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Iceland - Take normal security precautions
Take normal security precautions in Iceland.
Safety and security
Safety and security
The crime rate is low, but pickpocketing does occur. Be vigilant and pay attention to your surroundings at all times.
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.
Demonstrations occur periodically. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
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.
For up-to-date information on road and weather conditions, see the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration or reach them at +354 522 1000.
Rental cars are available in major towns and airports.
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.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
There are few warning signs or barriers to advise you: 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 to trek:
- never trek alone or venture off marked trails;
- always hire an experienced guide and ensure that the trekking company is reputable;
- buy travel health insurance that includes helicopter rescue and medical evacuation;
- ensure that you are in top physical condition;
- advise a family member or friend of your itinerary, including when you expect to be back to camp;
- sign up with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service; and
- obtain detailed information on trekking routes before setting out.
Consult Safetravel.is for advice from Icelandic search and rescue teams and to register your itinerary.
General safety information
Exercise normal safety precautions. Ensure that your personal belongings, including passports and other travel documents, are secure at all times. Never leave personal belongings unattended and never leave valuables in a car.
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.
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. See Safetravel.is for details.
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.
Customs officials will ask you to show them a return ticket and proof of sufficient funds for your stay.
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 four weeks without a business visa, but employment authorization must be approved before arrival)
Student visa: Required
Work visa: Required
* The 90-day period begins upon initial entry into any country of the Schengen area. Stays are cumulative and include visits to any Schengen area country within any 180-day period.
Children and travel
Learn about travel with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
- Measles in Europe - March 5, 2018
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 provider 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.
Outbreaks of measles are ongoing.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that can cause serious complications for some people.
You are at increased risk of measles infection if you have not had the illness or if you are not up to date on your vaccinations.
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.
* 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
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.
Medical services and facilities
Iceland has excellent medical facilities; however, services can be limited outside of urban areas.
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
Laws & 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 (Council of Europe). 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.
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.
An International Driving Permit is recommended. A Canadian driver’s licence is valid in Iceland for six 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.
The currency of Iceland is the Icelandic krona (ISK).
Visa and Europay cards are widely accepted but American Express cards are not as common.
When crossing one of the external border control points of the European Union (EU), you must make a declaration to customs upon entry or exit if you have at least €10,000 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 EU or in transit to a non-EU country. For more information on the EU legislation and links to EU countries’ sites, visit the European Commission’s website on cash controls.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
Severe winter storms
The Icelandic Meteorological Office is expecting two severe storms with hurricane-like wind gusts throughout Iceland on February 21 and 23, 2018. As the storms develop, the Meteorological Office will continue to issue alerts and warnings for the potentially affected areas.
If you reside in or are travelling to Iceland:
- monitor local news and weather reports
- follow the instructions of local authorities
- contact your travel agent or tour operator to determine if the situation will disrupt travel arrangements
Latest alerts – Icelandic Meteorological Office
Iceland is located in an active seismic zone but serious earthquakes are rare.
The climate can be unpredictable regardless of the time of year. For climate information and warnings, visit the Icelandic Meteorological Office website or dial +354 522 6000 or +354 902 0600. Information is available in English, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Monitor weather reports closely.
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. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.
The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.
If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
Learn more about consular services.
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