Iceland - Country Commercial Guide
Business Travel
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Business Customs

Social and business etiquette in Iceland is similar to that in other western European countries, but there are some noticeable differences.  Since Iceland is a small community, access to key people is relatively easy, though it is advisable to schedule appointments in advance.  Since even the largest Icelandic corporations are relatively small, you may find the decision-makers in your meeting.  Business meetings are usually informal and relaxed, but good preparation is important.  Business cards are exchanged upon introduction.  Extended small talk is not necessary, and getting straight down to business is appreciated.  Simultaneous interpretation services are available but are usually not required unless very detailed or technical work is involved.  Most Icelanders doing business in a particular field will understand the relevant English technical vocabulary, but contracts may need to be translated. 

Icelanders like to combine business with pleasure, so establishing a friendly and personal relationship is a good approach.  Business dinners are the preferred form of entertainment, and Icelanders dress up for after-work events.  There are no strict rules or formal dining customs that need to be observed.  Men in government, banking, or business circles generally wear suits.  Iceland has cool summers and cold winters, so even in summer, clothing should include a sweater or jacket, a raincoat, and a good pair of walking shoes.

Understanding Icelandic names is important for business and social occasions.  Only a small proportion of the population has family surnames, often foreign in origin.  Most people have a patronymic, formed from their father’s first name with the ending “–son” or “–dóttir,” e.g. Arnar Jónsson (Arnar is Jon’s son) or Anna Jónsdóttir (Anna is Jon’s daughter).  A woman does not take her husband’s patronymic upon marriage.  First names are the names by which people are known and are thus generally used.  Icelandic telephone directories list people in alphabetical order by their first name.  Icelanders do not use “Mr.” and “Ms.” among themselves although they may do so when among foreigners.  Icelanders will not feel you are being overly familiar if you call them by their first names.

Travel Advisory

Iceland remains a relatively safe country for visitors.  Reykjavík is safer than major cities in the United States, but there is occasional street crime, particularly late at night in the city center.  Visitors utilizing common sense and good judgment can expect to enjoy their time in Iceland without incidents.  Emergency services, including fire, police, and ambulance, are available by dialing 112.  Emergency service operators speak English.

Iceland is home to active volcanoes.  If a volcanic eruption occurs while you are in Iceland, you should closely follow any instructions from the local authorities.  Be aware that airports in Iceland, including Keflavik International Airport, may need to close in the event of future eruptions.  You can find updates on volcanic activity in Iceland though the Icelandic Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management.

Reykjavík offers a variety of hotel and guesthouse accommodations, many excellent restaurants, cafes, and wide range of cultural attractions.  Note that hotel rooms can be difficult to find during the summer tourist season, and that it can be difficult to get a table at the more popular restaurants without an advance booking.

Please visit Travel.State.Gov for more information on travelling to Iceland.

Visa requirements

U.S. companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States are advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process.  Visa applicants should go to the following link:  State Department Visa Website.

U.S. travelers to Iceland must have a valid passport.  Iceland is a party to the Schengen agreement.  As such, U.S. citizens may enter Iceland for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa.  The passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of stay.  For more information, see the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Reykjavik’s website.

For further information concerning entry requirements to Iceland, travelers can contact the Icelandic Embassy in the United States or the Icelandic Directorate of Immigration.


The local currency is the Icelandic krona (ISK).  It is advisable to exchange ISK back into other foreign currency before departure from Iceland as the ISK is not readily exchangeable outside Iceland.  U.S. dollars and euros are accepted by many service providers, especially in the center of the capital and by companies in the tourism industry.  Access to ATMs is widely available and considered safe.  VISA and Mastercard credit cards are widely accepted, but American Express is not accepted in all stores.


Telecommunication services are modern and readily available.  High speed internet connections are available at all business hotels, and prepaid SIM-cards are also widely available.  Local cellphone companies have roaming contracts with all major international cellphone companies.  Most hotels, coffee shops, and tourist sites offer Wi-Fi.

All electric appliances run at 220volts, and sockets are European standard.  Convertors for U.S. to European sockets are readily available at hardware stores in Iceland and are also sold at a duty-free store upon arrival in Keflavik airport. 


Currently, Icelandair, Fly Play, Delta, and United offer flights between Iceland and the United States.  Icelandair destinations include Anchorage, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, New York, Orlando, Portland, Raleigh-Durham, Seattle, and Washington D.C.  Fly Play destinations include Baltimore, Boston, New York, and Orlando.  Delta offers seasonal flights from New York, Detroit, and Minneapolis to Keflavik Iceland, and United from New York, Minneapolis, and Boston to Keflavik.  Travelers can take Fly Bus or Grey Line from Keflavik Airport to Reykjavik.  A round trip bus ticket costs about $50 and takes about 50-75 minutes from the airport to the city.  Private taxis are also available at the airport but are significantly more expensive.  Reykjavik’s public transportation system consists of buses running to all areas of the city.  Local cabs are readily available at taxi stands throughout the downtown area or by telephone.  Prices depend on the length of journey and the time of day.  No tipping is required.  Rental cars are available at the airport and in Reykjavík.


Icelandic, a Nordic language, is the official language of Iceland.  There is virtually no language barrier for U.S. visitors to Iceland.  Icelandic business executives and government officials are fluent in English and almost all Icelanders speak English to some degree.


A visitor to Iceland faces no special health risks as the overall health conditions are excellent.  No special vaccinations are required.  Milk and tap water are safe to drink. 

Icelandic medical care is of high quality and is comparable to the medical care one finds throughout Western Europe.  Diagnostic laboratories and specialists in all fields of medicine are available, though there may be a wait time to see certain specialists.  Hospitals are well-equipped, and maternity hospitals and clinics are available.  Most doctors and dentists speak English.  Tourists should expect to pay for services provided at time of service.  Most medicines are available locally.  Tourists should bring a supply of any medicine that they know they will need.  In case of medical emergency, dial 112.

Local time, business hours, and holidays

Icelandic work schedules are similar to those in the United States although many offices close early in the summer.  Business activity slows down considerably from mid-June through mid-August as Icelanders take their summer holidays.  Other slow times of year are the Christmas season and the weeks before and after Easter in the spring.  Office hours are either 8 am to 4 pm or 9 am to 5 pm.  Business hours for stores are generally from 10 am to 6 pm.  There are an increasing number of grocery and convenience stores that are open 24/7.

Iceland is on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) all year around.  Public holidays include New Year’s Day, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Monday, First Day of Summer, Labor Day, Ascension Day, Whit Monday, Independence Day (June 17), Workers Monday, Christmas Eve (half day), Christmas Day, Second Day of Christmas, and New Year’s Eve (half day).

Temporary Entry of Materials and Personal Belongings

There are no restrictions on entry or exit of personal computers or laptops, or software.  Goods can be temporarily imported without paying import duties if they fall under the following categories: display products that are used for commercial events, such as trade shows; devices, equipment, printed materials, stationary, and associated items for use at conferences, meetings, or public events; sporting equipment used for training or competition; music instruments, props, and other equipment used by artists taking part in music events or art exhibitions; science equipment used for research; filming equipment; rescue equipment; industrial equipment for contractors; machines to be used for a short period; and repair equipment.  For more information see Iceland Revenue and Customs’ website.