This paper explores the cultural and political significance of being acknowledged and recognized as an “Arctic coastal state”. Using Iceland as a case study, we consider how coastal state status had grown in significance as the Arctic Ocean has been re-imagined more as a polar Mediterranean and less as a frozen desert. By drawing on Michael Billig’s work on banal nationalism and popular geopolitics, the manner in which the ideas and practices associated with a “coastal state” are reproduced in elite and everyday contexts. However, we conclude by noting that thus far this appeal to Iceland as “coastal state” has gained greater traction within the Icelandic Foreign Ministry and Parliament, and it remains to be seen whether it will have a more popular resonance with Icelandic citizens. Whatever the future, it is a timely reminder that terms such as “coastal state” are caught up in national and even circumpolar identity projects.