I traveled to Iceland as a vaccinated American and the entry and exit process was tedious, but easy if you understand the rules

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Icelandair ticket counter at New York-JFK

I traveled to Iceland as a vaccinated American and the process was easy, yet tedious.
Vaccinated travelers from the US need to present their vaccine card, a negative COVID test, and a pre-arrival form.
Reykjavik has a number of testing sites for Americans to get a COVID test before re-entering the US.
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Americans are itching for a vacation, and the vaccine rollout has given travelers more freedom to go overseas.

TSA checkpoint at JFK

Iceland is one of the many European countries that allow vaccinated Americans to enter without quarantine, so I made the hop across the pond in early September.

Luggage for Iceland

The entry and exit processes were tedious and there were specific steps I had to follow, including getting a negative covid test, having my vaccine card, and filling out pre-arrival paperwork.

Vaccine card and negative covid test

Accepted vaccines are Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Sinovac, and Sinopharm BIBP and covid tests must be either PCR or rapid antigen. Travelers who do not present a negative covid test will be fined 100,000 ISK ($781) at the border.

Source: Island.is

I flew Icelandair from New York’s JFK International Airport to Keflavik Airport in Reykjavik. Icelandair is very transparent about the entry requirements for Iceland on its website.

Signs at JFK Terminal 7

Source: Icelandair

To enter Iceland as a vaccinated American, visitors must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with at least 14 days past the final dose, receive a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours before the first leg of the journey, and pre-register their arrival.

Passport, COVID vaccine card, and mask

Certification of previous infection dated between 14 and 180 dates from arrival into Iceland is also acceptable at the border. These travelers do not need to present a negative covid test to enter without quarantine.

Source: Island.is

The pre-arrival form must be done online. I was required to fill out my departure and return date, my personal information, and certify I would get a COVID test before travel. Once submitted, I received a barcode in my email to verify it was complete.

Barcode received after completing pre-arrival form

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, I was unable to check in online or on the mobile app and was instructed by Icelandair to collect my boarding pass at the desk.

Icelandair check-in email

When I arrived at JFK, I made my way to the Icelandair check-in counter where signs reminded passengers to fill out the online pre-arrival form. You could not check in without it.

Reminders to fill out pre-arrival form

The pre-arrival form can be found online.

At the counter, I was asked to present my negative COVID test, vaccine card, and pre-arrival form. The agent checked the date of my test and the result and verified my vaccine card was legitimate before handing me my boarding pass.

Icelandair check-in counter

For those who forgot or did not know to get a COVID test, JFK has a few options, including Adams Medical in Terminal 1, Xpresscheck in Terminal 4, and NYC Test & Trace Corps in Terminal 5. The test must be PCR, not rapid antigen.

COVID testing site at JFK Terminal 5

I did not have to show any COVID-related entry documents again until I landed in Iceland.

Icelandair Boeing 757 cabin

Upon arrival in Reykjavik, I deplaned and headed to customs where airport employees split passengers into two lines – one for those entering Iceland and a second for those connecting to onward flights.

Two lines to enter customs at Keflavik Airport

The line looked long but only took about 15 minutes to clear. The customs agent only checked my passport but told me COVID documents would be verified later in the entry process.

Customs sign at Keflavik Airport

After passing customs, I made my way through the arrivals hall before coming to a large „Exit to Iceland” sign and a roped-off section for travelers entering the country.

Exit to Iceland sign

I made my way downstairs to a second counter where I was asked to present the barcode I received after filling out the pre-arrival form.

Travelers at Keflavik Airport

Once the agents checked the barcode, I was directed to a third desk where my vaccine card, pre-arrival form, and negative COVID test were checked for a second time.

Passengers a Keflavik Airport arrival area

The agent scanned my barcode and verified my vaccine card and test results before allowing me to exit the airport. About five minutes later, I received a text saying I was free to enter Iceland without quarantine

Text saying I don’t need to quarantine

If I was unvaccinated, I would need to take a test at the border and undergo quarantine.

Source: Island.is

Getting back into the US was a simpler process and only required a negative COVID test taken no earlier than three days before departure from Iceland. Fortunately, Reykjavik had a handful of testing centers available.

Downtown Reykjavik

Source: CDC

I booked my test and received a barcode verifying my payment and appointment. The test cost me $60 and guaranteed I would have the results within 48 hours, which was perfect timing for my flight. Fortunately, I received my negative result in less than 24 hours with a QR code certifying its validity.

Negative COVID test result

For the return flight, I was once again unable to check in online due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Icelandair check-in counter at Keflavik Airport

When the check-in counter opened at Keflavik, I only needed to show my negative COVID test to receive a boarding pass. After that, I was able to pass through security, passport control, and board the aircraft with only my passport.

Icelandair check-in counter at Keflavik Airport

Upon arrival in JFK, I was not asked again for my negative COVID test and simply re-entered the US with just my passport.

CBP Global Entry kiosk

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