When visiting a foreign country, I think everyone would agree with this: the only way to make your trip unique and enjoy your own, one and only itinerary is to have your own vehicle. This means you need to be sure of where you are driving, that is why this Driving Rules in Iceland are so important.
Having your own car in an unexplored country will give you freedom and confidence, but it’s a responsibility as well.
Iceland, because of its topography, it’s a singular country to drive in. Every single visitor planning to rent a car, camper or motorhome in Iceland should exercise caution and read carefully the driving rules in Iceland. It is extremely important to check even before planning the route, as knowing about how restrictions and dangers can affect your plans.
As you should already know, in Iceland we drive on the right side of the road, consequently we overtake on the left. Also, the use of headlight is a part of the driving rules in Iceland, both during day and night.
Obviously, any driving under influence of alcohol or drugs is forbidden by law as well as the use of cell phones without hands-free system.
All national driving licenses are recognized, so usually an international driving license is not needed when renting a vehicle here. However you should confirm it with your rental company to make sure your license is fine and does meet the requirements.
Don’t be fooled by the easy going gravel roads surrounded only by nature. Safety always comes first and use of seatbelt is part of the driving rules in Iceland for every single passenger. And that applies always regardless the type of vehicle. Their use is required by law in both front and back seats for adults and children. We will talk about the little ones just below.
Car seats for children
As you might have imagined already, seat for children are also required but don’t worry, you don’t need to bring your own on the plane, as rental companies always have them to rent. Every child under 6 must travel on a car seat according to their size and weight.
You can find further information about the Iceland law on official websites.
The land of fire and snow is a place to enjoy, but I would say we like the slow life and so do our animals. Most of our roads are singular and many of them are even unpaved. It’s for this reason that we don’t have high speed limits – together with the potential danger of snow, ice, etc. on the road.
The general speed limit for normal paved roads is 90km/hour –and this is the highest in the country. When passing by populated areas you should slow down to 30-50 km/hour. If you take a gravel road the maximum allowed speed is 80 km/hour. Always remember to adequate the speed to the road and other external factors, as the maximum speed limits are according to the best possible conditions.
Driving Rules in Iceland No One Should Ignore
F-roads and off-road driving
Many visitors mistake driving on F-roads for off road driving. Driving on F-roads is only allowed for 4×4 vehicles but all off-road driving is strictly prohibited in Iceland. The sub-Arctic vegetation is really fragile and damages caused to moss or volcanic sand beaches can take years to repair. In case your road ends, just walk around or turn back.
As a singular country, Iceland has its own unique road signs. Signs for riders, cattle, sheep or reindeers crossing the road are not unusual.
Drivers must pay extra attention to signs as loose stones, risk of falling rocks, soft road shoulder or gusts of wind. Frequently those signs are not accompanied by a speed reduction sign, so it’s under your responsibility to slow down.