Photo: Børge Ousland pulls a kayak

Leaving the North Pole behind, Børge Ousland pulls a kayak over rough ice using his skis as extra poles.

Photograph by Thomas Ulrich

The GEF—Northern Europe Exploration grants support exploration and adventure around the world and are approved by media experts looking for engaging stories and topics suitable for National Geographic media. The Advisory Board will give primary consideration to the reviews of representatives from National Geographic editorial divisions (magazines, television, books, etc.) along with the scientific and conservation merits, where applicable, of proposed projects.

Modeled on the Society’s existing Expeditions Council grant program, Exploration grants are editorially driven; projects must have the potential to yield compelling stories and images. Applications are also judged on the qualifications of applicants and their teams and on the merit and uniqueness of the project.

In addition to financial support, the Exploration grants offer grantees the opportunity to work effectively with National Geographic's many divisions. Grantees are therefore able to share the results of their projects with National Geographic's global audience.


In order to be considered for funding, the applicant must be a resident of one of the following countries: Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, or the United Kingdom.

Submissions must be made in English if they are to receive timely consideration by the Advisory Board.

Applicants are expected to have qualifications and experience pertinent to the expedition or project they propose, and advanced academic degrees are not required.

Applicants planning to work outside of Northern Europe should include at least one local collaborator as part of their field team.

Grant Amounts

While grant amounts vary greatly, the average award is €20000. Funds are to be used for direct field expenses: transportation, supplies, subsistence and permit costs as well as other related fees (e.g., interpreters, guides and porters).

Exploration grants do not provide fees for media production costs, photography, videography and writing. Such fees are negotiated separately with the editorial units at National Geographic.

In order to generate the best story, coverage of the expedition may be assigned to National Geographic photographers, writers and film crews.

Grants funded by the Global Exploration Fund are generally for up to one year's work in the field.

Grant Requirements

Grant recipients must provide a full accounting of their expenditures on completion of the project. They are also required to submit a report summarizing their findings within two months of returning from the field.

National Geographic requires that grant recipients give right of first refusal for coverage to National Geographic magazine, National Geographic Television, National Geographic Entertainment, and all other publication and broadcast media of the National Geographic Society and its subsidiaries. This right specifically includes books, all other National Geographic Society magazines, lectures, exhibits, our website and other electronic media, as well as publicity about the project.

Grant Restrictions

National Geographic Society grants may not be used for indirect costs, overhead and other expenses not directly related to the project. Fringe benefits are also excluded, as are salaries. Funds may not be used for travel to scientific/professional meetings or conferences, legal actions, land acquisition, endowments, construction of permanent field stations or publishing research results. Grant recipients are expected to provide the National Geographic Society with rights of first refusal for popular publication of their findings.

What We Fund

Please visit What We Fund page to read more about the types of exploration projects we fund.


To apply for a National Geographic grant, please complete the application form.

Start New Application

Continue Saved Application

Please keep in mind the following when you apply:

  • The application form can be completed in multiple sessions. You will be allowed to save your work and complete it at another time.
  • You will be asked to upload an electronic copy of your curriculum vitae (CV) while completing the form. Instructions will be provided.
  • Please make sure that your browser is configured to receive cookies.
  • If you have any questions about the application form, please email ecouncil@ngs.org.
  • The National Geographic Society accepts applications throughout the year. However, the Committee meets only four times a year (January, April, July, October) and your application must be received at least 4 months prior to be considered in a meeting. Thus, we recommend submitting your application at least 6-8 months before your fieldwork is due to begin.
  • Previous grantees must first comply with all prior reporting and financial-accounting obligations before submitting applications for additional support.
  • Grants funded by the Committee are generally for one year's work. The average amount awarded per standard grant is €20000 (or €4000 for Young Explorers Grants).


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