If you get involved with Earthwatch, familiarize yourself with our terms & conditions.
REGISTERING FOR AN EXPEDITION
The cost of participating in 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 nonrefundable deposit has been received.
Your contribution covers basic research costs, including room and board, research permits, scientific equipment, on-site staff, carbon offsets, insurance, and more. 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 registration is accepted upon receipt of a $300 U.S.D. (£175/€210/$500 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 for your registration to be accepted. Initial payments for short-duration and one-day expeditions may vary from those for standard-duration expeditions. (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.)
Note: Online sign-ups are not confirmed until you are contacted by Earthwatch via email or phone.
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 nonrefundable deposit of $300/£175/$500 AUD will be charged via your selected payment method at the time of sign-up as well as the balance of your contribution.
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, 114 Western Avenue, Boston, MA 01880, 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 $100 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 $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 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
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. Checks must be in pounds sterling. Unfortunately, we cannot accept checks in euros.
Participants Living in Other Parts of the World
We prefer to receive your deposit and final payment by debit card or bank transfer. Unfortunately, we cannot accept checks in euros.
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.
AFTER YOU HAVE REGISTERED
After you have made your deposit, you will receive an email confirming your place on the expedition and telling you when your final payment is due (if you have not already paid in full). This email will also outline the next steps in your preparation to join the expedition, including which volunteer forms you need to complete. You can download all required volunteer forms from your My Earthwatch portal. One of the forms you need to complete includes a Health Declaration and Self-Assessment section.
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. It is your responsibility to review the project conditions and physical demands as described in the project briefing (described below) 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, we will require a doctor´s signature. For further information, please read below or login to My Earthwatch and view My Forms.
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 before the expedition start date you will need to complete and return all volunteer forms as soon as possible.
Earthwatch works hard to update each expedition briefing every year, and we make every effort to have the updated briefing ready approximately 90 days before the start date of the first team of the expedition. You will receive a copy of the briefing for your chosen expedition by post and/or email shortly after registering for your expedition, unless you register more than four months before your expedition start date or before the 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 briefing, it is important that you read it immediately and in full, as it contains vital information about the project you will be joining and the required preparation. Expedition briefings will also be available through your My Earthwatch portal on our website.
Volunteers need to book their own travel to and from the expedition rendezvous point (found in the expedition briefing) 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. 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. If you are participating in a Teen Team, you must book travel that arrives at and departs from the rendezvous point within the window of time specified in the expedition briefing. 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 exchangeable, bearing in mind that there is always a slim possibility that expedition dates or rendezvous times might change.
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 or consulate. 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 many cases, your passport must be valid for a minimum of six months after the date of entry into the country you are visiting. Please check this with the relevant embassy or consulate, or at the U.S. Department of State's travel website, which lists entry requirements for U.S. citizens by country.
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, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has made it mandatory for you to submit biographic information online three days before you depart for America. You will need to receive electronic travel approval prior to boarding a U.S.-bound aircraft, which means completing an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) form online. Applications must be submitted at least 72 hours prior to travel. It is your responsibility to apply for this approval.
Medical decisions are the responsibility of each volunteer and information on vaccinations found in the project 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 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and/or The World Health Organization for the latest health information for travelers.
What to Pack
Every project briefing has a full list of items that you will need to bring 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 (£175, €210). You may not transfer within less than 90 days before your expedition start date. However, if you took up 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. If in order to earn a reduced contribution, you elected to pay in full at the time of your registration on a nonrefundable, nontransferable basis you will not be able to transfer to another expedition and you will not be entitled to a refund.
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. Insurance coverage is provided for expeditions canceled by Earthwatch for reasons beyond our control (see below).
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 coverage 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. Your contribution does not include your travel (including airport taxes) to the expedition rendezvous, costs incurred before or after the expedition, or the cost of passports, visas, and vaccinations. In some circumstances you may be required to pay additional costs for excursions during the expedition that you choose to take. If you are aged 75 or over, please see our insurance page for more information, as slightly different insurance arrangements are in place for volunteers in this age group. All volunteers will also find contact information for the policy provider, to whom you should direct any queries regarding this policy. We cannot 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 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 final payment will be refunded, but your nonrefundable deposit will be retained by Earthwatch. If, however, in order to earn a reduced contribution, you elected to pay in full on a nonrefundable basis and you cancel at any time before your expedition start date, you will not receive a refund. 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.
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 our 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 oral or written conduct toward 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.
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 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.
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)
- India: Registration number 2302. Earthwatch Institute India Trust is Public Charitable Trust and a nonprofit organization