Guidelines for new name proposals

Proposals for new place names are encouraged and welcomed by the Antarctic Place names Committee. These guidelines are designed to support you in writing a well-justified proposal. If you have any questions or require clarification, please contact the APC Secretary.

Primary Guidelines

Purpose of Naming

Why does the proposed feature require a name now? It is essential for this requirement to be accepted if the APC is to recommend a new name. Valid reasons might include the following:

  • A feature name is required for reference when navigating in an area.
  • The feature is referred to in a scientific or other official publication.
  • Reference to a feature would improve operational safety or environmental protection.

Thematic and descriptive naming

The use of descriptive names or names fitting with existing themes are strongly encouraged.

  • Is there descriptive name that would be appropriately applied to the feature?
  • Existing or new themes may guide proposals for feature names. A list of existing themes used in the APC Gazetteer is available and a map of their distribution can be found here.

Personal names

The APC will only consider the naming of features after individuals who have demonstrable evidence of the following criteria.

  • Significant and exceptional contribution to scientific understanding and/or life in the Antarctic.
  • Major contributions to Antarctic matters.
  • Contribution to government and policymaking with direct relevance to Antarctica.
  • Association of the person with the proposed feature.

Naming of features after individuals is not justified based purely on longevity. Proposals for naming after individuals at the end of their career or commemorative naming must also meet these criteria. Where there is a proposal for naming after an individual still active in their field, nominations should be accompanied by at least one letter of support from someone other than the nominator. This letter should support the evidence of fit to the criteria. The Committee welcomes nominations for individuals from historically underrepresented groups.

Secondary guidelines and clarifications

Double naming

To ensure scientific clarity and operational safety, it is important to apply only one name per feature. Existing place names should be accepted only when full account has been taken of all matters of provenance and suitability.

Density of names

The size of named features and their density should be commensurate with the currently available topographic mapping of the area.

Duplication of names

It is APC policy to avoid duplication of place names, not only in the British Antarctic Territory but elsewhere in the Antarctic.

Personal names

Forenames and the use of more than one part of a compound surname are unlikely to be approved but will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. The use of titles or the names of partners or pets is similarly not considered suitable.

Choice of generic term

New names should be applied to distinct geographical features and the generic part of the name should be appropriate (see list of generic terms). Names with two generic terms should be avoided (e.g., “Pond Bay” or “Ridge Mountain”). See list of generic terms.

Descriptive names

Names that might be mistaken for descriptions of terrain or topography should be avoided. For example, names such as “Sandy Hills” or “Broad Valley”.

Coordinate Selection

The coordinates for any given feature should clearly distinguish it from any other, while providing a level of precision appropriate to the size of the feature.

Coordinates mark the exact position of a feature, but the placename description can include bounding coordinates and details of its position relative to other topographical features.

Names outside BAT

The APC can consider names for features within the sector of Antarctica between 80°W and 150°W and south of 60°S. Names approved for this area will be submitted to SCAR for inclusion in the Composite Gazetteer of Antarctica but will not be added to the BAT Gazetteer.

Proposals for features elsewhere in Antarctica are referred by the APC to the place-naming authorities of other countries.

Underwater features

Names for underwater features, which are within 12 nautical miles of the coast (including ice shelves) are dealt with by the APC. Proposals will be shared with the GEBCO Sub-Committee on Undersea Feature Names (SCUFN) to make them aware and provide a chance to comment.

Names for features more than 12 nautical miles offshore are dealt with by the International Hydrographic Organization.

Subglacial features

Names for subglacial features within British Antarctic Territory, which are of scientific, logistical or navigational significance, are dealt with by the APC.