Guidance

Living in Iceland

Information for British citizens moving to or living in Iceland, including guidance on residency, healthcare and driving.

This guide sets out essential information for British citizens moving to or living in Iceland. Read about how our embassy in Reykjavík can help.

This information is provided as a guide only. You should get definitive information from the Icelandic authorities. The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) is not liable for any inaccuracies in this information.

Read general guidance on moving or retiring abroad.

To stay up to date:

If you were living in Iceland before 1 January 2021

Some parts of this guide only apply if you have been living in Iceland since before 1 January 2021. You should read these in addition to the rest of the guidance in each section.

You should also read our Living in Europe page for information about citizens’ rights under the UK – EEA EFTA (European Economic Area - European Free Trade Association) Separation Agreement.

Coronavirus

Follow the advice of the Icelandic government. You should also read the Iceland travel advice.

Visas and residency

You must tell the UK government offices that deal with your benefits, pension and tax if you are moving or retiring abroad.

Check the entry requirements for Iceland. If you plan to stay in Iceland for more than 3 months, you must apply for a residence permit at the Directorate of Immigration.

Visas and residency if you were living in Iceland before 1 January 2021

If you were legally resident in Iceland before 1 January 2021, you and your family members have your rights to continue living in Iceland protected by the UK - EEA EFTA Separation Agreement.

The Directorate of Immigration will issue a residence card confirming your rights under the UK - EEA EFTA Separation Agreement. This card is not essential for living in Iceland, but it shows your right to enter Iceland and exempts you from the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) and visa requirements. There is no fee for the residence card, but if it is lost or stolen, you must pay for a replacement.

Your close family members continue to be able to join you and settle in Iceland at any time in the future. Read more information on who this applies to in the Living in Europe guidance. They must travel to Iceland and then apply as your family member. Nationals of certain non-EU countries may need a visa before travel. The Icelandic authorities should issue family reunion visas free of charge.

If you do not qualify for the rights under the UK – EEA EFTA Separation Agreement, you may be able to apply for a work or residence permit.

Passports and travel

Coronavirus travel restrictions may affect travel to and from Iceland.

You can apply for or renew your British passport from Iceland.

Check the Iceland travel advice for passport validity requirements.

Always carry your passport and residence permit when travelling within the Schengen area.

If you have citizenship of an EU or EFTA country, in addition to your British citizenship, you should enter and leave Iceland using your EU or EFTA passport.

If you stay in Iceland with an Icelandic residence permit or long stay visa, this time does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit for the Schengen area.

If you visit other Schengen area countries outside Iceland, make sure you do not exceed the visa-free 90 days in any 180-day period. This applies even if you have an Icelandic residence permit. You are responsible for counting how long you stay under the Schengen visa waiver, and you must comply with its conditions.

Different rules apply to EU countries that are not part of the Schengen area. Check each country’s travel advice page for information on entry requirements.

If you were living in Iceland before 1 January 2021

When you travel outside Iceland, carry your residence card from the Directorate of Immigration, in addition to your valid passport.

You must proactively show your residence card if you are asked to show your passport at border control. If you cannot prove that you are resident in Iceland, you may be asked additional questions at the border to enter the Schengen area.

Your passport may be stamped on entry and exit. This will not affect your rights in the country or countries where you live or work. If a passport is stamped, the stamp is considered null and void when you can show evidence of lawful residence. Read EU guidance for UK nationals on entering and leaving the Schengen area.

If you have rights under the UK - EEA EFTA Separation Agreement, you can enter and exit Iceland with a valid passport and your residence card. You do not need any additional validity on the passport beyond the dates on which you are travelling.

Healthcare

Read our guidance on healthcare in Iceland and make sure you are correctly registered for your circumstances.

Travel insurance is not intended to cover healthcare costs if you live overseas.

Read:

Working in Iceland

If you are planning to move to Iceland and work, you may need a work permit. Read the Directorate of Immigration’s guidance on working in Iceland as a foreign national and how to get a work permit. The Directorate of Labour also has guidance on exemptions for short-term projects.

To apply for a job you may need to provide a UK police certificate.

Read our guidance on working or providing services in Iceland.

If you work in Iceland, even if you work for a UK-based company, this may affect where you pay National Insurance-type contributions. Read the National insurance and social security contributions section for more information.

If you were living in Iceland before 1 January 2021

You have the right to work under the UK – EEA EFTA Separation Agreement.

The Icelandic authorities keep information electronically about who has this right. You may find it quicker to prove to employers that you have this right if you have a residence document or C-122 letter.

If you live in Iceland and were regularly commuting to work in another EU or EFTA country before 1 January 2021, read our guidance for frontier workers.

Professional qualifications

You may need to get your professional qualification recognised if you want to work in a profession that is regulated in Iceland.

Read guidance on:

If you were living in Iceland before 1 January 2021

If the relevant regulator in Iceland officially recognised your professional qualification before 1 January 2021, or you started the recognition process by this date, make sure you understand the terms of your decision. You should get advice from the relevant regulator.

Studying in Iceland

If you plan to study in Iceland, you must meet all Residence permit requirements.

Contact the relevant higher education provider in Iceland to check what fees you may have to pay.

Read guidance on healthcare for students in Iceland.

Tax

The UK has a double taxation agreement with Iceland so that you do not pay tax on the same income in both countries. Ask the relevant tax authority your questions about double taxation relief.

You will be issued a tax card and a national identification number when you register with the Directorate of Immigration.

You should get professional advice on paying tax in Iceland. Find an English-speaking lawyer in Iceland.

Read the guidance on:

National insurance and social security contributions

National Insurance-type contributions (NIC) are called ‘social security contributions’ (SSC) in Iceland. Find out if you need to pay National Insurance in the UK or social security contributions in Iceland.

If you plan to move to Iceland and work, even if you continue working for a UK-based company, you and your employer may need to pay social security contributions in Iceland. These social security contributions would entitle you to certain benefits, such as healthcare, in Iceland.

Read guidance on National Insurance for workers from the UK working in the EEA or Switzerland.

You can also check your UK National Insurance record

Benefits

UK benefits

Read guidance on entitlement to UK benefits and pensions while you are living in Iceland.

Check which UK benefits you can claim while abroad and how to claim them.

Many income-related benefits such as Pension Credit and Housing Benefit cannot be paid if you’re abroad for more than 4 weeks.

Icelandic benefits

You may be eligible to claim some Icelandic social security benefits. Read the Icelandic government’s guidance on Icelandic social security benefits.

Pensions

Read guidance on entitlement to UK benefits and pensions while you are living in Iceland.

Read State Pension guidance if you have lived in Australia, Canada or New Zealand and you are claiming or waiting to claim your UK State Pension.

If you retire in Iceland, you can claim:

Read the Money and Pension Service’s MoneyHelper guidance on pension and retirement for more information on cross-border pensions.

Life certificates for UK State Pensions

If you get a ‘life certificate’ from the UK Pension Service, you must respond as soon as possible. Your payments may be suspended if you do not.

Money and banking

Whether UK banks can provide services to customers living in the EEA depends on local laws and regulation.

Read the Money and Pension Service’s MoneyHelper guidance on banking, insurance and financial services for more information on cross-border banking.

Accommodation and buying property

Read:

Driving in Iceland

You cannot renew or replace your UK, Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey or Isle of Man licence if you live in Iceland. Read the guidance on what you must do to drive legally in Iceland:

Exchanging your UK licence

If you have been living in Iceland for 6 months, you must exchange your UK licence for an Icelandic one. You do not need to take a driving test to exchange your licence. Read the Iceland government’s guidance on driving licence renewal and exchange. You cannot use an International Driving Permit (IDP) instead of exchanging your licence.

Exchanging your Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey or Isle of Man licence

The UK and Iceland are currently negotiating long-term arrangements for exchanging driving licences from Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man without the requirement for a test. Sign up for email alerts for updates to this page.

Disabled drivers

If you have a UK Blue Badge and live in Iceland, you must return it to the original UK issuing authority. You can apply for a new Icelandic disabled parking card, ‘p-merki’ (in Icelandic).

Read the EU guidance on the EU parking card for people with disabilities.

Bringing a UK-registered vehicle to Iceland

Read our guidance on taking a vehicle out of the UK.

Read the Icelandic government guidance on importing and registering vehicles in Iceland.

Driving outside Iceland with an Icelandic licence

You can use your Icelandic licence when visiting the UK. Keep up-to-date with the UK Highway Code.

If you go to live in the UK, you can exchange your Icelandic licence for a UK one without taking a test.

To drive in another country, in addition to your Icelandic licence, you may need to apply for an IDP (in Icelandic).

Voting

If you have been living in Iceland for more than 5 years you can vote in municipal elections.

Read information from Registers Iceland.

You may be able to vote in some UK elections. You can:

Births, deaths, marriage and civil partnerships

If your child is born in Iceland, you can register the birth with the UK authorities in addition to registering locally. If your child has British nationality, you do not need to register the birth with the UK authorities to apply for a British passport.

If someone dies in Iceland, read our guidance on:

Find out how you can get married or get a civil partnership abroad.

You may also need:

Pets

If you’re moving to Iceland with your pet, read the guidance and ensure you comply with the regulations for taking your pet abroad. For information on the strict conditions that you must meet, read the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority’s website.

To visit other countries with your pet, check the rules for the country you’re travelling to. Contact your vet to get the travel documents your pet needs.

Read guidance on:

Emergencies

Dial the European emergency number 112 in Iceland for the police, ambulance or fire brigade, or dial:

  • 444-1000 for a police station
  • 570-5900 for search and rescue
  • 550-0300 for the Sjálfsbjörg (self-help) association for people with disabilities
  • 543-2000 for Landspítali Hospital ER (emergency room)
  • 1770 for out of hours health care services

If your child is at risk of being, or has been, abducted, read the guidance on international parental child abduction.

If you are the victim of a crime, have been arrested, or are affected by a crisis, contact the British Embassy Reykjavik.

Returning to the UK

Check the COVID-19 travel guidance for entering the UK. Tell the Icelandic and UK authorities if you are returning to the UK permanently.

To move your pension to the UK, contact the International Pension Centre.

Read the guidance on returning to the UK permanently which includes information on, amongst other things, bringing family members, tax and access to services.

Useful information

Support for British nationals abroad: a guide sets out how to stay safe abroad, and explains how the FCDO can support you if you get into difficulty.

New in Iceland is a free and confidential service run by the Icelandic government to help new immigrants.

Published 29 April 2016
Last updated 11 March 2022 + show all updates
  1. Updated sections: Working in Iceland, and National insurance and social security contributions, including information on what to do if you're working in Iceland for an employer based in the UK.

  2. Guide reviewed and updated, including the sections on visas and residency, working and driving.

  3. Guidance reviewed and updated.

  4. Working in Iceland section updated: new guidance for frontier workers

  5. Healthcare section updated on the S1 form and applying for EHIC cards; working in Iceland section updated with new links on working or providing services and recognition of professional qualifications.

  6. Coronavirus section updated with a link to guidance on vaccines

  7. Minor change

  8. Updated as the transition period ends with new information on moving to Iceland.

  9. Entry requirements updated on re-entering Iceland.

  10. Healthcare section updated on how to apply for a new UK EHIC as a student or S1 holder. Working section updated with information on frontier workers.

  11. Passports and travel section updated to include information on passport validity and entry requirements when travelling to other European countries from January 2021

  12. Visas and residency section updated to include information about how to access the UK National Support Fund for those who may find it harder to complete their residency applications.

  13. Brexit update: includes further details on passport validity if the UK leaves the EU with a deal.

  14. EU Exit update: added new information to ´Passports and travel after the UK leaves the EU´ section

  15. Updated Living in Iceland guidance

  16. EU Exit update: new information on UK driving licences after EU Exit date

  17. We have updated the contact details you need to apply for an S1 form.

  18. Updated information on passports: you must use the checker tool to see if your passport is still valid for your trip

  19. EU Exit update: Added information on double taxation in the money and tax section.

  20. EU Exit update: Added a link to the EEA EFTA Citizens´ Rights Agreement in the EU Exit section

  21. EU Exit update: updated information on access to healthcare

  22. EU Exit update: updated information on pensions and driving

  23. EU Exit update: link added for EEA EFTA Separation Agreement

  24. EU exit update: New information in residency and visa section on draft withdrawal agreement in principle between the UK and EU. Plus information on travelling with pets in Europe in pet section.

  25. Updated July 2018 with new wording about driving licences in Iceland

  26. Complete revision of guidance to ensure it's up to date and accurate.

  27. First published.