Road Conditions and Safety: Driving in Iceland is on the right side of the road, as in the United States.
- While in Iceland, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. Less than one-third of Iceland?s total road network is paved, and many roads outside the capital, especially those that run through the center of the country, are impassable in winter (October through April).
- Many bridges are only one lane wide (marked with a sign ?Enibreid bru?) so drivers must be alert to oncoming traffic.
- Extreme care should be taken when driving in rural areas during the winter when daylight hours are limited and the weather and road conditions can change rapidly.
- Many routes in the interior of the country are impassable until July due to muddy conditions and swollen rivers caused by snowmelt.
- Always inform someone of your travel plans.
For information on current road conditions throughout the country please consult The Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration (Vegagerdin) website. This website can show you in real time the status of most roads in Iceland, color-coded by status.
Traffic Laws: You can use a valid U.S. driver?s license for up to 90 days while visiting Iceland, but you must be at least 17 years old to drive.
- Icelandic law requires drivers to keep headlights on at all times.
- Talking on cell phones while driving is prohibited, except when using a hands-free system, and is subject to a fine of 5,000 Icelandic Kronur (approximately $45).
- Driving under the influence of alcohol is a serious offense in Iceland. Drivers can be charged with Driving Under the Influence with a blood alcohol level as low as .05%.
- Unless otherwise posted, the speed limit is 50 km/h in urban areas and 30 km/h in residential areas.
- In rural areas, the speed limit depends on the type of road: on dirt and gravel roads, the speed limit is 80 km/h (50 mph); on paved highways, the speed limit is 90 km/h (55 mph).
- It is illegal to turn right on a red light.
- In traffic circles, always yield to cars coming from the left/ the inside lane.
- The use of seatbelts is mandatory in both the front and rear seats.
- Children under the age of six must be secured in a size and weight appropriate car seat.
- Drivers are held responsible for any passenger under the age of 15 not wearing a seatbelt.
- No one shorter than 140 centimters, lighter than 40 kilograms (or 88 pounds), or younger than 12 years of age is allowed to ride in a front seat equipped with an airbag.
Public Transportation: Public transportation in Iceland is safe and reliable.
See our Road Safety page for more information.
Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Iceland?s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Iceland?s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA?s safety assessment page.
Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Iceland should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts on the Maritime Administration website. Information may also be posted to the websites of the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Geospace Intelligence Agency (select ?broadcast warnings?).
Medical care in Iceland is of high quality, but limited services are available outside large, urban areas. The Icelandic medical system offers coverage only for people who live in Iceland. Non-residents are expected to pay their own medical costs, and you should be prepared to pay your bill in full before leaving the hospital or clinic.
For emergency medical assistance anywhere in the country, dial 112. For non-emergency medical assistance in the Reykjavik metropolitan area, dial 544-4114 during business hours. During non-business hours, dial 1770.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance (our webpage) to cover medical evacuation.
If traveling with prescription medication, check with the government of Iceland to ensure the medication is legal in Iceland. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor?s prescription.
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Local laws and Special Circumstances
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.
Importation of whale products to the United States: All persons are barred from importing whale products to the United States.
Though whale meat and other products that utilize whale parts are sold throughout Iceland, the Marine Mammal Protection Act makes it illegal to bring back whale products to the United States. Any importation of products containing whale to the United States will result in the seizure of the goods and possible criminal prosecution. Penalties include jail time and fines of up to $10,000.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.
Faith-Based Travelers: See the following webpages for details:
- Faith-Based Travel Information
- International Religious Freedom Report ? see country reports
- Human Rights Report ? see country reports
- Hajj Fact Sheet for Travelers
- Best Practices for Volunteering Abroad
LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Iceland.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Icelandic law prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities and requires that public accommodations and government buildings, including elevators, be accessible to individuals with disabilities. All government buildings in Iceland are wheelchair accessible, as are most museums, malls, and large shopping centers in the capital area. The public bus system and taxis provide transportation services for individuals with disabilities.
- Many stores in the old downtown area in Reykjavik, such as around the popular shopping street of Laugavegur, are not wheelchair accessible.
- Many sidewalks in downtown Reykjavik lack curb ramps, and the streets are steep.
- Hotels outside Reykjavik and smaller hotels in the capital are not all accessible to individuals with disabilities.
- There are very few paths or marked trails at natural attractions found outside urban areas.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Safety and Security
Iceland has had no terrorist incidents. Nevertheless, credible information indicates terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Europe. European governments are taking action to guard against terrorist attacks; however, all European countries remain potentially vulnerable to attacks from transnational terrorist organizations.
Crime: Iceland has a low crime rate with rare instances of violent crime. Using common sense will go a long way in ensuring you do not become a victim.
- Do not put bags containing valuables, such as your passport, on the floor in bars or nightclubs.
- Do not leave your valuables in parked vehicles, even if the vehicle is locked.
- Be aware that downtown Reykjavik can become disorderly in the late night to early morning hours as people are leaving bars and clubs.
Victims of Crime:
Report crimes to the local police by dialing 112 and contact the U.S. Embassy at +(354) 595-2200. After working hours, call +(354)595-2200.
Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
- help you find appropriate medical care
- assist you in reporting a crime to the police
- contact relatives or friends with your written consent
- explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
- provide a list of local attorneys
- provide our information on victim?s compensation programs in the U.S.
- provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
- help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
- replace a stolen or lost passport
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.
The Icelandic Red Cross has a helpline that is open 24 hours a day, every day, for anyone needing assistance with grief, anxiety, fear, depression, or suicidal thoughts. Dial 1717 to reach Red Cross volunteers in Iceland.
Tourism: The tourism industry is generally regulated and rules are regularly enforced. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage. Professional staff is typically on hand in support of organized activities. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is sporadic due to limited hours and physical distances. Outside of a major metropolitan center, it may take more time for first responders and medical professionals to stabilize a patient and provide life-saving assistance. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
For further information:
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Call us in Washington at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
- See the State Department’s travel website for Worldwide Caution and Travel Advisories.
- Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
- See traveling safely abroad for useful travel tips.
Entry exit Requirementsh
Visit the Icelandic Directorate of Immigration website for the most current visa information.
Iceland is a party to the Schengen Agreement. This means that U.S. citizens may enter Iceland for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa. Your passport should be valid for at least six months beyond your planned date of departure from the Schengen area. You need sufficient funds and a return airline ticket. For additional details about travel into and within Schengen countries, please see our Schengen fact sheet.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Iceland.
See the Department of State?s Fact Sheet on Iceland for information on U.S. – Iceland relations.