A simplified guide to Iceland’s Covid-19 travel rules

[Edit: This article was updated on May 25th to account for the Faroe Islands having been classified as high-risk]

The information published on the Covid.is information website may seem a bit complicated, confusing, and even contradictory, so for the benefit of travelers Iceland Monitor has prepared a simplified guide that’s correct and up to date as of May 18th 2021.

In short:

  • If you can show a certificate of vaccination, or a certificate that you have had Covid-19, recovered and are no longer contagious you can visit Iceland and can expect to quarantine no more than 24 hours, regardless of what country you are traveling from.
  • Otherwise, if you come from, or have recently been in: Andorra, Argentina, Bahrain, Cape Verde, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Serbia, Seychelles, Sweden, Turkey, and Uruguay you cannot visit as a tourist but exemptions may apply. This list of countries may change at short notice. If an exemption allows you to visit you will need to quarantine for about 5 days.
  • If you come from Greenland you can visit and do not have to quarantine.
  • If you come from any other country you can visit as a tourist but will need to quarantine for about 5 days.

1: For travelers who are ABLE to show a certificate of vaccination or a certificate that they have had Covid-19 and are no longer infectious:

You must pre-register here, no more than 72 hours before your scheduled arrival in Iceland

You do not have to present a recent negative PCR test to your airline or on arrival in Iceland

On arrival in Iceland you will undergo testing at the border and will be required to quarantine until a negative test result is confirmed.

If you are coming from a Category II high-risk country you must quarantine in one of the quarantine hotels provided by the state, free of charge. As of May 18th 2021 the Category II countries are: Andorra, Argentina, Bahrain, Cape Verde, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Serbia, Seychelles, Sweden, Turkey, and Uruguay.

If you are coming from a Category I high-risk country you may ask for an exemption to be allowed to quarantine in a suitable location elsewhere. You can ask for this exemption when you fill out the pre-registration form, provided you do so at least 48 hours prior to your arrival in Iceland. As of May 18th some 163 countries are classified as Category I.

Only Greenland is not classified as high risk. Those arriving from there do not need to quarantine.

If a negative result is obtained from the test done at the border you can end your quarantine. The results will be to you sent via text message, and if you do not receive a message within 24 hours the test result is negative.

After that you are free to explore Iceland.

2: For travelers who are NOT ABLE to show a certificate of vaccination or a certificate that they have had Covid-19 and are no longer infectious:

2a) If coming from a Category II high-risk country:

The Category II countries are (as of May 18 2021): Andorra, Argentina, Bahrain, Cape Verde, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Serbia, Seychelles, Sweden, Turkey, and Uruguay.

If you are coming from one of these countries, or have visited one in the past 14 days, you are not allowed to visit Iceland as a tourist, but you may come to Iceland for certain permitted reasons, i.e. “essential travel”.

The following is considered essential travel:

  • Passengers in airport transit
  • Employees in healthcare services and geriatric services coming to work in Iceland
  • Employees whose visit is related to them being responsible for the transportation of goods and services
  • Individuals needing international protection
  • Individuals traveling because of an acute family incident
  • Individuals and delegations invited by Icelandic authorities, staff of diplomatic missions, and the like.
  • Individuals coming to Iceland to study
  • Individuals who need to travel to Iceland for the purpose of business or work that cannot be postponed or performed abroad

The following are also exempt from the Category II travel ban:

  • Icelandic nationals and their family members.
  • Foreigners who are resident in Iceland, and their family members.
  • Foreigners who are in a long-lasting relationship with an Icelandic national, or with a foreigner who is legally resident in Iceland.

If you qualify to travel to Iceland based on the exemptions listed above you must, before your visit:

  • Pre-register here no more than 72 hours before your scheduled arrival in Iceland.
  • Have a PCR-test done no more than 72 hours before departure of the first leg of your journey. Note that rapid antigen tests are not valid. You can only travel if the test result is negative.

On arrival in Iceland you will undergo testing at the border and then be required to quarantine.

Since you are coming from a Category II high risk country you must stay in one of the quarantine hotels provided by the state. The stay there is free of charge and an exemption to self-quarantine elsewhere is not a possibility.

The quarantine will last for about five days and you will be re-tested at the end of the quarantine. If the result is negative you can end your quarantine and are free to explore Iceland. 

2b) If coming from a Category I high-risk country.

Category I countries are: all countries except Greenland (low risk) and those listed as Category II. As of May 18th 2021 there are 163 countries classified as Category I.

The full list of Category I and Category II countries can be found here (in Icelandic).

You may visit Iceland whether for tourism or for other purposes, but you must quarantine on arrival.

Before your visit you must do as follows:

  • Pre-register here no more than 72-hours before your scheduled arrival in Iceland.
  • Have a PCR-test done no more than 72 hours before departure of the first leg of your journey. Note that rapid antigen tests are not valid. You can only travel if the test result is negative.

On arrival in Iceland you will undergo testing at the border and then be required to quarantine.

You are required to quarantine in one of the quarantine hotels provided by the state, free of charge. You may apply for an exemption to self-quarantine elsewhere (see rules on “appropriate housing” here). You do this through the pre-registration form and must make the exemption request no less than 48 hours before your arrival in Iceland.

The quarantine will last for about five days and you will be re-tested at the end of the quarantine. If the result is negative you can end your quarantine and are free to explore Iceland. 

2c) Coming from Greenland

As Greenland is not categorized as high-risk you can visit Iceland freely, provided you have not been outside Greenland in the past 14 days prior to your arrival in Iceland.

You do not need to provide a negative PCR-test.

You do not need to get tested at the border.

You do not need to quarantine.

For more detailed information, and various exemptions and rules that may apply to a minority of travelers, please visit the Covid.is website. If clarification is needed use the web-chat on Covid.is, open between 10 to 12am and 1 to 5 pm weekdays, except to 4pm on Fridays, Icelandic time.

The information contained in this article has been verified by the Directorate of Health to be correct.

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