Lots of people want to know if there are any dogs in Iceland. The answer is yes, of course!
There is some confusion about this topic because pet dogs were banned in Reykjavik between 1924 to 1984. Unless you had a special permit, you could not bring your dog into the city. But that’s no longer the case.
This article will explain why dogs were banned from the Icelandic capital for 60 years, and give you an up to date look at the laws around pet ownership in the land of fire and ice. We’ll explain the current quarantine laws and pet bans, so you can make the best plan for your four legged pals on your next vacation.
Why were dogs banned In Iceland?
Dogs were banned from Reykjavik at a time when the population was growing quickly, and there were many stray dogs in the city scavenging for food. Some of the dogs were carrying parasites that could pass to humans, including tapeworm.
In the countryside, dogs were never banned in Iceland. They have played an important role in farm and family life since the Vikings imported them!
People can now have dogs in Reykjavik. But you might not see many of them, because the pet of choice is more likely to be a cat. After 6 decades with no dogs around, it means that city people don’t have much of a culture of dogs as pets, though that is changing as time goes on.
All dogs in Iceland must be microchipped and vaccinated, and several dog breeds are banned altogether.
Which dogs are still banned in Iceland?
The following dogs are not allowed in Iceland because their breed can be dangerous if they are not properly trained.
- American Pit Bull Terrier
- Argentine Mastiff
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier
- American Staffordshire Terrier
- Wolf Dogs
- Brazillian Mastiff
- Cane Corso
- Presa Canario
More dog breeds appear on this list from time to time, so make sure you check up about your specific dog if you plan to bring them to Iceland. Bigger dogs may have to go through a behavioral assessment before being allowed into the country.
Bringing your dog to Iceland
Many people love to travel with their furry best friend. Unfortunately, that’s not very straightforward when visiting Iceland.
To bring your dog into Iceland, you must:
- Have your dog microchipped
- Import your dog from an approved country (find the list on the official MAST site)
- Apply for an import permit at least 30 days in advance
- Vaccinate your dog for Rabies, Leptospirosis, Canine Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus
- Test your dog for Brucella Canis, Salmonella, Angiostrongylus Vasorum, Rabies
- Treat your dog for Tics and Tapeworm
- Get an Iceland Veterinary Certificate signed off by your vet (An EU passport is not sufficient
- Book your dog into a quarantine center for 14 days on arrival in Iceland
- Pay the import fee (around 20,000 IKR) as well as the price of the quarantine
This should give you an idea of what you’re getting into. But don’t take our word for it. You’ll find the most complete and up-to-date information for importing dogs on the MAST website.
Dog Quarantine In Iceland
All dogs must quarantine for 14 days on coming to Iceland, which can cause them considerable distress if they aren’t used to being separated from their family. For this reason, it doesn’t make sense to bring a dog to Iceland for a shorter vacation. But if you’re moving to Iceland permanently, then it’s something for you to look into.
(If you’re feeling confused, the quarantine period used to be 28 days, but it is shorter now).
You have to bring your dog to Iceland via Keflavik Airport on certain approved days in the month. There are three days in the month when you can import your dog.
If you are moving to Iceland, don’t worry. The two approved quarantine stations in Iceland are run by passionate and professional people who will take good care of your animals.
Quarantine For Guidance Dogs
Guidance dogs do have a slightly different quarantine rule. According to MAST (the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority), a guide dog is:
“ a guide dog for the blind, a hearing dog for the deaf or an assistance dog for people with mobility impairments, epileptics and diabetics, which helps individuals with the aforementioned diagnoses to navigate their surroundings”
This dog must have passed official training approved by MAST. Unfortunately, an emotional support dog would not qualify.
Approved guidance dogs can quarantine at home with you instead of at the station.
Bringing cats to Iceland
The process for bringing a cat to Iceland is pretty similar to bringing a dog. You will need to apply for an import license, and your cat will be quarantined for 14 days on arrival in Iceland, at your expense.
Your cat must be microchipped, vaccinated, and tested for various illnesses. You’ll find the exact requirements for importing your pet to cat on the MAST website, depending on which country you come from.
Pet Reptiles In Iceland
You may be surprised to hear that most reptiles are not allowed as pets in Iceland.
You can’t own or import snakes, lizards, or turtles to Iceland without an extraordinary permit, such as you might have as a zoo owner.
You may wonder why on earth turtles are banned in Iceland, but it’s nothing personal! The main reason is that they can pass salmonella to their owners, which can be deadly. The government did try putting a few hundred reptiles with clean health certificates on the market for Icelanders to prevent the black market trade.
But while they were still in quarantine, they all ended up getting salmonella and were killed. So it was a waste of time, money, and life in the end. (But we can’t say the government didn’t try to make pets more available).
If you see a pet turtle in Iceland, it may be because the owners had it before the ban and got a special exception. They can live for 100 years, after all! It’s also possible that the pet is not legally supposed to be there, as some illegal trade does go on.
If you’re visiting Iceland, you may find the import rules mean bringing your pet isn’t worth it. But if you’re going to relocate permanently, then there’s no reason that you can’t bring them along. It’ll cost you time and money to get your best friend into Iceland with you, but it’s worth considering if you’ll be here for the long haul.
We have lots of information about visiting Iceland on the Play Iceland blog, as well as some spectacular tours to make your life easier on vacation. We hope you found this article helpful, and we look forward to welcoming you here soon!