Laws and regulations

  • According to the Icelandic constitution everyone is equal before the law and enjoy human rights regardless of gender, religion, opinions, nationality, race, skin colour, financial status, family, and status in any way. Men and women shall have equal rights in every regard.
  • The Icelandic police are state police and the Minister of Justice is the chief of all police in the country. There are two court levels, District Courts and the Supreme Court.  
  • Laws and regulations are never exactly the same in any two countries and therefore it is important to get acquainted with the laws in a new country. The information website contains in-depth information in Icelandic and English, on the Parliament's website ( you can find the Icelandic law collection and on the Cabinet's website you can find laws and regulations that have been translated to English ( /
  • In Iceland there are specific laws on the rights of children. Everyone has a legal obligation to call 112 and notify if there is suspicion of physical, mental or sexual violence against children.  
  • Age of competence is 18 in Iceland. At 18 the individual receives legal competence, i.e. financial competence and personal competence, as well as the right to vote. You can get a licence to drive on the day you turn 17 but a person must be 20 years old to buy alcohol.  
  • Everybody who is 18 years old and older can get married and register in a cohabitation[1], and this also applies to individuals of the same sex. You can get a divorce even if your spouse does not want to. At divorce the assets and debts are usually split evenly between the couple unless there are contracts to the contrary.
  • According to the law there is joint custody of children at divorce and end of cohabitation unless otherwise agreed. The parents must decide with whom the children shall have legal residence and thereby, in general, a permanent residence. The district commissioner can make a ruling in disputes regarding custody of access to children but if there is dispute regarding custody it must be referred to the courts. If a parent that has sole custody marries again the stepparent also gets custody. If it registers in cohabitation however, the cohabitation parent also gets custody after one whole year in cohabitation.  
  • Speeding and driving under the influence of alcohol are serious offences and are subject to fines, deprivation of drivers' licences and prison if the offences are repeated. Fines can also affect the granting of Icelandic citizenship.

[1] When people are in cohabitation they live together; if they are in registered cohabitation they live together as if they are married and enjoy certain rights, for example in regards to taxes, although they are not married. You can register cohabitation at the Icelandic National Registry with a specific form.