Sýslumaður (plural form: sýslumenn, Old Norse: sýslumaðr) is an office or title that exists in Iceland and the Faroe Islands. For Iceland it happened when the country submitted to the King of Norway in 1262–1264. This sort of office had already been established in Norway, called sysselmann in contemporary Norwegian.

Sýslumaður is often translated as district commissioner, sheriff or magistrate in English.

The sýslumaður was granted a fief called sýsla in which he was responsible for collecting tolls, taxes and fines, upholding the law and military defences. They were also to hold courts of justice and name the men who were to sit in juries.

Sýslumenn in IcelandEdit

Currently there are 9 district commissioners that handle several types of public service in their districts, including collecting taxes outside of the capital area, handling civil marriages, inheritance, child custody and issuing various permits.

Sýslumenn in the Faroe IslandsEdit

Sýslumaður is also an office or title in the Faroe Islands. Earlier there were six sýðslumenn (plural of sýslumaður), one for each sýsla. However, there has been a reform of the police in the Faroe, which is still Danish, and now there are only four sýslumenn[1] and three police districts: The North-area which consists of the Northern Islands and Eysturoy, The Mid-area which consists of Streymoy, Sandoy, Vágar and the small islands Mykines, Hestur, Koltur, Nólsoy, Skúvoy and Stóra Dímun, and the South-area which consists of Suðuroy and Lítla Dímun. The Danish Police wanted to stop using the term sýslumaður, but it was not so simple, because the sýslumenn did not only have police tasks to perform but also tasks for the Faroese government, the Sorinskrivarin (judge) and Rigsombudmann.[2]

One of the tasks of the sýslumaður in the Faroe Islands is to decide whether or not a pod of pilot whales which has been spotted, should be slaughtered or not and if so, into which bay the boats should drive the pod. This should be decided together with the grindaformenn (leader of a pilot whale hunt).[3] The weather conditions play an important role in order to which bay they will have to choose., i.e. strong wind or current.

The sýslumenn in the Faroe Islands today are policemen.


  1. ^ Bertholdsen, Áki (27 August 2014). "Grindadráp leggjast í enn tryggari legu". in.fo. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  2. ^ Hansen, Karsten (29 January 2009). "Politireform" (in Faroese). Miðflokkurin. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  3. ^ Johannese, Kaj Leo Holm (19 May 2015). "Løgtingslóg um grind og annan smáhval, sum seinast broytt við løgtingslóg nr. 93 frá 22. juni 2015" (in Faroese). Prime Ministers Office. Retrieved 27 October 2015.