Iceland Risk Report
Security travel advice for Iceland
Threat level: Low
The current travel safety advice for Iceland is to remain cautious, however there is no direct threat to the country. There is a low risk of terrorism but travellers are advised to be aware of the wider global threat to busier areas.
Recent Security Risk Events
In 2014 there was a volcanic eruption around the Bárðarbunga volcano. The eruption lasted nearly 6 months however no one was killed or seriously injured.
There is a low risk of crime in Iceland with very little reports of violent crime. There have been some incidents of anti-social behaviour particularly around bars in the capital, and tourists should be aware of pick pockets. In general Iceland is considered to be one of the safest European countries to visit.
Iceland holds excellent relations with other Nordic countries such as Norway, as well as Canada and the United States of America. The country is a member of many organisations including NATO, the World Health Organisation and the United Nations which is joined in 1946.
There are shaky relations between Iceland, Denmark and the UK and Ireland due to a dispute between claims to the continental shelf in the Hatton–Rockall area of the North Atlantic. There are ongoing discussions between the countries to make negotiations between ownership.
2008 saw Iceland face a massive banking crisis whereby the currency crashed, the stock market collapsed and unemployment soared. The three main banks of the country failed and the authorities chose to allow it. Although this was a bold, unexpected move, the results were surprising and the country quickly recovered from what was deemed as the third largest bankruptcy in history. By 2013, Iceland had seen 2 years of economic growth and a reduction in unemployment levels.
Most driving licences including UK or other EU and American driving licences can be used for a period of time in Iceland.
If you are renting a car be aware that some companies may limit the class of roads vehicles are allowed to drive on. Many roads that are outside the capital, Reykjavík, become impassable during the winter months and travellers should take extreme caution if driving during that time. Winter tyres are required between November and April, exact dates vary annually.
When driving in the country, the distances between towns can be far with the narrow winding roads meaning that speed limits are low. Journeys will often take longer than expected as the conditions can be hazardous. You should allow yourself plenty of time to reach your destination to reduce the risk of accidents.
You are required to keep your vehicle headlights on at all times regardless of the conditions outside. It is Icelandic law to wear a seatbelt when travelling, and the driver is responsible for children under the age of 15. Regulations on drink driving are exceptionally strict and the threshold is very low. It is advised that you do not consume any alcohol if you plan to operate a vehicle.
Religion: Christianity (Church of Iceland)
Currency: Icelandic Króna
Time now in Reykjavik:
Most nationals can enter Iceland for a period of up to 90 days without the need for a visa. Your passport should have at least three months of validity beyond the duration of your stay. Contact your local Icelandic Embassy if you would like more information on visa requirements.
It is advised that visitors to Iceland are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR. It is further recommended that most travellers also get a Tetanus vaccination. Check with your local health professional prior to travel if you are unsure.
Other health risks
The medical facilities and standard of healthcare is high quality in Iceland. Outside of the main urban areas are often limited so you should take this into consideration if you plan to travel rural areas. European nationals should be entitled to state provided medical treatment however you may have to pay for some medical costs.
Extreme weather and natural disasters
Iceland is a seismically active zone and can experience earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Serious eruptions can be dangerous and cause disruption to Icelandic and European airspace however they are a rare occurrence.
Anyone travelling to Iceland is advised to be aware of what to do in case there is an earthquake or volcanic eruption and monitor local news and weather forecasts closely.
U.S. Embassy Reykjavik
Telephone: +354 595 2200
Emergency telephone: +354 595 2248
British Embassy Reykjavik
British Embassy Reykjavik Laufásvegur 31,
Telephone: +354 550 5100
Other useful info
All emergency services: 112Notes: