Iceland has glaciers, the Blue Lagoon, the Northern Lights, and regularly tops polls measuring global happiness levels. This all makes it a pretty attractive immigration prospect. However, the Iceland immigration policy is strict if you don't live in Europe.
Immigration Requirements for EEA/EFTA Citizens
If you live in Europe, the process of moving to Iceland is easier. Citizens from the European Economic Area and European Free Trade Association (EEA/EFTA) states don’t need a residence permit to stay in Iceland, however they must register with Registers Iceland upon arrival. To rent an apartment and get a job, you'll need a kennitala, Iceland’s equivalent of a Social Security number, which you get from a bank.
Immigration Requirements for Non-EEA Citizens
If you’re not an EEA/EFTA citizen, you can only immigrate to Iceland in one of three ways: marry an Icelander, attend a university in Iceland; or secure a work permit for a job in Iceland. If you are accepted into a university in Iceland, you may be granted a residence permit and a limited work permit. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to get a job in Iceland; you must have certain specialized work skills, like computer programming. An employer has to show that the job can't be filled by an Icelander or an EEA citizen, and the employer must sign your work contract before you move to Iceland. If you meet the requirements for immigrating to Iceland, the first step is obtaining and submitting the application form for a residence permit, together with all necessary supporting documentation.
Applying for Citizenship
Generally, you must be legally domiciled in Iceland for at least seven years before you can apply for citizenship. However, if you are married to an Icelandic national who has been in Iceland for at least five years, the required time of legal domicile is reduced to three years. If you are the child of an Icelandic citizen you must be legally domiciled in Iceland for two years and a parent must have been an Icelandic citizen for at least five years. You must also prove your identity with a certified copy of your certified original birth certificate and a copy of your passport. You will have to provide an independent review from two Icelandic nationals, neither of whom may be your spouse, child, parent, family member or step-family member. You must also pass a test in Icelandic and demonstrate that you can support yourself in Iceland. The amount of money in U.S. dollars that an individual is expected to earn to support themselves is around $1,800 per month and $2,700 for a couple.
Immigrating to Iceland is easiest if you're a European resident. If you're not, you can get a residence permit only if you marry an Icelander or study or work in Iceland. After several years of residence, you can then apply to become an Icelandic citizen.
- The Directorate of Immigration: Residence permit for spouse or cohabitant
- The Directorate of Immigration: Residence permit for employment participation
- The Directorate of Immigration: Residence permit for study
- The Directorate of Immigration: Application process
- The Directorate of Immigration: forms
- The Directorate of Immigration: basic Conditions
Claire is a qualified lawyer and specialized in family law before becoming a full-time writer. She has written for many digital publications, including The Washington Post, Forbes, Vice and HealthCentral.