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Iceland - Take normal security precautions
Take normal security precautions in Iceland.
Safety and security
Pickpocketing occurs. Be vigilant and pay attention to your surroundings at all times. Ensure that your personal belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times.
Never leave personal belongings unattended or valuables in a car.
There is a threat of terrorism in Europe. Terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities and there is a potential for other violent incidents, which could target areas frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. Continue to exercise normal security precautions.
Targets could include:
- government buildings, including schools
- places of worship
- airports and other transportation hubs and networks
- public areas such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners
Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places.
Demonstrations may occur. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.
- Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
More about mass gatherings (large-scale events)
Most urban roads as well as Iceland’s national Route 1, the “ring road,” are paved. Many inland roads are unpaved, narrow and lack shoulders. Roads in the highlands are only open during summer months.
Driving can be hazardous, particularly in winter.
Up-to-date information on road and weather conditions - Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration
Rail service is not available in Iceland.
Municipal bus services are generally not available outside Reykjavik and the surrounding towns.
Ferries and long-distance buses operate throughout the country. Taxis are available in major cities and populated areas throughout the country.
There are few warning signs or barriers to advise you to exercise caution when visiting volcanic craters, glaciers, hot springs and other natural attractions. The weather and terrain can be unpredictable and can cause problems for unprepared travellers.
If you intend on trekking:
- never do so alone and always hire an experienced guide from a reputable company
- buy travel insurance that includes helicopter rescue and medical evacuation
- ensure that your physical condition is good enough to meet the challenges of your activity
- ensure that you’re properly equipped and well informed about weather and other conditions that may pose a hazard
- inform a family member or friend of your itinerary, including when you expect to be back to camp
- know the symptoms of acute altitude sickness, which can be fatal
- obtain detailed information on trekking routes or ski slopes before setting out and do not venture off marked trails or slopes
Advice, alerts and registration of itinerary - Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue
Icelandic emergency service offers a location-based emergency assistance app called 112 Iceland App, available for various smartphone models. The application is particularly useful when travelling to remote areas.
More about 112 Iceland App - Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue
General safety information
Carry a working cell phone if you plan on travelling outside large cities. Remote parts of Iceland are sparsely populated and it may be some time before you come across someone.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
General information about foreign domestic airlines
In an attempt to limit the spread of a novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which originated in China, some governments have implemented special entry restrictions for their territory. Before travelling, verify if your destination’s local authorities have implemented any specific entry and exit restrictions related to this situation.
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Outbreak update – Public Health Agency of Canada
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from the Icelandic authorities. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada.
Iceland is a Schengen area country. Canadian citizens do not need a visa for travel to countries within the Schengen area. However, visa-free travel only applies to stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Stays are cumulative and include visits to any Schengen area country.
If you plan to stay in the Schengen area for a longer period of time, you will need a visa. You must contact the high commission or embassy of the country or countries you are travelling to and obtain the appropriate visa(s) prior to travel.
Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.
Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Regular Canadian passport
Your passport must be valid for at least 3 months beyond the date you expect to leave the Schengen area.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Other travel documents
Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest diplomatic mission for your destination.
Tourist visa: Not required for stays up to 90 days
Business visa: Not required (consultants may stay in Iceland for 4 weeks without a business visa, but employment authorization must be approved before arrival)
Student visa: Required
Work visa: Required
Children and travel
Learn about travel with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
- Global Measles Notice - July 23, 2019
Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health professional about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.
Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.
Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
- There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
About Yellow Fever
Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada
* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Western Europe. When in doubt, remember…boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Insects and Illness
In some areas in Western Europe, certain insects carry and spread diseases like Lyme disease, tick-borne encephalitis, and West Nile virus.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is no risk of malaria in this country.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in Western Europe, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.
Medical services and facilities
Iceland has excellent medical facilities. However, services can be limited outside of urban areas.
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
Travel health and safety
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws and culture
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
Canada and Iceland are signatories to the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. This enables a Canadian imprisoned in Iceland to request a transfer to a Canadian prison to complete a sentence. The transfer requires the agreement of both Canadian and Icelandic authorities.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Iceland.
If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of Iceland, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.
General information for travellers with dual citizenship
You may be required to present identification at any time. Keep a photocopy of your passport in case of its loss or seizure.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences or heavy fines.
Some substances, such as khat, that may be legal in other European countries are prohibited in Iceland.
You should carry an International Driving Permit.
A Canadian driver’s licence is valid in Iceland for 6 months after arrival. After that, you must apply for an Icelandic driver’s licence. Applicants must usually take a driving test but can request an exemption.
Penalties for drinking and driving are severe and can include immediate detention. Convicted offenders can expect heavy fines, confiscation of driver’s licences and possible jail sentences.
It is strictly forbidden to drive off track in the highlands.
Headlights must be kept on at all times.
The use of cellular telephones while driving is prohibited, unless the devices are fitted with a hands-free device.
More about the International Driving Permit
The currency of Iceland is the Icelandic krona (ISK).
Visa and Europay cards are widely accepted but American Express cards are not as common.
Upon entering or leaving the European Union (EU), you must make a declaration to customs if you have €10,000 or more, or the equivalent in other currencies. The sum can be in cash, cheques, money orders, traveller’s cheques or any other convertible assets. This does not apply if you are travelling within the European Union or in transit to a non-EU country.
Information on cash controls - European Commission
Natural disasters and climate
Iceland is located in an active seismic zone but serious earthquakes are rare.
The climate can be unpredictable regardless of the time of year. Monitor weather reports closely.
Climate information and warnings - Icelandic Meteorological Office
More on weather and travel conditions – Safe Travel
Dial 112 for emergency assistance.
Reykjavik - Embassy of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the embassy of Canada in Reykjavik and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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