Uber In Iceland: The Debate Continues - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Uber In Iceland: The Debate Continues

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Brilliantwiki/Wikimedia Commons

An Icelandic MP is proposing changes to the law that would allow for the car-sharing service in Iceland, but taxi drivers doubt there is any need for Uber in Iceland.

Vísir reports that Reform Party MP Hanna Katrín Friðriksson has submitted a parliamentary proposal that would make a number of changes to Iceland’s transportation laws. Amongst the changes proposed are to do away with the maximum allowed taxi permits, reduce the obligations for operating a cab, and to open the market for increased competition. She has also spoken in favour of allowing Uber in Iceland.

However, Ásgeir Þorsteinsson, the chair of the Association of Icelandic Drivers, contends that it is unlikely Uber will be permitted in Iceland. There are no shortages of cabs here, he says, and there is plenty of competition in the market already.

As it stands now, Icelandic law is very strict when it comes to the kind of service Uber provides. Those wishing to charge money for driving someone somewhere must have a permit to do so. Not that this stops amateur drivers from taking matters into their own hands.

As reported, “Skutlarar” (roughly translated as “those who give people a ride somewhere”) is one such example. Skutlarar is a Facebook group created by Icelanders with the purpose of linking people who want to pay a set price for a ride with people willing to offer rides, usually in exchange for money. While technically illegal, police are virtually powerless to stop it.

This is because while the law does grant police the power to strip professional drivers of their operating license for misusing it, a person cannot be stripped of an operational license if they do not have one in the first place. As such, even if Uber does not make the legal cut, amateur driving services will likely continue in Iceland for the time being.


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