Amendments to environmental regulations in Svalbard

The Norwegian Government has adopted several amendments to the environmental regulations in Svalbard. The purpose is to protect wildlife, and one of the largest wilderness areas left in Europe. The amendments entry into force 1 January 2025.

Published 2/23/2024

The following are among the most important amendments that have been made:

  • Landings in protected areas are prohibited, except for 43 landing sites shown on maps included as annexes to regulations for protected areas. This prohibition only applies to tourist activities, not individual travellers or permanent residents.

  • A limit of 200 passengers on board ships in all protected areas.

  • The use of unmanned vessels (drones) is prohibited in protected areas.

  • The use of snowmobiles and tracked vehicles is permanently banned on sea ice after 1 March in selected fjords, with an exception for access to cabins.

  • Motor traffic at sea may not exceed the speed limit of a maximum of 5 knots within a distance of 500 m from land outside selected bird cliffs between 1 April and 31 August.

  • Distance requirements and speed limit at walrus haul-sites: Motor traffic at sea must keep a minimum of 150 metres distance from haul-sites for walruses (except for necessary access to ports, buildings etc) and one must not maintain a speed higher than 5 knots closer than 300 300 metres from walrus haul-sites.

  • A general ban against breaking fast ice. The ban does not apply to motor traffic to keep the fairway into Longyearbyen and Barentsburg open, securing supplies to Ny-Ålesund, as well as for the Norwegian Coast Guard’s performance of necessary tasks.

  • More camping activities requires a permit.

The government has also proposed changes to the Svalbard Environment Act to tighten the rules on polar bears, ban the use of drones at selected bird cliffs, and changes to the provision on infringement fees. These proposals will be submitted to and processed by the Norwegian parliament (Stortinget).

More information can be found on the Government's website: