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All You Need to Know about Traveling to Iceland in 2021 during COVID | Safety, Policies, and FAQs
All You Need to Know about Traveling to Iceland in 2021 during COVID | Safety, Policies, and FAQs

All You Need to Know about Traveling to Iceland in 2021 during COVID | Safety, Policies, and FAQs

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On this page, you can find up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 in Iceland and what impact it may have on your travel plans when visiting Iceland. This page was last updated on January 20th, 2021, and will be updated daily. 

Below you can read about the latest COVID-19 numbers in Iceland, the current Icelandic border policy, how to safely travel in Iceland during COVID-19, the vaccination progress in Iceland, and the COVID-friendly policies at Guide to Iceland, among others. 

Is it safe to travel to Iceland right now?

The latest COVID-19 status in Iceland in January 2021

Iceland has been following a strict testing and tracing protocol through this pandemic. 

With a population of only 340,000 people, Iceland is a relatively small country that has worked hard to tackle the spread of COVID-19. As of January 20th, 2021, there are 116 active infections in Iceland. 

Health authorities are processing over 1,000 tests per day and have asked everyone to download a tracking app to help with contact tracing. With these practices in place, authorities can quickly isolate new cases to lessen the virus’s spread.

What makes Iceland safe during COVID-19?

Every country in the world is dealing with COVID-19 in one way or another. There are a few things that make Iceland a safer place to visit than other countries. 

Small population

With only 340,000 people, Iceland is one of the smaller countries in the world. Having a smaller population makes the virus easier to track and allows travelers to travel without interacting with many people. 

Low population density

Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, has a population of around 200,000.

Almost 70% of the population lives in the capital area. This leaves so much of the country to explore without many people. The population density is low at three people per square kilometer. As a comparison, China’s population density is 153 people per square kilometer and in the United States is 36 people per square kilometer. 

Typical exploration activities in Iceland

Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon under the Northern Lights. No city light or crowds to disturb the magical experience.

Iceland is known for its vast open spaces and unique landscapes. The majority of the activities are centered around nature. Whether hunting the Northern Lights or exploring the 10th waterfall of the day, travelers will likely be spending most of their vacation outside in nature. This gives them a unique opportunity to protect themselves by keeping a safe distance from other people. 

What is the vaccination status in Iceland in January 2021?

The vaccine provides some peace of mind as the first doses were given at the end of 2020. 4,917 people received the vaccine in December. On January 12th, 2021, another 1,200 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine arrived. With such a small population, authorities are optimistic about how quickly the majority can be vaccinated, and herd immunity could be achieved by the middle of 2021. 

What is the border policy in Iceland right now?

As of January 20th, 2021, the Icelandic border is still open to visitors from approved countries. Travelers are required to undergo 2 COVID-19 tests, with a 5-day quarantine between or provide a certificate proving you have previously contracted and recovered from COVID-19.

Who can enter Iceland during COVID-19

At this time, Icelandic borders are only open to certain countries. Currently, that list is limited to:

  • Residents and citizens of the EEA 
  • Residents and citizens of Switzerland

If you are a citizen or resident of the areas mentioned above, you must register with Icelandic authorities by filling out a pre-registration form before arrival. You can find more information on restrictions on traveling to Iceland on the police forces website.  

Two options upon arriving at the Icelandic border

Option 1: Take 2 COVID-19 tests with a five day quarantine period between the two

Iceland continues to process over 1,000 tests per day, the majority of which are from the airport. If you choose the 5-day quarantine option, you will have to take a quick test at the airport. After you are tested, you must proceed to your accommodation to quarantine until you receive your second test results. Even if your first test is negative, you cannot leave quarantine until the second test results are negative. 

Testing at the border will be free of charge until January 31st, 2021. You can check the official COVID-19 information website for more details on the certificate requirements and current border policy. 

Option 2: Provide the Icelandic health authorities with a certificate from the EEA/EFTA proving that you have previously contracted COVID-19 with a confirmed antibody test

Both a certificate showing positive PCR-test results for SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 that is older than 14 days and a certificate showing the presence of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 measured by ELISA serologic assay is accepted. A rapid diagnostic test will not be accepted. The Directorate of Health has the specific requirements of the certificate listed on their website. 

Border control will review the certificate and contact a representative of the Chief Epidemiologist (health care worker) as needed. If the certificate is deemed invalid, the traveler must choose the 14-day quarantine or taking 2 COVID-19 tests with the 5-day quarantine in between. 

Quarantine in Iceland

On January 15th, 2021 the health minister issued a regulation requiring almost everyone to take a COVID-19 test upon entry and another one after a 5-day quarantine. Any travelers with a preexisting medical condition can choose a 14-day quarantine instead of testing. 

As of January 13th, children born in 2005 or later must go into quarantine with their parents or guardians when they arrive in Iceland. It is important to note that children born in 2005 or later do not have to be tested for COVID-19 when they arrive in Iceland. 

Many different hotels and guesthouses have made changes to ensure a safe quarantine. If you have already booked accommodations, please reach out to them to make sure they accept quarantined travelers' responsibility. If you are looking for a place to quarantine, you can find the list of businesses here

What if COVID-19 affects my travel booking?

Testing positive & travel delays

If you purchase a day tour, multi-day tour, or rent a car on Guide to Iceland, but test positive on arrival to Iceland or your flight gets delayed or canceled, you can choose to reschedule your trip to another date. If that is not an option for you, you will get a full refund. If you purchase a self-drive tour or guided tour package along with the cancellation insurance, you will also get a full refund. The cancellation insurance is available for purchase during the booking process while you book your trip.

Guide to Iceland has honored all refund requests for COVID-19 related cancellations to date. To cancel and get a full refund after arrival, please contact us via email with your booking details and your test result within 4 hours after receiving the test result.

You can find the full terms of service on each of our product pages.

Are businesses and tours still operating?

Guide to Iceland makes sure that every customer receives the services they have purchased. If a customer books a service with a company that can not deliver it, Guide to Iceland will always offer alternative options or free upgrades.

As in many countries, COVID-19 has put a strain on Icelandic businesses. However, many continue to offer tours and other services throughout the country and are excited to welcome travelers back. These tour companies operate under the Icelandic health authorities' guidance and work hard to ensure everyone's safety. 

The current regulations state:

  • Social distancing requirements for people who are not related or closely connected are 2 meters. Face-mask wearing is obligatory when you cannot maintain this distance.
  • With certain exceptions, public gatherings are limited to 20 people. Audiences at stage performances, cinema showings, and other cultural events are now limited to 100 adults and 100 children born in 2005 and later, where audience members must sit in numbered seats.
  • Restaurants are allowed to remain open with proper social distancing until 10 pm but may not admit new guests after 9 pm.
  • Swimming pools may remain open but may not exceed 50% capacity.

These regulations will remain in effect until February 17, 2021. 

Iceland's main attraction - nature, remains open even when restrictions are in place.

For the most up-to-date information on Iceland's COVID-19 restrictions, please visit Iceland's Official Ministry of Health website.

Can I book after I arrive?

Yes, you can. But we highly recommend that you book in advance. If your flight gets canceled or you test positive for COVID-19 on arrival, you will get a full refund. Booking after arrival will limit your options as availability is limited in Iceland right now.

If you have further questions, please drop us an email, and we will help you with your trip.

What airlines are flying to Iceland during COVID-19?

Iceland's flag carrier airline now runs flights from 10 destinations, including Amsterdam, Boston, Copenhagen, and London.

Other airlines have already started flying again or are planning to soon. For example:

  • Air Baltic - now flying to and from Riga
  • Air Greenland - now flying to and from Nuuk
  • Lufthansa - now flying to and from Frankfurt
  • Wizz Air - now running scheduled flights from Gdansk, Katowice, and Warsaw

You can visit Keflavik International Airport's Airlines and Destinations page for the most current information on airlines and flights traveling to Iceland.

Am I safe to make a booking with Guide to Iceland?

Yes, absolutely. Here at Guide to Iceland, we're committed to ensuring those enjoying our experiences' safety and welfare. We are honoring our cancellation policy fully, which you can read more about in our terms and conditions. In short, you can never lose a booking with us. If you choose to cancel your booking, please email us at info@guidetoiceland.is, and we will process your request. 

We look forward to seeing you in Iceland!