Iceland’s parliament amended the marriage law on June 11, 2010 to define marriage as between two individuals, thereby making it the 10th world government to offer same-sex legal marriage. The law became effective on June 27, 2010.
Prohibitive laws governing homosexuality were repealed in 1940. In 1992, the Althing passed an amendment (no. 40/1992) to the clauses in the section on public decency in the penal code of 1940, now renamed “Sexual Offences.” The age of consent was set at 14, and sexual intercourse between individuals of 14 and above was legal as long as both parties consented. No distinction was then made between parties according to sex. All discrimination against homosexuals relating to the age of consent was eliminated.
Registered partnerships between same-sex couples became legal in 1996. In 2000, the Althing passed an amendment to the law on registered partnerships (no. 87/1996) which allowing foreign nationals living in Iceland to register their partnerships, and reciprocal recognition of registrations in those countries that had comparable laws.
Since 2006, Icelandic same-sex couples became eligible to a range of laws including public access to IVF insemination treatment, surrogacy and both full joint adoption and adopting your own partner’s biological children.
On March 23, 2010, the Government presented a bill, which would allow same-sex couples to marry. Parliament unanimously approved the bill — 49-0, with 14 abstentions — on June 11, 2010, and it took effect on June 27, 2010.
Iceland’s Prime Minister, Jóhanna Sigurđardóttir, married writer Jónína Leósdóttir on Sunday, the first day that legal same-sex marriage was available in Iceland. [See our article: Famous Same-Sex Couples] The marriage makes Sigurđardóttir the first government leader in the modern world to enter a same-sex marriage.
Sigurđardóttir, who has children from a previous opposite-sex marriage, is the modern world’s first, and only, openly gay head of state. Her orientation has never been an issue in Iceland, which, like the other Nordic states, has a history of tolerance and support.
In the District of Reykjavík, civil marriage ceremonies are performed monday-friday at the Office at Skógarhlíđ 6 at 15:00 or 15:30.
- Submit documentation to verify that there are no impediments to the marriage (according to The law in Respect of Marriage no, 31, April 14th, 1993.)
- Both parties must be 18 years of age and not already married.
- Only original documents are accepted. Documents in other than English and Scandinavian languages must be accompanied by a translation.
- All documents must be received 2 weeks before the planned wedding date. If more convenient, copies can first be sent by fax or e-mail, and originals handed in at a later date, no later than 5 days before the planned wedding date. If the documents are not received within this time frame, the planned marriage will be considered cancelled.
There is a fee of IKR 7.700.
After the ceremony has taken place, an English marriage certificate can be obtained from
Ţjóđskrá (The National Registry Office)
Borgartún 24, 105 Reykjavík, Iceland
+354 569 2950, fax +354 569 2949; email@example.com
The required documents - two weeks before the planned wedding date:
This form is provided by Sýslumađurinn í Reykjavík. It can be sent to you by mail. The form has to be carefully filled in according to the instructions provided, signed by both parties, and signed by two trustworthy persons who, by signing the form, vouch for the fact that there are no legal impediments to the planned marriage.
- Birth certificate
Both partners need to submit birth certificates. The originals may be returned after the wedding ceremony if required.
- Certificate of marital status
Both partners need to submit a certificate of marital status issued by the relevant authority in their country, state or region. The certificate must be issued within 4 weeks prior to the wedding ceremony.
Some countries do not issue a certificate of marital status. If that is the case, a declaration of honor is required, issued by the spouses stating that she or he is not married, or that she or he is divorced or widowed, and has not remarried. It is preferred that the couple make the declaration of honor before a Notary Public. If that is not possible, contact us.
If the couple is a foreign citizen or residing abroad, a certificate issued in their country, confirming that there are no impediments to the planned marriage, may be required.
- If bride/groom is divorced
A divorce decree, a document to prove that previous marriage has ended with a legal divorce. It is also necessary to prove that the division of assets and liabilities between the former spouses has been finalized.
A divorce decree issued by a foreign authority (other than authorities in Denmark, Norway, Sweden or Finland) must be validated by the Ministry of Justice in Reykjavík, Iceland, before it is presented to Sýslumađurinn í Reykjavík.
To apply for a validation of a foreign divorce decree, contact:
Dómsmálaráđuneyti (The Ministry of Justice)
Skuggasund, 150 Reykjavík, Iceland
+354 545 9000, fax +354 552 7340; firstname.lastname@example.org
- If bride or groom is a widow or widower
An Official document showing that the estate (assets and liabilities) of the deceased spouse has been finalized/divided.
- Legal stay in Iceland
Both partners must be legally staying in Iceland when wedding takes place. Proof of that must be presented: Residence permit, visa or confirmation of arrival date (passport stamp of flight ticket).
Information in English regarding residence permits and visas can be found at the website of The Icelandic Directorate of Immigration: utl.is/english
Both partners must present valid passports.
Note: The marriage application requires two witness names and birth dates. They do not have to be at the wedding itself. Obtain an application from the Reykjavik District Commissioner’s office. The official wedding ceremony is held there as well.
- Non-residents are allowed to marry.
- Bring valid passports and both partners’ birth certificates.
- Bring a medical certificate from your doctor stating that neither one of you have communicable diseases.
- Non-US citizens should obtain a certificate of marital status (if applicable, present an original divorce decree signed by the Ministry of Justice located in Reykjavik).
- Fill out the application form available from the District Magistrate of Reykjavik (one witness per partner) certifying your eligibility for marriage.
- Drop off the application two days before the marriage date. If mailing the application, it must arrive two weeks before the marriage date.
Sýslumađurinn í Reykjavík (Reykjavík District Commissioner)
Skógarhlíđ 6, 105 Reykjavík, Iceland
+354 569 2480, fax +354 562 4870; email@example.com
You can also contact an Icelandic embassy for further information.
Icelandic Embassies in the US|
Embassy of Iceland
1156 15th Street N.W., #1200, Washington D.C. 20005-1704, USA
202-265-6653, fax 202-265-6656; firstname.lastname@example.org
Consulate General of Iceland
800 Third Ave, 36th floor, New York NY 10022, USA
212-593-2700, fax 646-282-9369; email@example.com
Icelandic Embassies in Canada
Embassy of Iceland at Constitution Square
360 Albert St., #710, Ottawa, Ontario, K1R 7X7, Canada
613-482-1944, fax 613-482-1945; firstname.lastname@example.org
Icelandic Consulate Office
One Wellington Crescent #100, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3M 3Z2, Canada
Icelandic Embassies in the UK
Embassy of Iceland in London
2A Hans St., London SW1X 0JE, England
+44 20 7259 3999, fax +44 20 7245 9649; email@example.com
Consulate of Iceland in Ireland
Cavendish House, Smithfield, Dublin, Ireland
(1) 872-9299, fax (1) 872-9877; firstname.lastname@example.org
Icelandic Embassies in Europe
Die Botschaft von Island in Wien (Embassy of Iceland in Vienna)
Naglergasse 2/3/8, 1010 Wien, Austria
+43 1 533 2771, fax +43 1 533 2774; email@example.com
Embassy of Iceland
Rond-Point Schuman 11, 1040 Bruxelles, Belgium
+32 (0)2 238 50 00, fax +32 (0)2 230 69 38; firstname.lastname@example.org
Islands ambassade (Embassy of Iceland)
Strandgade 89, DK-1401 Křbenhavn, Denmark
+45 3318 1050, fax +45 33 18 10 59; email@example.com
Islannin suurlähetystö (Icelandic Embassy)
Pohjoisesplanadi 27 C, 2 krs, 00100 Helsinki, Finland
09-612 2460, fax 09-612 24620
8, avenue Kléber, 75116 Paris, France
+33-01 44 17 32 85, fax +33-01 40 67 99 96; firstname.lastname@example.org
Botschaft der Republik Island (Embassy of the Republic of Iceland)
Rauchstraße 1, 10787 Berlin, Germany
+49 (0) 30 50 50 40 00, fax +49 (0) 30 50 50 43 00; email@example.com
Islands ambassade (Embassy of Iceland)
Stortingsgaten 30, Oslo, Norway
Mailing: Islands Ambassade, 0244 Oslo, Norway
+(47) 2323-7530, fax +(47) 2283-0704; firstname.lastname@example.org
Islands ambassad (Icelandic Embassy)
Kommendörsgatan 35, SE-114 58 Stockholm, Sweden
+46 (0) 8 442 8300, fax +46 (0) 8 660 7423; email@example.com
Icelandic Embassies in Asia
Embassy of Iceland to China
Landmark Tower 1 #802, No.8 Dongsanhuan Bei Lu, Beijing 100004, P.R. China
+86 (10) 6590 7795, fax: +86 (10) 6590 7801; firstname.lastname@example.org
Embassy of Iceland
4-18-26, Takanawa, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0074, Japan
+81 (03) 3447-1944, Fax: +81 (03) 3447-1945; email@example.com
Icelandic Embassies in Australia
Iceland Consulate in Australia
16 Birriga Road, Bellevue Hill, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
+61-2-93657345, fax +61-2-93657328; firstname.lastname@example.org
To obtain a divorce, it appears that at least one partner must be an Icelandic resident.
For couples who agree to divorce, the process takes 6 months from the date a permit for legal separation was issued, or judgment pronounced, provided the provisions of Article 35 do not apply. Article 35 concerns spouses continuing to cohabit for more than a short period. The legal effects of separation shall also terminate if the spouses resume cohabitation later, except for an attempt of short duration to resume the union.
For those couples who do not agree to divorce, either party may claim divorce when they have lived separately for a period of a least 2 years.
Warnings: Marriage Law Pitfalls
In the Event of a Couple Parting
Icelandic divorces appear to require a 6-month residency if both partners agree to divorce. If they do not, a 2-year period is required.
If you live in an U.S. state that does not honor your marriage — which may not be determined until requesting something usually triggered by a marriage license — that state’s courts will also be unlikely to grant you a divorce.
The ability to divorce is critical. Besides the emotional reasons to dissolve a no longer functioning union, there are legal entanglements to consider. For instance, should one of the partners form a new relationship, they would not be able to sign up their new partner for workplace benefits. Most employers require an affidavit that stipulates that the partners are not married to anyone else, or have another domestic partner.
Governments that offer Full Legal Marriage
South Africa (2005)
New Zealand (2013)
New Zealand (2013)
(England, Wales, Scotland) (2013)
US States & Territories
New Hampshire (2009)
District of Columbia (2009)
New York (2011)
Rhode Island (2013)
New Jersey (2013)
New Mexico (2013)
Michigan (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
Arkansas (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
West Virginia (2014)
Kansas (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
North Carolina (2014)
South Carolina (2014)
U.S. Supreme Court (June 26, 2015):
Ruling: All U.S. States must now
allow same-sex couples the
freedom of legal marriage.
Native American Tribes|
Coquille Tribe, Oregon (2009)
Mashantucket Pequot, Connecticut (2011)
Suquamish Tribe, Washington (2011)
Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Washington (2013)
Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Minnesota (2013)
Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Michigan (2013)
Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, Michigan (2013)
Santa Ysabel Tribe, California (2013)
Confederated Tribes of the Colville Nation, Washington (2013)
Cheyenne, Oklahoma (2013)
Arapaho, Oklahoma (2013)
Leech Lake Tribal Court, Minnesota (2013)
Puyallup Tribe, Washington (2914)
Wind River Indian Reservation, Wyoming (2014)
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Michigan, (2014)
Colville Confederated Tribes, Washington (2014)
Central Council of Tlingit, Alaska (2015)
Haida Indian Tribes, Alaska (2015)