Guidance

Living in Iceland

Official information for UK nationals moving to or living in Iceland, including guidance on residency, passports and driving.

What you should do

Coronavirus

You should keep up to date and follow the advice of the Icelandic Authorities. Further information is available at COVID.IS (in English). You can also read our Iceland travel advice for our latest guidance.

Stay up to date

You should:

You can also:

Visas and residency

Check the entry requirements for Iceland.

Residency

If you plan to stay for more than three months you must register with Registers Iceland to obtain a national identification number (Kennitala). You will need your identification number in order to access most services in Iceland e.g. open a bank account, apply for telephone and internet connection, access to Icelandic health insurance and more.

You must apply for full registration as your employer may have applied for a system ID (Kerfiskennitala) on your behalf for payment and tax purposes. Be aware that this system ID does not register you as resident in Iceland. The majority of current long term residents will already have full registration.

UK nationals living in Iceland must apply for registration with Registers Iceland before the transition period ends on 31 December 2020, in order to obtain the continuous right to reside in Iceland under the EEA EFTA Separation Agreement.

You can check your status with Registers Iceland. Read the Icelandic Directorate of Immigration’s website for more information.

If there are changes to residency registration processes, we will update this guidance as soon as information is available.

UK Nationals Support Fund

The government has announced funding for organisations to provide practical support to UK nationals who may have difficulty completing their residency applications. 

This support is available only to those who need additional help. This may include pensioners, disabled people, people living in remote areas or who have mobility difficulties.

The services available for people who need this additional support include:

  • answering questions about residency applications, such as the documents required and application procedure
  • guiding individuals through the process, if necessary
  • supporting people facing language barriers or difficulty accessing technology

In Iceland, this support is being provided by The AIRE Centre. If you or someone you know may have difficulty completing the paperwork, you can contact them using the details below to discuss how they may be able to help you.

The AIRE Centre

Visit the AIRE Centre website

Email: eurobrits@airecentre.org

Passports and travel

The rules on travel will stay the same until the transition period ends on 31 December 2020. During this time you can continue to travel to countries in the Schengen area or elsewhere in the EU with your UK passport.

Check your passport is valid for travel before you book your trip. Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay.

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

Passports from 1 January 2021

Check your passport is valid for travel before you book your trip.

From 1 January 2021, you must have at least 6 months left on an adult or child passport to travel to most countries in Europe (not including Ireland). This requirement does not apply if you are entering or transiting to Iceland, and you are in scope of the EEA EFTA Separation Agreement.

If you renewed your current passport before the previous one expired, extra months may have been added to its expiry date. Any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count towards the 6 months needed.

You will need to renew your passport before travelling if you do not have enough time left on your passport.

As a non-EEA national, different border checks will apply when travelling to other EU or Schengen area countries. You may need to show a return or onward ticket and that you have enough money for your stay. You may also have to use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queueing. Your passport may be stamped for visits to these countries.

Entry requirements

From 1 January 2021, you will be able to travel to other Schengen area countries for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa for purposes such as tourism. This is a rolling 180-day period.

To stay for longer, to work or study, or for business travel, you will need to meet the entry requirements set out by the country to which you are travelling. This could mean applying for a visa or work permit. You may also need to get a visa if your visit would take you over the 90 days in 180 days limit.

Periods of stay authorised under a visa or permit will not count against the 90-day limit. Travel to the UK and Ireland will not change.

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

Insurance for trips to Iceland

It is important to take out comprehensive travel insurance that includes cover for emergency medical treatment and associated costs. You must make sure you know the terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy and make sure that the policy covers any possible disruption.

Healthcare

Social security coordination is covered by the Separation Agreement for those residing in Iceland. Current healthcare arrangements will continue to apply in full to UK nationals who are resident in Iceland before the transition period ends on 31 December 2020, for as long as they remain in scope of the agreement. This includes students and S1 holders.

Once you’re resident in Iceland for 6 months, you automatically become a member of the Iceland social insurance system.

Read the guidance on who is able to access healthcare in Iceland and how to register.

State healthcare: S1

If you live in Iceland and receive an exportable UK pension, contribution-based Employment Support Allowance or another exportable benefit, you may currently be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK. You will need to apply for a certificate of entitlement known as an S1 certificate.

Read our guidance on how to get an S1 form.

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

If you are resident in Iceland, you must not use your EHIC from the UK for healthcare in Iceland.

When you travel from Iceland for a temporary stay in another European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland, you can use an EHIC to access state-provided healthcare in that country. During that short stay: 

You can also continue to use your EHIC, as you did before, until the transition period ends on 31 December 2020. If you’re travelling to other countries make sure you have comprehensive health insurance.

You should also read guidance on:

You must check your prescriptions are legal in Iceland. You can bring personal prescription medicine for 100 days without a customs declaration, although Icelandic customs officials may ask for a formal doctor’s note.

Working in Iceland

You need a national identification number (kennitala) to work in Iceland.

Read our guidance on working in an EEA country.

Some jobs may require a UK criminal records check, known as a Police Certificate check.

If you are resident in Iceland on or before 31 December 2020. Your right to work will stay the same as long as you remain resident in Iceland.

Money and tax

You will be issued a tax card when you register with Registers Iceland and obtain a national identification number.

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

Existing double taxation arrangements for UK nationals living in Iceland have not changed.

Read the guidance on:

Read the Icelandic government’s guidance on taxes in Iceland. Check the Icelandic Directorate of Internal Revenue.

National Insurance

Find out if you can pay National Insurance while abroad so that you protect your State Pension and entitlement to other benefits and allowances.

If you are employed or self-employed in the EU or EEA and you have a UK-issued A1/E101 form, you will remain subject to UK legislation until the end date on the form.

Banking

Most people living in Europe should not see any change to their banking after 31 December 2020. Your bank or finance provider should contact you if they need to make any changes to your product or the way they provide it. If you have any concerns about whether you might be affected, contact your provider or seek independent financial advice.

Pensions

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

If you retire in Iceland, you can claim:

Life certificates for UK State Pensions

If you get a ‘life certificate’ from the UK Pension Service, you need to respond as soon as possible. Your payments may be suspended if you don’t.

Pensions after 31 January 2020

Social security coordination is covered by the Separation Agreement for those residing in Iceland. Current benefit arrangements will continue to apply in full to UK nationals who are resident in Iceland before the transition period ends on 31 December 2020, for as long as they reside in an EEA EFTA state (Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway). This includes the right to an uprated UK State Pension.

Benefits

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

You may still be able to claim some UK benefits like child and disability benefits if you live in Iceland. You should:

Many income-related benefits such as pension credit and housing benefit cannot be paid to you if you’re abroad for more than 4 weeks.

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

You can request proof of the time you’ve worked in the UK from HMRC if you are asked for this.

Benefits after 31 January 2020

The UK government will continue to pay the UK State Pension, child benefits and disability benefits to those eligible in the EU after 31 January 2020.

Social security coordination is covered by the Separation Agreement. Current benefit arrangements will continue to apply in full to UK nationals who are resident in Iceland before the transition period ends on 31 December 2020, for as long as they reside in Iceland.

Driving in Iceland

Driving licence rules will stay the same until at least 31 December 2020.

Read the guidance on:

Bringing a UK-registered vehicle to Iceland

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

Read the guidance on importing and registering vehicles in Iceland

Voting

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

If you have been domiciled or resident in Iceland for more than 5 years you can vote in municipal elections. Read information from Registers Iceland.

Births, deaths and getting married

If your child is born in Iceland, you will need to register the birth abroad.

If someone dies in Iceland you can:

Find out how you can get married abroad.

You may also need:

Pets

Strict conditions apply to the importation of pets to Iceland. For information, see the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority’s website.

Emergencies

You can dial the European emergency number on 112.

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

Accommodation and buying property

Read our guidance on buying a property abroad.

Returning to the UK

Tell the Icelandic and UK authorities if you are returning to the UK permanently.

You must tell Registers Iceland that you are leaving Iceland.

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, tax, access to services and bringing family members.

Disclaimer

Note that this information is provided as a guide only. Definitive information should be obtained from the Icelandic authorities. The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information.

Published 29 April 2016
Last updated 8 September 2020 + show all updates
  1. Passports and travel section updated to include information on passport validity and entry requirements when travelling to other European countries from January 2021

  2. 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.

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

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

  5. Updated Living in Iceland guidance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  14. 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.

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

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

  17. First published.