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Import regulations and customs duties  - Distribution - Transportation of goods - Standards - Patents and brands

Import regulations and customs duties

Iceland is a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) with Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. Goods, services and capitals traffic is free since January 1st, 1994 within EU countries, Iceland accepts all directives and regulations of the Single Market, except for fishing (it does not adhere to the "PAC"). Indeed, Iceland is very protectionist as regards to the import of farm products and licenses as well as state monopolies of imports (undergoing a dismantling). Some plant products such as potatoes and flowers are subject to seasonal limitations.


Customs duties
Iceland applies the Harmonised Customs System of codification and description of the goods. Customs duties are calculated ad valorem (and apply only to farm products of EU member countries). There is no exchange control on the settlement of imported goods. The customs policy is enforced by the Directorate of Customs.




The commercial activity is mainly gathered in Reykjavik and its suburbs (Kopovogur, Hafnarfjordhur), it gathers 59% of the population. The Icelandic market is small, although developed. It is competitive and there is a high purchasing power. The distribution is also very developed, large chains are in a sharp growth, department stores and shopping centres coexist with small shops. International franchises are very frequent, because the consumers are very open to new concepts coming from abroad. The negotiator agent is not necessary because there are no import licenses. The retail dealer serves as the importer, wholesaler and distributor agent because of the size of the market. It is easy to tap thanks to the opening of the market toward a fluid traffic of the information, its competitiveness and its big liberalisation (the sale of alcohol is free). Icelanders like to set up friendly relations with their commercial partners, it is therefore easy to establish commercial contacts with a decision-making power persons.


Transportation of goods

By road
The road network covers 12,689 km among which 8,020 km are main roads, 3,259 km are secondary roads and 1,140 km are local roads. The network also includes 2,856 km of non tarred roads (covered with little stones and volcanic rocks). There are few tarred roads outside urban zones. However, a big part of the coast is crossed by roads of this type. The inland is mountainous and no tarred road can be found there. Only dirt tracks are usable, but closed, on average, from autumn to beginnings of July because of bad weather when the thaw starts. The maintenance of roads is ensured by the Public Road Administration supervised by the Icelandic Ministry of communication.

By rail
There is no railway transport in the country.

By sea
Ports are small and dedicated to fishing, on which the coastal populations widely depend . The main trade ports of the country are Akureyri in the North, Gardur, Hafnarfjordur, Isafjordur in the Northwest, Reykjavik on the West and the towns of Helguvik ; Keflavik and Njarovik are grouped together within a single port: Keflavik-Njarovik (PKN). The institution in charge of maritime matters is the Icelandic Maritime Administration, under the custody of the Icelandic Ministry of communication. In 2000, 235,934 tons of freight transited via Icelandic ports.
There are, over the summer, ferry links between Seydisfjördur at the east of Iceland and Norwegian, Danish, Faeroes, Scottish and German ports. The company Eimskip, which is specialised in the transport of goods, also takes passengers to Europe and to America.

By air
Keflavik's international airport is a transit centre for flights coming from various big airports on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. It is 50 km away from the capital. In 2000, 38,367 tons of freight transited through Keflavik's airport, in constant increase for 10 years.
A second international airport has been built at Egilsstadir on the eastern part of the country within the prospective of the trade development plan of the country.
The main airline companies of the country are Icelandair, Air Atlanta (charter flights), Islandsflug or SAS. These companies serve the cities of the country and the rest of the world, Faeroes and Greenland included.

Patents and brands

The organisation in charge of the protection of intellectual property in Iceland is the Patent office of Iceland (Einkaleyfastofan)
Iceland signed the Agreement of Paris regarding the protection of industrial property and the agreement which establishes the World Intellectual property Organization (WIPO). As for patents, the country adhered to the Agreement of Munich for European patents, as well as to the Treaty of co-operation in Patents ( TCP).
Iceland did not sign the Agreement of Madrid concerning the international register of trademarks but adhered to the 1989 protocol , which came into force in Iceland on January 1st, 1997.

Texts currently applying to patents/brands

  Text Date entered into law Period of validity Comment
Patent Patent Law Initial period of validity of 15 years
Trademark Trademarks Law Period of validity of 10 years This period is renewable
Design Design Law Period of validity of 15 years


Last modified in 2006 - ongoing update
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