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Summary

  • Exercise normal safety precautions in Iceland. Use common sense. Look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia. Monitor the media and other sources for changes to local travel conditions.
  • There has been continuing seismic activity at the Öræfajökull volcanic glacier in southeast Iceland and Icelandic authorities are monitoring the situation closely. Monitor local media and other sources for information on volcanic activity. See Additional information.
  • Be careful when visiting volcanic craters, glaciers, hot springs and other natural attractions. There are few barriers or warning signs and there is a risk of serious injury. See Local travel.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for travellers.

Entry and exit

Visas

Iceland is a party to the Schengen Convention, along with a number of other European countries. This allows you to enter Iceland without a visa in some circumstances. More information: Schengen Convention

In other circumstances, you'll need a visa.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact an Embassy or Consulate of Iceland for up-to-date information.

Passport

Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months after the date you intend to return to Australia. Always carry your passport when crossing borders, even within the Schengen zone.

Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.

Be aware of attempts to obtain access to your passport by deception. If you are forced to hand over your passport, contact the Embassy for advice.

By law, you must, as soon as possible:

Money

Declare cash of 10,000 euros or more (or the equivalent in another currency) if you are travelling between Iceland and any non-European Union (EU) country. This includes notes and coins, money orders, cheques and traveller's cheques. If you don't declare your cash or you give incorrect information on entry to, or exit from, Iceland, you will be fined. You don't need to declare cash if you are travelling to or from another EU country.

The currency is Icelandic Kroner (ISK). Major credit cards can be used in most places.

Safety and security

Crime

Iceland has a low crime rate but you could encounter petty theft or anti-social behaviour, particularly around bars where people gather late at night in downtown Reykjavik.

  • Pay close attention to your personal belongings, particularly in downtown Reykjavik.
  • Carry only what you need for the day. Leave other valuables in a secure location. 
  • Keep an eye on local sources of information on crime.

Civil unrest/political tension

Peaceful demonstrations occur on occasion.

  • Monitor the news and other sources for information about possible demonstrations.
  • Avoid all crowds, protests and demonstrations, where possible.
  • Follow the advice of local authorities.

Terrorism

There is an ongoing threat of terrorism in Europe. Terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities. Targets have included public transport, transport hubs, and public places frequented by foreigners.

  • Be alert to possible threats, especially in public places.
  • Report any suspicious activity or items to police.
  • Monitor the news for any new or emerging threats.
  • Take official warnings seriously and follow the instructions of local authorities.
  • If there is an attack, leave the affected area immediately if it is safe to do so. 

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. More information: Terrorist threat worldwide

Local travel

Hazards at Iceland's natural attractions are rarely marked with warning signs or safety barriers. Stay on marked paths and use common sense. If you visit geysers be careful to avoid injuries from the hot steam and water, especially on windy days.

If you plan to participate in adventure or trekking activities, seek local advice and detailed information on routes and weather conditions before setting out. Use the services of an experienced and reputable trekking company. Never trek alone or off designated trails. Always let someone know where you are going.

Keep a safe distance from seals and follow the advice of rangers when visiting wilderness areas.

If you plan to visit the Arctic, see Additional information.

Road travel

Roads are narrow and winding and speed limits are low in Iceland. Driving conditions can be hazardous and roads impassable, especially in winter, when there is limited daylight. Weather conditions and river levels can change quickly. Drivers enchanted by the northern lights can drive erratically and stop without warning, posing an additional hazard to other road users.

Winter tyres are mandatory from around 1 November to 14 April, however the exact dates can vary from year to year. Drivers must keep dipped vehicle headlights on at all times. Fines for exceeding the speed limit are high. Drink driving laws are strictly enforced with strict alcohol limits and severe penalties. Off-road driving is strictly controlled.

Many highland tracks are only open for a short part of the summer. If you plan to drive to the highland, or the more remote regions of the country, first check with the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration (telephone +354 522 1000). The office provides up-to-date information on all roads in Iceland and can advise you on weather and off-road driving conditions and restrictions.

  • Drive defensively and to the conditions.
  • Take particular care on gravel and loose surfaces and when driving at night.
  • Beware of rapidly changing weather and river levels. Plan accordingly.
  • Find a safe spot to stop your car before gazing at the northern lights.  
  • Don't drink and drive.

More information: Road travel

Motorcycles

Check with your travel insurer whether your policy covers you when riding a motorcycle or quad bike. Your policy may not cover you for accidents that occur while riding a motorcycle or quad bike. Wear, and ensure your passenger wears, a correctly fastened and approved helmet.

Driver's licence

If you wish to drive in Iceland, make sure you get an International Driver's Permit before you depart Australia.

Taxis

A range of authorised taxi and limousine services are available in Iceland and can be arranged through your hotel.

Public transport

Public transport options are limited outside Reykjavik, though bus schedules are available on the Straeto website.   

Sea travel

A number of international cruise lines stopover in Iceland. See our Cruises page for more information.

Air travel

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Iceland.

More information: Air travel

Laws

You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Drug laws

Penalties for drug offences, even in small amounts, are severe and include heavy fines, imprisonment and/or immediate deportation.

Other laws

Carry your personal identification, such as your passport or drivers licence, at all times.

Penalties for drink driving and speeding include heavy fines and possible prison sentences.

Even minor offences can attract fines and jail sentences. If you're found guilty of an offence in Iceland, you could also be deported and banned from future travel within the European Union.

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you may be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:

  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • child pornography
  • child sex tourism
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • money laundering
  • terrorism.

More information: Staying within the law

Dual Nationals

More information: Dual nationals

Health

Travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.

Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are and are not covered under your policy
  • that you are covered for the whole time you will be away.

More information: Travel insurance

Physical and mental health

It's important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

More information:

Medication

Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

Take prescription medicine with you so you remain in good health. Always carry on your person a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only.

Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to and seek advice from an Embassy or Consulate of Iceland on any quantity restrictions that may apply.

More information: Prescription medicines

Health risks

Health risks in Iceland are broadly similar to those in Australia.

Medical facilities

The standard of health facilities and care throughout Iceland is high but services can be limited in less populous areas. English is widely spoken.

There is no reciprocal health care agreement with Iceland. Costs are comparable with or more expensive than private treatment in Australia. Emergency hospital treatment is generally free but the patient is responsible for follow-up costs.

Where to get help

Depending on what you need, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurance provider in the first instance. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

Emergencies

  • Fire: 112
  • Medical emergencies: 112
  • Criminal issues, contact police:  112 or contact the nearest police station

Always get a police report when reporting a crime. 

The Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue (ICE-SAR) has created the '112 Iceland app' for travellers in Iceland. The app can be downloaded and used for added safety on your Iceland trip. You can call for help by pressing the red Emergency button. Your location will be sent by text message to the 112 response centre. The green 'Check In' button is for ICE-SAR to know your location.

For non-emergency medical assistance in the Reykjavik metropolitan area dial 544-4114 during business hours or 544-1770 outside of business hours.

Tourism services and products

For complaints relating to tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.

Australian Government

Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.

Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Iceland. By agreement between the Canadian and Australian governments, the Canadian Embassy in Reykjavik provides consular assistance to Australians in Iceland.

Canadian Embassy

Canadian Embassy
Túngata 14
101 Reykjavik
Telephone: +354 575 6500
email: rkjvk@international.gc.ca

You can also get consular assistance from the Australian Embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark:

Australian Embassy, Copenhagen

Dampfaergevej 26,
2nd floor,
2100 Copenhagen Ø
Telephone +45 7026 3676
Facsimile +45 7026 3686
Email: genenq.cpgn@dfat.gov.au

Check the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

If you are unable to contact one of the above embassies in a consular emergency, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Severe weather and climate

The climate can be unpredictable. Iceland can experience localised snow, sand and ash storms. Monitor weather reports closely and follow the advice of local authorities.

For weather reports, visit the Icelandic Meteorological Office website. Alternatively, for recorded weather information, dial (+354) 522-6000 or (+354) 902-0600. Information is available in English, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

For updated information on road closures and other disruptions, visit the websites of Safe Travel Iceland and the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration.

For information on emergency management, visit the Civil Protection in Iceland website.

If there is a natural disaster:

  • secure your passport in a safe, waterproof location or carry it on you at all times (in a waterproof bag)
  • contact friends and family in Australia with regular updates about your welfare and whereabouts
  • closely monitor the media, other local sources of information and the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System
  • follow the advice of local authorities.

Natural disasters

Iceland has active volcanoes and is in an active earthquake zone. In the past, volcanic eruptions have caused widespread disruption to aviation services in Iceland and elsewhere. Monitor the local media for information on volcanic activity. Check with your airline for any flight changes due to ash releases.

All oceanic regions of the world can experience tsunamis.

If there is a natural disaster:

  • secure your passport in a safe, waterproof location or carry it on you at all times (in a waterproof bag)
  • contact friends and family in Australia with regular updates about your welfare and whereabouts
  • closely monitor the media, other local information sources and the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System
  • follow the advice of local authorities.

More information:

Travel in the Arctic

Certain destinations in the Arctic region are a long way from search and rescue, evacuation and medical facilities.

Search and rescue organisations in the region are highly professional but their ability to attend if there is an emergency depends on the weather and sea conditions. As a result, if you need assistance, you may need to wait a long time.

Before booking travel in the region, compare the operational experience, reputation and standard of on-board medical facilities of alternative operators. Make sure your travel insurance covers the type of travel you are undertaking and any pre-existing medical conditions.

Additional resources