Iceland: providing services after EU Exit

Guidance for UK businesses about Icelandic rules and regulations on service provision if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.


If the UK leaves the EU on 12 April 2019 without a deal, UK firms and service providers will face additional steps or potentially even barriers to trade.

You will need to comply with both local and EEA-wide rules in the following areas:

  • cross-border trade
  • establishing and structuring your business
  • business travel and visa requirements
  • recognition of UK professional qualifications
  • data protection

Cross-border trade

If you’re a UK business providing services in Iceland, you’ll need to follow Icelandic regulations about:

  • acquiring authorisations or licences to provide a service
  • complying with specific local business regulations

The Icelandic e-government portal for service providers can help you to:

  • find out what you need to know about providing services in Iceland
  • understand local regulations
  • complete the relevant administrative procedures online

Consider appointing an English-speaking lawyer in Iceland to help you comply with specific regulations.

There may be regulated sectors in Iceland where EEA nationality requirements could prevent you from providing services.

To find out if these apply to you, contact the appropriate competent authority.

For UK statutory auditors, the Audit Oversight Board Iceland (site in Icelandic) should be able to provide further information.

Contact the Icelandic Competition Authority if you have complaints or queries about anti-competitive practices.

There are also non-governmental organisations that provide advice to UK businesses operating in Iceland, for example the British-Icelandic Chamber of Commerce.

These organisations are not associated with the UK government, and their views are not representative of any government policies.

Establishing and structuring your business

If you’re a UK service provider or business, you may face restrictions on your ability to own, manage or direct a company registered in an EEA member state.

You should consider if you’re likely to face:

  • additional requirements on the nationality or residency of senior managers or directors
  • limits on the amount of equity that can be held by non-nationals

UK companies and limited liability partnerships that have their central administration or principal place of business in certain EU member states may no longer have their limited liability recognised.

Setting up a business

You can find out how to set up a business in Iceland on these websites:

Sector specific information

For audit firms established and approved in EEA states under the Audit Directive, a majority of the ownership and management bodies of an audit firm must be ‘qualified persons’.

In the event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal, ‘qualified persons’ will continue to include EEA qualified auditors and EEA registered audit firms, but will not include UK qualified auditors or registered firms in future.

As a result, the ownership and management of some EEA audit firms may need to be restructured.

If you’re a UK legal professional who has investments in law firms in Iceland, you should contact the Icelandic Bar Association for further information on the implications for your investment.

If you’re a UK citizen, service provider or business operating in the EEA and in any doubt about your legal position, seek appropriate professional advice or contact the government of the country where you own, manage or direct a company for more information.

Business travel and visa requirements

UK citizens

When the UK leaves the EU, the rules for travelling in Europe will change.

Find out about passport requirements after Brexit

In the event of no deal, the European Commission has proposed granting UK citizens visa-free travel to the Schengen Area after the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.

Under these conditions, if you’re a UK citizen you’ll be able to travel to Iceland without a visa for up to 90 days in any 180-day period, for the purpose of:

  • business meetings
  • training
  • sports or cultural events
  • short-term study

Should you need to undertake activities not listed above or intend to stay beyond 90 days in any 180-day period, you will need to check with host country authorities, as visa requirements can vary between EU/EEA member states.


If you’re engaging in a professional activity in Iceland you’ll be subject to different requirements, depending on:

  • your occupation and situation
  • whether you are self-employed or an employee
  • your business and the length of your stay

Certain professions may have to meet extra conditions and you may be required to show supporting documentation at the border.

The Icelandic Directorate of Immigration and Directorate of Labour have more information about:

  • supporting documentation
  • work and residence permits
  • other conditions
  • visas including intra-corporate transfers

Find out more about the travel entry requirements for Iceland.

Recognition of professional qualifications

The EU’s Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications (MRPQ) Directive provides a framework of rules on professional qualification recognition amongst the members of the EEA and Switzerland.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the MRPQ Directive will no longer apply to the UK.

If your qualification falls under the MRPQ Directive and it is already recognised as valid before exit day, it will remain valid after exit day.

For some professions there are additional sectoral frameworks, for example, audit and legal services. If your route to recognition derives from the Lawyers Establishment Directive please see the specific advice below.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, UK nationals seeking recognition of their professional qualifications in an EU member state will be assessed under the rules of the host EU member state.

Iceland and recognition of professional qualifications

The UK has reached agreements on citizen’s rights with the 4 EFTA countries, including Iceland, which apply in a no deal scenario.

Included in these agreements are specific arrangements for the recognition of professional qualifications held by these countries’ nationals and UK nationals.

If your qualification is already recognised as valid by the competent authority before exit day, it will remain valid after exit day.

This agreement, including on the recognition of professional qualifications, differs in some respects to the contingences in place for the UK leaving the EU without a deal.

Find out more about the EEA EFTA No Deal Citizens’ Rights Agreement.

Information on the EU-wide recognition of professional qualifications

The European Commission’s Regulated Professions Database (REGPROF) can help you identify:

  • professions that are regulated in each EEA state and Switzerland
  • contact details of the member states’ appropriate authority for that regulated profession
  • points of single contact (PSCs) of each EU or EEA country, which give information on registering for professional recognition online

Information on the recognition of professional qualifications in Iceland

If you are offering professional services in Iceland, look at:

If you’re a UK-qualified lawyer working in Iceland, under an Icelandic professional title or in the process of transferring into the profession by Exit day, you can continue to practice in Iceland subject to local regulatory rules.

If you’re a UK-qualified lawyer working in Iceland, under a UK professional title, you will become subject to the same rules as other third country (non-EU) lawyers in Iceland.

You should contact the local Bar association in the region in which you are working or the the Icelandic Bar Association for specific advice.

Data protection

UK businesses will need to continue to comply with data protection laws if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

To ensure continued compliance, you may need to make changes ahead of the UK leaving the EU if your business:

  • operates across the EU and/or the EEA
  • exchanges personal data with partners in the EU and/or the EEA

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) provides information on data protection and Brexit including the ‘6 steps to take’ checklist.

International data transfers

The UK government is legislating to provide that, on the UK’s exit from the EU, transfers of personal data from the UK to the EU/EEA (for example Iceland) will be permitted.

No additional steps need to be taken at this point if you plan to only transfer personal data from the UK to Iceland. You should review your privacy information and your internal documentation to identify any details that will need updating when the UK leaves the EU. Find out more on documentation requirements in the ICO’s six step guidance.

If you receive personal data transfers in the UK from the EU/EEA (for example Iceland), you and your EU/EEA-based partners need to think about what GDPR safeguards you can put in place.

Read ICO guidance on international data transfers.

Use the ICO tool to identify and assess your options for complying with EU law on personal data transfers from the EU and EEA to the UK after 12 April 2019.

Your lead data protection authority

If you are a UK business with its headquarters in the UK but with operations in the EU and processing personal data across EU/EEA borders, you might need to deal with a lead supervisory authority in the EU.

Find out more about lead data protection authorities on the ICO website.

You can also read the European Data Protection Board’s guidance on lead supervisory authorities.

The Icelandic Data Protection Authority is the Icelandic lead data protection authority.

EEA representatives

If you’re a UK business that offers goods or services in the EEA, or monitors the behaviour of EEA subjects, but will not have an established presence in an EU or EEA state after 12 April 2019, you may need to employ a European representative.

Find out more about European representatives on the ICO website

Published 6 March 2019