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Iceland’s Visa Requirements

Traditionally, expats who dream of making Iceland their next destination may simply have the country’s stunning natural beauty in mind. But there is so much more to life on this volcanic island than just fjords and the Northern Lights. Our expat guide looks at many of the practicalities to consider when moving.
Once you have figured out Iceland's visa requirements, you are ready for your move to Iceland.

Iceland belongs to the Schengen region. This allows citizens of the EU/EEA and some other countries to travel to Iceland without a visa; visit the Útlendingastofnun website for a list of these countries. However, you should keep in mind that this only applies to short-term visits, like business trips or vacations.

If you are not an EU/EEA citizen or are moving to Iceland to work, you will need a valid residence and work permit as well as a visa. Generally, there are two types of Schengen visa for nationals of non-EU/EEA countries which enable free movement between all countries within the Schengen Zone: the C-visa applies to tourists who visit Iceland for up to 90 days, while the D-visa applies to expats who will be studying, working or living permanently in Iceland.

Permits for Qualified Professionals

Before you can apply for a visa, you need to secure a work contract. In order to be eligible for a permit for qualified professionals, your future position has to require specialized skills and cannot be a short-term project. You need to apply for this type of permit before moving to Iceland and are not permitted to enter the country before the visa has been approved. It may take up to 90 days for your permit to be processed and approved.

In order to apply for a work and residence permit for qualified professionals, you need to submit the following documents:

  • an application form, completed and signed by you
  • an application form for a qualified-professional work permit, completed and signed by you and your employer
  • an employment contract
  • one passport-size picture
  • a copy of your passport
  • a criminal record check, issued by the country in which you have resided for the past five years
  • proof of medical insurance
  • authorization for an individual in Iceland to follow up on your application
  • a housing certificate proving that you have secured a place to live

The work and residence permit for qualified professionals can be renewed and is the basis on which you can apply for permanent residence. Make sure to apply for a renewal no later than one month before your permit expires, otherwise you will be forced to leave the country while your application is processed.

Shortage of Laborers Permit

Not eligible for a permit for qualified professionals? Or do you only want to move to Iceland for a short-term assignment? You can still apply for a work and residence permit for a specific position if there is a shortage of laborers, not only in Iceland but in the entire EU. Unlike the permit for qualified professionals, this permit is temporary and you can only renew it once.

In order to apply for a shortage of laborers permit, please submit the following documents:

  • an application form, completed and signed by you
  • an application form for a shortage of laborers permit, signed both by you and your prospective employer
  • an employment contract
  • a passport-size photograph
  • a copy of your passport
  • a criminal record check
  • proof of medical insurance
  • authorization for somebody in Iceland to follow up on your application
  • a housing certificate

Please remember that you are not allowed to travel to Iceland while your application is being processed. Unlike the permit for qualified professionals, the shortage of laborers permit is not a basis for permanent residency.

Obtaining an ID Number

Every expat needs to obtain an identification number at Registers Iceland. You can mail or email the completed application form or submit it in person. With this number, which Icelanders automatically receive at birth, you can rent an apartment, open a bank account, or get a phone connection at home.

Your individual ID number contains ten digits, made up of your date of birth followed by four random digits. Registers Iceland not only gives out ID numbers but also stores information on names, births, changes of address, marriages, and so on. For more information on your registration or your personal ID number, please contact Registers Iceland.

 

We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Fjodor Andersen

"Finding other expats interested in playing squash in Reykjavik seemed difficult. But with InterNations I found them easily."

Michelle Guillemont

"Iceland is not the expat country number one. But I met truly global minds with InterNations. It really works."

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