible.
Earthwatch works hard to update each Expedition Briefing every year and we make every attempt to have the updated Expedition Briefing ready approximately three months before the project's first expedition start date. You will receive a copy of the Expedition Briefing document for your chosen expedition by post and by email shortly after registering for your expedition, unless you register more than four months before your expedition start date or before the Expedition Briefing is completed for that field season. In these instances, your Expedition Briefing will be sent to you separately as soon as it is available. Once you receive your Expedition Briefing it is important you read it immediately and in full as it contains vital information about the project you will be joining and required preparation.
Volunteers need to book their own travel to and from the project rendezvous point (found in the Expedition Briefing document) directly with their chosen travel company. You must book travel that allows you to meet at the designated rendezvous time and point as stated in the Expedition Briefing document. If you book travel that does not allow you to make the designated rendezvous time and point we reserve the right to cancel your expedition place without refund. In the case of Teen Teams you must book travel that arrives to and departs from the rendezvous point within the window of time specified in the Expedition Briefing document. If you do not we reserve the right to cancel your expedition place without refund. We recommend that you make your travel reservations as early as possible after receiving the completed Expedition Briefing for your expedition. Try to make sure that the tickets are refundable or changeable, bearing in mind that there is always a slim possibility that expedition dates or rendezvous times might change.
Earthwatch partners with STA Travel who understand the needs of Earthwatch volunteers. They can provide travel quotes for you. See www.earthwatch.org/expedition/volunteerresources for more information on STA Travel.
Visas and Passports
Volunteers are responsible for securing any necessary visas. Your expedition may be based in a country for which you need a visa. You may also need a visa to travel through a country en route to your expedition. If you are unsure about this, check with your travel company or the relevant embassy. If you have to apply for a visa for your expedition, allow plenty of time and always ask for a tourist visa (unless stated otherwise in the Expedition Briefing). In most cases, your passport is required to have a minimum of six months validity from the date of return from your home country. Please check this with the relevant embassy.
Medical decisions are the responsibility of each volunteer and information on vaccinations found in the Earthwatch Expedition Briefing are recommendations only. While Earthwatch can provide details regarding suggested vaccinations, we are not a medical organization and decisions about which vaccinations to receive should be made between you and your doctor. Health conditions around the world are constantly changing, so keep informed and consult your physician, a local travel health clinic, the US Center for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov), the World Health Organization (www.who.int), and International SOS (www.internationalsos.com) for the latest health information for travelers.
What to Take
Every Expedition Briefing document has a full list of items that you will need to take with you. Certain expeditions may require camping equipment, while others may specify clothing for certain types of climatic conditions or activities.
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 $300. You may not transfer less than 90 days before your expedition start date. However, if you took up a promotional offer when registering for your expedition place then 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. If in order to earn a reduced contribution you elected to pay in full at the time of your registration on a non-refundable, non-transferable basis you will not be able to transfer expedition or be entitled to a refund.
Cancellation by Earthwatch and Refund Policy
On rare occasions, your expedition may be cancelled 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 any other reason within Earthwatch's control, we will refund 100% of what you have paid at the time of cancellation. Insurance coverage is provided for expeditions cancelled by Earthwatch for reasons beyond our control, see below.
Please note that 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.
Travel and emergency medical evacuation (MedEvac) insurance for your Earthwatch expedition is automatically included in the cost you pay to Earthwatch. This includes some cancellation cover to protect you against cancellation or amendment penalties imposed by your travel company.
You can find the Details of the Insurance Policy included in the contribution you pay to Earthwatch on our website, along with contact details for the policy provider to whom you should direct any queries regarding this policy. We will not offer you any reduction in your expedition contribution if you have insurance cover with another provider.
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 by email by Earthwatch and you should not consider your expedition place cancelled 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 final payment will be refunded, but your non-refundable deposit will be retained by Earthwatch. If, however, in order to earn a reduced contribution, you elected to pay in full on a non-refundable basis, if you then cancel at any time before your expedition start date, you will not receive a refund. If you took up a promotional offer when registering for your expedition place then 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 non-refundable and non-transferable and are considered a charitable gift to Earthwatch.
Right of Refusal Policy
Earthwatch reserves the right to refuse participation on its expeditions. Refusal is an unusual event and is normally due to an applicant's failure in Earthwatch's view to meet the relevant health and fitness requirements of a particular expedition, or if Earthwatch is concerned about disruption of team compatibility. In the event that your registration is refused by Earthwatch for health reasons we will refund 100% of what you have paid at the time of refusal. If your verbal or written conduct towards Earthwatch staff has led us to be concerned about disruption of team compatibility in the field we reserve the right to cancel your expedition place and retain 100% of what you have paid at the time of refusal.
Right of Dismissal Policy
Earthwatch will support the right of the expedition staff to dismiss a volunteer from an expedition once in the field should that volunteer's behavior compromise the safety, research objectives, or general performance of the team. If you are dismissed from an expedition for any reason, you will not be entitled to a refund.
PLEASE NOTE: These terms and conditions are subject to change at any time and without notice. Each Earthwatch office conducts its own policies according to the laws and subsidies of their country of residence.
Earthwatch expeditions are scientific research expeditions, not tours or holidays. Earthwatch makes every effort to describe field conditions accurately both in its publications and verbally, 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 unique experience.
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: Contributions of cash or securities to a charitable organization are tax deductible only upon completion of giving. As such, your payment(s) towards 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.
*Different Terms and Conditions apply to our High School Groups
High School Groups Terms & Conditions