Doing Business in Iceland

Iceland | BCBusiness
With a population of 320,000, Iceland has roughly the same sized workforce as Greater Victoria

More than an epic tourism destination, direct flights to Reykjavik and the renewable energy industry are increasing B.C.’s business ties to Iceland


Formality—or lack thereof—is the key difference between conducting business in B.C. and Iceland, says Iceland-born Jenny Stefania Jensdottir, who has lived in Vancouver for 16 years and has served as CFO for Canadian and Icelandic companies including JYSK Canada.

Expect to be on a first-name basis with everyone, including members of government, she says. The first few business meetings will likely take place in restaurants and then later in boardrooms or more formal settings.


Meetings with politicians and Icelandic business people are easier to come by than in Canada. When Vancouver-based Methanex Corp. invested in Iceland’s Carbon Recycling International in July, Icelandic President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson gave the keynote address at a celebration for the closing of the deal, says Ben Iosefa, director of energy applications for Methanex. “It was a business celebration but we had a lot of involvement from the community and from the government as well.”

With a total population in Iceland of only 320,000 and a tight-knit business community, it seems that everyone knows everyone. “It is a very connected community,” says Jensdottir. “It is said that if you are in a group of five people, after five minutes you will find some kind of relation with at least two of them.”

At First Glance

First impressions may not be true indicators of Icelander personalities, as they can come off as serious and reserved. However, Iosefa says that after a few meetings getting to know his Icelandic associates, they regularly invited him to events with family and friends and on excursions such as ice fishing.

Laying Down the Law

Business rules and regulations are generally in compliance with European Union regulations and the Icelandic government is creating investment incentives to attract non-EU countries, says Jensdottir. She notes that while the government is trying to make it easier to do business there, it still has a way to go in terms of having all rules and regulations clearly defined.