Travel & Expat Lifestyle Magazine

Moving to Iceland

The Republic of Iceland is an island country in the North Atlatic Ocean. It has a tiny population of just over 300,000, most of which live around the capital, Reykjavik. The country is mainly known for its geology, being a volcanically active place full of interesting sand fields, mountains and glaciers. It has a temperate climate because it is warmed by the Gulf Stream. Its culture is known for Norse Hertiage, as well as being a technologically advanced society. It is also one of the most advanced, developed countries of the world, as it was ranked as most developed in 2007. Its official language is Icelandic, which is a North Germanic language with historic Norse influence.


Residents of other Nordic Countries (Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway) are allowed to enter, live and work in Iceland free of any permits or visas.

Any foreign nationals who wish to reside in Iceland for over three months are required to obtain a residence permit. You must apply from outside of Iceland, and you can only apply for citizenship after you’ve lived in Iceland for seven years.

Work Permit

There are different types of work/residence permits. One is for working as a laborer when there is a shortage, one is for qualified professionals, and one is for athletic purposes.

If you want to apply as a qualified professional, you must first have a job lined up with a valid employment contract, with a specific employer, for a specific job that has specialized skills.

To apply for a work/residence permit, you must submit the following:

1.       Completed application form for a residence permit

2.       Completed application form for a work permit for a qualified professional

3.       A signed employment contract

4.       Copy of your passport

5.       Criminal background check

6.       Proof of health insurance

7.       Authorization, if necessary, by another person in Iceland

8.       Housing certificate, that you have secured residency

Once you arrive in Iceland, you are required to register yourself with the National Registry, present your proof of health insurance to the Directorate of Health, and present yourself at the Directorate’s office to be photographed. It takes about 90 days to process this permit.

Student Permit

If you want to study in Iceland, you are required to apply for a permit. This permit does not count as credit for citizenship in the future, and you must apply from outside of Iceland. If you are applying for a Fall Semester Permit, everything must be received by the Directorate by July 15. If you are applying for a Spring Semester Permit, everything must be received by November 15.

To apply, you must submit:

1.       Completed original application form for residence permit

2.       One passport photo

3.       Photocopy of your passport

4.       Criminal background check

5.       Proof of health insurance

6.       Proof of funds

7.       Housing certificate, that you have secured residency

8.       Confirmation of registration as full-time student

9.       Authorization

Click here for more details, and information about extending your permit.

Click here for information about studying abroad in Iceland.

Moving Pets

To move your pet to Iceland, you must obtain a Pet Passport, Health Certificate, and Rabies Vaccination Certificate. You must show results of a blood test as well.

Click here for other details about customs.

Click here for tips about things to do with your dog in Iceland.

Other Information

Click here for the Iceland Directorate of Immigration.

Click here for Iceland’s tourist board.

Click here for information on Reykjavik.


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