Residence permits for volunteers

Foreign nationals from a country outside of the EEA and/or EFTA, who plan to stay in Iceland for more than three (3) months, must have a valid residence permit.

Residence permits for volunteers are for persons older than 18 who intend to work for non-governmental organizations (NGO) on charity and humanitarian issues.  Such organizations must be non-profit organizations and tax exempt. The general assumption is that the organizations in question operate in a global context.

Residence permits for volunteers are granted based on Art. 67 of the Act on Foreigners No. 80/2016.


You might have a right to a residence permit for volunteers if all of the following requirements are met, as well as others

  • You are older than 18 years,
  • you have a formal written confirmation of an invitation to Iceland to work for an acknowledged NGO working on charity and humanitarian issues, and are neither operated for profit and tax liable,
  • the work you will carry out is in accordance with the activities of the NGO you will work with,
  • you can present a travel ticket from Iceland stating your time of departure at the end of your stay,
  • you can prove that you are able to provide for yourself during your time of stay in another way than receiving wages in Iceland,
  • you have a valid insurance with an Icelandic insurance company (in the field Insurance Companies) or a foreign insurance company authorized to operate in Iceland (in the field Foreign Insurance Companies),
  • you have not served a criminal sentence abroad during the last five (5) years or been sentenced by a court of law for an offence which would be punishable by more than three (3) months imprisonment according to Icelandic law, and
  • you have a passport valid for at least 90 days beyond the estimated period of a residence permit.

You may not

  • begin working for an NGO until a residence permit has been granted,
  • be hired to earn wages on the Icelandic labor market during your stay, and
  • stay in another country longer than three (3) months in every 12-month period of the residence permit period; otherwise the residence permit may be canceled or revoked.


An application for a residence and work permit and supporting documents shall be submitted to the Directorate of Immigration or at the offices of the district commissioners outside of the Reykjavík Metropolitan Area.

An applicant who does not need a visa may stay in Iceland when submitting an application and while it is being processed, provided the stay in the Schengen Area does not exceed 90 days in the 180 day period. An applicant who needs a visa may not stay in Iceland when applying for the permit and while it is being processed. Such an application will be refused.

If an applicant does not fulfill these requirements and the requirements discussed below, the application for a residence permit will be refused and the applicant must leave Iceland. An applicant who does not leave the country may be subject to expulsion or a re-entry ban. A re-entry ban for Iceland is also a re-entry ban into the Schengen Area for a specific period of time or for a minimum of two (2) years.

The residence permit may not be renewed.


Definition of a volunteer and rights attached to the permit 


Application for a residence permit


Click here, for more information.