Visa Requirements for Iceland: What You Need to Know

What type of documents do visitors to Iceland need? What if you’re hoping to live or work here? Our local insider Marvi has the answers.

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The popularity of Iceland has also made me very popular with friends. Keeping track of departures and arrivals also forced me to become somewhat of an expert on the nitty gritty of getting here, and what type of documents are required.

Just Visiting Iceland

Iceland is a signatory of the Schengen agreement, so if you already have a visa for the Schengen region or a resident/citizen of Schengen´s visa exception countries, it is unnecessary to get one. You can stay for 90 days without a visa. However, passports must be valid for 3 months over the date of departure from Iceland. Here is a list of countries whose citizens do not need a visa to come to Iceland.

If your country is not on the list, a visa is necessary. Here is a checklist of requirements that you need to submit. Except for Beijing and Moscow, Icelandic embassies do not accept visa applications. You can submit to these embassies.

Looking to Stay in Iceland

Getting into the country with intentions of staying and working can be difficult. The degree of difficulty mainly depends on your answer to the following questions:
• Are you a citizen or a permanent resident of an EU or EEA country?
• Do you have a specialized skill that an Icelander or EU/EEA citizen does not have?

A “YES” means you can definitely move to Iceland without too much trouble. If you answered “NO” to both, there is a longer and harder road ahead.

Heading to Iceland?

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Residence Permits for Iceland

There are several categories of residence permits:

Au Pair

This permit is valid for one year only. It's not renewable or convertible to another residence permit. At the end of its validity, an au pair must leave and be away from Iceland for two years.

Family Reunification

This permit applies to the spouse, cohabiting partner, parent over 67 years old, parent of a child in Iceland under 18 years old and a child under 18 years old with a parent in Iceland. The closest family member must be an Icelandic citizen, a Scandinavian citizen or a foreign citizen with a permanent residence permit in Iceland.

Work-Based

Given to those who are coming to Iceland based on a shortage of workers, those who are athletes of exceptional talent and for qualified professionals with contracts. This type hinges on employer sponsorship. It ensures easier navigation through Icelandic bureaucracy.

Students

This permit is for those who already have an acceptance letter from an accredited Icelandic university, an exchange student or someone who is doing an internship that is part of his/her studies. Full time students are allowed to work 15 hours a week after obtaining a work permit. This link is a very useful step-by-step process to obtaining one. 

Special Ties to Iceland

For these permits, what they usually look for are family ties and length of previous stay in Iceland.

Legitimate and Special Purpose

These permits apply to those who got sick while on a visit, those with a sick family member in Iceland, expecting a child with an Icelandic citizen or someone who is a party to a lawsuit and it is necessary to be in Iceland while litigation is ongoing.

Volunteers and Missionaries

Those with proven relationships with charities and non-government organizations may apply for this permit. Here’s where to find the detailed info for volunteers and missionaries.

Insider Tips and Downloadable Forms

It really helps if you know someone in Iceland who can write a guarantee letter for you. The letter must contain assurances that in case something happens, they will house, feed and clothe you. Also important is to put forward that they are gainfully employed and have contact information available (email, work and home phones, mobile number). Iceland also has a downloadable document that you can use.

If you have a Schengen visa issued by another country, your point of entry into the Schengen region should be in that country. You must also stay for a longer period there. Here is the official application form.

There has been a lot of interest from same sex couples to get married in Iceland. This is allowed as long as your visit is legal. A tourist visa counts. Here is a list of requirements.

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