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My family (wife, son and myself) got Schengen visas issued by Germany with a plan to visit Germany & Italy, for 11 days.

Given Iceland's Grindavik area is erupting right now and the formation of a rift, we wish to visit Iceland for 9 out of 11 days and spend only 2 days in Germany now.

We know this is not right and falls under a grey area. Folks who go by the books keep saying we should apply to Iceland and stuff. I wanted to know if I will be okay doing this trip to Iceland, if we arrive and leave the Schengen region through Frankfurt.

There is no way I can apply to Iceland and get the visa now, given Iceland doesn't open that many slots in India. Slots are not available in half of the centres and the ones available are already in May '24.

We will be travelling with a fully-printed itinerary and return tickets with credit cards and some money in forex cards.

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  • Is your visa single or multiple entry? Related question travel.stackexchange.com/questions/13362/…
    – Traveller
    Commented Mar 25 at 10:04
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    The obvious solution here is to change your travel plans to include Iceland while leaving Germany as the main destination of the trip. You could cancel your plans in Italy and replace them with plans to go to Iceland, for example. In an eleven day trip you could spend five days in Iceland. Your best view of the eruption will probably be on approach to Keflavik anyway, and after takeoff when you leave, so whether you spend nine days in Iceland, or five or two, you probably won't have a much different experience of the eruption.
    – phoog
    Commented Mar 25 at 12:01
  • Visa is multiple entry. 11 days over a month. Commented Mar 25 at 12:55
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    I don't think Iceland is keen on disaster tourists. Did you check you actually could get anywhere near the eruption, such that you would see something? If you want to see an active volcanic eruption, visit Strómboli (Italy), which has been erupting constantly since antiquity and has an active tourist industry to observe it (until there is a violent eruption and the tourists and tourist workers will all have to run away fast or die).
    – gerrit
    Commented Mar 26 at 8:15
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    @Crazydre changing the itinerary submitted with the visa application such that the country that issued the visa is no longer the main destination of the trip can result in the visa being revoked and the traveler being refused entry. It may not be a likely outcome but it does happen, and I would not want to risk it.
    – phoog
    Commented Mar 26 at 20:25

3 Answers 3

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Short answer: No, that is not ok.

You got your visa from Germany because according to your original plan, Germany was the main destination of your trip. You are not allowed to change the main destination, neither because something interesting is happening in Iceland, nor because you didn't plan long enough in advance to apply for a visa from Iceland as you should have.

Chances may be low that your exact travel plans are examined at immigration control, but if they are, your visa will be cancelled, you will be denied entry and sent back to India.

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    (+1) The OP likely wouldn’t be able to get very near to the area anyway Safe Travel Iceland
    – Traveller
    Commented Mar 25 at 10:26
  • This is a response we already know. Just wanted to check if you're an EU national or someone who has applied schengen visas before? Also wanted to know your experiences if you've applied and entered Schengen area before. Commented Mar 25 at 13:01
  • @MisterHacker Are you asking me? I am neither a EU citizen nor have I ever applied for a Schengen visa. What relevance does that have? Commented Mar 25 at 16:47
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    @MisterHacker Other people’s experiences might accord with what you want to be able to do, however a) their experience doesn’t necessarily mean your outcome will be the same and b) in any event what matters are the rules governing Schengen visas. Which you say are already aware of.
    – Traveller
    Commented Mar 25 at 17:36
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    @Crazydre You are wrong. Multi-entry visas must also be used for the planned purpose during the first visit. See also jcaron's comment on his answer: Do you have a reference for your claim? Commented Mar 26 at 7:42
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If you have a multiple-entry Schengen visa and this is not your first visit, then you can go anywhere in Schengen (as long as you meet the usual conditions in terms of time, permissible activities, etc.).

However if this is a single-entry Schengen visa, or the first visit on a multiple-entry visa, no, you cannot do that. You told them you needed a visa for Germany and had reasons for that and a matching plan, and you provided documentation to support that.

While you could make minor changes to your schedule (a day here or there), this is a major change, as you are changing the main destination and the whole reason for the trip.

While it's quite possible this would go completely unnoticed (as you will be entering and exiting via Germany, and, as far as I know, Germany doesn't track hotel cancellations like some other countries do), if they ask for details of your itinerary when you arrive in Germany they will notice the discrepancy, and they can refuse you entry, which can then lead to a dark stain on your travel history and make getting further visas (for Schengen and elsewhere) more difficult.

Spending a few days in Iceland while keeping Germany as your main destination (the place where you stay the longest) would be a possibility, though.

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    It's a multi-entry visa
    – Crazydre
    Commented Mar 25 at 17:37
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    @Crazydre But we don't know if it's the first visit or not (my hunch is that it is), and I tried to make the answer more generic.
    – jcaron
    Commented Mar 25 at 17:42
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    @Crazydre Do you have a source or reference for that?
    – jcaron
    Commented Mar 25 at 18:02
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    @Crazydre than what's the point of submitting itineraries and applying at a consulate of a country one is going to spend most time in? Commented Mar 26 at 13:50
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    "we don't know if it's the first visit": it pretty clearly is. The first version of the question notes that the visa was granted for a planned itinerary of 11 days and that the current desire is to "visit Iceland for 9 out of 11 days and spend only 2 days in Germany now." What could "out of 11 days" refer to if not the original 11-day period of the originally planned trip to Germany and Italy? Why say "only 2 days in Germany now" if not to convey that this is a change in the planned itinerary submitted with the application?
    – phoog
    Commented Mar 26 at 20:31
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In addition to the above mentioned problems related to deviating from your approved itinerary, I'd like to provide some information about the eruptions in Iceland, as they are your main attraction.

Long story short, you won't get anywhere close to the eruptions to enjoy a better view than you can watch at Youtube. A large area around Grindavík is off-limits to everyone (just look at Google Maps to see how far from the volcanoes you'd have to stop your car). This is to be respected; the authorities in Iceland don't like tourists who ignore restrictions and get too close to dangerous areas. Besides, the erupting volcanoes are quite flat, nothing like Mt. Etna, so they are not visible from large distances. At best, you'll see smoke rising somewhere on the horizon. IMO, not worth compromising your future visa applications.

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  • What about my earlier conjecture in a comment about the view on approach to and takeoff from Keflavik? I have had really excellent views of the volcanic landscape in that area in recent years, but I wonder whether the eruptions have prompted the use of different flight paths avoiding the area.
    – phoog
    Commented Mar 27 at 9:59
  • True, it might be possible to see those eruptions from an airplane, but that would be too brief (and too uncertain) to justify a major deviation from one's itinerary... Commented Mar 27 at 10:03
  • Well, for most, but I can imagine that a trip of a few days, leaving Germany as the main destination, might be worthwhile for some if planes are overflying the area. Anyway, it would be a gamble: Clouds could obscure the view or wind direction might cause the plane to use a different route even if the eruption does not. One therefore ought to have other plans to justify the trip or at least be prepared to have traveled for nothing. Those with a lot of money will ascribe a lower relative cost to the airfare; those with intense interest in volcanoes may reap a greater benefit from the view.
    – phoog
    Commented Mar 27 at 10:12

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