Iceland joined the United States of America’s Visa Waiver Program (VWP) in 1991, and Icelanders have since 2009 been able to apply online for 90-day admittance into the U.S. without a visa. The purpose of visiting the U.S. has to be for business, tourism (including medical purposes), and non-credit study programs. The online application is made through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) and has improved the Department of Homeland Security immigration process and made it easier for Icelandic citizens to visit the United States.
Icelanders who are planning a trip for purposes different than those mentioned above might have to apply for a B-2 tourist visa. Applying for a tourist visa requires a trip to the nearest U.S. Embassy in Reykjavík located at Laufásvegur 21, 101 Reykjavík.
ESTA is not a visa. It is a travel document/authorization that grants access for up to 90 days and can only be obtained through an online application.
U.S. Immigration statistics for Iceland (2017):
- The total amount of visitors from Iceland: 70 124
- Approved ESTA applications: 62 782
- Students and exchange visitors: 1 456
- Temporary workers and family-related applications: 1 186
- Diplomats and other official representatives: 432
- Other types of visitor categories: 728
Getting from Iceland to the USA
Keflavík International Airport (KEF - Reykjavík) is the largest airport in Iceland and the main hub for international transportation. It is located 50km (30mi) southwest of Reykjavík. Main carriers flying from Keflavik are Icelandair and WOW air. 3km from KEF is Reykjavík Airport which is used for domestic flights.
Reykjavík is used often by main carriers for stopovers when traveling to or from the U.S. Therefore, plenty of flight options are available. Flying to e.g. New York is nonstop and will only take about 6hours and 20minutes. Check dohop.com for flights.
Pre-book parking before you start your journey here. Be sure to check out the valet service also which is convenient if you want to save time.
Estimated time from Reykjavík to the terminal by bus is 45 minutes.
- Flybus leaves every 34-40 minutes
- Airport Direct operates the route between Keflavík International Airport and Reykjavik City at Airport Direct’s Reykjavík Terminal located at Skógarhlíð 10
- Get the full overview for traveling by bus here
Best time to apply for an ESTA
It has been obligatory for travelers to apply for an ESTA at least 72 hours before boarding a plane since December 2018. However, travelers are recommended to apply weeks or months in advance to make sure that their travel authorization (ESTA) is confirmed and approved. If you need a visa, then apply for a B-2 visa at any U.S. Embassy. Be aware that it can take a very long time to complete. If you have plans to visit the United States in the near future, then apply today. Read more about the ESTA application here.
Icelanders with an approved ESTA can check its status or make updates. Visit this page for more information: verify/update ESTA.
Quick ESTA facts for Iceland
Icelandic citizens can apply for ESTA online
The ESTA is valid for 2 years for visitors from Iceland
Icelanders can stay in the U.S. for up to 90 days with an approved ESTA
Iceland’s overstay rate is only: 0.27%