Icelandic Surnames

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In Iceland the use of surnames is forbidden by a law, which passed in 1925.

There are a few exceptions: If a family had a surname before 1925, they have been allowed to keep using it.

Thus, only about 10 % of the Icelanders have a hereditary surname, most commonly a (Danish) secondary patronym or a farm name both from Iceland and from the other Nordic countries.

Today many people in Iceland would like to take a hereditary surname modelled on the Norwegian, Swedish and Danish pattern and a change of the law might be possible.

Primary Patronyms

Instead of surnames the Icelanders usually use primary patronymics according to the Old Norse tradition.

To create an Icelandic primary patronym, the suffix -son (= 'son') or -dóttir (= 'daughter') is added to the genitive form of the father's name. You will find the genitive forms of Icelandic names in the grammar tables on the respective name pages.

A new neutral suffix was introduced in Iceland in 2019. Since then, persons who are officially registered with non-binary gender are permitted to use the suffix -bur ('offspring') instead of -son or -dóttir.


Name Genitive Son's patronym Daughter's patronym
Helgi Helga Helgason Helgadóttir
Sturla Sturlu Sturluson Sturludóttir
Grímur Gríms Grímsson Grímsdóttir
Rafnkell Rafnkels Rafnkelsson Rafnkelsdóttir

See also