Residence permits on the grounds of a working holiday are granted based on bilateral agreements between Iceland and other countries. Japan is the only country that Iceland has made such an agreement with so far.
Working holiday based residence permits are granted based on Art. 66 of the Act on Foreigners No. 80/2016.
You might have a right to a working holiday permit if all of the following requirements are met, as well as others:
- You are a citizen of and reside in Japan,
- you wish to experience the culture and general way of life in Iceland,
- you do not intend to take up residence in Iceland,
- you are aged 18 – 26 when your application is submitted,
- you can prove that you are able to provide for yourself during your stay,
- 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 at least 90 days beyond the estimated validity of residence permit.
You may not:
- be in Iceland if you need a visa to Iceland, when the residence permit is applied for and while it is being processed. Such an application will be refused. (An applicant who does not need a visa may be in Iceland when the application is submitted and while it is being processed provided the stay in the Schengen Area does not exceed 90 days in the current 180 day period),
- have previously been granted a working holiday residence permit,
- have your family with or to join you,
- apply for a residence permit on other grounds, except leaving the country,
- stay in another country longer than three (3) months in the 12-month period of the residence permit period; otherwise the residence permit may be cancelled or revoked.
An application for a residence 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 or for a minimum of two (2) years.
The residence permit may not be renewed.
Further information on Working Holiday based residence permits
The rights attached to the residence permit are as follows:
- A residence permit may be granted for up to one (1) year. Renewing the residence permit is not permissible.
- The applicant receives an unlimited work permit. He/she may work and change work without applying at the Directorate of Labor.
- The residence permit does not contain a right to family reunification.
- The residence permit is not grounds for a permanent residence permit.
An applicant is responsible for submitting the necessary supporting documents with his/her application.
A processing fee is not charged for an application for a residence permit on the grounds of a working holiday.
Documents to be submitted:
- Application for a residence permit. (Please download and save on computer before filling out). In original format, carefully filled out and signed by the applicant. It is important that the applicant state his/her place of residence in Iceland. If the address is not stated when the application is made, the applicant must notify his/her place of residence within two (2) weeks from the applicant’s date of arrival in Iceland (for example when being photographed).
- Passport photo (35 mm x 45 mm).
- Photocopy of passport. The period of validity must be at least 90 days beyond the period of validity of the residence permit. This must include photocopies of the passport’s personal information page and signature page.
- Confirmed original of a foreign criminal record certificate. The criminal record certification must not be older than six (6) months. A criminal record certificate must be submitted from all the countries where the applicant has lived for the last five (5) years. The highest appropriate authority in each country, i.e. the authority authorized to issue such a certificate shall issue the. Note there is a requirement for apostille confirmation or double authentication.
- Confirmed copy or original translation by an authorized translator of the criminal record certificate. Applies only if the foreign certificates are in other languages than English or the Nordic languages. Note there is a requirement of confirmation of translation if the translator is not an authorized translator in Iceland, i.e. apostille or double authentication.
- Health Insurance. The applicant shall submit a certificate of insurance from an Icelandic insurance company (see insurance companies) or a foreign insurance company authorized to operate in Iceland (see foreign insurance companies) The insurance shall be valid for six (6) months from the date of the applicant being registered in Registers Iceland and the coverage shall be at least IKR 2,000,000. Registration in Registers Iceland is usually valid from the day the applicant‘s photo is taken at either the Directorate of Immigration or at a District Commissioner‘s office for a residence permit card, given that the applicant has stayed in Iceland from that date.
- Documents on support, confirming secure support during the period of residence.
- Copy of a return ticket from Iceland or proof of sufficient funds for such a ticket.
Documents that may be submitted:
- Power of Attorney signed by two (2) witnesses. The Power of Attorney does not have to be submitted unless the applicant wants someone other than him/her to receive information about the processing of the application by the Directorate of Immigration.
The applicant is responsible for submitting the necessary accompanying documents with his/her application. If satisfactory documents are not received by the Directorate of Immigration,, this may result in delays in processing the application or in the application being denied. The Directorate of Immigration may request additional information when special circumstances recommend it.
If the applicant meets all requirements of a residence permit, the residence permit will be granted and the applicant will be sent a notification of the granting of the permit. The residence permit will not be issued, however, until the applicant has come to be photographed at the offices of the Directorate of Immigration or at offices of district commissioners outside of the Reykjavík Metropolitan Area, reported his place of residence to the Directorate and undergone medical examination (only in Icelandic). The applicant should come to be photographed within one (1) week from his/her arrival in Iceland and must report his/her place of residence (for example, when photographed). Please note that the applicant must present a valid passport when photographed for identification. Furthermore, the applicant must undergo medical examination within two (2) weeks from arrival in Iceland. The Directorate of Immigration will not issue a residence permit if the applicant does not meet the requirements stated above. This could lead to illegal stay and expulsion.