a cave with ice and rocks
Inside an ice cave in Vatnajokull, Iceland. The ice is thousands of years old and so packed it is harder than steel and crystal clear.

Iceland will enforce new testing requirements for all travelers this week, in a move to keep the global pandemic away from its largely covid-19 free local community, and ramp up hopes for a summer return to travel.

A variety of proposals are underway which could dramatically change plans for summer travel, and open up entry to travelers beyond the EU.

Iceland Makes Pre-Flight Testing Mandatory

All travelers flying to Iceland now require a covid-19 test taken and uploaded before travel, or face denied boarding at their point of origin. In addition to pre-flight testing requirements, travelers also face 5 day quarantine and additional testing upon arrival.

The moves are said to be part of a campaign to minimize risk and bring community transmission to all time lows, ahead of hopes for a safer summer season. Currently, covid-19 transmission rates are so low, requests from the country to study vaccination success have been denied by drugmakers, who say there’s simply not enough infection to track.

In recent weeks, Iceland became the first EU country to approve vaccination passports for all residents, in line with previous ‘yellow fever’ certificates.

a body of water with Blue Lagoon in the background

Iceland’s Plans For Inbound Travelers

In addition to progressive moves for locals, Iceland plans to allow vaccinated visitors to enter the country without quarantine or additional testing from May 1st, provided they oblige to submit a negative covid-19 test before departure.

It remains unclear whether this exciting move for travel will be extended to non-EU and approved third country nationals, not currently allowed on the EU travel list. US and most non-EU travelers are barred from entry into Iceland at present, and proof of a negative test or vaccination does not exempt travelers from passport and residency restrictions.

If, however, you’re traveling on an EU or other EU approved ‘third country’ passport, proof of recovery from the virus, or vaccination and a negative PCR test before travel will allow for quarantine free arrival and exploration of this stunning land. Proof of covid-19 recovery already allows quarantine free arrival, as has been the case since December 2020.

Iceland Targeting May 1st Tourism Expansion?

Iceland’s new border restrictions, which require a negative covid-19 PCR test from all travelers without exemption are in effect until April 30th, 2021, and are not expected to be relaxed before the end of that period.

Unless you’re an EU citizen, or from an approved country, you won’t be able to enter.

But from May 1st, Iceland is strongly considering allowing exceptions for anyone who has been vaccinated, regardless of origin, matching a move from the Seychelles and others. Proof of recovery from covid-19 and a negative test before departure are also being considered as valid for entry for entrants beyond the EU.

For everyone else, things remain even more unclear. Many EU countries including Greece and Spain have proclaimed that summer travel won’t require vaccination for entry, so it will be interesting to see what Iceland chooses come May 1st. It’s more likely than not that more travelers will be eligible to visit this enchanting land come summer.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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