Northern lights rippling across the night sky, a volcanic terrain that feels otherworldly, glaciers and geysers scattered like gems across the landscape – it's no wonder there doesn't seem to be a limit to Iceland's popularity as a tourist destination.

However, no matter how tempting it may be, don't rush to the airport just yet. Depending on where you’re visiting from, you may need to apply for a visa before you can visit Iceland. Here’s everything you need to know about entry and visa requirements for this Nordic nation.

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A wild horse looks into the camera with mountains in the background
Many overseas visitors can travel to Iceland without a visa © David Noton / Lonely Planet

Which nationalities don't need a visa to visit Iceland?

Iceland is not in the European Union (EU), but it is part of Schengen, an agreement between 27 countries allowing its nationals to travel visa-free between them. The Schengen area covers a lot of countries in mainland Europe with some exceptions.

Passport holders of a number of countries outside the Schengen area can also travel visa-free to Iceland. These include Australia, Ireland, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, the UK and the United States, whose citizens can stay in Iceland for up to 90 days in a 6-month period. You’ll need a valid passport or relevant travel document of at least three months beyond your intended stay.

What nationalities need a visa to visit Iceland?

Nationals of other states (see the list here) must apply for a short-stay Schengen visa (also called a C-visa) before traveling to Iceland or the rest of the Schengen area. The visa allows for a maximum stay of 90 days in a 180-day period. Such visas are intended for tourists, business trips, family visits, official visits and short-term studies.

You can apply for a short-stay C-visa at embassies and consulates abroad in the cities listed on the website of the Icelandic Directorate of Immigration. Many of the embassies and consulates use service providers for receiving applications. 

How much does a short-stay Schengen visa cost?

Visas for nationals of most countries cost €80 for adults and €40 for children aged 6–12 years (there is no charge for children under six years). Although in most cases it takes no more than 15 days to process a visa, it can take longer. So it’s worth applying at least three weeks in advance of your trip. Be sure to check the full list of requirements – which can include things like proof of travel medical insurance and financial means – with the consulate, embassy or service provider before applying.

Visas can only be extended beyond 90 days in exceptional circumstances, and applications for extensions should be submitted to the Immigration Office in Kópavogur at a cost of 4600 ISK. Multi-entry visas allowing for repeated 90-day stays in the Schengen area in each 180-day period of up to 5 years can be granted upon meeting certain conditions.

Rear view of a woman looking at glaciers in Jökulsárlón, Iceland
Why not extend your stay and take a working holiday in Iceland? © EyeEm / Getty Images

Can I take a working holiday in Iceland?

Working holiday permits for Iceland are only available to Japanese and UK nationals. There are specific conditions for each nation that need to be met before you can apply, and the permit is valid for one year. The application fee for UK citizens is 16,000 ISK; there is no fee for Japanese applicants. Nationals of other countries and those planning on working for a longer period of time will need to apply for a residence permit based on work.

This article was first published October 2021 and updated about 20 hours ago

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