Iceland - Consular Information Sheet
October 24, 2000
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Iceland is a highly developed stable
democracy with a modern economy.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport is required, but no visa
is needed for tourist or business stays of up to three months.
U.S. citizens should be aware, however, that because of Iceland's
participation in the Nordic Passport Union, the three-month period
begins as soon as they enter the Nordic area (i.e., Denmark, Greenland,
Faeroe Islands, Finland, Norway, Sweden or Iceland.) For further
information concerning entry requirements for Iceland, contact
of Iceland at 1156 15th Street N.W., Suite 1200, Washington,
D.C. 20005, tel (202) 265-6653, or the Icelandic Consulate General
in New York at 800 Third Avenue, 36th Floor, New York, NY 10022,
tel (212) 593-2700. See also the Embassy's web site at http://www.iceland.org.
CRIME INFORMATION: Iceland has a relatively low crime
rate, but minor assaults and other street crimes have become more
common, especially in the capital city of Reykjavik. Tourists
should be aware that downtown Reykjavik can become especially
disorderly on weekend evenings. The loss or theft abroad of a
U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police
and the nearest U.S. Embassy at Laufasvegur 21 in Reykjavik, tel.
(354) 562-9100. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's
pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad
for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. The pamphlet
is available by mail from the
Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office,
Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs,
or via the
Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND INSURANCE: Excellent medical facilities
are available. To obtain emergency medical assistance anywhere
in the country, dial 112. U.S. medical insurance is not always
valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs
do not provide payment for medical services outside the United
States. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment
for health services. Uninsured travelers who require medical care
overseas may face extreme difficulties.
Check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your
policy applies overseas, including provision for medical evacuation,
and for adequacy of coverage. Serious medical problems requiring
hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States
can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Ascertain whether payment
will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or whether you
will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance
policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for
disposition of remains in the event of death.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas
insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau
of Consular Affairs brochure Medical
Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via
the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations
and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international
travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX
(1-888-232-3299), or via CDC's
Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign
country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ
significantly from those in the United States. The information
below concerning Iceland is provided for general reference only,
and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Excellent
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Excellent
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair to Good
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Good
Less than a third of the country's total road network was paved
(2,262 miles of paved road versus 5774 miles of gravel or dirt
road). Most of the 900-mile ring road (Highway 1) that encircles
the country is paved, but many other roads outside the capital,
especially those that run through the center of the country, are
dirt or gravel tracks. Even those roads that are paved tend to
be narrow and lack a shoulder or margin. Most bridges are only
one lane wide, requiring drivers to be cognizant of oncoming traffic.
Extreme care should be taken when driving in rural areas during
the winter (October through April), when daylight hours are limited
and the weather and road conditions can change quickly. Many routes
in the interior of the country are impassible until July due to
muddy conditions caused by snowmelt. When driving in the interior,
consider traveling with a second vehicle and always inform someone
of your travel plans. For information on current road conditions
throughout the country, call the
Public Roads Administration (Vegagerdin) at 1777 or consult
its web site at http://www.vegag.is. For recorded weather information
in English, call the Icelandic weather office (Vedurstofa Islands)
at 902-0600, ext. 44.
The law requires drivers to keep headlights on at all times.
Unless otherwise posted, the speed limit in urban areas is 50
km per hour (31 mph). In rural areas, the speed limit is 80 km
per hour (50 mph) on dirt and gravel roads, and 90 km per hour
(56 mph) on paved highways. There is no provision for turning
right on red in Iceland. Use of seatbelts is mandatory in both
the front and rear seats, and children under the age of six must
be secured in a special car seat designed for their size and weight.
Drivers are held responsible for any passenger under the age of
fifteen who is not wearing a seatbelt. No one who is less than
140 cm (approximately 54 inches) tall or weighs less than 40 kilograms
(88 lbs.) is allowed to ride in a front seat equipped with an
Driving under the influence of alcohol is considered a serious
offense in Iceland. Drivers can be charged with drunk driving
with a blood alcohol level as low as 0.05. The minimum punishment
for a first offense is a ISK 30,000 (about $380) fine and the
loss of driving privileges for two months.
Hikers and backpackers are well advised to stay on marked trails,
travel with someone, let someone else know their travel plans,
and check weather reports.
For additional general information
about road safety, see the Department of State, Bureau of
Consular Affairs home page road safety overseas feature at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html.
U.S. citizens staying for less than 90 days can drive in Iceland
on their U.S. licenses. For specific information concerning Icelandic
driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance,
Iceland National Tourist Organization offices in New York
via the Internet at http://www.iceland.org/oeku.htm.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) has assessed Iceland's Civil Aviation Authority as Category
One -- in compliance with international aviation safety standards
for the oversight of Icelandic air carrier operations. For further
information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation
at 1 (800) 322-7873, or visit the
FAA Internet home page at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/. The
U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign
air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services.
For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers,
travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229-4801.
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Icelandic customs authorities encourage
the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet
for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial
samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet
Headquarters, located at the
U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the
Americas, New York. NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet
in the United States. For additional information call (212) 354-4480,
send e-mail to email@example.com, or visit http://www.uscib.org
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S.
citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which
sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States
and may not afford the protections available to the individual
under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe
than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating
Iceland's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or
imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal
drugs in Iceland are strict and convicted offenders can expect
jail sentences and heavy fines.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Extreme care should be exercised
when touring Iceland's numerous nature attractions, which include
glaciers, volcanic craters, lava fields, ice caves, hot springs,
boiling mud pots, geysers, waterfalls and glacial rivers. There
are few warning signs or barriers to alert travelers to the potential
hazards. For example, several tourists are scalded each year because
they get too close to an erupting geyser, or because they fall
or step into a hot spring or boiling mud pot. High winds and icy
conditions can exacerbate the dangers of visiting these nature
DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: Also be aware that Iceland is occasionally
subject to natural disasters in the form of earthquakes, volcanic
eruptions, avalanches, and violent storms. Learn how to prepare
for and react to such events by consulting the web site of Iceland's
National Civil Defense Agency at http://www.avrik.is. General
information about natural disaster preparedness is available via
the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency
(FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information
on international adoption of children and international child
support enforcement issues, please refer to our Internet site
at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATION: Americans
living in or visiting Iceland may register at the Consular Section
of the U.S. Embassy in Reykjavik and obtain updated information
on travel and security within Iceland. The U.S. Embassy is located
at Laufasvegur 21, tel (354) 562-9100; fax (354) 562-9118.