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5 Things to Know (About Money & Safety) Before Traveling to Iceland

Money, safety, and language differences are key factors to know about before traveling abroad.

When traveling to new places, a lot of things can be different than what you’re used to. This applies to any trip, but especially when traveling internationally.

It’s nice to know some basic info in preparation for your trip, especially when it comes to money and safety. Knowing these details about Iceland before you travel will put your mind at ease and make travel less stressful! Hooray for that!

 

Tax Free Shopping

What is it: Value Added Tax (VAT) is money that can be refunded on items that have been purchased in Iceland and will be taken outside of the country.

What qualifies: Purchases of clothes, souvenirs and other gifts totaling ISK 6,000 or more. This does not apply to food and drink while in Iceland.

Here’s what to do: Ask the cashier for your tax-free receipt at the time of purchase. Submit receipts to customs office at the Keflavík International Airport.

What you get: Refund is usually given in ISK cash, which can then be converted to your own currency.

*VAT in Iceland is currently  25.5%, or 7% on special goods.

Duty Free

Fact: Iceland is one of the few countries in the world to have duty free in both the arrivals and departures at Keflavík International Airport.

What you need to do: Buy any sort of alcohol you would want for your tip before you leave the airport. This will be a huge money saver. Even the locals stock up on alcohol at duty free!

FYI: You have to be 20 or older to purchase alcohol and 18 for cigarettes and tobacco.

Last resort: If you choose not to shop at duty free or run out during your trip, the only place to buy alcohol in Iceland is at a store called Vínbúðin.

Money

Currency: The currency in Iceland is the Icelandic króna (ISK). Many places (restaurants, bars, tourist attractions) will take US dollars, Canadian dollars, Euros, Norwegian, Swedish and Danish currencies.

Payment: Icelanders usually pay for everything by credit or debit card. Payment with cards use the chip-and-pin method. If you don’t have a chip on your card you can sign for the purchase. Most people don’t even carry cash because paying by card is so common. I’ve seriously never even held cash here to this day!

Exchange: If you prefer to carry cash, there’s a bank and an ATM at the Keflavík Airport where you can exchange currency. Just know that you might be charged an international fee for ATM withdrawal – check beforehand with your bank.

READ MORE:   How to Pronounce Icelandic Words

Tipping: You don’t have to worry about tipping in Iceland – this goes for restaurants, bars, and even taxis! Gratuity is already built into the cost of the meal. Of course Icelanders know that tipping is a big part of American culture so they would never turn down some extra added to the bill!

In Iceland it's most common to use chip-pin number payment.

 

Via

Language

Native language in Iceland: Icelandic

Languages easily spoken in Iceland: Icelandic and English (especially in the main tourist areas.)

Iceland is known for a high literacy rate and nearly all Icelanders speak fluent English. Icelanders are generally happy to speak in English so you don’t need to know Icelandic to get around.

Tip: I usually start off with “is English ok?” just to give them a heads up, rather than giving a dumbfounded look when they start speaking in Icelandic.

Safety

Example A: Every day I see kids walking home from school alone.

Example B: Mom’s leave their babies outside in strollers while they sit inside having coffee. This is completely normal in Iceland, most Icelandic children sleep outside every day from a young age.

Example C: Iceland is on every “best countries for solo female travel” list.

Iceland is a very safe country to travel in. It is very common for children to walk home alone from school. | Life With a View

 

Hopefully these tips help ease your mind about travel in Iceland. I always feel more prepared about traveling to a new country when I know what to expect about the small things! From safety to navigating around the roads, I think Iceland is a pretty easy country to visit.


Question: Any other questions or concerns you have before coming to Iceland?

 

 

 

 

Pin it for later!

Are you traveling to Iceland for the first time? Solo female traveler? Coming with kids? 5 important things you will want to know about money, language, and safety before traveling to Iceland - Life With a View

 

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  • Christina
    January 2, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    i’m traveling to Iceland for about 11 days and driving all over the country. Is there a gps or map app that you suggest I get before going? I have tom tom and sadly they don’t make maps for Iceland.

  • James
    October 16, 2016 at 4:29 am

    Thanks for the great information! These are things that will really help but you hear so little about it! I’m thinking of going in September of 2017.

    • Jeannie
      November 7, 2016 at 2:14 pm

      So glad I could help you, James! I hear ya, there’s so many questions leading up to the trip it’s good to know as much as you can beforehand!

  • Zandri
    August 29, 2016 at 8:03 pm

    Hi! I just wanna say thanks for putting so much effort into this blog! I love Iceland and love to read as much as I can.

    • Jeannie
      September 8, 2016 at 8:15 am

      Thank you so much for your sweet comment, Zandri! I love Iceland too, and the more I can share the love, the better 🙂

  • Brie
    June 6, 2016 at 2:49 pm

    Do you know if the electricity adapter is enough to charge my electronics and run a curling iron or do I need a converter as well? Thanks!

    • Jeannie
      June 6, 2016 at 4:23 pm

      An adapter is fine for computer and phone charger, but I’ve had both my hair dryer and straigtener blow up from not having a converter so I suggest a converter to be on the safe side!

      • Brie
        June 6, 2016 at 6:14 pm

        Thank you!!!