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Iceland Mag

Economy

Report: Nine exemptions granted this year allowing foreign nationals to acquire Icelandic property

By Staff

  • Grímsstaðir á Fjöllum In 2011 Chinese investor expressed interest in purchasing the largest highland farm in Iceland, but the purchase did not go through, due to stiff opposition from politicians and the public. Photo/Pjetur Sigurðsson

Only nine exemptions have been granted this year from the strict ban on non-EEA citizens acquiring property in Iceland. Two requests from non-EEA citizens to acquire land in Iceland have been rejected. Only Icelandic citizens, citizens of the EU or citizens of EFTA countries are permitted to own property in Iceland. The ministry of the interior can grant exceptions from this rule.

Fears of foreign landowners
News that a Chinese investor would like to acquire a large farm Neðri Dalur which is located right on the Golden Circle in South Iceland, next to Geysir geothermal area, has sparked a renewed debate about the right of foreigners to acquire land in Iceland. Many Icelanders fear that foreign investors might soon acquire all of Iceland.

Read more: Plans by Chinese investor to acquire farmland next to Geysir geothermal area meets backlash

Sigríður Á Andersen

Sigríður Á Andersen The minister of the interior. Photo/Ernir

The Chinese investor has said he plans to use the 1,200 hectare farm to build up tourism related activities as well as to utilize geothermal hotsprings which are found on the land.

Very few non-European landowners
The minister of the interior told the local newspaper Fréttablaðið that the ministry is not facing a flood of requests from non-European investors to purchase land in Iceland. The ministry has to approve all such purchases, as entities or individuals from outside the European Economic Area cannot own land or real-estate in Iceland.

A total of 11 requests for exemptions have been received by the ministry. Out of these 8 came from the US, and one from New Zealand, one from Australia and one from Canada. Nine of these requests were approved, two were rejected. Both of the requests which were rejected came from the US.

Read more: British billionaire buys vast farm in the highlands. Intends to do “absolutely nothing” with it

The two rejected requests involved the purchase of a 12,9 hectare land in Hvalfjörður fjord in West Iceland and the purchase of a 50% farmland in Hornafjörður fjord in South East Iceland.

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