The phrase “Þetta reddest” is something you’ll frequently hear when you come to Iceland.

It basically means “it will work itself out”, and is enough to display the country’s interesting culture.

If this refreshing mindset does not entice you, know that Iceland values work-life balance with flexible work times. The nation is a leader in gender equality and social protection. It is a healthy environment for innovation and creativity as well.

If you want to get a work visa in Iceland, this guide outlines the things you need to prepare for.

Do I need a work visa in Iceland?

Foreign nationals from countries within the EEA/EFTA do not need to apply for any work authorization. However, you may need to obtain a national ID number from Registers Iceland. Non-EEA/EFTA foreign nationals need a work permit and a residence permit before moving to Iceland. Specific rules may apply depending on your nation.

What are the requirements to apply for a work visa in Iceland?

A work visa in Iceland is a type of long-stay visa that authorizes employment. It is issued to highly skilled workers, qualified professionals, sports coaches and athletes, workers for the labor shortage, and recently – remote workers of UK-based companies.

To apply, you should already have a job waiting for you in Iceland, as well as meet the following prerequisites:

  • be at least 18 years of age
  • have expert knowledge or be highly skilled
  • your employer was unable to find a local available for your job
  • you have an exceptional experience that will contribute to the company
  • work for a shortage of labor (if applicable)

If you are eligible, you can start preparing the following requirements:

  • Fully accomplished application form
  • Passport with at least two blank pages and valid for 3 months beyond your return date
  • 2 photos in passport format
  • Travel health insurance
  • Flight itinerary (round-trip ticket)
  • Proof of accommodation
  • Cover letter stating the purpose of travel
  • Employment contract (including job title, description, and pension fund contribution)
  • Proof of education and professional qualifications (e.g. diploma, employment certificates, etc.)
  • Proof of sufficient financial means (at least USD 33.97/day subsistence and USD 169.81 territory entry fund)
  • Police clearance (proof of no criminal record)
  • Processing fee receipt
  • Marriage certificates and birth certificates, if applying with family

For occupations that come with a legal professional title, you must verify your qualifications with the Icelandic Bar Association and other relevant authorities. For design and technical service professionals, you must have your title accredited by the Ministry of Industries and Innovation.

If you’re working remotely from Iceland, you can review the long-term remote worker’s visa instead. This type of visa, however, is valid for 180 days only.

If you’re providing services under a collaboration agreement, you can apply for a residence permit for professionals on service contracts, as long as your company does not have a branch in Iceland.

Check Also: Programs in Europe for International Students

Steps on Applying for a Work Visa in Iceland

Before you begin your application, you must already have an employment contract with an Icelandic company (or a multinational company legally registered in the country). Your employer applies for a Iceland work visa on your behalf.

Also, note that a work permit does not automatically grant you the right to reside in Iceland. You must obtain a separate residence permit from the Directorate of Immigration.

To live and work in Iceland, you can follow this guide:

1. Prepare your documents

Fully accomplish a work visa application form for your type of job. There are specific forms for work permits based on a contract, for qualified professionals, for the labor shortage, and others. You can find it on the Directorate’s Forms page. Make sure the details exactly match those in your passport to avoid delays in processing.

Prepare the documentary requirements listed above, but keep in mind that there may be additionals depending on where you’re from. You can check with Iceland’s embassy or consulate in your nation for a country-specific application guideline.

Provide your documents in Icelandic or English and forward them to your employer for application.

2. Submit a work permit application

Your prospective employer initiates your Iceland work visa application by submitting a work permit application to the Directorate of Immigration. The application package includes your filled-out application form and the rest of the supporting documents you prepared in step 1.

3. Submit a residence permit application

Your work permit must be accompanied by a residence permit because you cannot work in Iceland without both. Moreover, it must be in effect before you arrive in the country.

There are four categories of residence permits based on work and you should choose the appropriate one. You need the same set of documents from your work permit application that your employer will send to the Directorate of Immigration.

You need a separate residence permit because your work permit is employer-specific. If you change employers, you will apply for another work permit in itself.

4. Pay the processing fees

You must also pay a processing fee to the Directorate’s bank account (with details on the same page as the schedule of fees). You can expedite your Iceland work visa application, but with respective additional fees. As of writing, regular fees are 15000 ISK or around 117 USD, while expedited processing fee is an additional 45000 ISK or 350 USD.

Once the Directorate of Immigration receives your requests, they will forward them to the Directorate of Labor for review. The average processing time is 90 days from the date of receipt but may lengthen if your documents are inadequate.

5. Travel to Iceland

If your application is successful, the Directorate will grant your work and residence permit. You will receive a notification, but you can’t obtain your residence permit yet until you have done the following:

  • within a week of arrival in Iceland, visit the Directorate of Immigration (or district commissioners if you’re outside Reykjavik Metropolitan Area) to be photographed
  • report your place of residence
  • present a valid passport
  • within two weeks of arrival, undergo a medical examination

Once these are completed, you will be issued your residence permit. It is generally valid for two years, with few exceptions on special occupations. You will be eligible for a permanent residence permit after living in Iceland for four continuous years.


I hope that this article on getting a work visa in Iceland was helpful! If you are interested in studying in Europe, make sure to check out Available Programs in Europe for International Students.