Icelandic Business and Economy
Iceland - The cost-competitive edge
Iceland's operating environment is competitive with leading countries in the industrial world. With its low tax structure, high education levels and competitive costs for skilled labor, land and electricity Iceland is a strong candidate for businesses to short-list when seeking new locations for their international operations.
Iceland presents international businesses and investors with a wide range of opportunities for investments
Iceland offers an attractive fiscal and tax environment for international organizations.
Positive attitude and a new Act on Incentives for Initial Investments in Iceland offer investors a range of possibilities.
Iceland’s robust R&D, expertise in uniquely sustainable natural resources and our ideal location, bridging two of the world’s strongest markets, have convinced record numbers of foreign companies of the benefits of investing in Iceland.
"Doing Business in Iceland" is a detailed booklet written by the Invest in Iceland and major accounting firms in Iceland, with assistance from the Internal Revenue Directorate, the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism, The Ministry of Economic Affairs, and other bodies
103,000 square kilometres; 40,000 square miles
Mandatory from 6 to 16 years of age
Schools for compulsory education: 192
Schools above compulsory education: 39
Universities and Colleges: 8
Iceland is a member of numerous international organizations, including the United Nations and its agencies, the European Economic Area, NATO, the Council of Europe, OECD, EFTA, WTO and the Nordic Council.
Icelandair, Iceland Express and Delta link Iceland with over 30 gateways in Europe and North America. Flight time is 2-4 hours to Western Europe and 5-7 hours to North America. Domestic services operate to Iceland's main regional communities, with flight time of less than one hour. A number of carriers offer air cargo services to and from Iceland. Shipping of cargo is easy with regular liner sailings to and from major ports in Europe and the USA. Shipping takes 3-4 days to Europe and 7-8 days to North America.
Regulatory Constraints and Reliefs
As a member of the 18-nation European Economic Area (all EU states and three of the four EFTA states), Iceland implements the same basic liberal business philosophy as the European Union. Except in a few limited areas, all EU commercial legislation and directives take effect in Iceland. Consequently, Iceland makes an ideal springboard for tariff-free access to the major EU market area, as well as a fully competitive location for EU companies to operate.
Exchange Controls: No restrictions are imposed in Iceland on buying or selling of foreign exchange.
Foreign Ownership of Business: In principle, foreign ownership of business is unrestricted. However, some limitations apply to specific sectors, namely fishing, primary fish processing, energy production and aviation.
A wide range of portfolio investment options are available through licensed securities trading companies.
Official Attitude and Incentives
Iceland has systematically made its business environment increasingly attractive for investment and location, among other things with the series of tax cuts which now give Iceland one of the lowest levels of corporate income tax in Europe.
Advantages offered by Iceland for industrial investors include the most competitive electricity prices in Europe at 2-3 US cents/kWh for large industrial users, depending upon delivery terms, and industrial steam at 6 barg or USD 3 per metric tonne. Industrial sites with good natural harbours, for small and large ventures, are available in many parts of the country, and many local authorities have designed development strategies and scenarios which provide for new investments. Highly skilled labour is available, including experts in software and a wide range of research fields.
Special incentives are granted for film and TV production in Iceland, whereby 12% of total costs are refundable. Production cost incurred in other EEA countries is also refundable within certain limits.
The Icelandic Tax System
The Icelandic tax system is relatively simple and effective. In the last few years the emphasis has been to simplify it further, reduce tax rates, broaden the tax base and conclude more bilateral taxation agreements, which will increase the competitiveness of Icelandic corporations and attract foreign investors.
Financial Reporting and Audit Requirements in Iceland
Every company resident and operating in Iceland must submit annual accounts that comply with statutory accounting rules and disclosures, and reflect a true and fair view of the company’s assets, liabilities, results and financial position. Presentation is modelled upon standard EU requirements. The requirement of adjustments being made to revalue assets and liabilities on the principles of inflationary accounting was abolished in 2001.
Companies above a certain size which are publicly quoted and have subsidiaries are required to prepare consolidated group accounts. Tax returns are filed with local tax authorities.
Corporations registered in Iceland, with the main part of their income from foreign sources, can apply to keep their books of accounts and records in a foreign currency.
Limited liability companies registered on an official financial market are allowed to issue their share capital in a foreign currency. Other limited liability companies with the main part of their income from foreign sources will be able to issue their share capital in a foreign currency provided that certain requirements are met.
Source: "Doing Business in Iceland 2nd. ed."Invest in Iceland Agency.
Overseas Business Services (OBS)
The Overseas Business Services (OBS) was established in 1997 as part of the Icelandic Foreign Service. Its main task is to coordinate the work of trade counsellors in Icelandic Embassies around the world. It aims to meet demands of Icelandic firms concerning business opportunities abroad.
Supporting the foreign expansion of Icelandic companies
The OBS works with Icelandic business organizations, including the Trade Council of Iceland. The OBS works at strengthening the competitive position of Icelandic companies on international markets by providing specialised commercial services in Icelandic embassies.
OBS advisers can open doors for companies in the relevant regions, inter alia by assisting them to overcome difficult culture and language problems in different markets.
Specialized trade counsellors are posted in six embassies abroad, i.e. in the USA, Great Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany. Additionally, core trade services are provided in the embassies in Belgium, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden.
Services provided by the OBS
- Tariffs and dues
- Rules of origin
- Establishing a business in North America
- Contact and communication with American authorities
- Information about technical trade barriers
- Market information from public sources
- Partner search
- PR and events
- Establishing a business in North America
- Investments in North America
- Trade delegations
- Listing of companies and business contacts
For more information contact:
Hlynur Guðjónsson, Trade Commissioner, [email protected]
Svanhvít Aðalsteinsdóttir, Project Manager, [email protected]
Icelandic American Chamber of Commerce
The Icelandic American Chamber of Commerce (IACC) is a membership organization founded in New York in 1986. The chamber promotes the development of business and trade between the United States and Iceland through membership networking events, business conferences and other occasions in which leaders of the business and government participate. IACC´s day to day operations are managed by the Iceland trade office at the Consulate General of Iceland in New York. The Icelandic American Chamber of Commerce maintains a close relationship with the Chamber of Commerce in Iceland and AMÍS (American-Icelandic Chamber of Commerce in Iceland).
The IACC Board of Directors 2016-2017
Chairman of the Board
Jón Sigurðsson, President and Chief Executive Officer, Össur
1st Vice Chairman
Thor Thors Jr.
2nd Vice Chairman
Birkir Hólm Guðnason, Chief Executive Officer, Icelandair,
Siggi Hilmarsson, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Siggi’s Dairy
Birna Anna Björnsdóttir, Founding Partner, Suðvestur
Board of Directors
Audrey Nizen – Bloomingdale's
Álfheiður H. Sæmundssen, Vice President, Capitol Acquisition
Árni Magnússon, Mannvit
Edward Christian – Saga Communication / Consul, Detroit
Einar Gústafsson – Bakkavör
Eric Nelson – Nordic Heritage Museum
Erla Skúladóttir – Morning Moon Films
Gauti Eggertsson – Brown University
Gerhard Olsen – Merrill Lynch
Gústi Sigurðsson – Citibank
Gréta Ólafsdóttir – Bless Bless Productions
Gunnar Birgisson – FPL Energy
Gylfi Sigfússon – Eimskip
Hanes Humes - Greylock Capital
Henry Demone – High Liner Foods
Jeff Monroe – Verne Global
John Hofteig - Consultant
Jón Steinsson – Columbia University
Joni Sighvatssson – Palomar Pictures
Kjartan Örn Ólafsson – Volta Labs Venture Development
Kristján Ólafsson – Icelandic Glacial
Kristján Tómas Ragnarsson – Mt. Sinaii School of Medicine
Lucy Baney – Access Technologies Group
Magnús Bjarnason – Kvika Bank
Magnús Gústafsson – Atlantika
Magnús Torfason – Harvard Business School
Margrét Harðardóttir – Lateral Investment Management
Marteinn Jónasson – Oddi Printing
Mica McCutchen Mosbacher - Honorary Consul General, Houston, Windward Interests, LLC
Mike Bless – Century Aluminium
Ólafur Jóhann Ólafsson – Time Warner
Pétur Óskarsson – Icelandair Group
Regína María Árnadóttir – Rourke Studio LLC
Sigríður Benediktsdóttir – Yale University
Stefan Guðjohnsen – Globe Scope
Tamara Boorstein – PR Consultant
Torfi Frans Ólafsson - CCP hf
Þorsteinn Egilsson – Icelandair
Úlfur Sigmundsson – Ljósbrá Investments
General Manager: Hlynur Gudjonsson, [email protected]
Financial Officer: Bergþóra Laxdal, [email protected]
Icelandic Companies Doing Business in North America and Around the World
Here you can find information about over 300 Icelandic companies in various industries such as food and beverage, design, clothing, aluminum, fisheries, green technology, health technology, bio tech, information technology, construction, tourism etc.
We recommend using the pdf file on smartphones and tablet.
2017 Icelandic Companies List (excel)
Government and Public Organisations
Central Bank of Iceland
Directorate of Fisheries
Icelandic Customs Office
Icelandic Research Council
Icelandic Chamber of Commerce
Invest in Iceland
Film in Iceland
Marine Research Institute
National Energy Authority
The Supreme Court of Iceland
Technological Institute of Iceland - IceTec
- Prime Minister's Office
- Ministry for Foreign Affairs
- Ministry for the Environment and Natural Resources
- Ministry of Education, Science and Culture
- Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs
- Ministry of Health
- Ministry of Industries and Innovation
- Ministry of Justice
- Ministry of Social Affairs
- Ministry of Transport and Local Government
Periodicals in English
Radio and Television
General Information Sites
Akureyri Region Business Agency
Reykjavik Travel Service