Icelandic Law (How Not To Get Arrested!)
If you’re going to be visiting Iceland, you need to brush up on the law.
Of course, there are some funny rules and regulations that we could just laugh about (like how you aren’t allowed to print the Icelandic flag on panties). But let’s focus on the things that could get you in serious trouble!
Generally speaking, Iceland is a safe and laid-back country, so you don’t have to worry about anything drastic. But this article will talk you through some of the laws and regulations you should be aware of before you touch down on Icelandic soil.
WE'LL RESPOND SHORTLY.
Driving Laws in Iceland
There isn’t anything too strange about driving laws in Iceland. But you could get caught out by a couple of simple things if you aren’t careful.
Firstly, you have to have your headlights on all the time, even during the day. Of course, this is obvious in winter when the days are dark, but it also applies to the long summer days.
Secondly, drink-driving laws in Iceland are really strict.
You are only allowed to have .02% alcohol in your blood, about four times less than you can get away with in the USA or the UK. Considering half a pint of beer can put you over the legal limit and land you with a hefty fine, don’t drink at all if you’ll be driving afterward.
Seatbelts are compulsory, and you can only use your mobile phone if it’s in a hands-free setting.
Alcohol Laws In Iceland
You can’t legally drink alcohol in Iceland until you’re 20. Most bars and restaurants will not serve alcohol to anyone under this age, and some clubs won’t let you come in until you’re 22. (That could be a seriously long wait in line!)
It’s expensive to buy alcohol in Iceland. And you can’t get it from just anywhere. Restaurants and bars obviously serve alcohol, but you cannot purchase any in the supermarket. You have to go to a government-owned liquor store called Vínbúðin once you’re past the airport.
So, it will be best to get your alcohol at the duty-free. But just so you know, there are limits on how much alcohol you can buy there. This would be the equivalent of 18 liters of beer, but the quantity goes down if you choose more potent alcohol, like spirits.
Sex and Relationship Laws In Iceland
The age of consent in Iceland is 15, which can be a shock if you’re from a USA state where it is 18. But this is pretty similar to the rest of Western Europe, with 16 being the most common age of consent.
If someone over 15 has sex with someone younger than 15, it will be considered statutory rape.
Prostitution and Stripping Laws In Iceland
It is illegal to pay for prostitution services in Iceland. It is also illegal to profit from prostitution. But it’s not illegal to be a prostitute.
The law is this way to protect sex workers, who Icelandic authorities consider exploited and vulnerable people.
It is possible to find prostitutes being advertised online, especially in Reykjavik. But if you pay for the services, you are breaking the law.
Stripteases are also illegal in Iceland (since 2010), so you won’t find any strip clubs when you visit.
Technically speaking, pornography is also illegal in Iceland. It’s illegal to make and distribute porn, but the police do not actively search for people watching sex videos. In fact, it’s one of those laws that may be outdated, as the police don’t seem bothered by the fact you can buy porn in Icelandic bookshops and sex shops.
Drug Laws In Iceland
Cannabis is illegal in Iceland, and you can be arrested and fined for carrying small amounts meant for personal use.
Despite that, according to the UN World Drug report, more Icelanders smoke weed than the vast majority of other countries. Just to be clear, smoking in a public place will get you in trouble.
(But watch this space because the Icelandic government has been discussing how to move forward with this matter so that cannabis may become legal in coming years).
Considering weed is not allowed, it should come as no surprise that other drugs like ecstasy and cocaine are also illegal.
Animal Laws In Iceland
Icelandic horses are a native breed that we have kept safe and pure for more than a thousand years. Because of this, you can’t import horses into Iceland. This law protects the breed quality and prevents deadly viruses that Icelandic horses aren’t immune to.
Anyone coming into the country must have their horse riding equipment disinfected and present a certificate to show a professional did it correctly.
If you want to bring your dog or cat to Iceland, you have to book them into a quarantine center where they stay for four weeks. You can only bring your animals on certain days, which work for the quarantine centers.
Pit Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, and American Bulldogs are not allowed in Iceland. (And neither are pet reptiles, but most visitors aren’t looking to bring the family snake along for the ride!)
Covid Laws In Iceland
The situation with Covid-19 can change rapidly. So instead of telling you something that can be out of date tomorrow, we suggest you head to covid.is for official guidance on the covid situation.
You’ll find out about the Icelandic border situation as well as any rules around quarantines and mask-wearing.
Depending on where you come from, some of these laws might feel a bit restrictive. But generally speaking, Icelandic people approve of the government and the rules they make.
Because not only do Icelanders enjoy the lowest rates of violent crime in the world, but the laws actively work to protect the population.
For example, new parents have nine months of leave to share between them. It is also illegal to discriminate against anyone based on race, language, gender, religion, or disability.
For more information about visiting Iceland, don’t hesitate to read more of our articles. We have also put together some spectacular self-drive tours that we would love to share with you!