Immigration. Travel. Living.

Iceland: immigration guide

Flag of Iceland

The inhabitants are polite, open, and hospitable, speak fluent English, and enjoy the company of their international visitors for as long as they remain. Furthermore, Reykjavik is a quintessential and lovely capital city, a bustling urban hub that effortlessly maintains its small-town vibe, peaceful pace of life, and commitment to social advancement and culture.

And what about the icing on the cake? Economic growth in Iceland after the 2008 financial crisis has exceeded expectations in ways that no one expected. Iceland, unlike the rest of the globe, defied projections.

For anyone considering making the move to Iceland, this is the most thorough and accessible guide on moving and living in Iceland available, covering facets of life not covered by other ex-pat manuals.

It’s time to start packing your belongings. You are about to enter a new planet and a new life. It’s a matter of figuring out your legal position and practical demands before deciding how to live in Iceland.


Iceland’s Visa Requirements

Iceland is a member of the Schengen Area. Citizens of the EU/EEA and a few other countries no longer need to obtain a visa to visit Iceland. Keep in mind, however, that this only applies to short-term visits, such as business trips or vacations.

You will need a valid residence and work permit as well as a visa if you are not an EU/EEA citizen or if you are moving to Iceland to work. For nationals of non-EU/EEA countries, there are two types of Schengen visas that allow unrestricted travel between all Schengen Zone nations: the C-visa is for tourists visiting Iceland for up to 90 days, and the D-visa is for ex-pats studying, working, or residing permanently in Iceland.

Permits for Qualified Professionals

You must have an employment contract before applying for a visa. Your prospective position must involve specialized abilities and cannot be a short-term project to be eligible for a permit for skilled professionals. Before moving to Iceland, you must apply for this form of authorization, and you will not be allowed to enter the nation until the visa has been approved. The processing and approval of your permission could take up to 90 days.

The following documents must be submitted to apply for a work and residence permit for certified professionals: 

  • a completed and signed application form by you
  • a completed and signed application form for a qualified-professional work visa by you and your employer
  • a contract of employment
  • a passport-sized photograph
  • a passport photocopy
  • A criminal background check from the country where you’ve lived for the past five years.
  • A copy of your medical insurance card
  • permission for an Icelandic person to follow up on your application
  • and a housing certificate indicating that you have a place to live.

The work and residence permit for competent professionals is renewable and serves as the foundation for applying for permanent residence. If you wait until one month before your permit expires to apply for a renewal, you will be obliged to leave the country while your application is processed.


asphalt road and cliff horizon

Shortage of work permit

Are you unable to obtain a certified professional permit? Or are you only looking to relocate to Iceland for a short time? You can still apply for a work and residence permit for a specific position if there is a labor shortage, not only in Iceland but throughout the EU. This permit, unlike the one for educated professionals, is only valid for one year and cannot be renewed.

Please provide the following documentation to apply for a shortage of laborers permit:

  • a completed and signed application form by you
  • a signed application for a shortage of laborers permits from both you and your potential employer
  • a contract of employment
  • a photograph the size of a passport
  • a photograph the size of a passport
  • a passport photocopies
  • a criminal background investigation
  • A copy of your medical insurance card
  • permission for your application to be followed up on in Iceland
  • a certificate of occupancy


Please keep in mind that while your application is being processed, you are not permitted to travel to Iceland. The scarcity of laborers’ permits, unlike the permit for qualified professionals, is not a foundation for permanent residency.


Obtaining an ID Number

At Registers Iceland, every ex-pat must receive an identity number. You can submit the completed application form by mail, email, or in person. You can rent an apartment, open a bank account, or get a phone connection at home using this number, which Icelanders are given at birth.

Your unique ID number is made up of ten digits, including your date of birth and four random digits. Registers Iceland not only issues ID numbers, but also keeps track of names, births, address changes, marriages, and other details.

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