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Iceland

If you’re travelling to Iceland, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information.

Get travel and medical insurance

Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), available by contacting the Health Service Executive, and that you also obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.

Overview

Security status

We advise you to take normal precautions.

Latest Alert

Iceland is volcanically and seismically active.

The earthquake which took place in the area around Bárðarbunga volcano on Vatnajökull glacier in the east of Iceland, which began in August 2014, has ended. However, high levels of sulphur dioxide continue to be detected and the immediate area surrounding the eruption site remains closed to the public.

There have also been reports of higher than normal concentrations of sulphur dioxide in other parts of Iceland. If you have an existing respiratory condition you should take particular care and monitor reports from the Icelandic Met Office.

In addition, the weather in Iceland, particularly during the winter months, can be severe. Travellers should monitor local information available on the Safe Travel Website and the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration website and follow the advice of the local authorities.

Emergency assistance

Because there is no resident Irish Embassy in Iceland, we are limited in the help as can offer you in an emergency situation. However, if you need assistance, you can contact the Honorary Consul in Gardabaer or the Irish Embassy in Copenhagen in Denmark.

You can contact the emergency services in Iceland by dialling 112.

Other EU embassies

You can also contact the Embassies or Consulates of other EU countries for emergency consular assistance, advice and support.

Our tips for Safe Travels:

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities.
  • Get a European Health Insurance Card
  • Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly if there’s an unforeseen crisis like a natural disaster or a family emergency.
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates.
  • Read our ‘Know Before You Go’ guide.

 

Safety and security

Political Stability/unrest

The political situation in Iceland is reasonably stable but there can be occasional outbreaks of social unrest.

Always keep yourself informed of what’s going on around you by monitoring local media and staying in contact with your hotel or tour organiser. Avoid demonstrations and public gatherings, which can sometimes turn confrontational.

Terrorism

Although the threat from terrorism in Iceland is low, there is still a global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by tourists and expatriates. 

Crime

Crime remains relatively low in Iceland but you should take sensible precautions: 

  • Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place. 
  • Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home.

Reporting crime

If you’re a victim of a crime while in Iceland, report it to the local police immediately. And you can contact us at the Irish Embassy in Copenhagen if you need help.

Driving

If you’re planning to drive in Iceland, you should exercise caution as road conditions may be hazardous, especially in winter when you should seek information on weather and road conditions before commencing your journey.

  • Bring your full Irish driving licence and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance.
  • Dimmed headlights are mandatory at all times.
  • Note that it is illegal to drive off-road in Iceland.

Hiring a vehicle

If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.

Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).

Local laws and customs

Practical advice

Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them. Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or even illegal

Personal identification

You should carry personal identification at all times, for example either a passport or driving licence.

Illegal drugs

Illegal drug use (no matter what the drug) carries stiff penalties, including fines and long prison terms.

Natural disasters and climate

If you’re travelling to Iceland, make sure you know what to expect – then plan and pack so that you’re prepared. Get local advice on how to manage in the case of a serious incident or dangerous conditions and co-operate with local authorities and emergency services in the case of serious incidents.

Volcanoes

Volcanic activity in Iceland has increased in recent years and you should always heed local warnings. If you’re travelling to or living in Iceland, make sure you know what to do in the event of a volcano erupting.

Iceland is volcanically and seismically active

Police in Iceland have declared a Civil Protection Uncertainty phase due to recent seismic activity at Katla volcano. The contingency plan for an eruption has been activated accordingly. The uncertainty phase means that there is the possibility of hazards in the near future.

You can monitor current meteorological developments at http://en.vedur.is.

Health

The healthcare system in Iceland is of a very high standard, and in the case of serious injury emergency, medical treatment is free of charge, although you will be charged for follow-up care. 

Travel Insurance

We can’t pay for emergency medical repatriation, repatriation of remains, or for expenses as a result of a personal emergency while you are abroad. If you buy an appropriate travel insurance policy, these costs will be covered, provided you haven’t broken the terms and conditions.

Buying comprehensive travel insurance can save you and your family a lot of money if something goes wrong. It will also ensure that you get the medical attention you need, when you need it. Hospital bills can quickly run into thousands of euro, and a medical evacuation back to Ireland can cost thousands more.

Not all policies are the same, and the cheapest one might be cheap for a reason. Make sure your policy covers all the activities you plan to do on your trip. Insurance Ireland recommend that you purchase a policy that provides a minimum medical cover of €1 million.

Emergency expenses

Your policy should cover:

  • All medical care abroad, including evacuation by air ambulance, or other emergency procedures, and any other costs associated with an unexpected longer stay.
  • Your entire trip, from departure to return. Consider an annual multi-trip policy if you’re making more than one trip in the year.   
  • 24-hour emergency service and assistance.
  • Personal liability cover (in case you’re sued for causing injury or damaging property).
  • Lost and stolen possessions.
  • Cancellation and curtailment.
  • Any extra activities you intend to do that are excluded from standard policies (e.g. water sport activities such as jet skiing or other extreme sports).

Exclusions: You should know most insurance policies will not cover drink or drug-related incidents.

Additional information

Entry requirements (visa/passport)

Irish citizens don’t need a visa to enter Iceland.

Currency

The currency of Iceland is the Icelandic krona. Credit and debit cards are commonly used for payments, although foreign cards often attract a surcharge.