Iceland is an incredible place. This is a real bucket list destination, with its mountains, waterfalls, glaciers, hot springs, black sand beaches, and lava fields making for some untouched and truly epic scenery. Iceland’s attractions are very outdoorsy, making it a perfect match for coronadays.
To help you navigate this Nordic nation in these strange times, we’ve created this in-depth guide to Iceland’s COVID entry requirements. This article includes all the information you’ll need: what the New Normal looks like in Iceland, its travel restrictions, and who can actually travel there.
This guide is everything YOU NEED TO KNOW for travelling to Iceland in 2020.
A message from Will, the OG Broke Backpacker
Amigos, let’s face the facts: travel isn’t what it was. Things have changed.
We strive at The Broke Backpacker to be the best source of up-to-date and relevant information in the travel-sphere. All the information here was sourced, checked, double-checked, and published on 16/11/2020. While the information was correct then—and we will outline any changes and updates that we do make in the future—it’s important to respect the immense changeability of this topic.
If you’re going to be travelling amongst the coronavirus world, you need to, do your own research and do it hard. No one blog or website is a sufficient source, and even if it was, it might all just go tits up anyway.
This information changes more often than I fart in a day. Tread with caution.
And if you do see some misinformation, please leave a (constructive) comment so that we can patch it up! We really do appreciate your support and input in these weirdest of times.
Who Can Travel to Iceland Right Now?
At the moment, travel restrictions in Iceland mean that its borders are open for some travellers, but not for everybody. Only nationals of European Union member states and Schengen Area countries, as well a select group of third-country states can currently enter. These are as follows:
Those from countries not listed above are currently unable to enter Iceland, except for travellers who can demonstrate their travel is essential. Those eligible include students, diplomats, and those in a relationship with an Icelandic citizen, for example.
For more information about essential travel to Iceland see here.
Can Americans travel to Iceland?
American tourists are not currently permitted to enter Iceland’s borders.
Essential travel, as stated above, is possible for those Americans who need to visit Iceland for a demonstrable reason.
Tourists, however, should still bear in mind the following requirements as the situation may change in the future.
What Are the COVID-19 Entry Requirements for Iceland?
Though Iceland’s borders remain open for EU and Schengen Area nationals, there are still entry requirements that they must fulfil in order to enter the country. There are a few different regulations in place, which are as follows.
One major restriction to note: if you have had COVID-19 symptoms within 48 hours before travel; been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19; or have been diagnosed with COVID-19 up to 14 days prior to travel, you will not be allowed to enter Iceland’s borders.
All passengers arriving in Iceland will either have to test for COVID-19 or self-isolate. Negative tests taken prior to travel in your country of origin are not accepted as proof by Icelandic authorities.
There are two parts to Iceland’s on-arrival COVID-19 test. The first part involves taking a test at the port of arrival; the second is taken 5-6 days later, regardless of positive or negative outcome of the first. Children born in or are after 2005 are exempt from testing.
Passengers must take the first test at their own cost. The cost of the test is ISK11,000 (approximately USD$77), but if booked in advance, it is ISK9,000 (approximately USD$63).
The second test can take place at healthcare centres, which are available all over the country. There is no cost for the second screening.
However, you don’t have to test if you choose to quarantine.
Everybody entering into Iceland as a tourist is required to quarantine at their accommodation/residence.
Those who have opted to take the two-part COVID-19 test must self-isolate until the results of their second test are known. You may only leave your residence by car to travel long-distance if necessary for the second test.
Those who test positive on arrival with the first test will have to self-isolate and undergo further testing until it is proven that you are no longer infected with COVID-19.
Those who have chosen to self-isolate instead of testing will be required to do so for 14 days.
Quarantine restrictions in Iceland mean visitors will be limited to walks in areas with few people, avoiding direct contact with those outside of your party, a ban on using public transport, and not visiting any enclosed public spaces (including grocery stores, tourist attractions, and restaurants).
If you violate your quarantine requirements, you can be fined.
For a list of accommodation that is available for quarantine purposes, check out this page.
All visitors to Iceland are required to fill out a pre-registration form. This must be done before departure and can only be submitted up to 72 hours before your arrival in Iceland.
Passengers must provide a health declaration as well as personal details. The form can be filled in online here.
Upon arrival in Iceland, travellers are also encouraged to download Rakning C-19, the country’s contact tracing app. The app aims to analyse individuals in Iceland and trace their movements, notifying them when cases of infection arise. It is not compulsory, but still recommended.
Despite changes made to travel by the coronavirus pandemic, Iceland’s visa requirements remain the same as they were prior to the outbreak of COVID-19. No further paperwork is therefore required, and visa exemptions still apply.
Travellers from EU member states and Schengen Area countries may enter Iceland visa-free. Many other countries are also exempt from visas, including Canada, Japan, most of South America, New Zealand, and South Korea.
Check Iceland’s site for The Directorate of Immigration for more information.
The visa requirements for Iceland remain the same as they were for pre-coronavirus travel.
Visitors to Iceland are not under obligation to have travel insurance before visiting*. However, it is very much recommended that you take out a reliable travel insurance plan before travelling anywhere. This is especially important in the midst of a global pandemic.
See our travel insurance section for more information.
*Applicants for a Schengen Area visa must have travel insurance of up to €30,000 coverage.
Iceland’s Travel Restrictions – On the Ground in Iceland
Though infections rates are relatively low in Iceland, the Nordic country is nevertheless operating in the global New Normal. Measures are in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and should be followed for your safety. Some of the main guidelines include:
- Washing your hands regularly with soap or sanitiser
- Cough and sneeze hygiene
- Social distancing (2 metres)
- Avoid handshakes, hugging, and other physical contact
Wearing a mask is not compulsory in public spaces. However, where the 2-metre rule cannot be used – such as in enclosed public spaces and on public transport – face masks must be used. For more information about guidelines regarding wearing face masks in Iceland, see here.
As part of Iceland’s efforts to curb COVID-19, there are other rules to bear in mind. These were made stricter as of 31st October 2020.
Public and private gatherings, for example, are currently limited to 10 people; and only a limited number of people are allowed into shops at any one time. There are also other restrictions on various services (see below).
Violations of any rules designed to prevent the spread of infection can result in fines.
What Tourist Services Have Reopened in Iceland?
Though visitors to Iceland will be able to enjoy its outdoors activities, there are many services and facilities throughout the island nation that are closed due to COVID-19. Some remain open, though with limits to their capacity and opening hours. These include:
- Theatres and music venues
- Car rentals
- Hiking trails
- Hotels and private rentals
The above services, and others, are operating under restrictions. For example, restaurants serving alcohol may only remain open until 9 p.m. and have limited capacity. Nightclubs and bars are closed.
Any services that require contact of closer than 2 metres are not permitted, which applies to salons, massage parlours, and hairdressers.
Now, while travel insurance is not a mandatory entry requirement for ___, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have it. You really shouldn’t ever be travelling without insurance, and that goes double for the pandemic!
Keeping yourself covered against coronavirus mishaps is a complex subject, however, Americans get it easy. Our favourite insurance provider World Nomads just got favourite-r! They’re covering against COVID-related incidents and will also count for countries where corona coverage is a requirement.
Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple—just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!
Is there a backup option? Sure is—SafetyWing Travel Insurance! SafetWing is the cheap, long-term insurance for cheap, long-term travellers. And now, they’ve stepped up to the plate covering travellers and digital nomads against the scourge… at a bargain!
And if neither of those two choices are right for you? Well, in that case, I strongly, strongly, strongly recommend doing your own research on the top travel insurance companies and finding one right for your trip.
And Keep Smiling
Iceland may be working its way through the confusion that is 2020 just like any other country in the world, but thankfully that doesn’t mean that its borders are closed entirely. It’s fairly open.
With its brilliant natural beauty and extensive hiking opportunities, the chance for a breath of fresh air in Iceland makes it one of the most perfect destinations for our troubled times.
You may not be able to travel to Iceland at the moment, unfortunately. But if it’s always been on your list, or if you missed a trip earlier in 2020, there’s no reason to stop dreaming. Plan a trip!