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Hiring a foreign expert for your Icelandic company

The Work in Iceland website aims to provide companies and individuals with the necessary information for a streamlined relocation process to Iceland. 

Please note that if your potential employee qualifies as a foreign expert, they may be applicable for:

  • Discounted tax rate
  • Expedited application processing ensures that your application will be processed within 30 days (providing that the application is filled out sufficiently and all required information and supporting documentation has been submitted) instead of the typical 90-180 days. The fee is ISK 45,000. Please note that only work and residence permits on the grounds of expert knowledge can be expedited. Permits for spouses and family members will be processed within the regular time frame. 
  • Factsheet about expedited applications.

Rules regarding immigration, residency and work permits differ depending on the applicant's nationality. For example, Nordic nationals have a streamlined process for moving to Iceland. For EU citizens, the process is relatively straightforward. For residents from countries outside the EEA, EFTA, and the Faroe Islands, the procedure is more burdensome for moving and seeking work in Iceland. 

If your potential employee is not an EEA, EFTA, or Faroese citizen, please note that your company will be required to handle most of the paperwork with The Directorate of Immigration (Útlendingastofnun) and The Directorate of Labour (Vinnumálastofnun). The person responsible for managing the permit application within your company must respond quickly to all emails and requests for further information and documentation. Lack of response can significantly affect the length of the application processing period.

The application process for a residency and work permit

Rules regarding immigration are not for evaluating applicants professionally but to assess the job that the permit is being applied for according to three criteria:

1) The position is necessary for your company.
  • When you fill out the form Application for a Limited Work Permit, pay particular attention to the box "Ástæður fyrir ráðningu / Reason for engagement" since your answer here will determine whether The Directorate of Labour considers this job to be essential for your company. The field on the application form for your answer is relatively small, but you may attach a letter with your application to support your case further. 
2) The applicant has the relevant skills and qualifications that the company cannot find in the EU/EEA.
  • To prove this, you must show that you were unsuccessful in filling the position despite posting on the Icelandic Directorate of Labour's website and in Europe on the EURES job portal before hiring this specialist. Please note: The Directorate of Labour may waive this obligation in some circumstances.
  • The job advertisement must not be tailored for a particular applicant, and all requirements must be essential for the job at hand. 
  • The necessary expertise for this job must be stated in the advertisement.
  • To prove that this candidate is the best fit specialist for the job, they must possess the relevant academic qualifications. Please include all university or relevant diplomas to verify the candidate's qualifications in the application. If the job requires a legal professional title (lögverndað starfsheiti), they must validate their degree with the relevant Icelandic authority. 
  • Their qualifications must be unique. Suppose many Icelandic, EEA, EFTA, or Faroese nationals have the same degree as the applicant and are available in the local labor market. It will be more challenging to prove that they are the best fit for the job. 
  • Relevant experience can replace academic certifications, but this requires at least seven years of experience and is determined case-by-case.
  • A CV alone is not enough to provide a relevant experience. You should include a CV and support it with related documentation. 
3) The employee's wages conform to Icelandic collective agreements and are in line with other workers in the domestic market in similar positions.
  • To prove wage conformity, an employment contract must accompany the application. The contract must specify which pension fund will be contributed to, and the relevant labor union's collective agreement (kjarasamningur) applies (or which union if there is no applicable collective agreement for this position). 
  • If your company does not have a standard contract template, please feel free to use this contract template provided by the Directorate of Labour. 
  • The relevant labor union must confirm in section IV of the application form that the terms and conditions of employment align with those of workers in similar jobs. Please ensure that their confirmation is obtained before submitting your application as failure to do so will prolong processing periods.