Application Process

When a company has submitted an application, paid the application fee and sent a verification of payment to Vakinn, the name of the company is published on the list of companies under evaluation. Operators must hold all required licences to be eligible for participation in Vakinn.

The company must submit a copy of the company‘s safety plans along with a list of tour guides working on its behalf (if applicable), stating relevant education and experience. Members of the Vakinn team are ready to assist and consult regarding safety plans and other issues during the application process. When a Vakinn representative has approved safety plans and other documents, that must be submitted prior to the initial audit, it is time to set a date for the audit. Vakinn reserves the right to allow up to three months until the audit is scheduled.   

Initial Audit

During the audit, the Vakinn representative assesses the company according to the general criteria, applicable specific criteria and the environmental criteria. The company representatives explain how the criteria is met. The Vakinn representative reviews the documents that must be available during the audit as well as assessing the company facilities and equipment. The audit offers a perfect opportunity to get advice and guidance.

Before the audit the Vakinn representative has, among other things, reviewed the company website and checked phone answering.

During the audit, the Vakinn representative must review the following documents. It is important that these are available (as appropriate). 

Necessary documents (for fulfilling minimum requirements):

  1. Safety Plans, must be sent to Vakinn prior to the audit.
  2. List of tour guides and other employees (if applicable), stating relevant education and experience, must be sent to Vakinn prior to the audit. Example.
  3. Plan on safety and health in the workplace according to guidelines from the Administration of Occupational Safety and Health.
  4. Appropriate public licences and permits e.g. licences from the Icelandic Tourist Board (travel agencies, tour operators); licences from county commissioners; permission to sell and distribute food from the Local Office for Public Health and Environment (LCA) and permits for passenger transport from the Icelandic Transport Authority among others.
  5. MOT certificates for vehicles.
  6. Written rules on the handling of food that is carried on tours.
  7. Valid first aid certificates.
  8. Copy of a written employment contract/subcontracting agreement.
  9. Examples of written job descriptions (roles, responsibilities, conduct).
  10. Workplace identification cards (in accordance with labour regulations and a binding agreement between the parties of the labour market).
  11. A copy of a customer receipt/invoice.
  12. Confirmation of appropriate company insurance.
  13. Documents pertaining to the specific criteria applicable to the company operations.

Other Documents (for points only):

  1. Written procedures for handling of customer complaints.
  2. Quality manual/Employee handbook.
  3. Information from service surveys/reviews from satisfied customers.
  4. Menus (where food is offered).
  5. Instructions for guests regarding the use of equipment
  6. Maintenance plan/maintenance checklists (written procedures for the maintenance and monitoring of equipment).*
  7. Documents relating to human resources e.g. information on the formal training of employees.*
  8. Plan for education and continuing training of employees.
  9. Company strategy.
  10. Written analysis of the main risk factors of the operation.
  11. Operating plan.
  12. Marketing plan.

* Required for companies that offer certain activities.

Documents for the Environmental System:

1. Completed checklist (“On the way to sustainable tourism”).
2. Action plan for sustainable tourism.
3. The company‘s environmental policy must be published on the company website.
4. Monitoring reports (for silver and gold classification).

Please note that the applicant is responsible for the compilation and the content of the documents presented, including safety plans, and their implementation in the company operations.  

Following the Audit

  • Following the audit, the company receives a report stating whether the company has fulfilled the applicable criteria and is eligible to participate in Vakinn.   
  • If the company does not fulfil the required minimum criteria, it is granted three months to make improvements. If the initial audit needs to be repeated, the company will be charged for that separately according to the Vakinn tariff.
  • Regular audits involve follow-up and continuing guidance.

New participants in Vakinn receive the following:

  • Vakinn sign -  Certified Travel Service – for displaying indoors or outdoors. 
  • Vakinn certificate and the Vakinn Code of Ethics.
  • Vakinn electronic logos to be displayed on the company website and in promotional materials.
  • Vakinn flag (where a flagpole is in place).
  • Companies taking part in the environmental system get the appropriate sign based on their classification.