All About Pets in Iceland: Can You Travel With Your Pet?

dog holding a plane ticket at the airport

blog authorBy Johanna S. Scandinavian shield verificationVerified Expert

A pet is very much a part of the family for many people. In certain countries, dog ownership in particular, has skyrocketed in recent years. For example, during the Covid-19 lockdowns, dog ownership in the UK grew exponentially. But what about pets in Iceland? Which animals are the most popular here? And can you travel to Iceland with your pet in tow?  In this article, we will delve into the rules and regulations around travelling to Iceland with your pet. We will focus on the most popular pet of all, man’s best friend, the trusty hound. We’ll also take a brief look at the rules around traveling with other popular pets, such as cats. 

Can you bring your dog with you to Iceland? 

So what about dogs in Iceland? With more and more people working from home, owning a dog gets them out for regular walks in the fresh air and for many dog owners that means taking their faithful friends with them everywhere.  A holiday in Iceland is very much about being outdoors, walking, and hiking. And we all know that most dogs love a good roam in the countryside. Pet travel within home country borders is common these days. With many hotels offering dog-friendly facilities as well as lots of bars and pubs welcoming pooches.  So, it follows that you might like to take your dog with you on a holiday in Iceland. Unfortunately, though, this is not possible. There are strict rules around importing dogs and pets in general into Iceland. There is no short-term solution and obtaining a pet passport for your pooch takes months.

Relocating to Iceland with dogs or cats 

If you are relocating to live in Iceland, then this is of course a very different matter. Depending on your circumstances, you may decide that you definitely want to bring your beloved pets with you.  Keep in mind that air travel for pets can be very stressful. So before deciding to go ahead, you should consider the nature of your animal. Are they prone to stress, and would it be kinder for them to rehome them in your home country?  There is also the cost to consider and your living situation once you arrive in Iceland. If you still want to go ahead after giving it plenty of thought, then you need to start the process in good time.

How to obtain a pet passport for Iceland 

Next, we will look in detail at the process that you need to go through to obtain a pet passport for Iceland. 
  • Firstly, your pet must be microchipped with a compliant microchip. This should be non-encrypted and fifteen digits long.
  • You will then need to apply to the Iceland Food and Veterinary Authority for a permit.
  • Your pet will need to be fully vaccinated against several common diseases, and you must have the paperwork to prove it.
  • In the thirty days prior to travel, your pet will need to be tested for various common diseases.
  • Just before travel, you will need to arrange for a licensed vet to complete an Iceland Veterinary Certificate of Health and Origin. 
Vet handing out a pet passport to his client

Iceland Pet Permit and requirements

The Iceland pet customs permit will allow your pet to enter Iceland and you should start your application thirty days before you intend to depart your home country at the very least. It makes sense to do it in good time as once you have it issued, it is then valid for a full year.

Pet vaccinations for entry into Iceland 

To obtain the permit your pet must be fully vaccinated with proof of vaccination supplied. For dogs, the big one is, of course, rabies. The rabies vaccination must have been administered between one month and six months before entry. But that’s not it. They must also have been vaccinated against Leptospirosis between one month and six months prior to entry.  And there’s more. Your dog will need proof of vaccination against Canine Parvovirus and Canine Distemper, as well as Infectious Hepatitis. All of these must be within the last year. There are also some additional requirements if you are importing your dog from certain countries, but these are the main ones that everyone must stick to.

Pre-travel tests for your pet 

Then comes the testing stage in the thirty days before departure. During this last month, before they leave, your pet will need to be tested for Salmonella, Brucella Canis, and Angiostrongylus Vasorum. They must also be tested for Rabies to ensure that they have successfully developed antibodies to the disease.  Cats have another set of vaccinations, and they should undergo a different type of tests. Both cats and dogs will also need to be treated for parasites within a certain timeframe. This is to eliminate such nasties as ticks and tapeworms.

Documentation for your pet passport 

Between five and ten days before travel, you will need to arrange for a licensed vet to complete a document. This is the Iceland Veterinary Certificate of Health and Origin. It is worth noting that in certain countries it is not possible to import a pet. However, Group 1 and Group 2 Country Classifications cover most countries.  These groups are approved for import with slightly different requirements.  To be classified in one of these country categories, your pet must have been residing there for at least six months. Or from birth if they are still just a pup.

Arriving in Iceland with your pet 

All imported pets must travel to Iceland on flights to Keflavik International Airport. They will then be immediately quarantined for fourteen days. There is an entry window for quarantine of three days a month. So you must arrange your flights to arrive within this three-day period.  Cute dog with a surgical mask on Your flight must also touch down within business hours. So no late night or early morning arrivals are allowed. One other stipulation is that you must arrive directly from your country of origin.  Upon arrival, an official veterinary officer will check your pet over. They will make sure that they are not displaying any symptoms of disease. They will also process their paperwork before releasing them into the quarantine facilities. 

Are there any banned animals in Iceland? 

There are certain breeds of dogs that are forbidden entry to Iceland. These are the larger and potentially more aggressive breeds. These include Staffordshire Bull Terriers and American Pit Ball Terriers. Brazilian and Argentine Mastiffs are also banned. Other larger breeds may be required to be assessed for their temperament before being granted permission to enter.  For pets protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) things are different. This could include certain pet birds or turtles. If you have one of these pets then you will need to obtain further documentation and permits. 

Pets in Iceland – Are Icelandic people more dog or cat people? 

Pets are reasonably popular in Iceland but perhaps not to the same extent as in many other countries. In fact, dogs were banned in Reykjavík for quite some years. The ban came into effect in 1924 in order to control the spread of a disease that has passed from dogs to humans. This ban remained in place until 1984 when it was finally lifted. 

Of course, the situation in the countryside has always been different. Working dogs were allowed on farms. But these dogs were specifically working Icelandic sheepdogs. The Vikings introduced these animals first and developed them into hardy and resilient creatures. Although pet dogs are now allowed right across the country, cats are perhaps more popular pets. So whether through choice or circumstance, it seems that Icelandic people are generally more cat than dog people. 

As you can see, taking your pets to Iceland while on vacation is currently not possible. Who knows, it may change in the future! So both you and your pet can enjoy the main attractions of Iceland. However, if you are interested in moving permanently with your pet companion, check out the requirements for working visas in Iceland.

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