A work permit under special circumstances

Foreign nationals, who hold certain types of residence permits are eligible for a work permit under special circumstances, per Article 11 of The Foreign Nationals’ Right to Work Act, no. 97/2002, when the following conditions, amongst others, are fulfilled:

  • The foreign national has been granted a residence permit on the following grounds:
    • A provisional residence permit.
    • A residence permit for a possible victim of human trafficking.
    • A residence permit for a victim of human trafficking.
    • A residence permit for parents.
    • A residence permit on the basis of a lawful purpose.
  • That the foreign national has entered into a contract of employment with an employer.

When applying for a temporary work permit in this category the foreign national should have been granted a corresponding residence permit beforehand in accordance with the provisions of the Foreign Nationals Act.


If you need further information you can contact us by email workpermits@vmst.is or during call hours of the department. Information regarding call hours can be found here.

Necessary application supporting documents:  

  1. Original copy of the application for a temporary work permit regarding special circumstances.  
  2. A contract of employment between a foreign national and an employer of which the following must be included: 
    • Information regarding the foreign nationals intended job of the with the employer. 
    • Information regarding the pension fund to be paid into in respect to the foreign national’s nature of employment. 
    • The foreign national's terms of employment must be in accordance with relative collective agreements. It is essential to clearly stipulate the terms and conditions of employment. This includes the employment ratio, working arrangements and all relevant salary values. 
  3. The opinion of the relevant labour union should be obtained before it is submitted (section IV.on the application form) unless the labour union in question is Efling labour union. The DoL obtains reviews from Efling labour union directly.  
  4. The application and contract must be signed by both the foreign national and the employer. 
  5. Please note that it isnota requirement to use the employment contract template available on the Directorate of Labour’s website.


You may find a general info sheet on how to fill out a permit application here.  

You may find a general info sheet on how to fill out an employment contract accompanying a work permit application here.  


Where should the application be submitted?

Applications should be submitted to the Directorate of Immigration, Dalvegi 18, 201 Kópavogur, or alternatively to your local District Commissioner offices if you are located outside of the Capital Region.    

When can an employee start working? 

That an employee may not commence work before the permit has been granted.  

 That all work permits are non-transferrable,and a new permit application must be lodged for a new employment.Individuals may hold more than one permitsimultaneously.   

Application for a permit extension

With an application to extend a work permit, the same documents must be submitted as with a new application.If an application for a renewal is submitted before the prior permit expires the employee maycontinue working during the processing of the permit.   


It is the applicant's joint responsibility to present the necessary documentation for the application for a temporary work permit. If all required documentation or information is not submitted with the application, it will result in a delay in the processing of the application, or the application being declined. The Directorate of Labour may request additional documentation, should the directorate deem it to be necessary.  

New employer

All work permits are non-transferrable, and a new permit application must be lodged for a new employment. Individuals may hold more than one permit simultaneously if the permit requirements are met. Please follow the instructions above for submitting a temporary work permit under special circumstances.

Termination of employment 

If the employment is terminated before the permit expires, The Directorate of Labour must be informed of the termination.  An email to workpermits@vmst.is is considered a sufficient notification. 


In instances of termination, the relevant rules of the applicable collective bargaining agreement apply.    

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