Monday, 13 May 2019

Iceland Car Rental Insurance: Do I Need It?

When picking up your rental at the airport, one of the first things the person behind the counter asks is if you’d like the optional insurance. As a savvy traveler you think to yourself “Nah, it’s just an upsell and a waste of money”. I agree in most cases, but there’s something you should know. Iceland car rental insurance is different because driving here is unlike anything you can imagine. And believe it or not, car rental insurance in Iceland exists to protect you and will actually save you money. Let me explain.

Car rental insurance form in Iceland

The Five Type of Car Rental Insurance in Iceland 

There are five basic types of car rental insurance in Iceland. One comes standard (by law) on all rentals and the other four are optional. You might not be familiar with all of them, as some are very specific to Iceland. We’re a small, stormy, volcanic island filled with capricious weather, harsh elements, and challenging road conditions.

This little cocktail means that there are lots of dangers lurking and waiting to do damage to your rental. And that’s why these special types of insurance were created; they tailor to Iceland’s unique elements and will save you money in the long run. Let’s look at all five, what they cover, and which ones are right for you.

Collision Damage Waiver (CDW Insurance) 

This is also known as car rental excess insurance in Iceland. It protects you in the event of an accident. This type of coverage is required by law, so it’s the only Iceland car rental insurance included in the price. The rest are considered “extras”. This insurance is required because quite frankly, road conditions can be tricky. All of that snow and ice means more dangerous driving conditions than what most tourists are used to back home.

Iceland car rental insurance is necessary in the Highlands

Super Collision Damage Waiver (SCDW Insurance) 

Think of SCDW coverage as supercharged CDW insurance. It serves the same purpose (protects you in the case of accidents), but with SCDW your deductible is lowered. If you have an accident, you pay less. I know more experienced drivers might be thinking to themselves “I’m a safe driver. I don’t need insurance”. But remember; it takes to two have an accident. The other motorist could lose control of their vehicle, skid or slide into yours, and cause dents or damage to your rental. And you’ll have to pay for it.

Sand and Ash Protection (SAAP) 

Something that surprises a lot of first-time visitors to Iceland is that we have sandstorms. As in, middle of the desert, can’t see anything, take cover until it’s over sandstorms. This is due to our volcanoes. All of that volcanic activity means that the sand and ash which is spewed into the air eventually settles on the ground. Iceland is a very windy place, so it’s not uncommon to have your car get scratched by these erosion-causing elements. If you’re traveling along the South Coast, SAAP is highly advisable, as that’s where our most recent volcanic eruptions have been.

Gravel Protection (GP) 

With your Iceland car rental, gravel insurance is a must if you plan on traveling to the Highlands. This interior zone of Iceland is made up entirely of gravel roads. They’re known as F-roads (mountain roads) and are filled with gravel and little pebbles that will cause damage to your car. Even going slowly, you’ll still get hit. Plus there are rocks flying from oncoming traffic as well as any vehicles you are driving behind. Parts of the Ring Road are unpaved gravel as well.

Gravel roads need Iceland car rental insurance

Theft Protection (TP) 

Theft protection is really not that necessary. It protects you in the event of your car being stolen, but to be honest that doesn’t really happen here. Many companies include it automatically because they’re not that worried about it.

What Insurance Won’t Cover 

Even if you do get the full suite of auto insurance in Iceland, that doesn’t mean that you’ve got carte blanche to do whatever you want. You still have to be a smart driver and not do anything dumb.

Trying to cross a river in a 4x4 without knowing its depth falls under this category. There are parts of Iceland’s interior where at a certain part of an F-road, you’ll reach an unbridged river. If it’s shallow, then of course, you can cross. But if you try to ford a river and get in too deep, your motor will end up underwater. It will flood, your car will stall, and you’ll have to pay for a waterlogged engine.

Iceland Car Rental Insurance: Do I Need It? 

In a word, yes. If I can offer any Iceland car rental insurance tips or advice, it would be to get full coverage, especially if you plan on traveling in winter or heading for the Highlands. There’s also something very important to keep in mind. Sometimes the cost of one, some or all of these types of insurance will already be included in the price of your rental. Look at what type of insurance is included when comparison shopping and looking at quotes from different car rental companies.

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Monday, 6 May 2019

Icelandic Road Signs and What They Mean

Driving in Iceland will be a new experience for you in many ways. From the unpaved F-roads of the Highlands to the sometimes snowy road conditions, you’ll definitely encounter something unexpected. While driving safety is a primary concern, there is another important one. Recognizing Icelandic road signs and knowing what they mean can help you stay away from tricky situations or even avoid an accident. If you’re not familiar with them, here are some common road signs in Iceland and their meanings.

Road sign in Iceland showing the speed limits and road rules

The Speed Limit in Iceland 

During your trip, the maximum speed is 90 km/h (55 mph) on paved roads in rural areas. It lowers to 80 km/h (50 mph) on unpaved ones in the same kind of zones. Once you get close towns, villages, cities, or any other type of inhabited area, you have to slow down to 50 km/h (30 mph).

When looking at the road sign in the picture above, you’ll see a kind of table for the speed limit. Across the top, there’s a yellow and black column for urban areas and then two with a red stripe representing rural areas. Below those are the symbols for gravel roads (with the little rocks flying) and paved roads. And notice that on the left, passengers must always wear their seatbelts. The car’s headlights must also be on at all times.

Single lane bridge (Einbreið Brú)  sign in Iceland

Single Lane Bridge (Einbreið Brú) 

If you’re circumnavigating Iceland on the island’s Ring Road, most of what you’ll find is a single, two-lane highway. There’s one lane for cars moving in each direction, and you’ll have to be careful when passing or overtaking. Oncoming vehicles on blind hills or blind curves can be quite dangerous.

There are some single-lane bridges (Einbreið Brú) in the country, and you’ll see this sign when coming upon on them. The protocol is that whichever vehicle is closet to the bridge has the right of way and gets to pass first. The car, camper, motorhome, or truck coming from the opposite direction should pull over to let the other vehicle cross the bridge first.

Single lane tunnel (Einbreid Göng) sign in Iceland

Single Lane Tunnel (Einbreid Göng) 

Single lane tunnels in Iceland (Einbreid Göng) are very similar to single lane bridges. It can become quite a sticky situation if both vehicles enter the bridge or the tunnel at the same time. As you can imagine, it’s best to avoid this scenario. The safety protocol for this situation is exactly the same as for bridges. Slow down, pull to the right, and let the other vehicle go through the tunnel before you.

Malbik Endar road sign in Iceland where paved road changes to gravel

Málbik Endar (Paved Road Changing to Gravel) 

While 97% of the Ring Road is paved, there are parts where it changes to gravel for a bit. You need to be warned about this in advance so you have the necessary time needed to brake and slow down. Not only is the speed limit slower than on paved roads, but the sudden surface change could easily cause you to lose control of your vehicle if you don’t approach at a slower speed.

Iceland road sign warning about sheep

Watch Out For Sheep 

We love our sheep here in Iceland. So much so that we let them roam freely. This becomes a problem for foreign drivers who may not be used to sheep blocking the road or darting out into traffic. When you see this sign, it means to be on high alert for sheep. Slow down and be vigilant, as sometimes the sound of an approaching motor will cause the sheep to suddenly run out into the road.

It won’t just be a tragic accident either. You’ll have to pay the cost of our now deceased wooly little friend to the farmer who owned it.

Road Signs in the Highlands 

Iceland’s Highlands have an unusual terrain that requires a special type of vehicle for precarious conditions. Even after you’ve rented a 4x4, there are still some obstacles on your path while driving. Buckle up; there are difficult roads ahead.

Obruadar ar Icelandic road sign warning about unbridged rivers in the Highlands

River Crossings with No Bridge (Óbrúadar Ár) 

This is something unique to Iceland’s Highlands. The country’s F-roads feature endless kilometers of unpaved, gravel roads that take you in and around the mountains. There are also parts of our wild backcountry that are wide, open spaces with nothing but you and dramatic backdrop of jaw-dropping Icelandic scenery.

You’ll see the Óbrúadar Ár sign as you’re approaching a river with no bridge. Be very careful with these types of crossings. We all have our Jumanji dreams of fording a river Oregon Trail style. But the reality is that if we get too far underwater, the engine gets flooded and the car stops, possibly permanently. It’s an expensive repair not covered under any type of rental insurance.

Difficult Terrain (Seinfarinn Vegur) 

The roads in Iceland’s Highlands are already tricky. So when you see the sign for difficult terrain (Seinfarinn vegur or Torleidi), you know you got something coming. The road surface will be extremely difficult, even if your car rental is a 4x4 SUV, and it's going to be a bit complicated to drive. As always, exercise caution, drive safely and use good sense. Icelandic roads definitely provide a challenge, and these ones especially so.

Whenever you encounter difficult road conditions, avoid jerking your steering wheel around and try to keep your movements smooth.

Icelandic Road Signs and What They Mean

Now that you’re armed with a little more information about road signs Iceland, you’ll be able to have a safer, more enjoyable trip. Road conditions are probably unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before. Now you’ve got the knowledge to help you drive safely in Iceland. And as they say, knowledge is power.

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Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Hatari - Iceland's Entry for Eurovision 2019

There’s something very special that happens every year for those of us who live in Europe. Right around springtime, we start listening to new groups, new music, and new songs from different countries all around the continent. It is the unmistakable sign that we are getting closer and closer to the Eurovision Song Contest. What has Iceland prepared this year to surprise our European neighbors? If you are curious to know the Icelandic entry for this magnificent competition, stay tuned because I'm sure you’ll have very strong feelings about it one way or the other.

Iceland's entry for Eurovision 2019 is Hatari

Eurovision Song Contest 

I know that many of our dear readers don’t live in Europe, so it’s likely that you’ve never heard of Eurovision. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, let’s clarify things a bit before we dive into the article.

The Eurovision song festival is an international competition. The contests are mainly from European countries, and it’s held every year in different countries around the continent. All the participating countries submit a singer or group to represent them. And the song they perform must be 100% original and created specifically for the festival. Many times the winner goes on to have the “song of the summer” and it’s all you hear in bars, clubs, and discos for the next few months. It’s a bit like American Idol or Pop Idol, but on a more global scale.

In the lyrics, you should not include political content that can cause tensions among the various nations that participate in it. The venue of the festival each year is assigned to the country that won the competition the previous year. This 2019, Eurovision will be held in Tel Aviv, Israel.

A Truly International Competition

I know what you’re going to say. “Wait a minute! Israel’s not in Europe”! Relax, there’s no need to panic. What they taught you in geography class was true, Israel is not in Europe. What happens is that with the passage of time, the festival has gained participants from outside of European borders. Therefore, it has allowed countries located in other areas of the globe, such as Australia, to compete.

The way it works is that the festival has a first gala where the songs that move on to the final are pre-selected. Then, on the big night, the finalists perform their songs and a winner is crowned. Both the citizens of all participating countries and a professional jury vote in the competition. This makes up an audience of some 200 million people. Awesome, right? And did you know that artists the caliber of ABBA, Julio Iglesias or Bonnie Tyler have appeared in the contest? As citizens of Sweden, Spain, and Wales (UK) they were all eligible to represent their respective countries. French-Canadian singer Celine Dion has also made an appearance.

Iceland’s Participation in Eurovision

This small Nordic nation has participated no less than 31 times since it debuted in 1986. Unfortunately, much like the World Cup, we have never won. But we have finished a close second twice. With artists Selma in 1999 and Yohanna in 2009. The song that Yohanna sang was called "Is it True?" And it was also recorded in Spanish, in case anyone wants to listen to it under the name "Si te vas" Now, just like everyone else, we keep trying our best to win every year.

In the case of Iceland, we have submitted songs in both English and Icelandic. This has led us to have several contestants in the top five of the songs the most voted during many years. Most of our contestants have had the musical style of a calm and melodic pop tune or a soft and catchy rock anthem. This year, everything changed. Maybe taking a huge risk and completely changing directions will pay off with a victory?

Icelandic band Hatari is competing in Eurovision 2019 in Tel Aviv, Israel

Hatari - Eurovision 2019

This year I don’t know if we will be the winners of the festival. But I can definitely assure you that we will not leave anyone indifferent. The submission that won the votes of the Söngvakeppnin, which is the national gala to choose our Eurovision representative, was Hatari.

Hatari is a band made up of three friends who met at the art school. They are Klemens Hannigan, Matthias Tryggvi Haraldson, and Einar Stéfansson. They define themselves as a sadomasochistic and anti-capitalist techno group. According to the band's own members, participating in Eurovision brings them closer to their goal of destroying capitalism. It's definitely not very typical Icelandic music. With this brief description, I think that you already have an idea of what is to come.

The song presented to and chosen by the public was "Hatrið Mun Sigra". Translated into English it means "Hate will prevail". I warn you that I am not a professional music critic, so you can pay attention to what I’m about to say or not. When I heard the song for the first time, I thought: this is Rammstein singing a duet with Depeche Mode mixed with Marilyn Manson and a few droplets reminiscent of Slipknot to mixed in to refine the sound aesthetic. I have not recovered from listening to it yet. Perhaps that is exactly what will happen to Europe and Israel at the next festival: it will be difficult for them to recover.

A Controversial Eurovision Submission

There are currently rumors that Israel, the host of the festival that year, might ban the group from participating because Hatari is currently boycotting the Hebrew country.

The contrast between the message of this year's candidate and the one we sent last year is so strong that is has been mocked on social media. In 2018 Ari Ólafsson sang a soft yet powerful ballad whose message spoke of peace, unity, helping each other, creating change and promoting love. This year Iceland has decided to take a walk on the dark side. The lyrics to "Hatrið Mun Sigra" are written entirely in Icelandic. Here’s the translation to English, which I think speak for themselves. I’ll let you be the judge.

Svallið var hömlulaust - Unrestricted libertinism
Þynnkan er endalaus - An excessive hangover
Lífið er tilgangslaust - Life is meaningless
Tómið heimtir alla - Emptiness will consume everything
Hatrið mun sigra - Hate will prevail
Gleðin tekur enda - All joy will be spoiled
Endar er hún blekking - It's all just an illusion
Svikul tálsýn - A fictional longing
Allt sem ég sá - It's all I saw
Runnu niður tár - Tears falling crudely
Allt sem ég gaf - Everything I have given
Eitt sinn gaf - Everything I once gave
Ég gaf þér allt - I gave it all to you

Alhliða blekking - Universal confusion
Einhliða refsingar - Unilateral Abomination
Auðtrúa aumingjar - Of a naive hope
Flóttinn tekur enda - The exit ends
Tómið heimtir alla - Emptiness will consume everything
Hatrið mun sigra - Hate will prevail

Evrópa hrynja - And Europe will collapse
Vefur lyga - Burning it entire network of lies
Rísið úr öskunni - Get out of the ashes
Sameinuð sem eitt - Unified as one
Allt sem ég sa - Everything I saw
Runnu niður tár - The tears falling crudely
Allt sem ég gaf - Everything I have given
Eitt sinn gaf - Everything I once gave
Ég gaf þér allt - I gave it all to you
Allt sem ég sa - Everything I saw
Runnu niður tár - Tears falling crudely

Allt sem ég gaf - Everything I have given
Eitt sinn gaf -  Everything I once gave
Ég gaf þér allt - I gave it all to you
Hatrið mun sigra - Hate will prevail
Ástin deyja - Love will not help
Hatrið mun sigra - Hate will prevail
Gleðin tekur enda - All joy will be spoiled
Endar er hún blekking - It's just an illusion
Svikul tálsýn - A fictional longing
Hatrið mun sigra - Hate will prevail

Definitely a bit dark, wouldn't you say?

Hatari performing their Eurovision entry "Hate will prevail"

Hatari - Iceland's Entry for Eurovision 2019

After listening to this not-so-hopeful take on life, I would love for you to leave your comments with what you think of our Eurovision entry. Of course, you can also tell us your favorite countries and groups you’re cheering for. If you have never seen Eurovision, I encourage you that this May 18th, you tune into the broadcast and enjoy this one-one-a-kind musical spectacle with us.

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Friday, 5 April 2019

Traveling Through Iceland by Car with Children - Car Seat Safety and Airbags

Preparing for a trip to Iceland requires taking many details into account. If we add in going with the smallest members of the household, we must consider a few more. Traveling in Iceland with children means we have to do some extra planning Most people are aware that road rules may vary from country to country. But sometimes, we tend to forget that child safety requirements may also be different. This is the case of booster seats, safety seats, and other child restraint systems. Let’s look at what the child safety seat and seatbelt requirements are in Iceland.

Baby being safely fastened into car seat in Iceland car rental

Road trips in Iceland are the most popular form of tourism in the country. Visitors travel by rental car, motorhome or camper. Therefore, it is important to know what the law requires in terms of child safety seats. Those of you who are parents will already have it fairly down pat. You’ve no doubt been using a car seat since the day you brought your precious little one home from the hospital. If you travel with young children, you know that a safe and appropriate booster seat or child seat is required. When we talk about children, it’s more complex than the systems that adults use. We just have to fasten our seatbelts and that’s about it. But in the case of children, everything varies depending on their height, weight, and age.

Compatibility of Car Seat Installation 

Child safety seats are divided into three large groups: universal, semi-universal and specific to certain car models. Many parents want to bring their tried and true seats to Iceland because they are accustomed to the way they are fastened or installed. This is completely understandable, but not all seats work with or fit all models of cars. For this reason, it is important to contact your rental agency and ask what type of system your car is compatible with.

Personally, I think the easiest thing is to get a seat directly from the rental company. That way, we are assured compatibility. You also get the added benefit of avoiding the hustle and bustle that comes with carrying to a child’s car seat to the airport in addition to hauling your luggage.

In Iceland, the standard system in use is ISOFIX. It is a car seat system that doesn’t require the use of a seatbelt. It is easy to install and usually warns if the seat is not properly installed. ISOFIX is the international standard, and in Europe, it is the system used by default. In Iceland, almost all cars manufactured from 2013 onward have it. In other countries like the United States, they have the same system but it's called called LATCH. In Canada, it’s called LUAS or Canfix. So, if you visit us from there, you know what we are talking about. You may also hear it referred to as the "Universal Child Safety Seat System" or UCSSS.

Baby sleeping in car seat in Iceland

Traveling Through Iceland by Car with Children - Types of Child Safety Seats 

Icelandic law dictates that car seats must be adapted to children according to their age and weight. Although usually, weight is frequently more of a determining factor than age for these types of systems. That is why you will find them available by age and weight at rental companies. Here are some guidelines:

Infants and Babies 0-2 years of age (0-13kg or 0-28lbs) 

This category is fine for both car seats and baby carriers. It is important that the seat is always facing backward.

Toddlers and Young Children 1-4 years (9-18kg or 20-40lbs) 

For children slightly larger than the previous group, we usually use some sort of chair. In Iceland, the child safety seat system usually has five anchor points.

Children 4-10 years of age (15-36kg or 33-79lbs)

When the child reaches this group, you don’t need a child safety seat with internal support. It then becomes a kind of high chair with a tall back that uses the seat belt as a means of restraint.

A Chair Without a Backrest 

This type of chair is only recommended for children who have already reached a minimum height of 135cm (53 inches or just under four and a half feet). Car rental companies also usually have these available.

Iceland with children - car seat safety

Car Travel in Iceland with Children - Where Should They Sit? 

Under Icelandic law, no child under 135 centimeters (4.5 feet) can go in the front seat if there is an activated airbag. It is recommended that they always travel in the back seat.

Airbags are one of the most important safety features of a car. If they are not used correctly, there can be serious consequences for both adults and children. Many parents will notice that campers or motorhomes lack seats in the rear of the vehicle. In this case, you must choose another model which has the correct type of seats. After speaking with several rental companies, the general consensus is that they are not authorized to deactivate the front airbag. If you do this, the liability and the fine will fall entirely on the driver. And you know, nothing in Iceland is cheap. Fines are no exception.

In this case, not only is the financial aspect important, but it’s also a safety issue for all travelers. Driving through Iceland is quite different compared to other countries. The weather is usually inclement, and road conditions vary constantly. Therefore, it is always advisable to follow the instructions given by those who know best regarding these issues.

Traveling Through Iceland by Car with Children - Car Seat Safety and Airbags

We hope this article has been useful to you to understand how child safety seats and airbags work in Iceland. If you have very specific questions about your situation or your child, it is always good to consult with your rental company. They can best advise you about what to do. I’d like to take this opportunity to remind you that we have a few articles of activities with children in Iceland to browse. So if you can mix safety with fun, even better, right? Have a happy and safe trip!

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Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Iceland's April Weather: Temperatures and Snowfall

With Iceland’s spring upon us, it’s time to shake off the cold, dreary days of winter and head into the warm, sunny days of summer. Iceland’s weather in April represents a turning point as temperatures slowly begin to rise from their freezing winter lows. April is a great month to visit Iceland as we haven’t quite arrived at the tourist high season, so prices will still be relatively low and the places you go will not be as crowded. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to see the Northern Lights again until September. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy all of the other outdoor activities that the country has to offer. Let’s look at one of the most important factors affecting your April trip to Iceland: the weather.

Iceland's Godafoss waterfall covered in April snow

Average Temperatures in April 

Please keep in mind that everything is relative. What we in Iceland might consider warm could be thought of as winter weather in a tropical destination like Belize or the Bahamas. It all depends on what you’re used to, right? So let’s get right to it. What are the average highs and lows in Iceland in April?

Let’s start with the chilly lows. Near the beginning of the month, the average low in Reykjavik is around 30 ºF (-1.1 ºC). By the end of the month, the mercury reading on the thermometer rises to around 37 ºF (2.8 ºC). See? I told you not to bust out the tank tanks and flip flops just yet. Average highs in Reykjavik are slightly better. The month starts out on a pretty cold note with an average temperature of just 40 ºF (4.4 ºC). By the end of the month, the high hovers around 45º F (7 ºC). Still quite chilly, so you’ll have to bundle up. And if you’re lucky, there might be a few days with 50º (10 ºC) weather. Keep those fingers crossed!

Average Monthly High in Reykjavik: 30-37 ºF (-1.1 to 2.8 ºC)
Average Monthly Low in Reykjavik: 40-47 ºF (4.4 to 7 ºC)

Iceland's April temperatures and snow

Average April Precipitation in Iceland 

April sees a drop in precipitation from what the country experienced in March, one of the island's wettest months. You still have rain, sleet, snow, and some hail for about half of the month. Total precipitation in areas like Reykjavik average about 2.3 inches (5.8 cm). The South of Iceland is the wettest part of the country, so you’ll find more precipitation there than in the drier north. Iceland is pretty wet all year long, so make sure you pack the right clothes to face the wet and windy elements. Waterproof boots, impermeable rain jackets, and clothing that will keep you dry are indispensable for your trip to Iceland in April. As we all know, the only thing worse than being cold is being cold and wet, right?

Average Precipitation in Iceland in April: 2.3 inches (5.8 cm)

Does it Snow in Iceland in April? 

Unfortunately, I have to be the bearer of bad news. April is considered a transitional month as far as Icelandic weather is concerned. You haven’t quite escaped chilly snowfall as April is still a part of the snowy season in Iceland. Basically, this means that you could have a cold, sunny day that is suddenly transformed into a whiteout snowstorm. The best advice I can give for Iceland’s famously capricious weather is to always expect the unexpected. That way, you will never be surprised.

April weather in Iceland snowstorm

Average Daylight Hours and Sunshine 

Iceland's weather in April wouldn’t be complete without mention of the hours of daylight and sunshine that you are exposed to during this spring month. The island’s far northern latitude means that both winter and summer sunshine hours are going to be extreme. Thankfully, by April Iceland has returned to sunrise and sunset times that can be considered relatively normal. In fact, with almost 17 hours of daylight toward the end of the month, you’ll be having very long days filled with plenty of sunlight. You can definitely tell that we’re heading towards the summer equinox and the almost neverending Midnight Sun.

April 1st: Sunrise at 6:47 am and sunset at 8:18 pm for a total of 13.5 hours of daylight
April 15th: Sunrise at 5:57 am and sunset at 9:00 pm for a total of 15 hours of daylight
April 30th: Sunrise at 5:04 am and sunset at 9:47 pm for a total of nearly 17 hours of daylight

Iceland's April Weather 

While Iceland’s April weather is definitely warmer than February or March, you’ll still need to come prepared to face the elements. Be sure to pack thermal clothing in your suitcase so you’ll always have something warm to wear. Dress in layers that keep your skin warm and dry and keep out moisture and precipitation. April is a great month to visit Iceland, and the weather is conducive to you having a great time. Enjoy your holidays in Iceland in April!

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Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Iceland Travel: Requirements and Documentation

Traveling is usually synonymous with pleasant activities. You’ve got free time, relaxation, discovering other cultures and doing everything you've always dreamed of. Travel is a big item on many people’s bucket lists. There are also more practical considerations to keep in mind, however. We want you to have all the information you need for your trip, not just a list of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland or the best things to do. Bureaucracy crops up in almost every aspect of life, and travel is no different. Depending on the country you come from, there will be certain requirements and documentation to travel to Iceland. So let's talk a little about it.

Passport and visa requirements for Iceland travel

Borders exist; this is a fact. And we have to abide by the norms and laws of each country; this is another fact. So, if we want to have a stress-free trip without worries or problems at Border Control, we need to have everything in order. Normally, all the paperwork and requirements can be confusing and even tedious, so I’ll try to provide this information in the simplest, clearest way possible.

Required ID for Travel to Iceland

Let’s start with the most basic things: they need to be able to identify us at the borders. The requirements change depending on where you come from. The two main groups are travelers from the EU and travelers outside of the EU.

Travelers From the EU 

If you are a citizen of a member country of the European Union or you reside legally in any country of the Schengen area, then you can travel with your ID card or residence card. Of course, it must be valid and not expired when traveling to Iceland or during your stay.

It’s important to check the expiration date of your identification documents. In some places, it takes a long time to schedule an appointment for renewal. We want to start the trip off on a good foot and not run into any problems too early! If your ID is old, unusable or missing, don’t worry. You still have an option B. Your passport is also valid for travel to Iceland. But again, please verify that it has not passed the expiration date and that it will be valid during the entirety of your trip to Iceland.

Travelers from Areas Outside the EU 

For our friends from more distant borders, I am afraid that ID cards or driver’s licenses are not valid means of identification at the Icelandic border. But that’s perfectly fine. Do you have a valid passport valid? Well, then you’ve already completed the first step.

Passport and visa requirements for Iceland

Travel to Iceland - Visas 

As many of you already know, there are certain countries that require special permission to enter. This happens for thousands of reasons, and to be honest, we don’t want this article to turn into an encyclopedia-length tome. In short, let's just say that much of it has to do with treaties between nations. The visa issue is very important because it is one of the keys (although not the only one) as to whether or not you can cross the border, and for how long. But what exactly is a visa?

If it's the first time you’re traveling, this term may be foreign to you. Do not worry, that's why we're here. For the uninitiated, a visa is an official document issued by the country you want to travel to which authorizes entry. Normally it is a special sticker that is placed in your passport. The thing is, not all countries require it for everyone. In the specific case that concerns us, Iceland, the following distinctions are usually made:

Travelers from the EU 

Thanks to the treaties between the European nations and the so-called Schengen area, if you come from a country in the European Union or one attached to that treaty, you do not need a visa.

Travelers to Iceland from Other Countries (Non-EU) 

This is when it gets a little more complicated, simply because there are so many countries outside of the European Union. Many of our readers come from the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. With the exception of South Africa, none of these countries need a visa.

And here is a full list of the countries that require a visa in Iceland.

Visa Requirements For Travel to Iceland 

For those who do need a visa, it is necessary to present the following documents to the Icelandic authorities:

  • A filled-out application form
  • A passport-sized photograph (35x45mm)
  • A valid passport with an expiration date at least three months after the date of return from Iceland. That is, if you travel on July 20, 2019, the passport must expire on October 20, 2019 at the earliest.
  • Proof of financial means. This is usually the balance of the bank account, your salary, savings or the income obtained in the previous fiscal year.
  • Proof that the traveler intends to return to their country of origin. This means some sort of obligation to return to the country of origin, such as a work contract, proof of being enrolled in a university with a plan to return to continue with your studies, etc.
  • Medical insurance that covers up to 2,000,000 ISK (around $16,500 or 14,600€)
  • Documents that prove the purpose of the trip. For example, if it’s for leisure, the accommodation reservations, the reservations for the places that you are going to visit, and of course, roundtrip flights.

Some countires require a visa for Iceland

Travel to Iceland - Length of Stay 

Now we’ve gone through the most rigorous and strictest part, we can talk about your stay in Iceland and how much we will be able to enjoy the country. As a general rule, anyone who doesn’t need a visa and those who have a tourist visa can stay in the country for up to 90 days.

That is more than enough time for you to enjoy all the beauty that a country like Iceland has to offer. The truth is that the average traveler usually spends between five to ten days in the country, an amount that is far less than what the generous amount the visa permit actually grants. So you’ll be just fine.

Iceland Travel: Requirements and Documentation 

I hope that all this information has been helpful. It is important to point out that this information is valid as of March 2019. The requirements may change over time, so it’s important that you double check everything with the Icelandic authorities to make sure it’s all up-to-date.

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