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Traveling to Iceland in 2021

Traveling to Iceland in 2021

Published: 18. January 2021
By: Þorsteinn (Thor)

February update: A negative PCR test result from the travelers' location of departure is now required in addition to the update discussed below. This takes effect on February 19th and is also in effect until May 1st.

The government just announced a COVID-19 plan and rules for arriving passengers until spring. In this post, I will be going over what this plan means if you're traveling to Iceland in 2021 and how you can make the process as smooth as possible. So let's dive right in.

As of January 15th, all passengers must go through a PCR test at the airport. This is followed by another test 5-6 days later and you are required to quarantine in the meantime. This might sound very similar to what was already in place up until this point, but there are two main differences:

  • This is no longer optional, i.e. you cannot choose a 14-day self-quarantine instead of the tests
  • Children born in 2005 or later will now be required to go into quarantine along with their parents. If they're traveling alone, they will have to take the 2 tests as well.

These rules will be in effect until April 1st, although the government will reevaluate monthly. If the situation abroad is looking better than anticipated, it's possible that the rules will be relaxed sooner.

After May 1st, border measures will be based on risk assessment of each country, which will have the following categories:

  • Green: Low-risk
  • Orange: Medium risk
  • Red (and gray): High risk

If you are coming from a "green" or "orange" country, you will only have to take a test when you depart and get a negative result. You then present a negative result upon arrival and once you do that, you don't have to take a second test and don't have to quarantine at all. However, if you are coming from a red or gray country, the current rules still apply, including the 5-day quarantine. You can find more information about each country's risk categorization here.

When I reached out to the government asking them for more information about the first test, which they say will be taken "at passenger's point of departure", they simply said that more information will be released when we get closer to the May 1st date, or when the rule change takes effect. As of today, both tests are free of charge in Iceland.

If you have received a COVID-19 vaccination at any point, none of these requirements apply and you can enter the country as normal. This will always be the best and preferred option if possible. Likewise, if you can provide proof of prior infection (and therefore antibodies), you are also exempt from all border measures. Just make sure that the certificate is in English, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, or Icelandic.

If you are looking to travel in the summer, as many of you are, the biggest uncertainty will therefore be the risk assessment of your country. To be considered in the red category, your country must have a 14-day incidence rate of over 250 per 100,000 people or over 50 per 100,000 if the positive test rate is over 4%. So please keep an eye on those numbers in your country. More detailed information can be found here. We will also continue to update our "COVID-19 Updates" section on our front page whenever new information is released, so feel free to stay up-to-date there.

  • Happy Campers Customers

So what does this mean for your campervan trip? Thankfully, you're in good hands and have a few things working for you as we've mentioned in previous posts:

  • 24-hour cancellation policy gives you a 100% refund if you cancel 1-day in advance or more
  • You can reschedule your trip as often as you like at no extra cost
  • We are running a COVID-19 special to make the trip more worthwhile
  • Fewer travelers in Iceland means that you'll not only get nature all to yourself, but you'll also get unlimited customer service from us if you have questions or concerns (see option A below).
  • Iceland is a relatively safe country, also in terms of catching COVID-19, with 0 reported new daily infections for the first time in a while last week (January)
  • Campervan travel is great for social distancing

But beyond these general factors, this is how you can deal with the COVID-19 situation the Happy way, but it involves going one of the following routes:

A) You have been vaccinated, have proof of antibodies as of today, or are coming from a green or orange country after May 1st: In this case, nothing has changed and you go through our usual process

B) You need to quarantine, but you like to pick up the camper ASAP: We leave the camper at the airport and you drive it to your quarantine accommodation.

C) You need to quarantine and you will pick up the van after your quarantine: In this case, we will pick you up from your quarantine hotel in Reykjavik, Keflavik, or nearby areas, and go through the usual process from there.

After you book your van, you will get the option to schedule a personal video/phone call with us, where we will talk about your upcoming visit, go through the process, your options, and answer any questions you might have. This is completely free of charge for a limited time, due to the COVID-19 situation. But of course, it's just optional and if you prefer not to take advantage of that, you will simply choose one of the options above and follow our guidelines for that option.

Option A: No Quarantine

You will not have to quarantine if you fall into any of these categories:

  • As of today, you have been vaccinated and provide proof of that
  • As of today, you have had COVID-19 before and have proof of that
  • You are coming from a "green" or "orange" country and present a negative test after May 1st

If that's the case, you can simply go through the Happy Campers process like normal. You can still take advantage of our free 1-on-1 chat, of course.

Option B: Get Camper ASAP

If you need to quarantine but you want the van before your quarantine, possibly to save yourself a taxi ride or to make day-trips during your quarantine, you can simply pick up the van at the airport. The van will be waiting and ready for you, along with the rental contract that you will sign digitally before driving it.

Once you have the van, you will drive to your quarantine destination and spend the next 5 days relaxing in Iceland, making day-trips in your camper while fuel allows. You can find a list of all approved quarantine accommodations here. After your quarantine, you will simply continue your trip and return the van as normal, where we offer our usual free shuttle service to the airport.

More details will be emailed to you after booking the van OR discussed in our personal chat.

Option C: Get Camper After Quarantine

If you would rather pick up the van after your quarantine, we will make it simple and easy for you. If you are quarantining in Reykjavik or anywhere in Reykjanes/ Keflavik area, we will simply pick you up and drive you to our office, where you will go through the typical Happy Campers process, including our orientation. Easy as that!

Useful Resources

To recap the most useful links for more information:

January 15th Government announcement

Children born after 2005 rule change announcement

Visiting Iceland: Information from the Directorate of Health in Iceland

Accommodations approved for quarantine in Iceland

Risk categorization by country

February Update News Article

What now?

We are still hopeful that the border will have relaxed rules or even be completely open by the summer. However, it's wise to stay up-to-date on the situation in your country and understand how the Icelandic government categorizes it in terms of risk. If the situation is still bad in your country in the summer, the worst-case-scenario would require you to quarantine for 5 days and take the 2 tests as mentioned above. In that case, we would work with you to make sure that the trip is as smooth as possible and answer any questions you have along the way.

At best, you will either have your vaccine already or only require a single negative test to start exploring Iceland. Hope to see you there!


Þorsteinn (Thor)
Þorsteinn (Thor) takes great pride in being a total computer, photography, and marketing geek. When he's not geeking out, he's running trails and ultramarathon. Thor as a B.A. in economics and a Master's in Business Administration from the University of Louisville.

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