Going back several weeks, Iceland looked like the most promising country for Americans to be able to visit this summer.
While the country was first going to allow Americans as of June 15, that was then pushed back to July 1. Where does that stand now, given the new recommendation by the European Union on borders reopening (which also apply to EEA countries)?
Iceland’s original plan for a summer tourist season
I know many of us were excited about the possibility of an Icelandic summer, as the country was supposed to open up to tourists as of June 15:
- Iceland was supposed to be open to tourists from around the globe
- The plan was for the country to offer COVID-19 testing on arrival, and for the first two weeks it was even supposed to be free
- In general going to Iceland seemed like a good option, given the opportunities to physically distance, and how well the country had handled the pandemic
Why Iceland added last minute restrictions
Unfortunately Iceland’s entry rules were changed just a week before Iceland was supposed to open to tourists. This largely came down to a technicality.
The plan was originally for the European Union’s external borders to open as of June 15, and that had been pushed back to July 1.
While Iceland was fully prepared to welcome American tourists, the country went with the recommendations set by the European Union, which recommended external border closures through July 1. While Iceland doesn’t belong to the EU, these recommendations also applied to EEA countries.
Iceland has no plans to welcome Americans
When it was announced that external EU/EEA borders would be closed until July 1, Iceland’s Justice Minister, Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir, announced that the country would open to all non-Schengen visitors as of July 1, regardless of the recommendation of the European Union.
Note that all of these border restrictions from the European Union are merely recommendations for individual countries. Countries can choose not to go along with recommendations, and it just impacts internal border rules. Iceland had been preparing for this, as the country was setting up the airport in a way that would require all passengers to go through passport control.
So is Iceland allowing American visitors as of today? Nope.
This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but Iceland is once again following the new EU recommendations, and still won’t allow Americans. In addition to allowing visitors from the EU/EEA, Iceland is allowing visitors from the following 15 countries, which have been agreed upon by EU countries:
- New Zealand
- South Korea
- China, subject to reciprocity
At this point Iceland has no plans to welcome Americans, which I can’t blame them for. The country will continue going along with EU recommendations, and the EU will only allow Americans once our number of cases drops significantly.
Icelandair will keep flying to the US
Icelandair will continue to operate flights to the US over the coming weeks:
- Through July 20, Icelandair will operate 2x weekly flights to Boston and 1x weekly flights to Seattle
- As of July 20, Icelandair will operate 4x weekly flights to Boston and 2x weekly flights to New York
There are a limited number of travelers eligible to take these flights (based on having EU/EEA passports), but it’s my understanding that these flights are operated primarily to carry essential cargo.
I would expect the schedules to still change significantly, though.
This doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but Iceland will continue to go along with EU recommendations on what visitors should be allowed in the country. This means that Americans won’t be allowed to visit Iceland until further notice.
EU travel restrictions are being reviewed every two weeks, and are based on the number of new cases in a country. Until the cases drop significantly in the US, don’t expect to be allowed in Iceland…