Travel advice during your trip. Iceland in a Covid-19 world

As of 19 August 2020 (00.00) all arriving passengers can choose between a 14-day quarantine or a double testing procedure along with a quarantine for 5-6 days. Instructions for quarantine for visitors in Iceland.

The double border-screening procedure requires all passengers arriving in Iceland to undergo two PCR-tests: one upon arrival and another 5-6 days later to minimize the risk of a false negative causing infection to spread in the community. During this period, all arriving passengers must stay in quarantine in case of a possible infection. Those who test negative in the second PCR-test are no longer required to take special precautions. Those who test positive must self-isolate. Alternatively, arriving passengers can choose to stay in 14-day quarantine without undergoing any tests. Children born in 2005 and later are exempt from the double border-screening procedure.

Until 18 August 2020 (23:59), all passengers arriving in Iceland (except children born 2005 and later) from high-risk areas who intend to stay in Iceland for 10 days or more have to undergo two PCR-tests. The 1st is at the border on arrival and the 2nd by the primary health care service 4-6 days later. In between the two tests special precautions need to be taken. The 2nd test is free of charge and testing is available at health care services all over the country

For information regarding pre-departure from the UK to Iceland please read our advice before you go FAQ guide. For information regarding arrival back to the UK from Iceland please read this FAQ guide.

Is it safe to travel to Iceland right now?

As of 19 August (00.00) all arriving passengers can choose between a 14-day quarantine and a double testing procedure along with a quarantine for 5-6 days.

The double border-screening procedure requires all passengers arriving in Iceland to undergo two PCR-tests: one upon arrival and another 5-6 days later to minimize the risk of a false negative causing infection to spread in the community. During this period, all arriving passengers must stay in quarantine in case of a possible infection. Those who test negative in the second PCR-test are no longer required to take special precautions. Those who test positive must self-isolate. Alternatively, arriving passengers can choose to stay in 14-day quarantine without undergoing any tests. Children born in 2005 and later are exempt from the double border-screening procedure.

Passengers are charged ISK 9 000 for a single test at pre-registration but ISK 11 000 if paid on arrival although no more than ISK 22 000 every 30 days for each individual.

Until 18 August 23:59:

All passengers arriving in Iceland from high-risk areas who intend to stay in Iceland for 10 days or more have to undergo two PCR-tests. The 1st is at the border on arrival and the 2nd by the primary health care service 4-6 days later. In between the two tests special precautions need to be taken. The 2nd test is free of charge and testing is available at health care services all over the country.

As of 13 July 2020, all residents of Iceland or Icelandic citizens who have chosen to undergo screening on arrival in Iceland will need to maintain infection prevention measures for five days after arrival or until such time as the results of a subsequent screening have been processed. For further information, see: https://www.landlaeknir.is/servlet/file/store93/item42089/Lei%C3%B0beiningum%20um%20heimkomusmitg%C3%A1t%2013.07.2020.pdf

During such period they must:

• not attend gatherings or parties where there are more than ten people,

• not interact with people that are at increased risk of severe illness/vulnerable groups,

• take care to observe the two-metre rule when interacting with others,

• not greet people with a handshake and avoid hugs,

• take particular care as regards personal hygiene.

They may, however:

• use public transport in order reach their destination,

• go for a drive,

• go shopping,

• meet friends and acquaintances within the above limits.

Persons obliged to take preventative measures against infection on arrival home will need to undergo a second screening four or five days after arrival in Iceland. Such screening is free of charge. If the results of the second screening are negative, they will no longer need to maintain the preventative homecoming measures. A positive result, however, will always lead to quarantine.

Although the regulation covers only Icelandic citizens and those who live in Iceland, their families and others who have a widespread contacts network in Iceland are encouraged to follow the same rules.

How has Iceland responded to the Covid-19 pandemic?

Iceland has been very successful in its response against COVID-19 and getting the virus under control with large-scale testing, contact tracing, and early and extensive quarantine and isolation measures.

The main measures taken were:

  • Early definition of high-risk areas
  • Quarantine requirements of all residents returning from areas abroad
  • Large-scale screening for COVID-19
  • High infection tracing rate (over 95% to date)
  • Quarantine requirements for anyone who has been in contact with infected individuals
  • Ban on larger gatherings (20-person limit)
  • University and upper secondary school-closures. Limited opening of elementary schools and preschools
  • Active communication with the general public, including daily press briefings

The Government of Iceland also launched a website www.covid.is that serves as the main information hub with the latest data, recommendations, and status on COVID-19 in Iceland.

How will Iceland reopen its borders?

Iceland’s borders have remained open to other EU and Schengen states throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, under the condition that passengers quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Iceland will continue to implement the travel restrictions imposed for the Schengen Area, which are currently in place.

As of 19 August 2020 (00.00) all arriving passengers can choose between a 14-day quarantine or a double testing procedure along with a quarantine for 5-6 days.

What should I expect on arrival at the airport in Iceland?

Before departure

Passengers are required to fill out a pre-registration form (on www.covid.is) before departure to Iceland, which requires passengers to provide their personal details and contact information, flight information, travel dates and address(es) during their stay in Iceland. The form also includes a declaration of health and passengers are required to provide information on countries they have visited before arrival, whether they have any symptoms of COVID-19, whether they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 before their arrival, or if they have been in close contact with an infected individual.

Passengers are also encouraged to download and use the COVID-19 app Rakning C-19. The app contains important information on COVID-19 and how to contact the health care service in Iceland.

Health & safety control measures at the border

The pre-registration form provides passengers with information on the conditions for entry into Iceland. As of 19 August (00.00) all arriving passengers can choose between a 14-day quarantine and a double testing procedure along with a quarantine for 5-6 days.

The double border-screening procedure requires all passengers arriving in Iceland to undergo two PCR-tests: one upon arrival and another 5-6 days later to minimize the risk of a false negative causing infection to spread in the community. During this period, all arriving passengers must stay in quarantine in case of a possible infection. Those who test negative in the second PCR-test are no longer required to take special precautions. Those who test positive must self-isolate. Alternatively, arriving passengers can choose to stay in 14-day quarantine without undergoing any tests. Children born in 2005 and later are exempt from the double border-screening procedure.

At this time, the Icelandic health authorities cannot accept proof of test results. Those with a previously confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 in Iceland are exempt from quarantine upon their return from travel abroad.

How long will I have to wait for the results of the screening?

Arrivals passengers are expected to receive the results of their screening within 24 hours, usually the same day. If, however, their arrival is after 17:00, the results will be available the next day. Arrivals passengers will be notified of their result in the traceability-app, Rakning C-19, through Heilsuvera or by text message. If no response has been received within 24 hours, you can send an e-mail to: testc19@ landlaeknir.is. Positive results will be given by means of a telephone call. It is vital that all arrivals passengers can be reached in order to provide them with the results of screening. As a result, it is important to have one or more telephone numbers active.

Where can I wait for the results for the test?

Travellers will have to take special precautions during the first five days after arrival in Iceland or until they can be tested for the second time for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

As of 19 August (00.00) all arriving passengers can choose between a 14-day quarantine and a double testing procedure along with a quarantine for 5-6 days.

The double border-screening procedure requires all passengers arriving in Iceland to undergo two PCR-tests: one upon arrival and another 5-6 days later to minimize the risk of a false negative causing infection to spread in the community. During this period, all arriving passengers must stay in quarantine in case of a possible infection. Those who test negative in the second PCR-test are no longer required to take special precautions. Those who test positive must self-isolate. Alternatively, arriving passengers can choose to stay in 14-day quarantine without undergoing any tests. Children born in 2005 and later are exempt from the double border-screening procedure.

As of August 19, 2020 quarantined individual must not use public transport but they may use taxis, rental cars or private cars when leaving the base of quarantine is necessary. Persons with symptoms of COVID-19 may not use taxis, if symptoms arise during quarantine and testing for COVID-19 must be arranged for a visitor who does not have access to a private vehicle or is too ill to drive, the provider who arranges for the testing to be scheduled (primary care, 1700 or 112) should be made aware of the situation and can take it into account.

Do I have to stay in the capital area while I wait for my test results?

From 19 August (00:00) A person under quarantine should stay in their base of quarantine and have contact with as few people as possible.

  • The base of quarantine must have a permanent fixed address with private hygiene facilities for each individual or family members who quarantine together.
  • Use of mobile accommodations, such as a tent or camper van or similar is not allowed due to the requirement for private hygiene facilities and travel restrictions inherent in quarantine.
  • Group accommodations are also prohibited during quarantine (hostels, hiking lodges, fishing lodges etc.), that is any accommodations where persons who do not share a home sleep in the same room, use the same hygiene facilities and/or cooking facilities.
  • Guesthouses and home-based accommodations offered for use by individuals in quarantine must offer private hygiene facilities for each unit in use for quarantine and those in quarantine in such accommodations may not use any shared spaces, such as lounges, kitchens etc.

What happens if I test positive for Coronavirus after arriving in Iceland?

If a passenger tests positive, they may be offered to undergo further tests to determine whether they have an active infection. In the case of an active infection, the passenger must self-isolate. Foreign nationals who are required to self-isolate and do not have access to a suitable location where they can isolate will be given accommodation at a specialised isolation centre at no cost to them. Infected individuals must provide information to the contact tracing team on who they have come in close contact with during two days prior to the onset of their symptoms. Further information on isolation requirements can be found here: https://www.covid.is/categories/how-does-isolation-work

What if I’m asked to quarantine?

If you’ve been in contact with a confirmed coronavirus case you will be required to self-quarantine for up to two weeks from the point of last contact. This could be if you have:

  • Been within two metres of an infected individual for more than 15 minutes
  • Sat within two-rows of an infected individual on the aeroplane

Even if you test negative for COVID-19 at the airport you may still be required to self-quarantine. You will receive a phone call from the infection tracking team to determine whether you need to do so.

As you’d guess, quarantine means you are not allowed to leave your residence or be in physical contact with other people who are not quarantined. There are harsh penalties including fines for those who break quarantine.

Will I have to quarantine when travelling to Iceland?

As of 19 August (00.00) all arriving passengers can choose between a 14-day quarantine and a double testing procedure along with a quarantine for 5-6 days.

The double border-screening procedure requires all passengers arriving in Iceland to undergo two PCR-tests: one upon arrival and another 5-6 days later to minimize the risk of a false negative causing infection to spread in the community. During this period, all arriving passengers must stay in quarantine in case of a possible infection. Those who test negative in the second PCR-test are no longer required to take special precautions. Those who test positive must self-isolate. Alternatively, arriving passengers can choose to stay in 14-day quarantine without undergoing any tests. Children born in 2005 and later are exempt from the double border-screening procedure.

Instructions for quarantine for visitors in Iceland.

Is there a lockdown or a ban on public gatherings in Iceland?

Entertainments, events and other get-togethers where 100 people and fewer congregate are allowed. Consideration for social distancing of 2 meters is mandatory. Particular care shall be taken as regards cleanliness and disinfection.

Is everything in Iceland open?

Businesses and activities that were closed or restricted on 24 March were allowed to open from 4 May but with certain limitations:

  • Swimming pools opened to the public on 18 May under restrictions specific to them.
  • Gyms opened on 25 May.
  • Dance halls, bars and game rooms will remain closed. Lottery machines may be operated.
  • Restaurants may be open.
  • Museums and galleries can open.
  • Activities involving physical proximity such as hair salons, make-up or beauty salons, massage parlours, and other similar activities, can open.
  • Grocery stores and other shops are open. Larger grocery stores and drugstores may allow up to 100 people to be inside the store at the same time, provided that a distance of at least 2 metres is maintained between individuals.

Local businesses have been advised by the Icelandic Government about the measures they need to put in place to ensure customers and staff are safe during this time, including social distancing, clear cleaning plans and ways to inform people of the steps that have been taken to follow the government’s recommendations.

How can I keep safe and avoid infection in Iceland?

All travellers are encouraged to take precautionary measures to protect themselves and others, such as frequent handwashing, use of disinfectants, the two-metre social distancing guidelines, and to respect health & safety regulations in place. PCR tests do not absolutely rule out COVID-19 infections in asymptomatic individuals.

Travellers are encouraged to download and use the COVID-19 app Rakning C-19. The app contains important information on COVID-19 and how to contact the health care service. They are also encouraged to follow information on the official COVID-19 information portal www.covid.is, which hosts the most up to date information and important announcements in several languages for tourists.

Do I need to wear a face mask in Iceland?

A face mask must be worn in any situation where 2-metre social distancing is not possible. Hand washing and sanitising are still considered the most important hygiene rules as well as keeping 2 metres distance from other people as much as possible is advised.

What happens if I think I have Covid-19 symptoms while on holiday in Iceland?

If you become ill or think you may have symptoms of COVID-19 you can contact the health care helpline through the app Rakning C-19, the information portal www.covid.is, or through the national online health portal Heilsuvera. All travellers are encouraged to maintain 2 metres distance as much as possible.

Further Information and Resource Links

Read our comprehensive Iceland Travel guides for more information.

All information, developments, and advice about Iceland and COVID-19 can be found at the website of the Directorate of Health and the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management as well as the designated COVID-19 website for Iceland maintained by these institutions.