Iceland Travel Restrictions
Updated: Jul 2
For the past few months, the world has been more uncertain than usual about the future. With the arrival of COVID-19, travel everywhere became restricted. Holidays were canceled or postponed, social distancing measures were adopted. But now the light at the end of the tunnel is visible. Restrictions are slowly being lifted globally, and in Iceland, where the virus has been almost completely eradicated, life is mostly back to normal. So, that trip to Iceland you’ve always dreamed of can happen now. However, there are details to be aware of, which I will discuss below.
Iceland Coronavirus Testing
From June 15th, new policies came into effect concerning traveling to Iceland. After this date, visitors to the country can opt to take a COVID-19 test upon arrival, to avoid quarantining. The test is free until June 30th. As of July 1st, the test will cost ISK 11,000 ($79 USD) per person, except for children who are born in 2005 or after, who are exempt from both testing and quarantine. The tests are now cheaper than initially announced (15.000 ISK, $108 USD) and visitors will have a reduced price of 9000 ISK ($65 USD) if paid in advance.
Before I go into more detail about testing and results, let's see the current situation of the Icelandic borders.
Are Iceland borders open?
Yes, they are. However, now that until further notice, only EU/EEA (European Union/European Economic Area) and EFTA (European Free Trade Association) Nationals will be allowed to enter Iceland. Anyone who is not from these countries may only enter Iceland if they can prove that their travel is essential.
The European Union contains the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden. The European Economic Area includes all 27 countries in the EU plus Liechtenstein, Iceland, and Norway. The European Free Trade Association includes these 30 countries, plus Switzerland. UK Nationals are also exempt from the travel ban. As the situation improves, restrictions for other countries will be lifted, so check for new updates.
1st July update:
Now, the government has decided to open its doors for the residents of the following countries:
China (subject to confirmation of reciprocity)
Unfortunately, US Citizens are not yet allowed to travel into Iceland.
Here is a breakdown of the steps that currently must be taken for those traveling to Iceland:
Prior to Arriving in Iceland
Before you arrive in the country, you must pre-register on this website: https://visit.covid.is/ . You must verify your phone number and confirm where you will be staying during your time in Iceland (only the first 14 days are required if you plan to stay longer). If you are traveling around Iceland in a car or campervan, you can enter the address of the first campsite you will stay at. This pre-registration cannot be completed until 72 hours before your arrival in the country. You are also encouraged to download the Rakning C-19 tracing app for use during your time here.
Testing Upon Arrival
If you are entering Iceland either through Keflavík Airport or Seyðisfjörður (if you travel on the Smyril Line) you will be tested before leaving the airport or port. For those arriving through Keflavík, the wait time is expected to be about one hour. If you fly into another airport (Reykjavík, Akureyri, or Egilsstaðir) you will be tested at a local healthcare center.
The test is a PCR, or Polymerase chain reaction, which involves inserting a long pin through the nose or mouth to collect a sample. You will receive your results within 24 hours, either through the Rakning C-19 app or via text message. While you are waiting for your results, you do not need to self-quarantine, but you must take preventative measures. If you have tested positive, you will receive a phone call and instructions will be provided. You will not be sent home if the test results are positive, as you will not be allowed to travel.
You can opt to not be tested, but if you do you must quarantine for 14 days. Proof of previous test results cannot be accepted.
Once you are out of the airport, you can travel on via bus, coach, taxi, or rental car as you desire.
While you are in Iceland
Maintaining a 2-meter distance from other people is no longer mandatory, but strongly encouraged. No more than 200 people may gather in a public place or building. This includes museums and shops, and hand sanitizers will be available. Swimming pools are open, as are gyms and restaurants. Thorough hand washing and the use of disinfectants is also encouraged. You can find advice on how to avoid infection here.
Because Iceland dealt with the situation swiftly and decisively, our number of cases remained low. As of July 1st, there will not be a lot that you cannot do. If you have certain places in mind to visit, it is worth checking whether they are open before traveling to them. Some businesses have decided to close temporarily until tourism increases. However, you may be pleased to hear that the Blue Lagoon is now open to visitors again.
You can travel to the airport in whatever way you choose; bus, coach, taxi, or via rental car (you may drop your rental car in Iceland at our airport office before checking in). It is up to you to check what restrictions your airline will have in place regarding the flight, and what restrictions your next destination will have.
As of June 15th, Icelandair requires all of its crew and passengers to wear a mask for the entire duration of the flight. Until further notice, only one personal item per passenger will be allowed on board, which must fit under the seat. There will be no in-flight meal service for economy passengers, but Saga Premium passengers will be given water upon boarding and a light meal. It is recommended to purchase water after passing through security but before boarding, to bring on the plane with you. There is currently no in-flight shopping available.
Keflavík Airport has made various changes to reduce the risk of infection, such as an increased number of hand sanitizer stands, displaying information posters and videos, and handling planes with passengers arriving from high-risk areas in accordance with plans from Iceland’s Civil Protection Agency. The shops and restaurants in the airport have reduced their opening hours due to a reduction of flights, but there will always be access to food.
Note that some other countries, such as the UK, also require you to pre-register before arriving in the country. So, check the restrictions in your destinations after Iceland, and keep in mind that they may have stricter procedures in place. Other airlines and airports will also have similar restrictions to Icelandair and Keflavík.
Flights to Iceland
Here are some of the airlines who will soon be operating flights to Iceland:
British Airways: Flights to Iceland from 16th July, masks required in British airports and on all flights.
EasyJet: Flights to Iceland from 1st July, masks required in British airports and on all flights.
Finnair: Flights to Iceland from 20th June, masks recommended at Finnish airports and on all flights.
Icelandair: See above
Lufthansa: Flights to Iceland from 1st July, masks required at all German airports and on all flights.
Norwegian: Flights to Iceland from 2nd July, masks recommended at all Norway airports and required on all flights.
SAS (Scandinavian Airlines System): Flights to Iceland from 21st June, masks required on all flights.
Wizz Air: Flights to Iceland from 20th June, masks required on all flights.
Iceland Travel Restrictions
You can relax with the knowledge that, once you have endured even stricter airport procedures and sat on a plane wearing a mask to get here, the atmosphere in Iceland is calm and positive. Take care of your health, adopt good sanitary practices, and distance yourself when necessary, and you will have a wonderful time here. May’s weather was spectacular and June’s weather so far has been pleasant, so it’s looking to be a wonderful summer. Come and enjoy it with us and do not be worried. We have a saying in Iceland: ‘þetta reddast’, which means ‘it will all work out okay’.
The information provided is accurate until July 1st, when the procedure may be revised.
Samuel Hogarth, Reykjavik Cars.