GUIDE: Relocating to and working in Iceland

Reykjavik is Europe's third happiest capital, according to EU data.

Reykjavik is Europe's third happiest capital, according to EU data. Photo: Árni Sæberg

Iceland will need some 30,000 foreign workers to move to the country between now and 2030, Icelandic business leaders predict.

Would you be up for relocating and living and working as an expat in Iceland? If so, have a read of our short guide to the residency and working rules currently in place in Iceland.

Fisheries is just one example of an Icelandic industry which ...

Fisheries is just one example of an Icelandic industry which provides a source of employment for non-Icelandic workers. Photo: Kristinn Ingvarsson

EEA/EFTA citizens

Nationals of EEA/EFTA countries do not require a residence permit to live in Iceland. By virtue of their nationality, new arrivals from these countries may stay (and work) in Iceland without registering for up to three months, or up to six months if actively seeking employment.

After that time, EEA/EFTA citizens must register their residency in Iceland with Registers Iceland, but no specific residence permit needs to be applied for. Neither do they need to apply for a work permit.

Learning Icelandic is necessary for some jobs and a big ...

Learning Icelandic is necessary for some jobs and a big plus generally. Photo: Brynjar Gauti

The EEA/EFTA countries are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Other categories of person not requiring a specific residence permit include children of Icelandic parents, and spouses and registered partners or Icelandic citizens.

Non-EEA/EFTA citizens

New arrivals hailing from a country other than the 32 listed above must apply for an official residence and work permit if they wish to stay in Iceland longer than three months and engage in paid employment.

Citizens from the USA, for instance, will require a residence ...

Citizens from the USA, for instance, will require a residence and work permit to stay in Iceland longer than three months. Photo: AFP

Work permits for non-EEA/EFTA citizens are issued by the Directorate of Labour.

Work permits must be applied for and obtained before moving to Iceland. Work permits are issued in respect of various – but closely defined – professional situations. The various categories are listed below and can be consulted in more detail here.

Various types of work permit.

Various types of work permit. Photo: Screenshot/Directorate of Labour

Only on the basis of a work permit issued by the Directorate of Labour can the Directorate of Immigration grant the prospective expat a residence permit based on employment.

The Directorate of Labour provides a list of registered temporary-work agencies here. The European Union’s Job Mobility Portal EURES also includes advertisements for job vacancies in Iceland.

Interested in a job in Iceland? Check out the available ...

Interested in a job in Iceland? Check out the available resources. Photo: mbl.is/Styrmir Kári

This is just a short summary of some of the main rules governing living and working in Iceland, intended as a first point of reference. For more details – and all queries – please consult the website of Iceland’s Directorate of Immigration and Directorate of Labour.

Related article:

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