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Is Iceland in Europe for travel insurance?

We answer the key question everyone asks (spoiler – yes, Iceland is in Europe) and provide you with all the hints and tips you need to get suitable travel insurance for Iceland.

We answer the key question everyone asks (spoiler – yes, Iceland is in Europe) and provide you with all the hints and tips you need to get suitable travel insurance for Iceland.

Written by
Anna McEntee
Home, pet and travel insurance expert
Reviewed by
Rebecca Goodman
Insurance expert
Last Updated
15 JULY 2024
9 min read
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So, is Iceland in Europe for travel insurance?

Yes, it is. While Iceland isn’t part of the main European continental landmass, or a member of the European Union (EU), it’s classed as part of Europe for the purposes of taking out travel insurance.

Iceland is part of the European Economic Area (EEA), which means you could drive in Iceland using your UK driving licence. However, since Brexit, UK citizens don’t have the same access to state-provided healthcare in Iceland. That’s why it’s more important than ever to make sure you have the right travel insurance for Iceland in place before you go.

Customers with pre-existing medical conditions

If you have a serious health condition, your travel insurance is likely to be more expensive. Whatever happens, don’t lie to an insurance provider, because this could mean your claim is rejected. When you declare any medical conditions on our website, we’ll only show you quotes from insurance providers who will cover them, with no exclusions.

If your condition is more serious, MoneyHelper has a directory of insurance providers who may be able to provide quotes over the phone. You can call them on 0800 138 7777.

What is EHIC/GHIC and what does it cover in Iceland?

EHIC stands for European Health Insurance Card. It allows you to access state healthcare in EU countries on the same basis as that country’s residents. The EHIC has now been replaced by the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) for British citizens, although EHICs are still valid until their expiry date. Unfortunately, because Iceland is not in the EU, GHICs and most existing UK-issued EHICs are not valid for use there.

This means you’ll likely have to pay fees upfront to access public healthcare in Iceland. You might also be charged if you need emergency treatment in hospital, so make sure you arrange travel insurance with an adequate level of medical cover.

Do I need travel insurance for Iceland?

Yes – while it’s not compulsory, it’s very much recommended that you buy travel insurance for your trip to Iceland, especially as GHIC card won’t cover you for medical treatment you need while you’re there. As well as emergency medical treatment, travel insurance could cover you if:

  • The airline loses or damages your luggage
  • Your valuable personal belongings are stolen
  • There are transport delays that cause you to miss your flight
  • You need to cancel your trip to Iceland because of illness or personal loss
  • You can’t make prepaid tours or excursions because of extreme weather or other disruptions.
  • You have a medical emergency, and you need to get back to the UK.

How much is travel insurance for Iceland?

The cost of your Iceland travel insurance depends on factors including:

  • How long you’re travelling for
  • What activities you’ll be doing while you’re away
  • The level of cover you want for cancellations and your luggage
  • Your age
  • If you have any existing medical conditions.

If your trip to Iceland is your only holiday this year, you can find single-trip travel insurance for European destinations for as little as £5.97 for one week[1]. On the other hand, if you have a few holidays lined up, you could save on your travel insurance by choosing a multi-trip policy. Compare with us and you could find annual travel insurance for Europe for just £11.50[2].

[1] Based on Compare the Market data for a single trip travel policy for a 20 year old with no pre-existing medical conditions travelling in Europe for 1 week. Prices correct as of June 2024.

[2] Based on Compare the Market data for an annual multi trip travel insurance policy for a 20 year old with no pre-existing medical conditions travelling in Europe. Prices correct as of June 2024.

What will Iceland travel insurance cover?

Travel insurance policies for Iceland vary, but they typically cover:

  • Emergency medical treatment: travel insurance will also normally cover the costs of repatriation, to get you back to the UK in case of an emergency.
  • Flight cancellations: in case your flight is cancelled or delayed by more than 24 hours for reasons such as natural disasters, when your airline is not required to give a refund
  • Damaged, lost or stolen luggage: to help you recoup the costs if your personal belongings are stolen while you’re abroad, or your baggage is lost or damaged by the airline
  • Holiday cancellation: to cover the costs of any flights, accommodation and any tours and excursions you’ve paid for upfront if case you need to cancel your trip for reasons such as illness or injury, losing your job or a family bereavement
  • Coronavirus cover: to cover costs if you catch coronavirus before you’re due to travel or while you’re away and are forced to cancel your holiday or stay longer at your destination. When you get a travel insurance quote with us, it’s easy to compare levels of COVID-19 cover. Just use the ‘more details’ option on the quote results page.

What won’t Iceland travel insurance cover?

Here are some common exclusions to bear in mind when comparing travel insurance for Iceland:

  • Drugs or alcohol: a drink or two is fine but you’re unlikely to be covered for any accidents that happen, or for belongings that are lost or stolen, while you’re under the influence.
  • Pre-existing medical conditions: your travel insurance won’t cover you for medical treatment for any pre-existing medical conditions that you didn’t declare when you took out the policy. When you compare with us, we’ll only show you quotes from insurance providers who will cover all your declared medical conditions.
  • Natural disasters: Iceland has many active volcanoes. There have been small eruptions as recently as 2021 and 2022, and they could lead to other dangerous hazards like floods and landslides, as well as disruptive ash clouds. The Icelandic weather is also unpredictable, and storms can be dramatic. Depending on your level of cover, you may not be covered against these things.
  • Terrorism: there haven’t been any recent terrorist attacks in Iceland, but you can never completely rule it out. Bear in mind that your Iceland travel insurance likely won’t cover claims related to terrorist events unless you choose a specialist policy.
  • Travelling against FCDO advice: although Iceland is generally a safe country to visit, if the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advises against all but essential travel to Iceland due to security concerns, pandemics or natural disasters, you won’t be covered by your travel insurance if you do decide to go. Check the FCDO website before you travel.

Does travel insurance cover volcanic ash disruption?

After the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in 2010 caused 100,000 flight cancellations, we’re all aware of how volcanic ash could affect your travel plans. While it’s unusual to have an ash cloud that affects so much of Europe, ash is a common problem in Iceland – the country has around 32 active volcanoes.

So, will you be covered if your Iceland holiday is disrupted by ash? Not always – it depends on your insurance provider. If you’re going to Iceland, always check the policy details to see if volcanic ash is covered before you buy. You might be able to add the cover to your policy for an additional premium.

Find out more: Travel insurance that covers volcanic ash

What else should I consider when I choose my Iceland travel insurance?

Here are a few factors to keep in mind when you compare travel insurance for Iceland:

  • Adventure sports: if you’re in Iceland for outdoor pursuits, such as hiking, climbing or skiing, make sure your travel insurance includes the activities you have planned – otherwise, if you’re injured, your medical costs and flights home might not be covered. You can find a list of insured activities in your policy documents. Find out more about adventure sports travel insurance.
  • Emergency rescue: if you’ll be heading out to explore or perhaps in trek in more remote areas of Iceland, you may want to look for a policy that covers mountain rescue and emergency evacuation to the nearest hospital.
  • Cancellation cover: Iceland’s weather can be severe at any time of the year. While a tour operator will usually refund you if they cancel because of bad weather, they don’t have to do so if you can’t get to them because of cancelled buses. You should read the small print and see what your policy offers in terms of holiday cancellation insurance.
  • Baggage cover: it’s important to think about exactly how much it would cost to replace your baggage if you lost it. This is easy to misjudge, especially if you’re going for outdoor pursuits. The gear you’ve accumulated over the years could cost a great deal to replace all at once.

Do I need a visa for Iceland from the UK?

No. UK citizens can visit countries in the Schengen area – which Iceland is part of – without a visa for up to 90 days within any 180-day period. However, that means that any time you’ve spent travelling in Europe in the last 180 days count towards your 90-day limit in Iceland.

More details about the entry requirements for Iceland can be found on the GOV.UK website, including rules on COVID-19 vaccines and testing.

Any other tips for travel to Iceland?

Here are a few facts to know before you go to the land of fire and ice:

Language: the official language is Icelandic, but English is widely spoken.

Currency: Icelandic króna. ATMs are plentiful and you’ll be able to pay by card in most places.

Tipping: it’s rarely expected that you’ll tip in Iceland. Restaurant bills usually have a service charge included – though if not you could tip around 10%. Hotel staff, tour guides and taxi drivers won’t expect a tip either, but if you’ve received exceptional service, feel free to tip.

Vaccinations: you’re unlikely to need any specific vaccinations to visit Iceland, but you should speak to your doctor 4-6 weeks before you leave just to be sure.

Arctic travel: if you’re planning an arctic excursion or cruise as part of your trip to Iceland, check what medical facilities will be available to you while you’re in remote areas and make sure you’ll be covered by your travel insurance.

Crime: Iceland does not have a high crime rate, but petty crime and theft can occur anywhere, especially in urban areas so keep a close eye on your valuables.

Emergencies: in case of an emergency, call 112 in Iceland to reach the emergency services.

Where can I compare Iceland travel insurance?

It’s easy to find and compare Iceland travel insurance with Comparethemarket. Just fill in a few details and we’ll show you a range of great-value quotes to choose from.

Compare travel insurance now

Frequently asked questions

Does Iceland have free healthcare for tourists?

No, Iceland has a public healthcare system, but not all Iceland healthcare services are free, and GHIC cards, and most existing EHIC cards, are not valid in Iceland.

Most visitors from the UK will have to pay upfront to access general medical care at one of the Iceland’s health centres although you may be able to claim back costs from your travel insurance. You might not be able to access emergency medical treatment for free, so if you do get admitted to hospital in the case of an emergency, call your insurance company as soon as possible to make sure you’ll be covered.

Do you have to pay for an ambulance in Iceland?

Yes, ambulance services are not free in Iceland – for residents or for tourists. It could be very costly if you need to be airlifted to hospital from a remote area of Iceland. That’s why it’s important to make sure you have adequate cover for emergency health care on your Iceland travel insurance.

Can you buy antibiotics in Iceland?

You’ll need a prescription from a GP to get medicines such as antibiotics in Iceland. If you forget to take any of the medicines you need when you travel to Iceland from the UK, you’ll need to book an appointment at a health centre and ask for a prescription. If you’re a UK citizen you’ll normally have to pay full price for the GP appointment and the prescription. To pick up your medication, you could go to any pharmacy or ‘apótek’ in Icelandic.

What does Europe 1 mean on travel insurance?

European countries may fall under one of two categories when it comes to travel insurance: ‘Europe 1’ and ‘Europe 2’. Europe 2 covers all European countries, while Europe 1 covers most of Europe, including Iceland, except for the following countries: Andorra, Cyprus, Greece (and Greek Isles), Malta, Spain (including Balearic and Canary Islands), Switzerland and Turkey.

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Anna McEntee - Insurance expert

Anna’s all about delivering fantastic insurance products at a great price. Value is the most important thing for Anna, as she cuts through the jargon and finds what’s most important and worth your hard-earned money.

Learn more about Anna

Kate Hughes - Insurance and finance expert

As an award-winning journalist, author and broadcast commentator, Kate has been writing about personal finance for more than 20 years. She’s the former Money Editor for The Independent. Her work has appeared across the UK broadsheets as well as a number of international titles. Kate brings her financial expertise to inform her readers on ways to save money. She’s also written a book. ‘Going Zero: One Family’s Journey to Zero Waste and a Greener Lifestyle’ is available now.

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