Iceland was among the first countries in the world that used proof of vaccination as its requirement for entry.
The northern Atlantic island has been increasing in popularity in recent years, especially among younger and adventure-oriented travellers. Here’s the key information you need to know if you’re planning a trip to Iceland.
Iceland Travel Restrictions
In April 2021, Iceland reopened its borders to all vaccinated travellers. Prior to April, only Schengen area countries were allowed.
That being said, the issuance of visas is still closed in many countries, so practically speaking, Iceland is only open to countries that can enter visa-free.
The full list of countries from which a visa is required can be found on the Icelandic Police website.
Iceland has also set up a website where you can take a short quiz and determine your entry eligibility.
How Can Canadians Enter Iceland?
Travellers are allowed to enter Iceland through all international airports and as well by sea, in the way of a cruise. As of October 2021, when departing Canada by air, travellers are required to present proof of vaccination.
Travellers coming from Canada have two options for entering Iceland:
- Present proof of vaccination. All vaccines approved by the European Medical Association (EMA) or World Health Organization (WHO) are valid, including: Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca (including Covishield and SK Bio), Johnson & Johnson, Sinopharm, and Sinovac.
- For Canadians, the vaccination card from your provincial health authority will suffice.
- Present proof of recovery from COVID-19. This includes a positive PCR test from more than 14 days ago or presence of antibodies (IgG) measured by ELISA or equivalent serologic essay (EIA, ECLIA, ELFA, CMIA, CLIA, CLMIA).
All travellers must also present a negative PCR test or a negative antigen test taken within 72 hours of departure of the first leg of the journey.
Furthermore, travellers must pre-register their visit prior to arrival on the visit.covid.is website, Iceland’s dedicated page for traveller services during the pandemic.
Only children under the age of 12 are exempt from the PCR test requirement. For children above the age of 12 who are not yet eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, they will need to present a negative test or proof of recovery to enter Iceland.
Children born in 2005 or later are exempt from the testing requirement and follow the same quarantine conditions as their parents.
Travellers arriving from Greenland are not subject to any travel restrictions.
Testing & Quarantine Upon Arrival
Iceland currently does not have mandatory or random testing upon arrival unless the traveller is not fully vaccinated.
If there is suspicion of a forged vaccination certificate, the traveller undergo arrival procedures as if they were unvaccinated, meaning two COVID-19 tests and a quarantine of five days between them.
Testing & Quarantine Upon Return
Travellers must complete a negative PCR test within 72 hours of boarding their flight back to Canada. Iceland makes this easy by offering COVID-19 tests to visitors at a cost of €50 / 7,000 ISK ($70), with results within 24 hours if taken in the capital area or 48 hours from the countryside.
You can register for a COVID-19 test on the visit.covid.is website.
As of October 2021, Switch Health’s RT-LAMP Test Kit can also be ordered prior to your trip and self-administered within 72 hours of your return flight to Canada. We’d recommend purchasing a Switch Health RT-LAMP Test Kit for the smoothest travel experience on your return journey.
Fully vaccinated Canadians can return to Canada by air without undergoing quarantine, upon completing a negative test at the airport on arrival into Canada. Canadians are considered fully vaccinated if they’ve received a full series of one of (or a mix of) Health Canada’s approved vaccines – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, or Johnson & Johnson – at least 14 days before entering Canada.
Until August 9, Canadians who are not fully vaccinated must undergo a mandatory hotel stopover, a 14-day quarantine at home, and a self-administered test on Day 8.
Current Health Requirements in Iceland
Most businesses, including hotels, restaurants, entertainment venues, and major attractions have returned to normal operations, and Iceland’s vast number of outdoor attractions are of course open for exploration.
However, due to an uptick in the number of infections locally, gathering limits have been imposed until August 13, 2021.
Masks are mandatory in indoor public spaces where a one-metre distance cannot be maintained for travellers aged 6 and older. Masks are also mandatory at sports events and performing arts venues. Those who have recovered from COVID-19 are exempt from all mask obligations.
Food venues such as indoor bars, restaurants, and cafes will operate with the capacity restrictions of five people per 10 square metres or 200 people total. Meanwhile, performing arts and cinemas are prohibited from selling food at any time, including intermission.
Alcohol establishments, including casinos, must close at 11pm every day, with a maximum of 100 guests and must maintain a one metre distance. All guests must depart no later than 12am.
Swimming pools, spas, and gyms are open for 75% of their total capacity or 200 people, whichever is less.
International airports, aircraft, ships, and fishing vessels are exempt from capacity restrictions.
How to Get to Iceland
For the summer and fall of 2021, Icelandair is the only airline operating direct flights between Canada and Iceland, from Toronto Pearson.
Economy class fares for the summer are pricing at $1,000+ round-trip, which is fairly high compared to historical standards.
Fall 2021 is much more reasonably priced in comparison, running $570 round-trip, closer to the end of peak travel season in Iceland.
(Some connecting flights via the US may be available for cheaper, although note that Canadians cannot enter the US from Europe until the US travel ban on Schengen Area countries is lifted.)
Due to the lack of a direct Air Canada flight, redeeming Aeroplan points will be an expensive proposition for the rest of 2021, due to the backtracking required through continental Europe.
This year, the most convenient business class routing would be on Lufthansa, via Frankfurt or Munich, from Toronto or Montreal for 70,000 Aeroplan points, or from Vancouver for 85,000 Aeroplan points.
If you’re an aspirational traveller looking to celebrate your first post-pandemic trip with some luxury flying, consider aiming for Lufthansa First Class from a US gateway airport via Frankfurt or Munich for 100,000 Aeroplan points.
As things stand, Air Canada will be restarting direct flights from Toronto and Montreal to Reykjavik starting in June 2022.
One-way flights are priced in the region of 35,000 Aeroplan points in economy class or 60,000 Aeroplan points in business class (marketed as premium economy), although the dynamic pricing model can lead to either lower or higher price points.
Iceland has reopened to international travellers, including Canadians, since May 2021. The country has clarified that proof of vaccination or recovery is a requirement to enter, along with a negative PCR or antigen test.
Iceland makes for an ideal COVID-era travel destination, as most of its attractions are set in the great outdoors.
Furthermore, the negative PCR test requirement for re-entering Canada can be costly and difficult to obtain in some countries, Iceland makes this a non-issue by virtue of a simple and reasonably priced test booked via the visit.covid.is website.
Still, it’s important to remain cautious and follow local health guidelines, given a recent uptick in Delta variant cases in Iceland and the new gathering limits at indoor venues.
As always, you can refer to our Travel During COVID-19 Resource for Canadians for the most up-to-date information on travelling in the pandemic era.