All mountain roads and roads in the interior of Iceland have a surface of loose gravel. The same applies to large sections of the national highway, which also has long stretches of asphalt. The surface on the gravel roads is often loose, especially along the sides of the roads, so one should drive carefully and slow down whenever approaching an oncoming car. The mountain roads are also often very narrow, and are not made for speeding.
The same goes for many bridges, which are only wide enough for one car at a time. In addition to their not having an asphalt surface, the mountain roads are often very winding. Journeys therefore often take longer than might be expected. For information on road conditions: Tel: 354-563-1500, answering service 24 hours, Tel: 800-6316 (In English 1/6-31/8).
The general speed limit is 50 km/h in urban areas, 80 km/h on gravel roads in rural areas, and 90 km/h on asphalt roads. Please note that special warning signs indicate danger ahead, such as sharp bends, but there is generally not a separate sign to reduce speed. Please choose a safe speed according to conditions. Motorists are obliged by law to use headlights at all times day and night. In Iceland all driving off roads or marked tracks is forbidden. Passengers in the front and back seats of an automobile are required by law to use safety-belts. Icelandic law forbids any driving under the influence of alcohol.
A Green Card or other proof of third-party insurance is mandatory for motorists driving their own cars in Iceland, except from the following countries: Austria, Belgium, The Czech Republic, Denmark, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Vatican. Drivers without a Green Card (or equivalent) must buy a separate third-party insurance policy on arrival.
If you already have a driver’s licence from another country you do not have to get an Icelandic licence for the first 6 months. After this first six months you have one month in order to apply and receive an Icelandic driver’s licence. Do, however, check with the Islandic transport authority to see whether the licence you have is valid for driving in Iceland for the first 6 months.
The regulations and procedures to exchange foreign driver's licence are:
- The applicant must have an Icelandic social security number (kennitala) and an established, legal, Icelandic address for at least 6 months.
- The foreign driver’s licence must be currently valid and be written in Latin letters in English, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, or be accompanied with an official translation.
- Applications are available at the police station in Reykjavik (Lögreglustjórinn í Reykjavík) or at the local police station or district commissioner’s office (sýslumaðurinn). If you don’t read and write Icelandic well enough to fill out the application you may want to have someone assist you.
- You must bring the following:
- a current passport photo;
- your current driver’s licence;
- certificate of a medical examination - where applicable;
- proof of a vision test – where applicable.
The chief of police will assess whether the requirements for a driver’s licence made in the original country of issue correspond with Icelandic requirements.
- At the time of application you will be expected to turn in your overseas driver’s licence, which will then be sent back to the country of origin.
- A fee must be paid when the application is submitted.