Iceland 1944 Constitution (reviewed 2013)


Article 65

Everyone shall be equal before the law and enjoy human rights irrespective of sex, religion, opinion, national origin, race, colour, property, birth or other status.

Men and women shall enjoy equal rights in all respects.

Article 66

No one may be deprived of Icelandic citizenship. Loss of citizenship may, however, be provided for by law, in the event a person accepts citizenship in another State. An alien can only be granted Icelandic citizenship according to law.

An Icelandic citizen cannot be barred from entering Iceland nor expelled there from. The rights of aliens to enter and reside in Iceland, and the reasons for which they may be expelled, shall be laid down by law.

No one may be barred from leaving Iceland except by judicial decision. A person may however be prevented from leaving Iceland by lawful arrest.

Every person lawfully residing in Iceland shall be free to choose his residence and shall enjoy freedom of travel subject to any limitations laid down by law.

Article 67

No one may be deprived of his liberty except as permitted by law.

Any person deprived of his liberty shall be entitled to be informed promptly of the reasons for this measure.

Any person arrested by reason of suspicion of criminal conduct shall be brought before a judge without undue delay. If he is not released at once, the judge shall, within 24 hours, issue a reasoned decision on whether he shall be detained on remand. Detention on remand may only be ordered due to a charge subject to heavier sanctions than fines or punitive custody. The right of a person detained on remand to refer the decision on his remand to a superior court shall be guaranteed by law. A person shall never be detained on remand for longer than necessary; if the judge deems that he may be released on bail the amount of bail shall be determined by a judicial order.

Any person deprived of his liberty for other reasons shall be entitled to have the legality of the measure reviewed by a court as soon as possible. If his deprivation of liberty proves to have been unlawful he shall be released forthwith.

Any person deprived of his liberty without valid reason shall have a right to compensation.

Article 68

No one may be subjected to torture or any other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

No one shall be required to perform compulsory labour.

Article 69

No one may be subjected to punishment unless found guilty of conduct that constituted a criminal offence according to the law at the time when it was committed, or is totally analogous to such conduct. The sanctions may not be more severe than the law permitted at the time of commission.

Death penalty may never be stipulated by law.

Article 70

Everyone shall, for the determination of his rights and obligations or in the event of a criminal charge against him, be entitled, following a fair trial and within a reasonable time, to the resolution of an independent and impartial court of law. A hearing by a court of law shall take place in public, except if the judge decides otherwise as provided for by law in the interest of morals, public order, the security of the State or the interests of the parties.

Everyone charged with criminal conduct shall be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Article 71

Everyone shall enjoy freedom from interference with privacy, home, and family life.

Bodily or personal search or a search of a person’s premises or possessions may only be conducted in accordance with a judicial decision or a statutory law provision. This shall also apply to the examination of documents and mail, communications by telephone and other means, and to any other comparable interference with a person’s right to privacy.

Notwithstanding the provisions of the first paragraph above, freedom from interference with privacy, home and family life may be otherwise limited by statutory provisions if this is urgently necessary for the protection of the rights of others.

Article 72

The right of private ownership shall be inviolate. No one may be obliged to surrender his property unless required by public interests. Such a measure shall be provided for by law, and full compensation shall be paid.

The right of foreign parties to own real property interests or shares in business enterprises in Iceland may be limited by law.

Article 73

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and belief.

Everyone shall be free to express his thoughts, but shall also be liable to answer for them in court. The law may never provide for censorship or other similar limitations to freedom of expression.

Freedom of expression may only be restricted by law in the interests of public order or the security of the State, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights or reputation of others, if such restrictions are deemed necessary and in agreement with democratic traditions.

Article 74

Associations may be formed without prior permission for any lawful purpose, including political associations and trade unions. An association may not be dissolved by administrative decision. The activities of an association found to be in furtherance of unlawful objectives may however be enjoint, in which case legal action shall be brought without undue delay for a judgment dissolving the association.

No one may be obliged to be a member of any association. Membership of an association may however be made obligatory by law if this is necessary in order to enable an association to discharge its functions in the public interest or on account of the rights of others.

People are free to assemble unarmed. Public gatherings may be attended by police. Public gatherings in the open may be banned if it is feared that riots may ensue.

Article 75

Everyone is free to pursue the occupation of his choosing. This right may however be restricted by law, if such restriction is required with regard to the public interest.

The right of people to negotiate terms of employment and other labour-related matters shall be regulated by law.

Article 76

The law shall guarantee for everyone the necessary assistance in case of sickness, invalidity, infirmity by reason of old age, unemployment and similar circumstances.

The law shall guarantee for everyone suitable general education and tuition.

For children, the law shall guarantee the protection and care which is necessary for their well-being.

Article 77

Matters concerning taxes shall be regulated by law. The power to decide whether to levy a tax, change a tax or abolish a tax may not be vested in administrative authorities.

No tax may be levied unless the levy was permitted by law at the time when the facts occurred on which the tax liability is based.

Article 78

The municipalities shall manage their affairs independently as laid down by law.

The income sources of the municipalities, and the right of the municipalities to decide whether and how to use their sources of income, shall be regulated by law.

Article 79

Proposals to amend or supplement this Constitution may be introduced at regular as well as extraordinary sessions of Althingi. If the proposal is adopted, Althingi shall immediately be dissolved and a general election held. If Althingi then passes the resolution unchanged, it shall be confirmed by the President of the Republic and come into force as constitutional law.

If Althingi passes an amendment to the status of the Church under Article 62, it shall be submitted to a vote for approval or rejection by secret ballot of all those eligible to vote.

Article 80


Article 81

This Constitutional Law shall enter into force when the Althingi so resolves, provided that the majority of all people in the country having the right to vote have expressed their approval of the Law by secret ballot.


When this Constitution has entered into force, the United Althing shall elect a President of Iceland for the first time pursuant to the rules applicable to the election of the President of the United Althingi, and his term of office shall extend until 31 July 1945.

Those foreign nationals who, prior to the date of implementation of this Constitutional Law, have obtained the right to vote and have become eligible to be elected to the Althingi or have obtained the right to hold public office, shall retain the said rights. Danish nationals who under Article 75 of the Constitution of 18 May 1920 would have obtained such rights, had the law not been amended, from the date of entry into force of this Constitutional Law until six months after negotiations regarding the rights of Danish nationals in Iceland can be commenced, shall also acquire the said rights and retain them.

Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph 6 of Article 31, the approval by a majority of votes cast in the Althingi shall suffice to amend the Act on Elections to the Althingi so as to accord with this Constitutional Law following its entry into force. Upon the completion of such amendment, this provision shall be of no further effect.

Notwithstanding the provision of Paragraph 1, Article 79 it is permissible, until 30 April 2017, to amend the Constitution in the following manner: If Althing approves a legislative bill on an amendment to the Constitution with at least 2/3 of votes cast it shall be submitted to a vote of all eligible voters in the country for approval or rejection. The voting shall be held no sooner than six months and no later than nine months after the bill has been approved by Althing. For the bill to be considered approved it needs to have received a majority of valid votes in the national referendum, though no less than 40 per cent of all eligible voters, and it shall be confirmed by the President of the Republic and is then deemed to be valid constitutional law. The title of a legislative bill on constitutional law on this basis shall include a reference to this provision.

The national referendum will be held in accordance with applicable laws.