Ascension Island, while a part of the British Overseas Territory of St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, has its own immigration rules. Unless you hold an exemption – basically military or government personnel you must have an entry permit to enter. The entry permit, akin to a visa, except that it is not in your passport and they don’t need your passport to issue it, is advance permission from the Island’s Administrator to visit the Island. It will be emailed to you.
The entry permit is obtained by completing the application form which you can download from http://www.ascension-island.gov.ac/visiting-the-island/. You can also now apply online.
The pre-requisites for gaining entry to the island are that you have pre-arranged accommodation (at the Obsidian Hotel as there is no-where else for tourists to stay unless you’re visiting island residents) and you must have a valid health/ travel insurance which must cover the costs of a medical evacuation should that be required.
The application form asks for the specific name of the person who is arranging your accommodation and your intended entry and exit mode. All of these details can be very easily checked – indeed some of them in the same office that issues your permit – don’t spoof here – just organise things in the required sequence – the cost of the flight or the ship in and the hotel are all high and fixed – no cheap seasons , no bargaining, no specials so no need to wait for anything – in fact prices are only likely to rise. See my separate review on arriving by air and sea and on the Obsidian Hotel.
It is important to take a copy of your health/travel insurance with you for inspection on arrival. A credit card will not suffice. That said they did not inspect mine – perhaps because it had already been inspected on St Helena (by the same police force – yes police are also immigration officers on both islands) from which I came directly via the RMS St Helena.
The entry permit costs GBP 20. It generally takes just a few days to process. Be guided by the extremely helpful AI Government staff in this and all other regards.
Applications for entry permits should be made well in advance, preferably at least 28 days before your intended travel, except in case of genuine emergency. Note that if you are flying in from Brize Norton, Oxford, England (one of only two ways to get there) you must confirm your flight at least 14 days before the flight date. You cannot confirm your flight without having a valid entry permit.