BIOT Laws & Guidance For Visitors

Published 14 years ago, updated 4 years ago



You and your accompanying passengers have applied for a permit to visit the Chagos Islands, excluding Diego Garcia, of British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT).

You are subject to BIOT law when inside its territorial waters.  If you break any of these laws, you will become subject, as in any country, to a range of censures and punishments, including fines, imprisonment, deportation, or the impounding of your vessel.

You should be aware that any person who enters BIOT without a permit is liable to imprisonment for 3 years and/or a fine of £3000.

You must moor your vessel at the approved sites only, as indicated on the attached map, to help conserve BIOT’s fragile coral environment.  If your vessel is not moored at one of the approved sites, you will be issued with an on-the-spot fine of £500.  Failure to pay the fine could result, on conviction, to imprisonment not exceeding 6 months and/or a fine not exceeding £3000.

“Mooring your vessel” is defined in BIOT law as “to anchor or to remain stationary by the use of engines or any line or device in the territorial sea or internal waters of the Territory or to be tied up or beached or hauled ashore at any place in the Territory”. As you will appreciate this means you may not stop your vessel (except in an emergency) anywhere in the inland or Territorial waters of BIOT other than at the approved sites.

“Marina” services are not provided. There is no mail service.  Garbage will be collected from designated disposal areas ashore.

BIOT Customs and Immigration officials visit the approved mooring sites to check permits and passports.  The passports of all passengers/crew will be checked against the details provided on the Visit Permit Request form.   You will be asked to explain any discrepancies.


All of the Chagos Islands are nature reserves. The following islands are strict nature reserves. It is an offence to approach within 200 meters, land on or anchor at:

Great Chagos Bank:    The Three Brothers and Resurgent Island

Danger Island

Cow Island

Nelson Island

Peros Banhos Atoll: All the islands to the east of a line drawn between the easternmost point of land on Moresby Island and the easternmost point of land on Fouquet Island.

Any person who commits such an offence, is liable, to an on-the-spot fine of £1000.  Failure to pay the fine could result, on conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months and/or to a fine not exceeding £5000, and to detention and forfeiture of any boat and equipment used when committing the offence.


Unauthorised vessels or persons are not permitted to access this island and no unauthorised vessel is permitted to approach within 12 nautical miles.  Vessels in transit, on “innocent passage” as defined under Maritime Law, should maintain their course away from Diego Garcia.


Please assist the conservation of BIOT environment by adhering to the following and by ensuring that others visiting the Territory also respect it.  Failure to observe BIOT’s regulations may result in the application of the penalties listed below.

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