0. Registration entry for subjects

0.1 Name


0.2 Subject area


0.3 Responsible authority; office, division, person etc.

Ómar Harðarson
Guðjón Hauksson
Brynjólfur Sigurjónsson
Hagstofa Íslands

0.4 Purpose and history

From 1735 the bishops of Iceland were charged with the collection of annual records from parsons on deaths in their parishes. The annual parish population counts were discontinued at the founding of the National Register of Persons in 1952, from which information on deaths has been gathered since. With law on the death certificate from 1911 physicians in urban localities were required to write out death certificates. A similar law covering the whole country did not appear until 1950. Nevertheless, Statistics Iceland has published tables on causes of death from 1911. Information from the early 20th Century is based on death certificates from physicians as well as information from other sources, such as parsons.

0.5 Users and application

Municipalities, institutions, companies, organisations and individuals.

0.6 Sources

Parish records, death notices from District Commissioners, death certificate on causes of death, autopsies, and more according to law no. 61/1998.

0.7 Legal basis for official statistics

Act on Statistics Iceland no. 24/1913. Act no. 21/1990 on legal domicile. Act on death certificate 61/1998. Act on the declaration of death no. 15/1991. Regulation on the writing of death certificates, forensic autopsies and the notification of still births to Statistics Iceland, no. 248/2001

0.8 Response burden

0.9 EEA and EU obligations

1. Contents

1.1 Description of content

Information processed from the National Register of Persons on the total number of dead domiciled in Iceland (according to law no. 5 on domicile from 1990), regardless of place of death.

Statistics Iceland has worked towards the registration of deaths in cooperation with the Directorate of Health. Tables on the most common causes of death are shown in reports on population by Statistics Iceland until 1980 and in the Statistical Yearbook of Iceland thereafter.

The following factors appear in the published material:

  • Deaths by sex, age and marital status.
  • Deaths by cause of death.

1.2 Statistical concepts

Death rate: Shows the proportion of deaths per 1,000 population. Age specific death rates are shown as a proportion of deaths in certain age groups per 1,000 population in that age group.

Infant mortality: Shows the proportion of dead infants for the year x per 1,000 population of live births for that year. As there are widely differing reasons behind deaths depending on when during the first year an infant dies, infant mortality is divided into age groups. Neonatal mortality means children who die within 28 days of birth per 1,000 of population of live births.

Perinatal mortality: Covers stillborn children as well as those who die within a week of birth calculated with respect to all births (both live and still).

Cause of death: The cause of death is classified according to the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organization (WHO). It is revised regularly and since 1996 the 10th edition (ICD-10) has been used in Iceland.

2. Time

2.1 Reference periods

Annual tables on the number of deaths are compiled at the end of May or beginning of June the year after. Reports on causes of death are usually ready a year after. Due to the new WHO classification framework (ICD-10) being taken up some delay has occured in the publication of figures on causes of death in Iceland. It is expected that figures on causes of death will be published according to plan from the year 2003.

2.2 Process time

Process time is five to six months; from end of year until June.

2.3 Punctuality

Figures on deaths are published annually in the Statistical Yearbook of Iceland. Further information is released in the database of the Information Department of Statistics Iceland.

2.4 Frequency of releases

Death tables are published once per year in the Statistical Yearbook of Iceland.

3. Reliability and security

3.1 Accuracy and reliability

Information on the number of deaths published in the tables of Statistics Iceland is accurate; it can be considered certain that information on all deaths reaches Statistics Iceland. Practitioners write out death certificates for all deaths and it is only in exceptional circumstances that information on the cause of death is not available.

3.2 Sources of errors

No sources of errors in data.

3.3 Measures on confidence limits/accuracy

Confidence limits are not calculated.

4. Comparison

4.1 Comparison between periods

Numerical data on deaths was collected from parish records before 1952, after which it was collected from information in the National Register of Persons.

4.2 Comparison with other statistics

4.3 Coherence between preliminary and final statistics

No preliminary figures on deaths published.

5. Access to information

5.1 Forms of dissemination

  • News, released on Statistics Iceland's website
  • Statistics, categorised statistical web tables
  • Statistical Series, Hagtíðindi
  • Statistical Yearbook of Iceland, Landshagir
  • Population statistics until 1980, in the series Hagskýrslur Íslands
  • Hagskinna. Icelandic historical statistics

5.2 Basic data; storage and usability

Data stored in digital format by the Population Statistics Department of Statistics Iceland. No access is provided to data relating to individuals, though it is possible to have it especially processed.

5.3 Reports

5.4 Other information

Further information is available from the Population Statistics Department of Statistics Iceland.

© Hagstofa �slands, �ann 27-1-2009