Licensing and permits

Operating licenses are required for businesses in certain sectors; for example manufacturing or hospitality, and are granted on fulfillment of clearly defined rules. Details of regulations, monitoring and inspection agencies etc. vary from one sector to the next but generally speaking, as a member of the EEA, Iceland operates its regulatory environment on the same principles as the European Union. 

It is necessary to check whether licenses and / or registrations are required for the business activity in question. Information and applications for operating permits are available on the websites of the relevant ministries, institutions and local governments. It is advised that you check as soon as possible whether licenses are required as it can take some time to obtain them and you may need to provide additional documents to prove the relevant qualifications necessary to grant the license. You will have to apply for an operating licence from the relevant organisation dependent upon the industry you will be starting your business in. You may even need to go to several different places to obtain permits. 

Below is a brief overview of the most common organisations that issue operating licenses:

Directorate of customs
General information on rules and regulations regarding importation of goods to Iceland 


Government Offices in Iceland
Information, services and documents from Government Offices 


The Environment Agency of Iceland
Promotion and protection of natural resources and public welfare. Ensuring a healthy environment and safe consumer goods


Icelandic Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Prevention of accidents and health damage in the workplace 


Ryekjavik Health Authority
Hygiene, food and pollution control

Heilbrigðiseftirlit Reykjavíkur 

Directorate of labour
Responsibility for public labour exchanges, Unemployment Insurance Fund, Maternity and Paternity Leave Fund, Wage Guarantee Fund and projects connected with the labour market 


Icelandic Pension Funds Association
General information on pension funds, rights and services


Internal Revenue Directorate
General information on taxes, tax services, tax forms and tax billing 


Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs
Responsible for the state’s financial and economic affairs, for which it formulates policy and prepares plans and budgets

Fjármála og efnahagsráðuneytið

MAST – Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority
Promotes the health and welfare of animals, plant health and the safety and quality of food 


Provide partners with support for increased value creation, food safety and public health