According to Article 22 of the Foreign Nationals’ Right to Work Act, No. 97/2002, certain foreign nationals are exempt from requiring a work permit under the Act and are permitted to work in Iceland without restriction, i.e., without having to be issued with a work permit and are permitted to work as a self-employed individual, should they so choose.
If the employer or the foreign national is unsure if the exemptions below apply to them, The Directorate of Labour should be contacted in all circumstances for further information and guidance. Information specific to residence permits may be found on the Directorate of Immigration’s website.
The following foreign nationals are exempt from requiring a permit to work in Iceland:
Foreign nationals covered by the European Economic Area Agreement, the European Free Trade Agreement and the agreement between Iceland, on one hand, and Denmark and the Faroe Islands on the other
This includes citizens from countries within the European Economic Area, countries within the European Free Trade Agreement or from the Faroe Islands.
This exemption also applies to their immediate family. ‘Immediate family’ is defined as:
- Spouses or cohabiting partners
- Descendants of foreign nationals and/or their spouses who are aged 21 years or under, or their dependants.
- Dependant direct relatives or their spouses.
Immediate family of EEA, EFTA and Faroese citizens are however required to obtain a residence permit from The Directorate of Immigration to be able to legally reside in Iceland. Further information is available on The Directorate of Immigration’s website, here.
Foreign nationals with permanent residency
This applies to foreign nationals who hold a valid unrestricted residence permit in accordance with Act No. 80/2016 on Foreign Nationals. Further information regarding permanent residence permits is available at The Directorate of Immigration’s website, here.
Foreign spouses and cohabiting partners of Icelandic citizens and their children under 18 years of age
This applies to spouses and cohabiting partners of Icelandic citizens who have been granted a residence permit on the grounds of marriage or cohabitation in accordance with Act No. 80/2016 on Foreign Nationals. This includes their children under the age of 18, who are dependant and under their guardianship.
With reference to Article 22 of The Foreign Nationals Right to Work Act No. 97/2002, applicants for residence permits as spouses of Icelandic or EEA nationals are exempt from the requirement of a temporary work permit while their applications are being processed by The Directorate of Immigration.
Foreign nationals who have received residence permits on the grounds of international protection
This applies to foreign nationals who have been granted international protection in accordance with Act No. 80/2016 on Foreign Nationals. This includes foreign nationals who are offered resettlement by the Icelandic government as refugees, i.e. quota refugees.
Further information regarding international protection is available here.
Foreign nationals in the private service of foreign state envoys
This applies to foreign nationals who come to Iceland to in the private service of foreign state envoys, i.e. personal attendants and chauffeurs of the envoy and nannies to the envoy’s children.
Foreign nationals who have received residence permits on the grounds of working holiday/ youth mobility
This applies to foreign nationals who have applied for and been issued a residence permit on the grounds of a Working Holiday / Youth Mobility. Such permits are granted based on bilateral agreements between Iceland and other countries. Japan and the United Kingdom are the only two countries that Iceland has made such agreements with so far. Further information regarding these residence permits is available here: https://utl.is/index.php/en/working-holiday
Foreign nationals who were born Icelandic citizens but have since lost their citizenship
This applies to foreign nationals who were born with Icelandic citizenship but have since lost it. The reason for loss of citizenship is not relevant. Please contact the Directorate of Immigration for further information regarding whether this applies to the individual in question.