Hoppa yfir valmynd
Ministry of Industries and Innovation

Information for Tradesmen and Others

Information for Tradesmen and Others

(1 January 2005)

Table of Contents


1. Preamble
2. Industrial Act in General
3. Industrial Act - individual Items
3.1 Scope (manual trades, etc.)
3.2 Tradesmen´s Priority Right to Work
3.3 Professional Titles of Tradesmen
3.4 Professional Rights in Another EEA State
3.5 Legalized Branches of Industry, i.a. New Industrial Branches
3.6 Issue of Journeyman's Certificates
3.7 Issue of Master´s Certificates
3.8 Operation of an Industrial Branch
3.9 Fines and Deprivation of Rights
3.10 Charges on Account of Violations
3.11 Limits of Industrial Branches
3.12 Some Judgements

1. Preamble
“What a jungle” is an expression which has been used to describe how difficult it may be for Tradesmen to ascertain where to obtain replies to a variety of questions concerning themselves. This i.a. results from the fact that the affairs of Tradesmen come under at least three Ministries, i.e. the Ministry of Industry, the Ministry of Culture and Education and the Ministry for the Environment. The Ministry of Education deals with the education of Tradesmen, i.a. study contracts and Journeymen's examination. In the Ministry of Industry one may obtain information relating to the professional rights of Masters, Journeymen and Apprentices, the issue of Journeyman's certificates, occurring in the Ministry, the issue of Master´s Certificates for which Chiefs of Police arrange and the professional rights of the Tradesmen in other EEA States. In addition thereto the Certification Office (LS) comes under the Ministry and legalizes Electrical Contractors on the basis of electrical security Laws following upon the issue of a Master´s Certificate. The Ministry for the Environment, however, deals with the legalization of Industrial Masters on the basis of facts respecting Planning and Building and courses which have been held on that occasion.

Information on the Ministries is as follows:-

Ministry of Industry and Commerce,
Arnarhvoll, Lindargata,
150 Reykjavik
Tel.:- 5609070, fax:- 5631289
Website www.ivr.stjr.is / postur@ivr.stjr.is

Further information granted by Jón Ögmundur Þormóðsson.


The Laws are on the Alþingi (Legislative Assembly) website (the text) and that of the Ministries (listing and links),
Regulations on the Ministries' website,
data in the Ministries' offices.

Ministry of Culture and Education,
Sölvhólsgata 4,
150 Reykjavik.
Tel.:- 5459500, fax:- 5623068
Website:- www.mrn.stjr.is/ postur@mrn.stjr.is

Ministry for the Environment,
Lindargata 9,
150 Reykjavik,
Tel.:- 5458600, fax:- 5624566
Website:- www.uhmstjr.is/ postur@umh.stjr.is

2. The Industrial Act in General
The Industrial Act No. 42/1978 with subsequent amendments contains provisions in the scope, i.e. manual trades and manufacturing industry, but not domestic industry, conditions for the operation of manual trades or manufacturing industry, industrial licences, legalizations of branches of industry, priority right of Tradesmen for work and professional titles, the right to work in another EEA State and the issue of Journeymen's and Master's Certificates.

3. The Industrial Act – Individual Items
3.1 Scope (manual trades et al.)
The scope of the Industrial Act according to Art. 1 is manual trade under which Tradesmen come and manufacturing industry, but domestic industry is exempted from the provisions of the Act. Industrial licences on account of manufacturing industry are granted by Chiefs of Police in accordance with para. 1, Art. 12. Thereunder comes e.g. film production. An industrial licence is a condition for the refund of charges on account of supplies for competitive industry and the refund comes under the Ministry of Finance. In Art. 3 and Art. 4 conditions are laid down for the operation of manual trades and manufacturing industry.


In Act 2 of the Bill for the Industrial Act it was at the time thereof stated that a licence would be required under the Industrial Act to operate an industry for professional purposes, but it was also mentioned that concerning manual trades a Master´s Certificate in the Industry were equivalent to a licence to operate the branch of industry covered by a Master´s Certificate. In Art. 3 of the Bill it was reiterated that a Master´s Certificate in a branch of industry were corresponding to an industrial licence in the branch concerned.

3.2 Tradesmen's Priority Right to Work

There are frequent enquiries concerning the right to engage in industrial work. According to para. 3, Art. 8 of the Industrial Act the principal rule is to the effect that the right to engage in industrial work in legalized branches of industry belongs to Masters, Journeymen and Apprentices in the branch of industry. This is subject to several exemptions. Thus a Journeymen's and Master's association in the selfsame branch may conclude an agreement to the effect that unskilled workers may be engaged for industrial work under the management of a skilled Tradesman for a specific brief period at a time and under special circumstances and when there is an urgent need for an increased work force in the branch. Any individual may also discharge industrial work for himself and his home and furthermore for an official establishment or a firm with which he works in case of minor maintenance of the property of these parties. In rural areas, towns and villages, having less than 100 inhabitants, unskilled persons may discharge industrial work. Under this provision come e.g. Grímsey and Mjóifjörður. It may at times be unclear as to what will be considered industrial work. Thus an amateur photographer who attended to certain spare time work and e.g. took photographs of Members of the Alþingi was acquitted in the Supreme Court of Iceland of having violated the Industrial Act (Supreme Court Judgment 1987, p. 674).

3.3 Professional Titles of Tradesmen

According to Art. 9 only those holding Journeyman's or Master's Certificates in a branch of industry are entitled to introduce themselves as legalized in the branch of industry. On the basis of an amendment of Art. 2 of the Industrial Act those holding rights in this Country on the basis of EEA rules may call themselves e.g. painters in this Country, but not, however, “meistari” without further specification. According to the Industrial Act trainees in branches of industry are authorized to introduce themselves as members of their branch of industry and call themselves e.g. furniture maker trainees.

3.4 Professional Rights in Another EEA State

Due to Iceland's being a party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area there were added in Art. 2 of the Industrial Act provisions relating to the right of citizens or legal persons of Member States to the Agreement to work in industry on the basis of Iceland's undertakings to admit the work and vocational training in industry in another EEA State. Chiefs of Police shall confirm the legality of data concerning work and professional training (education coming thereunder) after the association of Tradesmen, i.a. country-wide federations of Masters and Journeymen, have been afforded an opportunity of expressing their opinion. These matters are further stipulated in Icelandic Regulations No. 495/2001 on the Approval of Work and Vocational Training in Industry in Another EEA State.


Briefly stated the rules contain provisions to the effect that citizens of EEA States who have worked or had vocational training in a further specified manner in industry in another EEA State for 6 – 8 years may move between EEA States and work in another EEA State although there may be more strict requirements made there for industrial work in general. The professional rights also apply to Icelanders who go to other EEA States. Master studies, not to mention Journeymen's studies, do not come under these EEA rules if the 6 – 8 years time limit has not been achieved, but to which the alien concerned could have been entitled in this Country in accordance with the non-discrimination rules of the EEA Agreement, e.g. a Master from the other Nordic Countries who had comparative education to that of a Master in this Country. The Ministry of Culture and Education might have to assess the equality of education in such instances. A person holding rights in this Country on the basis of the EEA rules may e.g. call himself a painter in this Country, but not, however, “meistari” without further specification. This is dealt with further in the Regulations and a circular letter from the Ministry of Industry and Commerce of 31 July 2001 to Chiefs of Police.

In connection with the foregoing relating to work and vocational training a mention may be made of the fact that there has been deleted from the Act the possibility that the Ministry of Culture and Education may authorize persons to undergo Journeymen's examinations on the basis of ten years professional experience in a branch of industry.

3.5 Legalized Branches of Industry, i.a. New Branches of Industry

The Minister of Industry has laid down Regulations relating to the legalized branches of industry, cf. Art. 8 of the Industrial Act. The Regulations in force are No. 940/1999. Amendments gradually occur to the Regulations. Branches of industry of the few may for instance cease to exist. The adoption of new branches of industry to the list may be requested, but fairly strict requirements are stipulated. It may for instance not be expected that a branch of industry will be legalized for a single individual who has trained abroad. The probabilities are, however, increased in case of tutoring in the branch concerned in this Country and some number of persons has completed this.

There have been voices to the effect that the Industrial Act shall not contain both priority right of work as a general rule and approval of a professional title, but merely approval of professional title as in the case of some professions in this Country, e.g. Chartered Engineers, Engineers and other specialists in technology and design branches, as well as Tradesmen in Norway.

3.6 Issue of Journeyman's Certificates

According to para. 3, Art. 12 of the Industrial Act the Minister of Industry now issues Journeyman's Certificates. Previously the Minister of Culture and Education issued such Certificates. The Minister of Industry does, however, first obtain information from the Journeymen's Examination Record of the Ministry of Education to the effect that conditions for the issue of Journeyman's Certificates have been satisfied. Fees for the issue of Journeyman's Certificates are collected in connection with fees on account of the completion of examination. It is possible to obtain re-issues of Journeyman's Certificates at the Ministry of Industry against a fee if these have been lost. The Journeyman's Certificates are in Icelandic with an extract in English.

3.7 Issue of Master's Certificates

The conditions for obtaining Master's Certificates are dealt with in Art. 10 of the Industrial Act. The general rule is a Journeyman's examination, work under the management of a Master for a minimum of one year and a Master's examination in the trade from a Masters' School. According to Art. 12 Chiefs of Police issue Master's Certificates. The Industrial Councils, having been consultants, have been abolished.
Those who had completed Journeyman's examination prior to 1 January 1989 were, according to the exemption provision contained in Art. 10 of the Industrial Act as that Article was then worded, entitled to obtain Master's Certificates without attending a Masters' School, provided there had not been a Masters' School in the trade prior to that time. These rights appear to be maintained, cf. here Art. 17 of the Industrial Act to the effect that there shall remain unabridged the professional rights of the persons who have obtained these in accordance with the provisions of the previous Acts, so that the person concerned may obtain a Master´s Certificate without attending a Masters' School after having satisfied all conditions. Verbatim para. 1, Art. 10 reads as follows:- “Anyone may obtain a Master's Certificate if he satisfies the conditions stated in Art. 3 and has completed Journeyman's examination in his branch of industry, provided he has worked therein since then under the management of a Master for no less than one year and completed a Master´s examination in the trade from a Masters' School. While there is no Masters' School in the trade anyone may obtain a Master's Certificate if he has worked under the management of a Master in the branch of industry or a closely connected branch of industry after completing a Journeyman's examination for no less than two years”.

3.8 Operation of an Industrial Branch

Industry cannot be operated by everybody, but legalized branches of industry shall always be operated under the management of a Master in accordance with Art. 8 of the Industrial Act. It is, however, not quite clear what is the meaning of the operation of a branch of industry and clear guidance thereof was not to be found in the Observations accompanying the Bill for the Act at the time of submission.

A Journeyman may, however, attend to independent operations (being a single worker), e.g. operating a barbershop, cf. Supreme Court of Iceland Judgment 1964, p. 59. It is, however, stated in the selfsame Supreme Court Judgment that a single Journeyman painter cannot have another Journeyman engaged in work with him. It is conceivable that two individuals may solicit work as two individuals in such manner that neither receive payment of wages from the other. It will not be possible to consider that a Journeyman may have a layman performing skilled work with him upon having regard for the Judgment of the East Iceland District Court of 24 July 2000 wherein it was revealed that a Journeyman painter had violated the Industrial Act by having unskilled men working on painting. This was in other words deemed to be the operation of a branch of industry. There was no appeal to the Supreme Court of Iceland. It is hardly possible to consider any kind of assistance to be excluded, e.g. cleansing of a barbershop or assistance in book-keeping.

In this connection it may be mentioned that in an Observation on Art. 8 of the Bill for the Industrial Act at the time thereof the following was stated:- “Workers may, however, be engaged for industrial work” and thereafter it was stated in direct continuation by way of explanation:- “It is considered natural that a Master engage assistans for industrial work”. The word “Master” may be underlined here. In the Act as this was despatched from the Alþingi there is, however, merely a reference to specialized members, of a Journeymen's and Masters' association in the selfsame industry, being authorized to conclude an agreement to be permitted to engage unskilled workers for industrial work “under the management of a trained industrial worker” for a specific brief period at a time under special circumstances and when there is an urgent need for increased working power in the trade.

It may also be mentioned here that a Judgment was pronounced in the East Iceland District Court on 13 December 2000 where an individual without Journeyman's or Master's right in East Iceland who operated a hairdressing salon there and a Master in Reykjavik who had signed for the person concerned in the capacity of Master, were individually sentenced to pay a fine of ISK 40,000 for violation of the Industrial Act.

3.9 Fines and Deprivation of Rights

Provisions for fines for violation of the Industrial Act are contained in Art. 15 of the Act, i.a. if someone operates a legalized branch of industry without having a Master as Manager or if somebody permits another to operate an industry covered by the licence (cf. the aforementioned Judgment of the East Iceland District Court of 13 December 2000). Art. 16, however, contains provisions relating to the deprivation of e.g. a Master´s Certificate and a Journeyman's Certificate on account of reiterated violations of the Industrial Act. In a Supreme Court Judgment concerning a Journeyman barber who had another Journeyman barber engaged in work the Prosecution's requirement to the effect that the Journeyman concerned be deprived of his industrial rights was not approved (Supreme Court Judgment 1964, p. 59).

3.10 Charges on Account of Violations

When it is deemed that the Industrial Act has been violated the party concerned may file a charge on account of an alleged violation himself with a Chief of Police. There is also a possibility that the party concerned apply to his Trade Union or association and request the Union or federation to file a charge. There have been some signs of charges. Chiefs of Police have then taken a report and can prosecute. Fairly little has been done on the basis of the charges and this i.a. results from the fact that the delight of charging is considered to have been rather extensive and various incidents somewhat unclear.

3.11 Limits of Industrial Branches

The limits of legalized branches of industry may be unclear and the question therefore arises as to whether one tradesman discharge prohibited work in the professional field of another. It may be right to apply to the Ministry of Culture and Education and request study schedules for the branch concerned in order to observe a description of study. Customs may have been established and these may be of importance and Trade Unions have agreed upon issues. It is for instance practised that builders of houses and ships interchange work without difficulty. There is a possibility at hand to file complaint for penalties.

3.12 Some Jugdments

As for Judgments, see the Icelandic issue.

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Disclaimer: This section of the site details available translations on legislation relating to the Government Offices in Iceland. In case of any discrepancies between the translations and the original text in Icelandic, the original text as published in the Icelandic Legal Gazette prevails.

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