Does Iceland Have Uber?

Hopp car share Reykjavík

Uber has not arrived in Iceland yet. However, there is a new, similar company called Hopp Taxis. The company is known as an electric scooter rental but recently introduced their car-sharing service and Hopp Taxis. You can download the Hopp app on both Apple and Android free of charge, and there is no subscription fee. It works like Uber; you can see the car’s location, arrival time, and price before confirming the ride, and the payment is made through the app. The drivers are all licensed taxi drivers and drive carbon-neutral or electric cars. Currently, Hopp Taxi operates in Reykjavík and its closest suburbs, such as Kópavogur, Garðabær, Hafnarfjörður, and Mosfellsbær, as well as Keflavík airport.

Taking the taxi in Reykjavík

Another option is to take a regular taxi. Taxi companies, such as Hreyfill and BSR, offer apps you can download to order a cab and monitor its location. The taxis have a much wider service area. Unlike Hopp Taxis, you will know the price once you have arrived at your destination, and the payment goes directly through the taxi driver, not the app. Note that taking taxis to and from Keflavík International can be expensive. An average taxi trip from the capital region to the airport may run from ISK 15,000 – 20,000 [$110-146, €100-134], so budget-minded travellers may find the Fly Bus a more economical option.

Iceland’s bus system

Iceland’s bus system, Strætó, is a great, economical transportation choice. You can plan your trip and see more comprehensive route maps on their website. To pay the fare, buy a ticket through the app Klappið or pay the exact amount in cash on the bus. About half of the buses in the capital area run from 6:30 AM to midnight, but some services may start later and end earlier. A night bus on Friday and Saturday nights runs from downtown Reykjavík to some of its surrounding suburbs. Note that the night route only runs from Reykjavík, not towards it.

Does Uber exist in Iceland?

Taxi in Iceland's capital, Reykjavík

Simply, no. Uber – and also Lyft – do not exist in Iceland. But don’t worry, there are other ways to get around Reykjavík.

The Icelandic "Uber"

The closest thing to Uber in Iceland would be the relatively new taxi service by Hopp, mostly known for their electric scooters all over the capital area. Recently, Hopp also launched a new taxi service, where you can easily book a ride, get a detailed fare estimate, and track your taxi in real-time, just like with Uber or Lyft.

Taxis in Reykjavík

The most used and available option is the classic taxi service. There are several 24-hour taxi companies in Reykjavík, like Hreyfill, BSR, and Borgarbílastöðin. All taxis have official mileage meters and standard taxi fares. Please take into account that taxis can be quite pricey in Iceland. For instance, a taxi from the International Airport in Keflavík to Reykjavík (45min drive) can range from ISK 16,000-30,000 [€110-250 / $120-270]. There are special airport taxis available that offer special fares on those transfers.

The Stræto bus system

The cheapest way to get around Reykjavík and the suburbs is by bus. The bus company Stræto serves the capital area of Reykjavík and you can basically get around to most places. The fares range from ISK 315 for young people below 18 and seniors to ISK 630 for adults [€2,12-4,25 / $2,30-4,60].

To pay on the bus, you need to use the app Klappið on your phone – keep in mind that it sometimes has issues with foreign credit cards. You can also pay with cash on the bus. Make sure to give the exact amount, as the bus drivers can’t give any change. As of the moment, NFC solutions like Apple or Google Pay are not offered on the bus system. 

If you’re interested to read more about the public transport system in Iceland, check out our in-depth article here

Taxi Drivers Stage Protest in Reykjavík

Taxi in Iceland's capital, Reykjavík

A heated meeting took place among taxi drivers in Reykjavík and Suðurnes yesterday evening to discuss a bill on taxi services sponsored by the Ministry of Infrastructure, RÚV reports. This morning, taxi drivers staged a protest outside the Minister’s Residence in Reykjavík.

Protest stopped by the police

Outside the Minister’s Residence in Reykjavík this morning, numerous taxi drivers staged a protest, which was eventually stopped by the police; expressing their strong objecting to a new bill on taxi services, taxi drivers drove down the street and honked their horns in front of the residence.

Drivers were not allowed to enter the government meeting inside the minister’s residence, however, but Daníel O. Einarsson – the Chairman of the Federation of Icelandic Taxi Drivers (Bandalag íslenskra leigubílstjóra) – took the time to read out a special appeal, Fréttablaðið reports. He requested that the processing of the bill be postponed.

“The Federation asks the government to grant working taxi drivers a hearing as regards the bill on taxi services,” Daníel stated. Approval of the bill would open up the door for ride-share services like Uber, which have gained a foothold abroad.

Abolition of designated taxi zones and more licences

The Ministry of Infrastructure posted the bill to the government’s consultation portal (Samráðsgátt) in July. As noted on the website, the draft of the proposed law is similar to former bills that have previously failed to pass through Parliament.

Among other things, the bill proposes the abolition of designated taxi zones and removal of restrictions on the number of work permits. It also removes the obligation for taxis to operate through designated stations and proposes alterations to requirements for those who intend to work as taxi drivers.

Worried that income will be lost in the form of foreign currency

In an interview with RÚV, Guðmundur Börkur Thorarensen, Managing Director of BSR Taxi, stated that the association was dissatisfied with the bill:

“We are concerned that a large part of the drivers’ income, 30%, will leave the country in the form of foreign currency; that it will reduce income among drivers; and make the service that we have been offering, over the past few years, much worse,” Guðmundur remarked.

Guðmundur maintained that BSR had repeatedly pointed out that more work permits were needed: “But the idea that we should just completely open it up and that there would be no filter as far as quality standards are concerned or the number of drivers, that’s never been on the table.”

Uber and Lyft May Become a Reality in Iceland if Bill Passes

Rideshare apps, such as Uber and Lyft, may become legal in Iceland if an impending bill on taxicab driving and licensing passes.

The bill was initially proposed in 2019 but did not pass during the last electoral term. It was a response to an investigation of the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) in 2017, which led to the conclusion that due to restriction of access to the taxi driver profession  embedded in Icelandic legislation, there was a possibility that Icelandic law did not conform to EEA law.

“Current practice in Iceland limits the number of taxi licenses available in certain districts. Requirements for awarding new licenses in those districts are not objective, effectively favouring existing taxi operators over new entrants. This has the potential to deter and prevent new operators from establishing businesses. The current legislation also requires taxi operators in certain districts to be connected to a dispatch central and to have taxi driving as a principal profession,” ESA states.

Since Iceland did not respond to ESA’s findings by amending the law, the authority announced last January that it had taken action against Iceland for restrictions in the taxi-services market. ESA’s letter of formal notice was the first step in an infringement procedure against Iceland.

The bill, which will be discussed in the Parliament in January, may determine the future of rideshare companies such as Lyft and Uber in Iceland. Currently, Uber operates in over 785 metropolitan areas in 85 countries. Iceland is one of few countries in Europe that hasn’t welcomed the service.

Uber Loses Trademark Case Against Taxi Company

Taxis at the airport

The Icelandic Patent Office has rejected the claims of Uber, the international peer-to-peer transportation company, that the Icelandic taxi company’s registration of the trademark Suber Taxi is a copyright infringement, RÚV reports.

In March of last year, Hreyfill, an Icelandic taxi company, applied for a trademark on the brand Suber Taxi, which is to be a taxi service that allows customers to book rides on an app. Hreyfill’s CEO noted in an interview at the time that the company was preparing itself for changes on the transportation market in the coming years.

Spokespeople for Uber said that these statements indicated that Hreyfill’s owners were aware of the Uber brand and the name of its company.

In its rejection of Uber’s claim, the Patent Office said that Uber had not sufficiently proven that Hreyfill had intentionally registered for the Suber Taxi trademark with the explicit intention of preventing Uber from entering the Icelandic market and/or availing itself of the goodwill of Uber’s customers. When considering the complaint, the Patent Office reviewed Icelandic media coverage related to Uber and stated that there was not enough indication that the Uber brand is widely thought of in connection to taxi services in Iceland.

Uber representatives had also taken excerpts out of two MPs speeches about the taxi industry and allowing Uber to come to Iceland as evidence of the brand’s existing prominence in Iceland. The Patent Office said, however, that the fact that Uber has been discussed in Icelandic parliament does not indicate that the brand is well-known throughout the country.

Hreyfill’s lawyers requested that in its response, the Patent Office should clearly note that based on current taxi laws in Iceland, it is not actually possible for Uber to operate in the country. The Patent Office declined to make any such statement.

In its response to the ruling, Uber said that the company thought it obvious that the meaning of “Uber” and “Suber” are essentially the same. The word “uber” means “over” or “super” in German, and “Suber,” they said, is clearly a play on the English word “Super.”