Iceland is finally ready to welcome eligible Americans — for real this time

Mar 17, 2021

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Update 3/17/21: Iceland has updated its document requirements, so CDC-issued certificates and U.S. laboratory results should now be accepted for entry.


Back in the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, Iceland famously tossed out the welcome mat to American tourists before quickly rolling it back up.

The country’s flag carrier, Icelandair, listed and sold flights to a large variety of U.S. cities, but never actually operated most of them, leaving customers to fight for refunds — which, in my case, only came after I filed a complaint with the Department of Transportation (DOT).

This time, things feel a bit more official. Beginning tomorrow, March 18, 2021, eligible U.S. Citizens will officially be permitted to enter the country.

Entry permission will be granted to any eligible visitor who can present proof of full vaccination against COVID-19, including vaccinations manufactured by AstraZeneca, Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech.

Visitors can present an official paper or electronic vaccine certificate, and Iceland’s requirements have now been updated to match what’s listed on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) certificate. Iceland removed a previous requirement that a nationality and passport number be listed, which do not appear on the CDC card.

 

Additionally, visitors who were previously infected with COVID-19 will be able to enter Iceland without a requirement to quarantine. Acceptable documentation there includes a positive PCR test result that’s older than 14 days or a positive antibody test. Note that rapid tests are not accepted.

This is a notable improvement from Iceland’s previous entry restrictions, which required visitors to be citizens of EU/EEA countries, present a negative test result before departure, a second negative result upon arrival, quarantine for five days and then test negative a third time before being permitted to venture out from their hotel.

U.S. flights are incredibly limited at the moment, but could be expanded soon. (Photo courtesy of Icelandair.)

One remaining challenge is actually getting to Iceland. Currently, Icelandair is only operating flights between Keflavík International Airport (KEF) and Boston (BOS), departing the U.S. on Monday and Thursday evenings at 9:00 pm and arriving in Iceland at 6:05 am the following morning. Return flights are scheduled on Sundays and Wednesdays, departing Iceland at 5:15 pm and arriving in Boston at 7:05 pm.

Assuming a surge in demand follows the country’s relaxed entry policy, it’s likely that Icelandair will expand its flight schedule significantly, and return to other U.S. cities as well. Additionally, Delta and United previously flew to Iceland — if demand recovers quickly, we could see those carriers return to KEF as well, perhaps as soon as this summer.

Featured photo by ronnybas/Getty Images.

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