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For more information on safety during fieldwork,
please contact:

Danish Polar Center
Strandgade 100 H
DK-1401 Copenhagen K

+45 3288 0113
+45 3288 0101

See also

Guide to Working in the Arctic

"Learn to Return"



Safety during fieldwork in Greenland



If you plan activities in West Greenland, in East Greenland around Ittoqqortormiit (Scoresbysund) or around Tasiilaq (Ammassalik) or in North Greenland around Qaanaaq (Thule) you are
not required to take out a Search and Rescue (SAR) insurance nor an evacuation insurance.
(See green areas on map to the right)

See also safety in West Greenland. Please for detailed information on areas where SAR insurance is not required.

However, if you will be operating in the vast and uninhabited regions in the other parts of Greenland you may find yourself in some of the most remote and inhospitable places on the northern hemisphere.

Being on your own very far from other people may pose potential safety problems if you encounter sickness, casualty or a life-threatening situation for you and your team.


Activities in all other areas require safety insurances
taken out

When a distress or emergency call from any field party is received by the Danish SAR authority in Greenland (i.e. Chief Constable for Greenland) a coordinated SAR or evacuation operation will be implemented, involving fixed-wing aircrafts, helicopters, vessels and rescue crews.

To ensure that the significant expenses defrayed from a SAR or an evacuation operation are covered the Danish State, represented by Danish Polar Center, requires that you take out an insurance as follows:

  • If you plan to operate in uninhabited areas (i.e. outside towns, hamlets, or manned stations) in North or East Greenland, on sea ice, or on the Inland Ice, you must take out a SAR as well as an evacuation insurance covering all participants of your party.
  • A research project operating in the uninhabited areas of North or East Greenland, on sea ice, or on the Inland Ice and carried out under the auspices of a public Danish research institution (e.g. a university) normally does not need to take out a SAR nor an evacuation insurance as project members will be covered by the institution through the institution's self-insurance. However, the self-insurance generally covers only employed staff and other persons whose wages or funds are administered by the above mentioned institution.
  • If you are the leader of such a project you must forward to DPC an official statement with enclosed documentation from the involved institution(s) clarifying the SAR insurance conditions for all participants in the project. The statement must be submitted to DPC no later than 3 weeks prior to the departure for Greenland. Please use the standard Insurance Statement form.
  • Participants who are not covered by the above mentioned self-insurance must take out the appropriate insurances. Send a copy signed by the insurance company to DPC.
  • The SAR insurance policy must cover the amount of DKK 1.000.000 with the Danish State represented by DPC as the sole beneficiary if the project or expedition takes place inside the Greenland National Park or on the Inland Ice.
  • The SAR insurance must cover the amount of DKK 500.000 with the Danish State represented by DPC as the sole beneficiary if the project or expedition takes place in uninhabited areas of North and East Greenland outside the Greenland National Park or outside the Inland Ice.
  • Any activity required to have a SAR insurance must also, for each participant, take out an additional evacuation (ambulance) insurance covering the amount of DKK 280.000 with the Danish State as represented by DPC as the sole beneficiary.
  • If the insurance requirements apply to your planned activity an Insurance Statement must be completed, signed by your insurance company, and mailed to DPC no later than 3 weeks prior to the departure for Greenland.
  • Researchers planning to operate at the Zackenberg Station in Northeast Greenland must read more in the ZERO Site Manual.

Please note that

  • the responsibility for deciding to initiate a SAR operation rests solely with the Danish SAR authority,
  • no immediate SAR operation can be initiated to assist a party,
  • an initiated SAR operation may be postponed or diverted to assist another party in severe difficulties,
  • having established radio contact with a station in Greenland does not imply that a SAR operation will be initiated in situations where a party has asked the said station for assistance,
  • any SAR operation may involve substantial risks to SAR personnel, aircrafts, or vessels,
  • it remains the responsibility of the field party leader to secure that insurance polices remain in force during the entire fieldwork duration of in Greenland.

PLBs, radios and telephones
If you are planning activities in North or Northeast Greenland DPC recommends your equipment to include an HF-radio operable on the frequencies 3350 kHz and 4050 kHz for communication with DPC's manned stations in the region. It is important for DPC's flight coordination management to have frequent contact with users of airborne transportation.

In order to be able to transmit a distress or emergency message from remote areas all field parties operating in uninhabited areas (i.e. outside towns, hamlets, or stations) in North and East Greenland, anywhere on sea ice, or on the Inland Ice are required to bring an approved (i.e. certified) emergency radio beacon. This Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) must be capable of simultaneous transmission on 121.5 MHz / (243M Hz) and / or 406 MHz with a 121.5 MHz homing device and continuous transmission using an internal power supply for at least 24 hours at an ambient temperature down to -20°C.

Read more about field safety equipment.

Carrying PLBs and other radio equipment in Greenland requires a special licence. Complete the Radio Licence application form and send it to the issuing authority:

TELE Greenland
Radio Administration
P.O. Box 504, DK-3920 Qaqortoq, Greenland
+299 64 31 22
+299 64 31 23

no later than 3 months prior to the start of your project or expedition. Upon issuing the licence TELE Greenland will send a copy to DPC.

The use of radio equipment by a field party in Greenland must be restricted to communication that can't be handled by the public services. This implies that you will have to use your communication equipment mainly for internal communication (e.g. between field groups) and for communication in case of distress or emergency.

For between-groups communication it is legal to use citizens' band (CB) equipment without a TELE Greenland radio licence. You may use the 122.8 MHz frequency for internal air / ground communication.

If your planned field activity will involve ships or there will be a need to communicate with any of the coastal stations in Greenland while within range of one of them it is possible to get a licence to use frequencies in the maritime services. In each individual case an arrangement must be made on how to settle traffic with the coastal stations.

Read "Regulations for Use of Radio Equipment in Greenland"

Foreign licensed radio amateurs are permitted to establish and use amateur radio stations during temporary stays in Greenland, provided that they possess a special transmitting licence issued by the pertinent foreign telecommunication administration under agreement made with the Danish Post and Telegraph Office or a CEPT licence. In other cases, foreign citizens who hold a valid amateur radio transmitting licence in their home country will normally get a temporary amateur radio transmitting licence for use in Greenland for a period not exceeding 3 months.

In all towns communication with cellular phones (aka mobile phones) is supported using the NMT-900 and/or GSM-900 system. See coverage map for the cellular phone systems.
For further info on NMT and GSM mobile telephone systems please contact TELE Greenland.

Satellite telephones based on Inmarsat satellites are widely used by people operating in uninhabited areas, especially the Inland Ice and Northeast Greenland.

If your planned field activity will take place within the National Park in North and East Greenland you are recommended to bring firearms and polar bear deterrents. Read how to choose firearms for polar bear protection. In other parts of Greenland you may choose to bring along these personnel safety measures, but they are not required.

You will need to have a valid firearm permit for each of your firearms. Permits can be obtained from the Chief Constable of Greenland, P.O. Box 1006, DK-3900 Nuuk, Greenland. Telephone: +299 32 1448, fax: +299 32 4194.

A copy of the license must be sent to DPC no later than 3 weeks prior to the departure for Greenland. The firearm(s) and the licence must be shown on request to any appropriate authority.

Read "Act on control and registration of firearms in Greenland"