How to Trace back Your Icelandic Roots

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How to Trace back Your Icelandic Roots

Icelandic Emigration Center.
The Icelandic Emigration Center, Hofsós. Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

Q: I’m interested in finding information on my ancestors in Iceland. I’ve heard of Íslendingabók, but I understand it’s only for Icelandic citizens. My great great grandparents were from Iceland and immigrated to Canada when my great grandfather was a little boy. My father passed away in 2013 and, unfortunately, my family’s information died with him. Since then I’ve been trying to trace back my father’s line, but I’ve hit a wall. I can’t trace them in Iceland. Is there a way for a person who is not from Iceland to trace back her Icelandic roots?

Michelle, Canada


A: You’re right in saying that access to the ancestry data base Íslendingabók is limited to Icelandic citizens, or those who have an Icelandic ID number, or kennitala.

There are plans, however, by those who run Íslendingabók to start offering people of Icelandic ancestry extensive information on their family tree as early as this spring. To be able to use that service, you would need to know the names of your ancestors who left Iceland for the New World. At that point, information tracing your roots generations back could be provided, as well as information on your relatives living in Iceland. That service will be provided for a fee, since it can involve extensive research.

Until that service is launched, specific questions about your family, not requiring extensive research, may be directed to Friðrik Skúlason by email, [email protected].

You also have the option of contacting the Icelandic Emigration Center in Hofsós, North Iceland. They help people of Icelandic ancestry trace their roots and only charge for the service if it requires extensive research. Feel free to send them an email with an inquiry to [email protected].

Finally, we’ve also been told of a database called Icelandic Roots, or Icelandic Genealogy Database. It appears you can purchase membership there for either a month or a whole year.