The basic requirements for a residence permit are stated in Art. 55 of the Act on Foreigners no. 80/2016 and in Regulation no. 540/2017. All the basic requirements for a residence permit must be met, irrespective of where the application is made unless there is a special stipulation that a certain requirement does not have to be met.
Note that when renewing a residence permit it is not necessary to submit documents regarding all the basic requirements.
In order to obtain a residence permit in Iceland you must
- Submit all the necessary documents in the required format,
- be able to prove your identity with a valid passport or other authentic ID, which is also a valid document for traveling,
- meet the requirements for maintenance,
- have a health insurance police in Iceland,
- have a place of residence in Iceland,
- submit a criminal record certificate unless this is not stated as a requirement, and
- meet the special requirements for the kind of residence permit applied for.
You may not
- Leave out submitting the requiring documents,
- have accepted payments in the form of social aid,
- have a criminal record or an open case in the judicial system that could result in more than three (3) months imprisonment and
- state incorrect information about the purpose of stay.
Authorization to deviate from the requirement on satisfactory maintenance upon renewal of a residence permit
The requirements on secure maintenance are stated in Art. 56 of the Act on Foreigners.
The Directorate of Immigration basis minimum maintenance on the published minimum-maintenance criterion of the Welfare Division of Reykjavík City as approved by the Welfare Council on 18 December 2015. The amounts are based on income before taxation.
- Individual, ISK 180,550 per month.
- Couple, ISK 270,825 per month. Note that the duty of mutual maintenance only applies between married couples, however, in the instance of cohabitation the maintenance criterion for individuals applies.
- Additional maintenance for family members 18 years of age or older, ISK 90,275 per month.
Special maintenance is not calculated for children; hence the aforementioned criterion remains unchanged even though there is a child/children in the family.
A foreigner’s maintenance must be secure during the residence permit’s period of validity. This means that if a residence permit is issued for one (1) year, secure maintenance for one (1) year must be demonstrated.
All applicants for a residence permit must prove independent means of maintenance except in the following exceptional instances:
- A child under the age of 18 who is provided for by a parent or a custodian residing in Iceland.
- An individual older than 18 who has held a continued residence permit in Iceland as a child, is studying or working in Iceland and lives with his/her parent. Furthermore, there is a requirement that the applicant is neither married nor in cohabitation. Note that the maintenance criterion here is 50% of the minimum maintenance for an individual, i.e. ISK 90,275 per month in addition to own maintenance which a parent or a custodian must have for other family members and him-/herself.
- The spouse of an Icelander or a foreign citizen. Due to the mutual maintenance duty between married couples, according to Act no. 31/1993 in Respect of Marriage, it is sufficient for one party to a marriage demonstrating satisfactory maintenance for them both. Note that cohabitation does not equal marriage in this respect and there is not a duty of mutual maintenance between cohabiting partners; hence a cohabiting applicant must prove independent maintenance.
- A parent 67 years of age or older who is provided for by his/her child or children in Iceland. Note that the maintenance criterion here is 50% of the minimum maintenance for an individual, i.e. ISK 90,275 per month in addition to the maintenance of other adult individuals in the home.
- A host family must prove maintenance for their au pair. The additional maintenance is based on 50% of the minimum maintenance for an individual, i.e. ISK 90,275 per month plus the wage costs for the au pair, ISK 60,000 for every four weeks in au pair service.
The requirement is an independent maintenance of an applicant. According to Icelandic law, parents are obligated to provide for their underage children, as well as married persons being obligated to provide for each other. In other respects there is no legal obligation on maintenance. Therefore the maintenance of an applicant, who is not a married spouse or a child, cannot be secure unless the applicant is able to demonstrate his/her own independent maintenance.
Maintenance can be based on more than one factor, for example, wages and own money in a bank account.
If an applicant is employed in Iceland he/she may demonstrate maintenance by submitting an employment contract in original format. If a residence permit is based on employment the application for a work permit must be submitted together with the employment contract. If the applicant is being provided for by another individual the employment contract of that person must be submitted. Note that the authorization for a foreign national providing for another person on grounds of independent activities in Iceland is limited. According to Act no. 97/2002 on Foreign Nationals’ Right to Work, only a foreigner who is exempt from the work-permit requirement may engage in independent activities in Iceland, as well as the spouse of an Icelandic citizen.
An applicant demonstrates his/her wage income by submitting an overview of tax payments or issued invoices, stamped by the tax authorities, as well as his/her pay slips for the last three (3) months. Pay slips, printed out from an online bank account are satisfactory; otherwise a confirmation by the employer is required. If the applicant is provided for by another individual that person must submit payslips for the last three (3) months, satisfying the same requirements as listed herein and a tax-payment overview of the providing individual.
Such payments can be payments by the Social Insurance Administration regarding disability, unemployment payments, lease income and grants which an applicant receives, for example, regarding research work. This is not a complete list of the payments this paragraph refers to.
A bank-account balance in Iceland or abroad of an applicant or a provider, in a currency that is registered by the Central Bank of Iceland, which may be drawn against for maintenance during time of stay. A balance overview of the account must be confirmed by the bank and be in original format. Information on the registration of currencies is available with the Central Bank of Iceland. A printout version of an account overview with an online bank is not sufficient confirmation.
If an applicant has received a grant to study or a study loan, such payments are considered as satisfactory maintenance if they reach the minimum required amount for maintenance. A study loan or grant must be in a currency that is acknowledged by the Central Bank of Iceland. A confirmation must be submitted on the payment of such a loan by the relevant lending institution and confirmation of a grant must be from the grantor as applicable.
Payments in the form of social assistance by the state or a municipality (other than house leasing compensation) are not considered as secure maintenance. If an applicant has received such compensation and is unable to demonstrate satisfactory other kind of maintenance, a residence permit will be denied. Maintenance by a third party, in other instances than stated herein, is not considered secure maintenance. Assets other than bank-account balances are not considered secure maintenance (for example real estate) and dividend from companies, interest or other payments that cannot be reliably expected to be available for payment are not considered as secure maintenance. Cash is not considered as satisfactory confirmation of maintenance.
Authorization to deviate from the requirement on satisfactory maintenance upon renewal of a residence permit
If maintenance has not been secure over a short period of time, deviating from this requirement upon renewal of a residence permit is permissible. This means, for example, if an applicant has received social assistance for a few months, has received maternity pay or had an accident. The Directorate of Immigration determines whether an exemption regarding maintenance will be granted. An applicant requesting an exemption from the maintenance requirement must submit a statement with his/her application, as well as documents supporting the request, for example, a medical certificate.
Note that this exemption is only granted upon renewal of a residence permit – not when applying for a first residence permit.
A confirmation must be presented from an insurance company that is licensed to operate in Iceland stating that the applicant has taken out (purchased) health insurance, valid for six months and amounting to ISK 2,000,000 as a minimum. The period of validity of the insurance must be at least six (6) months from the date of the registration of a domicile and must have taken effect (entered into force) at the time a residence permit is granted. After this time, the applicant has earned the right to health insurance in Iceland under the general social security system in Iceland. The Icelandic insurance companies send a health insurance policy directly to the Directorate of Immigration when such insurance has been accepted and paid, however, the applicant must present a confirmation if health insurance has been purchased with a foreign insurance company that is licensed to operate in Iceland. The Financial Supervisory Authority, Iceland, maintains a register of foreign insurance companies. Note, that the Directorate of Immigration has no say about which insurance companies are licensed to operate in Iceland.
Children and adolescents under the age of 18 are covered by the health insurance of their parents or custodians who have been registered as domiciled in Iceland for at least six (6) months. The same applies to adoptive children, stepchildren and foster children. Individuals who are not covered by health insurance pay higher charges for medical services. Information about health insurance and other factors is contained on the website of the Social Insurance Administration and on the website of the Iceland Health Insurance.
When applying for a residence permit no matters may exist that could cause the applicant being denied entry into Iceland. Such matters are listed in Articles 98 and 106 of the Act on Foreigners and are the same that could cause expulsion and denial of entry into Iceland.
In order to demonstrate that this requirement is met, an applicant must present a foreign criminal record certificate. The Directorate of Immigration may request further documentation about a criminal record if an applicant is suspected of not having provided correct information in his/her application.
An applicant must submit a criminal record certificate applying to the last five (5) years before the application is made. A criminal record certificate may not be older than six (6) months when presented to the Directorate of Immigration.
Note that different rules may apply for issuing of criminal records depending on the country.
Applicants from certain countries must consent to undergo medical examination within two (2) weeks from the date of their arrival in Iceland as provided for by law and the instructions of the health authorities; see the rules of procedure by the Directorate of Health. A residence permit will not be issued to an applicant who does not undergo medical examination when this is required by the Directorate of Health, and the applicant’s access to the social security system, etc., will not become active. Furthermore, staying in Iceland becomes unlawful and the applicant may therefore expect denial of entry or expulsion.
The purpose of the medical examination is to screen for certain diseases. Even though an applicant may be diagnosed with certain diseases, this does not mean a denial of a residence permit; instead the medical examination is intended to fulfill the requirements of the health authorities in order to enable them take the necessary measures and provide necessary medical treatment.
An applicant’s domicile must be registered with Registers Iceland before a residence permit is issued. In order for a residence permit and a residence-permit card being issued, the applicant must state his/her place of residence using a special form for this purpose.
The applicant must come to the Directorate of Immigration or a district-commissioner’s office outside of the Reykjavík metropolitan area within one (1) week from arrival in Iceland to be photographed. The applicant must bring his/her passport til prove identity. Photographing is necessary in order to facilitate the issuance of a residence-permit card and to finalize the granting of a residence permit. There is no need to make an appointment for photographing; instead the applicant must come to the reception area of the Directorate of Immigration or an office of a district commissioner if outside of the Reykjavík metropolitan area. A residence permit will not be issued if the applicant does not come in to have his/her picture taken and the applicant’s access to the social insurance system etc., will not become active. Additionally, the stay in Iceland becomes unlawful and the applicant may expect denial of entry into the country or expulsion.
An applicant must fulfill the special requirements of the residence permit for which he/she applies; see here the categories of residence permits.
There are other requirements for a residence permit than these basic requirements as listed here. An example of this is how an applicant for a residence permit on grounds of study must prove enrollment in a school and an applicant for a residence permit on grounds of marriage must submit a confirmation of the marriage.