Passport and Visa regulations

Iceland is an associate member of the Schengen Agreement, which exempts travelers from personal border controls between 22 EU countries. For residents outside the Schengen area, a valid passport is required for at least three months beyond date of entry. For information on passport and visa requirements as well as the Schengen area regulations, visit the website of the Icelandic Directorate of Immigration: www.utl.is/english.

Arrival in Iceland

Bus services are operated between Reykjavík and Keflavík International Airport in connection with all arriving and departing flights, and seats are guaranteed. Busses depart to and from Keflavík every 45-60 minutes. The drive between the airport and Reykjavík takes about 45 minutes. For departing flights, it is recommended that you take a bus leaving at least 2.5 hours before your scheduled departure. It is possible to arrange a hotel pickup. Taxi services are available to and from the airport. The car-ferry MS Nörrona sails weekly between Denmark, and Seyðisfjörður in East Iceland giving visitors the option of bringing their own vehicle for transport.

Language

Icelandic is the national language. English is the country’s official second language and is spoken widely. Danish is the third language taught in schools in Iceland.

Medical attention

Pharmacies are called “Apótek” and are open during normal business hours. Only a few are open at night. Medical Care can be obtained by visiting a Health Care Centre, called “Heilsugæslustöð” in Icelandic, during opening hours. For information, call +354-585-1300 or see www.heilsugaeslan.is Medical help: There is a medical centre or hospital in all major cities and towns in Iceland. The emergency phone number (24 hours) in Iceland is 112.

Health insurance: Citizens of EEA countries must bring their EHIC card (European Health Insurance Card), otherwise they will be charged in full. Non-EEA citizens are not covered by the EEA regulations and will be charged in full. For further information, contact the Icelandic Health Insurance. Tel.: +354-515-0100, Fax: +354-515-0051 Office hours: 10:00–15:00. www.sjukra.is. Special vaccinations are not required to enter Iceland.

Driving in Iceland

Ring Road Nr. 1 around Iceland is 1,332 km (827 mi). The general speed limit is 50 km/h in urban areas, 80 km/h on gravel roads in rural areas, and 90 km/h on asphalt, rural roads. Major highways are paved. Most mountain roads are closed until the end of June, or even longer, because of snow and muddy conditions, which make them impassable. For more information, be sure to visit www.safetravel.is. Most roads in the interior of Iceland have a loose gravel surface, which is especially loose along the sides of the roads. The mountain roads are quite narrow and are not made for speeding. The same goes for some bridges that will only let one car cross at a time. Information on road conditions, tel.: +522-1000, daily 8:00–16:00. www.road.is.

All off-road driving and driving outside of marked tracks is prohibited by law. Icelandic nature is delicate and tire tracks from off-road driving can cause substantial damage to the vegetation and leave marks that will last for decades. Respect the nature and tread carefully. For some mountain tracks it is strongly advised that two or more cars travel together. Passengers in the front and backseats of an automobile are required by law to use safety-belts. Icelandic law forbids any driving under the influence of alcohol and driving while talking on a mobile phone is also banned.

National Parks

There are three National Parks in Iceland, each with its own particular points of interest. Thingvellir, is in a rift valley between the North Atlantic and Eurasian Plates. It is a site of historical and cultural as well as of geological importance, and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Snæfellsjökull National Park includes a volcano and glacier, and is steeped in mystery and romance; it is the only Park that reaches from the seashore to the mountaintops. Vatnajökull National Park is the largest national park in Europe, covering an area of 13.600 km2. The park encompasses, among other areas, the Vatnajökull glacier, Skaftafell, Jökulsárgljúfur, Lakagígar and Langisjór.

Banks and post offices

Opening hours are Mon–Fri, 9:00–16:00. 24-hour cash dispensers are found in cities and villages around the country. Look for the Hraðbanki sign. All major credit and debit cards are accepted, especially by hotels, restaurants, shops and petrol stations in Iceland. Traveller’s cheques are accepted at many hotels and tourist information centers. The major cards in Iceland are MasterCard and VISA. Currency exchange: The Icelandic monetary unit is the króna (ISK). All Icelandic banks provide foreign exchange. Post offices: General hours are Mon–Fri 09:00–18:00. More on postur.is/en.

Climate and clothing

Thanks to the Gulf Stream, Iceland enjoys a cool, temperate maritime climate; cool in summer and fairly mild in winter.  In September, the average low temperature is 6°C (43°F) and the average high is 11°C (52°F). But Iceland is famous for its quick weather changes, so don’t be surprised if one day you wake up to  -4°C (about 25°F). You can prepare but you can’t really know exactly what the weather will do and tourists should be prepared for the unexpected. For weather information in English, tel.: 902-0600. http://en.vedur.is.

Shopping

Shops in Iceland are of international standard and carry a wide variety of merchandise. Local specialties include woolen knitwear (sweaters, hats and mittens, for example), ceramics, glassware and silver jewelry. General opening hours are 10–18. Saturdays 10/11–14/18.

Tax free shopping

VAT in Iceland is 24% or 11% on special goods. To get a refund you must have a permanent address outside of Iceland. Minimum amount spent on a single receipt in order to be eligible for tax-free shopping is ISK 6.000. Goods must be exported within three months from date of purchase. Maximum refund is 15% of the retail price.

Quality insurance

Vakinn is the official quality assurance organization for Icelandic tourism. Only companies that maintain the highest standards in all aspects of business practices and meet a comprehensive assessment criteria have earned the right to carry Vakinn – Iceland tourism’s official quality label. When you see a business displaying the Vakinn symbol, you can be assured that it is trustworthy and professional.

Accommodation locales are divided into several categories. Within each category, ratings from one to five stars may be awarded, as is generally known

Useful phone numbers

Emergency number: 112
Police: 444 1000
Medical assistance: 1770
Information: 1818