What travel insurance do I need when visiting Iceland?

NAME: Axel Strauss 
DATE: 28/03/2024

Are you thinking about a once-in-a-lifetime adventure to Iceland? An unforgettable epic journey to the land of glaciers, volcanoes, the Northern Lights, and — depending on whom you ask — elves? This unequivocally magical island — with its breathtaking beauty and unique, unparalleled history, people, and culture — captivates millions of international visitors each year. And it also happens to be one of the safest countries on the planet. 

Still, life can be pretty unpredictable — especially so far away from the everyday. And being properly insured when in the land of fire and ice is, therefore, by definition a good call. Fortunately, AXA has all you need to know about how to explore Iceland — safely, in good hands, and with peace of mind — below. 

Is travel insurance mandatory for Iceland?

Depending on where you’re coming from, it might in fact be. Because — while not an official member of the European Union, Iceland is a member of the Schengen Zone. As such, it requires that most of its visitors from outside the Schengen zone apply for a Schengen visa for stays of up to 90 days. And in order to be granted a Schengen Visa, it’s mandatory that you have the proper travel insurance (more on that below).

Which travelers don’t need a Schengen visa to come to Iceland (for stays of less than 90 days)?

You won’t need a visa for Iceland if you are: 

*NOTE: If you are a U.K BRP (i.e., biometric residence permit) and/or IRL (i.e., indefinite leave to remain) holder, then whether you need a Schengen visa or not depends on whether the country where you hold citizenship has signed a visa-free travel agreement with the Schengen Area. So consult the UK Government’s Official Website’s Travel to the EU/Schengen section, the Official Website of the EU, and that of your home country — to make sure you have all the latest info.

Which travelers are required to apply for a Schengen visa for Iceland?

Meanwhile, if you’re a passport holder from countries like China, India, Russia, all of Africa, and nearly a hundred more — then you will indeed need a Schengen visa (and, therefore, travel insurance) to go. And that’s because your home country has not — as of yet — signed a visa waiver agreement with the EU. 

PRO-TIP: The European Commission provides full lists of the countries above — i.e., both those exempt from and those requiring a Schengen visa. 

PRO-TIP 2: And AXA can help you figure out whether you need a Schengen visa too.

I don’t need a Schengen Visa. Do I still need travel insurance?

Travel insurance is not mandatory for Iceland if you don’t need a Schengen Visa — but it’s never a bad idea. Iceland beckons travelers with its glacier hikes, volcanic exploration, geothermal dips, and breathtaking natural beauty near and far.

In fact, it's an adventure paradise from coast to coast —including in its capital city of Reykavijk. And while the elves traditionally tend to be quite harmless, don't let the stunning scenery lull you into a false sense of security. 

Weather can turn nasty in a flash, with high winds, freezing rain, and temperatures dropping so low you’ll know immediately where the island gets its name. On the other hand, hitting some hot springs for a dip? The water can be a bit warmer than you expected too. 

The major cities, meanwhile — while some of the safest in the world — are not immune from petty crime and accidents, especially in the more touristy areas. 

And don't get us started on the power of sneaker waves or the occasional glacial outburst flood (but you can Google it). 

In short — no matter the nature of your trip — it’s best to both embrace the adventure and play it safe. Unexpected detours can happen. And the proper travel insurance can be your guardian angel (or guardian elf, if you will) in this land of fire and ice. With it, you can focus on the awe-inspiring wonders with ease, confidence, and peace of mind. Not to mention having proper, professional support if something does go wrong.

What does AXA Schengen travel insurance for Iceland cover?

And here are just a few reasons why an AXA travel insurance plan is your best option for the aforementioned guardian angel (or elf). 

First off, if you need a Schengen visa — our plans meet all the requirements for being granted one. These requirements stipulate that plan:

  • has a minimum coverage of €30,000 (in case of medical care, hospitalization, and/or medical repatriation); 
  • is accepted by all countries within the Schengen zone (not just Iceland); 
  • and is valid for the entire duration of your trip/stay. 

AXA offers you three comprehensive plans to choose from — Low-Cost (starting at as little as €22/week), Europe Travel, and Multi-Trip. And along with meeting all the Schengen Visa requirements above, they also offer: 

  • Up to €100,000 coverage in medical expenses; 
  • Medical repatriation & transport; 
  • 24/7 medical assistance in English (or French) in case of urgency; 
  • Up to 180 days of coverage; 
  • Coverage in all Schengen and most European Union countries, including the U.K. (depending on the chosen plan, that is). 

There are also no age restrictions with AXA. 

AXA’s travel insurance certificateaccepted by all Schengen consulates and embassies — can be instantly downloaded (and/or printed) online. 

Our plans go into effect on the day of your purchase. 

Moreover, if your Schengen visa for Iceland is denied, AXA’s plans are refundable in most cases — so long as you provide the appropriate documentation (i.e., an official explanation as to why your visa was refused by the relevant embassy, consulate, or visa application center). 

You can learn more about and compare our 3 comprehensive plans here. And remember that with AXA, not only will you be one big step closer to getting your Schengen Visa (if you need one, that is). But — most importantly — you and your family are sure to be in good hands during your once-in-a-lifetime journey itself. 

 Coverage durationMax.
Countries CoveredAverage price 
Europe TravelUp to 180 days €100,000
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom
33€ per week
(approx. US$ 35)
Multi Trip Illimited number of stays of 90 days max.
during 1 year 
€100,000328€ per year
approx. US$ 349)
Low CostUp to 180 days €30,000
Austria, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland
22 € per week
(approx. US$ 23)

Do you cover emergency medical costs related to COVID?

Yes, AXA will cover medical costs related to COVID so long as you haven't traveled against World Health Organization advice, personal medical advice from your doctor, and/or the advice/regulations of any other government body in your home country or the country you are traveling to. Emergency and additional travel costs are also covered in this case. 

To that end, all issued electronic certificates purchased on the AXA-Schengen website include the following disclaimer: “Medical fees related to COVID-19 are covered in the terms, conditions & exclusions established in the insurance policy.” And this, in turn, will satisfy any embassy rules that state you must get an insurance certificate with COVID protection.

What COVID restrictions does Iceland have, by the way?

While COVID-19, unfortunately, seemed to be making a bit of a comeback in mainland Europe in recent years, COVID-19 restrictions in Iceland (and the rest of the Schengen) have remained lifted since 2022. 

PRO-TIP 3: Just in case though, we recommend you stay up-to-date regarding COVID-19 via the World Health Organization and the official website of the EU.

What should I do if I am injured or ill while in Iceland?

No matter where in Iceland you happen to be — remember that AXA got your back. And in case of a medical emergency, you should contact the AXA Schengen call center at the number provided on your insurance policy immediately. 
Medical assistance professionals will answer your questions and advise you 24/7. We’ll also help you find the medical center closest to your location and best suited to your situation. 

During your call, we’ll only ask you to provide the following info: 

  • The number of your policy (which begins with “SCH”); 
  • The address and telephone number at which you can be reached (as well as the details of any people that can be contacted locally); 
  • Your dossier number (communicated at the time of the first call). 

IMPORTANT NOTE: Remember to always keep bills/invoices and enclose them with your file. And keep your phone charged too.

Emergency numbers in Iceland

The single most important emergency number in Iceland is 112
112 is the number you call in case of accidents, fire, crime, and search and rescue (as well as for info/reports regarding natural disasters on land, at sea, or in the air). 

But here are three more that may prove helpful (depending on the situation): 

  • Medical emergencies (if unable to reach 112): +354 544 4111 (Landspítali National University Hospital) 
  • Police (non-emergency): +354 1761 (Reykjavík Metropolitan Police) 
  • Iceland Coast Guard (search and rescue at sea): +354 416 2222

 So, 112 — and maybe jot down the others just in case too. And if you know a local — even better. Oh, and, of course, remember to keep your phone charged — especially when exploring the more remote parts of the island.

What else should I know when prepping for my trip to Iceland?

And now here's some more basic info to help you prepare for your epic Icelandic adventure: 

  • Safety: 
    Iceland boasts a very low crime rate. However, you should always use diligence in the more touristy areas. And be aware of unpredictable weather conditions — especially if you're planning on venturing into the wilderness.
  • Weather:
    Because the weather tends to be — well, Icelandic. Winter is rough, and even the average summer temperatures tend to stay within the 10–13 °C (or 50–55 °F) range. 
    So pack layers — and especially waterproof gear (as rain and wind are commonplace). Oh, and a swimsuit for those hot springs, of course.
  • Currency:
    Iceland uses the Icelandic króna (ISK). The exchange rate in early 2024 was roughly 1 USD = 120 ISK (or 1 EUR = 135 ISK). But double-check with Google.

    PRO-TIP 4: Since Iceland is not in the EU (nor the Euro Zone), it — for the most part — does not accept Euros. So while many touristy places will take US and Canadian dollars, Euros, and some other currencies — it’s best to stock up on those krónas before your trip. 
  • Medical Costs
    Iceland's healthcare system works a bit differently than some other countries. Due to universal healthcare, residents typically don't pay the full cost of most medical services. However, there are still some out-of-pocket expenses for visitors and residents alike. 
    Generally speaking, you can expect to pay between 10,000 ISK and 20,000 ISK (around €70 to €140) for a basic doctor's visit. And fees for specialists, tests, complex treatments, prescriptions, and so on will likely be higher. Which is again why travel insurance — especially for unexpected situations — can be a wise decision for peace of mind during your trip.
  • Public Transport: 
    Iceland's public transportation system relies heavily on buses. The company Strætó operates the city buses in Reykjavík, for example, offering frequent service across 27 routes. to save a few króna, consider a Reykjavík City Card — valid for 24, 48, or 72 hours — for unlimited travel during your stay. 
    Strætó also offers intercity routes — however, frequencies in service decrease (especially during winter months). So booking day tours and/or renting a car might be a better option for venturing out. 
  • Driving: 
    If you're planning a road trip, a valid driver's license from your home country should be enough. And while an International Driving Permit (IDP) is sometimes recommended, it is not always mandatory. 

    PRO-TIP 5: Driving conditions in Iceland can be tricky, especially during winter and/or in rural areas. So use caution. 
  • Opening Hours: 
    Most shops in Iceland operate from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm on weekdays, until 4:00 pm (for the most part), and are often closed on Sundays. But this, of course, again depends on how touristy the area is. 
  • Restaurants: 
    Reservations are recommended for popular restaurants — particularly during the tourist peak season (June to August). Make sure to check opening hours in advance (as some restaurants may close between lunch and dinner service). Typical restaurant hours tend to be from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm for lunch, for example, and 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm for dinner. But many do stay open later — especially in Reykjavik. 
    The Icelandic kitchen itself, meanwhile, tends to have a strong emphasis on seafood. And is —like the country itself — wholly unique (and usually fresh and delicious). 

FINAL PRO-TIP: To further better plan your trip, you can learn more courtesy of both the Government of Iceland’s official website and Visit Iceland (aka “the official tourism website for Iceland”). And remember — AXA got your back as soon as you’re ready. 


Is Iceland part of the EU?

No. While a member of the Schengen Zone and having very strong ties to Europe, Iceland is not an official member of the European Union.

Are the Schengen Zone and the European Union the same thing?

No. Although the EU and the Schengen area have many countries in common (located mostly within Europe), these are not all the same countries — and these two entities are not the same thing. AXA can explain.

Can I travel to all European countries on an Iceland Schengen visa?

Technically, no. Because all of Europe is home to roughly 50 countries. And while your Schengen Visa will allow travel to all Schengen countries and most of the European Union countries (again, they’re similar but not the same) — a handful of European nations will still have their own particular visa requirements.

Can I work or study in Iceland with a tourist visa?

Also no. The tourist (or Type C) visa allows visitors to enter Iceland for a short business trip, a holiday, and/or to visit family members. However, it cannot be converted into a work or study permit. We can tell you more about that as well.

Do I need EES/ ETIAS for Iceland?

Not yet. The European Union’s new travel authorization systems EES and ETIAS (which will technically apply to Iceland too) are only set to go into effect in late 2024 and mid-2025, respectively.