Iceland Welcoming Vaccinated American Visitors

Filed Under: Icelandair, Travel

With the current vaccination timeline in the USA, many Americans are thinking about where to travel this summer. Well, it looks like travel to Iceland could be realistic — Iceland will start welcoming Americans who have been vaccinated, as well as those who have recovered from coronavirus.

Iceland finally opening to Americans

Iceland has been closed to Americans for about a year now. While the country isn’t part of the European Union (EU), it is part of the European Economic Area (EEA), and as a result the country has aligned many of its entry requirements with those of the EU.

Iceland has now updated its entry requirementsthose who have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus, as well as those who have been infected in the past, can enter Iceland without any coronavirus restrictions, like testing and quarantine.

Until now this exemption has only applied to those from the EU/EEA, while this will now apply to people from across the globe.

As Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist, Thórólfur Gudnason, describes the decision to open Iceland:

“Our experience and data so far indicate very strongly that there is very little risk of infection stemming from individuals who have acquired immunity against the disease, either by vaccination or by prior infection. When people are protected against the same disease, with the same vaccines that are produced by the same companies, there is no medical reason to discriminate on the basis of the location where the jab is administered. Our experience shows that the risk of infection from vaccinated individuals is very small or negligible.”

Iceland has largely done a great job managing the pandemic, and the country’s policy seems well thought out as a way of bringing back tourism while minimizing risk.

Iceland is reopening to American visitors

What proof is needed to enter Iceland?

If you’re looking to enter Iceland on account of being vaccinated, you’ll need to provide a certificate of vaccination. This must include the following information:

  • Be in the Icelandic, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, English, or French; a document in another language can be valid if the original document accompanied by a certified stamped translation in one of the languages required
  • First name and last name (as in travel documents)
  • Date of birth
  • Name of disease vaccinated against (COVID-19)
  • Where and when vaccinations were performed
  • Issuer of the certificate (supervising clinician/administering center), with signature and stamp if the International Certificate of Vaccination
  • Vaccine administered
  • Manufacturer and batch/lot number of vaccine

If you’re looking to enter on account of having recovered from coronavirus you also have to provide proof:

  • The certificate should be in the Icelandic, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, or English language; a document in another language can be valid if accompanied by a certified stamped translation in one of the languages required
  • First name and last name (as in travel documents)
  • Date of birth
  • When test was performed
  • Where test was performed
  • Name of laboratory/issuer of certificate
  • Date of certificate
  • Phone number of laboratory or responsible authority
  • Type of test performed (PCR-test or antibody test with ELISA/serologic assay)
  • Result of test (PCR-test positive for SARS-CoV-2 or antibodies present)

The challenge is proving that visitors are vaccinated

Bottom line

Iceland is reopening its borders to Americans who have either been vaccinated or have recovered from coronavirus. This seems like a logical approach for the country to take — while it doesn’t eliminate all risk, it does greatly limit risk, and that’s what you need if you’re not a country that will only settle for zero cases.

What do you make of Iceland’s approach to reopening?

(Tip of the hat to Paul)


    I.A.T.A. is one of several organizations that have been working on digital solutions to streamline the travel credentialing process for years; during the pandemic, these groups have focused on including vaccination status. The idea is that if you have all the pertinent information on your phone, a significant amount of time will be saved.

    IBM has been developing its own Digital Health Pass that would enable individuals to present proof of vaccination or a negative test to gain access to a public location, such as a sports stadium, airplane, university or workplace. The pass, built on IBM’s blockchain technology, can utilize multiple data types, including temperature checks, virus exposure notifications, test results and vaccine status. The World Economic Forum and the Commons Project Foundation, a Swiss nonprofit group, have been testing a digital health passport called CommonPass, which would allow travelers to access testing or vaccination information. The pass would generate a QR code that could be shown to authorities.

  2. Seems like a very big catch. I wonder if there will be a way to use your CDC card to get the WHO card soon. I’m between vaccine doses now, but I won’t travel internationally until I can use my proof of vaccination to return to the US instead of having to get a test done.

  3. Sounds like you can take your CDC card to your doctor (along with passport info etc), and your doctor can issue you a vaccine certificate. Not so hard.

  4. There is the Yellow Vaccination Passport which is mainly used in Europe, that’s what these requirements are based off. And I can already see Brussels complain about this because it could be a loophole for non EU residents to get into the EU/ Schengen.

  5. I put my CDC card in my passport with my yellow card after I got my first shot and was looking at some of the differences between the two documents. Some large gaps between the two as you point out in the post. Will be interesting what certain places will require.

    In my case I got vaccinated at a mega clinic not associated with my doctor. I wonder even what sort of official record keeping there is and who even owns that info (state, hospital running clinic etc) and now long they will keep it if I ever need to have it independently verified.

  6. Your doctor certainly won’t issue any kind of official vaccine certificate. Only the place that has vaccinated you can as they hold the primary source material.

    And for sure the cdc card doesn’t have a passport entry slot and the place-of-vaccination box is tiny and can’t accommodate adequate information about how to reach the vaccine clinic.

    I don’t have my yellow fever yellow card in front of me, but I think it has big blank slots for lots of vaccines and can accommodate the information.

    Maybe when you get vaccinated, ask them to fill out your yellow card also with all the relevant info?

    Digital vaccine cards are way off in future as there is no infrastructure to fill one out, carry one around, and to read one off.

    Medical information wallets don’t exist in US and pose huge privacy law (HIPPA) implications for those who fill out and receive the information. It’s not as simple as having an app on the phone.

  7. I followed the link in this article to Iceland’s proof of vaccination, and I don’t see any mention of “Passport number or travel document number”. Am I just missing this info?

  8. Consider it just another cash grab by Icelandic tourism companies. Unilateral action won’t happen, despite any wishful thinking to the contrary. Schengen requires coordinated policy on reopening the external borders, and the epidemiological standards agreed to by Schengen participants still won’t allow Americans into Schengen Europe anytime soon.

  9. Lucky, please point out where I have missed it, but on the link you provide, I only see the following requirements (no mention of needing the passport/travel document number on the card). Here is what I see:

    A vaccine certificate is required to include the following:

    Be in the Icelandic, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, English or French. A document in another language can be valid if the original document accompanied by a certified stamped translation in one of the languages required.
    First name and last name (as in travel documents).
    Date of birth.
    Name of disease vaccinated against (COVID-19)
    Where and when vaccination(s) was/were performed (date(s)).
    Vaccination must be complete; see below the required doses for full vaccination for each vaccine.
    Issuer of the certificate (supervising clinician/administering centre), with signature and stamp if the International Certificate of Vaccination.
    Vaccine administered.
    Manufacturer and batch/lot no. of vaccine.

    At least from my memory, my vaccination card contains all of that information.

  10. Cat Branchman’s comment seems correct to me as well.

    Specifically, I have my CDC card in front of me, now, and it satisfies all the specified criteria — point by point. And that’s no coincidence, obviously.

    So, Ben and all you bright folks out there, what am I missing? Enlighten me, please!

  11. You guys aren’t missing anything — since publishing the post Iceland removed the passport requirement, so I updated the post to reflect Iceland’s new guidance. That’s exciting, because it makes visiting much easier.

  12. I assume this means no kids? That’s implied but would appreciate if you’d cover this as stories like this pop up. There is no COVID vaccine for people under 16, so I’m curious if countries are addressing that or not.

  13. I’m sure people will be printing their own fake cards soon enough… but I’m glad there is something that will be a way out of quarantine — and will encourage more people get vaccinated.
    I know some anti-vaxxers who are fuming about these sorts of proposals…

  14. My wife and I are getting vaccinated soon and would love to go back to Iceland…but we have 2 kids, age 1 and 3. I looked around and it says “Children born 2005 and later need to quarantine with their parent/guardian but are exempt from screening.” There’s a 5 day quarantine apparently. Does this mean my kids and us have to stay in the hotel and can’t go anywhere for 5 days?

  15. I am excited to see that Iceland is considering people with a positive antibody test result. Hopefully more countries include this criteria as well.

  16. I hope there will be global joined up thinking, in the UK it looks like our official proof of vaccination for travel will be demonstrated via a modification being made to the current NHS Track & Trace APP, getting a certificate from our own GP’s is a non starter at least for the near future.

  17. At least for the coming two to three years, European , Asian, and African countries will require proof of covid vaccination. Anti-vax people can travel within Americas if they choose not to get covid vaccine. Can’t wait to visit Iceland and dip in Retreat Hotel’s lagoon. Was suppose to do that this past summer so I look forward to going probably next year.

  18. So I think what throws me off is the item “Issuer of the certificate (supervising clinician/administering centre), with signature and stamp if the International Certificate of Vaccination.”

    My Covid card just says the clinical site was walgreens it wasnt signed by the pharmacist which i feel is more the requirement “Where and when vaccination(s) was/were performed (date(s)).”

    Anyone able to provide clarification on what this actual means…I wish they had included some mocked COVID card examples.

  19. Great news.
    There will be more and more countries doing what Iceland is doing.
    Every country that wants to reopen will be competing for tourists.

    The CDC says 25% of Americans have natural (disease induced) covid antibodies while the US will easily be at 50% fully vaccinated by summer.

    Americans and their cash will be welcome around the world this summer – but perhaps not in every country.

  20. Am I the only one who thinks Americans shouldn’t be allowed to travel with proof of vaccination until the entire US population has access to vaccines? There are a lot of people who are patiently waiting their turn and allowing older Americans and Americans with underlying conditions to receive vaccine priority, and rightfully so. And those same people have (at least where I am) donned masks and complied with social distancing over the past year to add protection for the most vulnerable. But now those most vulnerable can get the vaccine and just take off on a vacation ahead of those that have patiently and respectfully waited?

  21. @John
    “Am I the only one who thinks Americans shouldn’t be allowed to travel with proof of vaccination until the entire US population has access to vaccines?”

    You sir get the award for the most stupid comment of the day!

  22. Iceland had this policy for EU citizens for a while, they are merely extending it to third country nationals. This merely means they no longer care about any restrictions member states introduce against them if they allow non-EU people – which is logical since most Schengen states currently have border controls with Iceland anyway so why bother?

    The great thing is that it covers people with natural imunity, so there’s no push to get vaccinated for us who previously had covid.

  23. You’re making a mistake. Americans can still not enter Iceland. Vaccine certificate is only instead of testing and quarantine, however non Europeans are still banned from entering Europe. At least for now.

  24. What the policy will be for unvaccinated kids is key to our decision too. Ideally it could be just a matter of having them tested on arrival then free to go about.

  25. Agreed, the comment by @john is pretty stupid: Perfectly safe people (vaccinated or recovered) shouldn’t be allowed to travel because not everyone has had the vaccine yet? That’s just…..a very weird train of thought.

  26. @John – I don’t know any old people clamoring to vacation in Iceland in March.

  27. @Dan: “ You sir get the award for the most stupid comment of the day!”

    *calls someone’s comment “most stupid”*
    *simultaneously reveals embarrassing grammar ineptitude*

    Pot, meet kettle.

  28. Iceland did all this “going to open up to tourism” promoting last year. Ben was telling us his plans to possibly go there day by day on this website at the time. Then it all went pear shaped.
    Wouldn’t it just be less stressful to go somewhere gorgeous in the USA and have a nice holiday? You know the sort of thing… A few friends, family,at a lake, or a beach, a barbecue, lot of ice cream, camping or a holiday house, rekindle happy memories…
    Or have we become addicted to stress?

  29. Are the lifting the travel restrictions or the border measures like quarantine and second test ? It’s confusing since there seem to be different information about this.

  30. @ The Original Donna — There are many! It’s actually a very popular destination among the active ~60-80 set.

  31. @ John — You aren’t the only one who feels that way. I’ve been volunteering at our local vaccine clinic several days a week, and based on some of the outrageous behavior by certain entitled baby boomers, most of the healthcare workers would probably agree with you.

    It’s a small percentage, of course, but some people are being truly ridiculous in a way that probably feels pretty insulting to the folks who have been on the frontlines of Covid all year (stuff like trying to negotiate their vaccination schedule to accommodate vacation plans, attempting to manipulate getting their younger spouses or kids pushed up the queue so they can do family travel, etc.). Meanwhile our state only just started vaccinating teachers, and won’t start with first responders even until next week, so there are many who disagree with the phases, or are just generally upset by the display of selfishness over gratitude by some people. You aren’t alone there.

    That said, nothing in America/life is ever equal, or really even fair, and there isn’t a justifiable reason to keep folks from traveling once they’ve been vaccinated. And if the opportunity for more-seamless travel incentivizes someone otherwise on the fence to get their vax, we all win. So.

  32. @ Steven @ gus @ Cat Branchman — The US CDC vaccination cards were specifically designed to not be official documents. Speed and on-site logistics were prioritized over the kinds of security elements that would be necessary for confirming identities or otherwise creating an internationally-verifiable record, so that can was generally just kicked down the road.

    Untangling that decision is going to be a mess. California is maintaining a statewide database with CalVax, but Florida apparently isn’t even checking ID consistently, which puts us back to the US having 2600+ different pandemic approaches. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see a secondary verification process required, or a reliance on antibody tests for this year (which would have the benefit of including those with natural immunity as well).

  33. I have received both shots but looked at my CDC card and noticed they did not fill in the Healthcare Professional boxes. Instead, their name is on the sticker with vaccine manufacturer and lot. This would make me very nervous to fly all the way to Iceland or another country without knowing for sure that they would accept it. I would want confirmation before getting on the plane.

  34. I’m asking the state dept of health to provide me a certified copy of my immunization record.

    Along with the cheezy CDC card, should be enough of an official record.

    According to local pharmacists, all covid vaccination data is being reported to the state for official record keeping purposes.

  35. I agree with notbad41- the forgers will working overtime.
    I am also curious what vaccines Iceland, Seychelles will see as valid, including other countries, including the US once it opens.
    Will they accept Sinopharm and other Chinese vaccines or Sputnik (Russian) which have not published their clinical data but tout great effectiveness.

  36. Do they not understand that the US card is such a pathetic handwritten on cardstock joke that US anti-vaccers have had the PDF for months and have not only been printing them on home printers, but bragging about it?

  37. My experience on Tuesday this week. Took flight from Boston and it landed just before 6 am local time. On arriving at the testing station( had to wait my turn in line with everybody else), I informed them that I was vaccinated and they sent me through to passport control without seeing any of my papers.
    At passport control, I shared my CDC vaccination card. She was not sure and wanted to “check” with someone. At that point I offered her, my email verification/notification for each vaccine dose and lot number. After reviewing these additional pages, she stamped my passport and I went through.

  38. Does anyone know what this means for children who currently can’t get vaccinated because none of the vaccines are approved for them?

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