Before arriving to the country (FS)

There are a few items which are important to check before coming to Iceland.

You must check if you need a visa to come to Iceland and what documents from your home country must be attached to the application for a residence permit. A residence permit is a requirement for a legal stay in the country.

Visa

The Directorate of Immigration gives information regarding visas and what states are exempt from visas. The information can be found on the Directorate of Immigration's website (www.utl.is).

Agency

If an applicant cannot himself be in communication with the Directorate of Immigration he must give the name of a relative or another party in Iceland agency who can do so. See further in the Directorate of Immigration's website (www.utl.is).

Residence permit

You apply for a residence permit in accordance with the purpose of the stay. The main categories of residence permits are:

  • Residence permits for employment.
  • Residence permits for education.
  • Residence permits for au-pairs.
  • Residence permits for uniting families.

Residence permits on the basis of employment are divided in three categories which are Residence permits for athletes, specialists and permits due to a temporary shortage of labour. Residence permits on the basis of employment are not issued unless the applicant also gets a work permit in Iceland and he must apply for both permits simultaneously.

The Directorate of Labour (www.vinnumalastofnun.is) grants work permits.

Relatives of athletes, specialists and doctoral students can apply for residence permits on the basis of uniting families. 

Residence permits and work permits in other EEA and EFTA states are not valid in Iceland.

Application for the first permit

Application for the first permit must be approved by the Directorate of Immigration before arriving to the country.

Exception

If an applicant is a spouse, same-sex union spouse, cohabitation spouse or a child in the legal custody of an Icelander, Nordic citizen or a foreigner who is staying legally in the country, with a residence permit or a domicile permit, then they can apply for a residence permit after arriving to the country. According to the law a child is an individual who has not reached 18 years of age.

Citizens of non-EEA and EFTA states, who are relatives of citizens of EEA or EFTA member states[1], do not need to apply for a residence permit, but should apply for a residence card no later than three months after arriving to the country. Further information on residence certificates, attached documents and applications are on the Directorate of Immigration's website.

A residence permit is not issued unless the applicant fulfils certain basic conditions. Among them are:

– Secure support.

– Secure housing.

– Health insurance.

Basic conditions for a residence permit

Secure support

The applicant must be able to show secure support and that means any of the following:

  • Employment wages or fixed regular payments.
  • Private funds (for example in a bank account).
  • Payments from other close members of family (if the applicant is a child under 18 or a parent 67 or older).

If support is in the form of employment wages or fixed regular payments you must present an employment contract, payslips or a certificate from the employer on job percentage and duration of employment.

If it is a question of private funds, which the applicant uses for support, they must be in a currency listed at the Central Bank of Iceland (www.sedlabanki.is). The same applies to student loans or education grants for students.

Information on reference for minimum support can be found on the Directorate of Immigration's website

Payments in the form of social assistance from a state or municipality are not considered to be secure support. 


Secure housing

By secure housing it means that the applicant can establish that he can stay in a house, that is registered as a resident housing in the real estate registry, with the consent of the registered owner. The registered owner of a house must sign a form which confirms this.

Health insurance

The applicant must buy a health insurance called medical expense insurance from an insurance company with an operating license in Iceland. The insurance must be valid for at least six months from the registration of a legal residence or until the person has gained the right to be medically insured in Iceland (further information are given by the insurance companies; http://www.vordur.is, www.tm.is, www.vis.is, www.sjova.is ).

Children and youths, under 18 years of age, are medically insured with their parents or custodians. The same applies to adopted children, stepchildren and foster children.

Those who do not have health insurance must pay a higher fee for health services. Information on health insurance and more can be found at the Social Insurance Administration's website (www.tr.is) and the Icelandic Health Insurance's website (www.sjukra.is).

Attached documents and certificates

The Directorate of Immigration and other institutions make the requirement that all foreign certificates, which are in another language than English or a Nordic language (Danish, Norwegian, Swedish or Finnish), come with a translation by a certified translator.

Information on certified translators in Iceland can be found on the website of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights (www.domsmalaraduneyti.is/raduneyti/starfssvid/domtulkar/).

Before applying for a residence permit in Iceland you must provide various certificates and documents which must accompany the application. It depends on the purpose of stay and categories of permits what documents are requested. Information regarding what documents must be attached in each instance is on the Directorate of Immigration's website (www.utl.is).



The Directorate of Immigration reserves the right to request confirmation for the legitimacy of foreign certificates. This concerns so called “apostille” certification from the home state of the applicant or a double confirmation from the foreign ministry of the home state and embassy of the state in question in Iceland or the nearest embassy (if the state in question does not have an embassy in Iceland).

Further information on apostille-certification can be found on the HCCH website

 (http://www.hcch.net/index_en.php?act=text.display&tid=37).

The documents (if applicable) that must be submitted in original form are:

  • Criminal record.
  • Marital certificate.
  • Birth certificate.
  • Custody documents, divorce documents or death certificates.
  • Confirmation of cohabitation or same-sex union.

It is imperative that the validation of passport is at least three months beyond the intended stay


Id. number

The id. number is a ten digit number which in many ways acts as a key to Icelandic society.

An application for an id. number and a request for a registration of a legal residence is a part of the application for residence permit. The Directorate of Immigration handles the application of id. numbers for individuals who need a residence permit or a residence permit certificate in Iceland.

After arriving to the country

Medical examination

In many cases the applicant must undergo a medical examination and submit a doctor's certificate to the Directorate of Immigration. Those who submit a foreign doctor's certificate less than three months old, which is considered satisfactory by an Icelandic doctor, do not need to undergo a medical examination in Iceland.

Residents from EEA states (other than Romania and Bulgaria), Switzerland, the U.S.A., Canada, Australia and New Zealand are neither required to submit a doctor's certificate nor undergo a medical examination. Further information can be found on the Multicultural and information Centre's website  (www.mcc.is/heilsa/laeknisskodun).

Photography

A foreign national must attend photography at the Directorate of Immigration or the nearest district commissioner. A passport must be submitted. Photography should take place as soon as the foreigner arrives and no later than when the medical examination takes place. 

Residence permit card

A residence permit card is issued as soon as the Directorate of Immigration has received a doctor's certificate and the photography has taken place. The residence permit card is a confirmation of the cardholder's legal residence. The beginning of stay is determined by the issuing date of the card. 

Residence certificate

A citizen of a non-EEA or EFTA state who is a relative of an EEA or EFTA citizen applies for a residence certificate at the Directorate of Immigration. When applying he must among other things submit a passport, confirmation of family relations, attend a photography at the Directorate of Immigration and could also be made to undergo a medical examination (www.mcc.is/heilsa/laeknisskodun).

When a relative of an EEA or EFTA citizen fulfils all the necessary requirements a residence certificate is issued which is sent to the applicant's residence, and that address becomes his legal residence. The beginning of stay is determined by the issuing date of the certificate. 

Transfer of legal residence within Iceland

If you need to move legal residence between places in Iceland you must fill out the form "Notification on movement domestically". The form can be found on the website of the Icelandic National Registry or at the offices of the municipalities (www.samband.is/sveitafelogin).

It is possible to fill out the form online and send it electronically or print it out, sign it and submit directly to the Icelandic National Registry (via post or fax) or at the offices of the municipalities.

Registration from the country

A foreign national who returns to permanent residence in another country must register out of the country by filling out a notification of transfer at the Icelandic National Registry. The form can be found at the offices of the municipalities and the website of the Icelandic National Registry (http://www3.fmr.is/pages/1031).

It is possible to fill out the form online and send it electronically or print it out, sign it and submit directly to the Icelandic National Registry (via post or fax) or at the offices of the municipalities.

Return – expired permit

A foreigner who intends to resume permanent residence in Iceland must fulfil the same requirements as when he first arrived to the country.

Important items regarding id. number and legal residence:

 
  • The Directorate of Immigration handles getting an id. number for the applicant of a residence permit.
  • If a foreigner needs an id. number for other purposes than obtaining a residence permit an institution/company must apply for an id. number for him.
  • A foreigner cannot apply for an id. number for himself.
  • When a residence permit card / residence certificate has been issued the foreigner has a legal residence registered in the National Registry.
  • A foreigner has no residence permit related rights in Iceland until he has had issued a residence permit card / residence certificate.

[1] A relative in this case is a spouse, same-sex union spouse or a cohabitation spouse of a citizen of an EEA or EFTA member state, his child or spouses (under 21 or under his support) or his parent or spouse (who is under his support).