Expat guide to life in Iceland



Iceland is one of those countries that has so much to offer in terms of cultural and sports activities. Expats generally have a great time living there although winters can get a little depressing. Check out our fab expat guide to the country that is Iceland.


Expat Clubs

There are no known expat clubs, however you can communicate with other expats online through our ExpatWoman forum.

International Schools 

Reykjavik International School 

The International School of Iceland offers an international education in English to children who are in the Greater Reykjavik area for a specific period and an international bilingual education (Icelandic-English) for children who live in Iceland.

Curriculum: IPC, Icelandic National Curriculum

Address: v/Sjálandsskóli, Langalina 8, 210 Garðabær, ICELAND

Tel: +354 590 3106

Fax: +354 590 3110

Email: [email protected]

FB: www.facebook.com/internationalschool.is 

Website: www.internationalschool.is

Local News in English

Iceland Review

Iceland Review Online aims to provide coverage and analysis of some of the stories making headlines in the Icelandic media in the form of news stories and opinion pieces as well as provide other useful information for both English-speakers in Iceland and travelers to the country. They also review the latest Iceland-related books, films, music and art. In addition, subscribers can access the digital version of Iceland Review magazine via the website. Iceland Review Online was established in 1996.

Website: icelandreview.com/

Country Information 

Location: Europe

Capital City: Reykiavik

Currency: Icelandic króna

Language: Icelandic

Calling Code: +354

Internet TLD: .is


Electricity: Iceland runs on 220V 50Hz. The country mainly uses renewable energy such as hydropower and geothermal energy. The largest producer and distributor is the National Power Company of Iceland or Landsvirkjun.

Address: Háaleitisbraut 68, 103 Reykjavík, Iceland

Tel: +354 515 9000

Website: www.landsvirkjun.com/


 Emergency Numbers:

Ambulance: 112

Fire: 112

Police: 112


Country Information


Embassy Information


Residents Visa and Work Permit information

Iceland is part of the Schengen Agreement, EU citizens may enter freely using their EID or passport. Some countries may also enter and stay for up to 90 days. The Iceland government site has outlined them: utl.is/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=55&Itemid=57&lang=en.

However for other countries not included, a Schengen visa must be obtained through a Danish embassy or consulate in their home or host country.

For an extended stay beyond 90 days, expats must obtain a residence permit. There are three: Residence permit based on temporary shortage of labourers, residence permit for qualified professionals, and residence permit for atheletes.

Residence permits in Iceland can only be obtained once an expat has secured employment and has signed a contract. This can only be done before arriving in the country. The application for residence permit is coursed through the Directorate of Immigration and Directorate of Labour.

For applying as a professional, here are the documents needed:
  • Application form, an original, completed and signed by the applicant.
  • Application form for a work permit, qualified professional, a completed original, signed by the employer and the applicant.
  • Employment contract, a completed original, signed by the employer and the applicant.
  • One passport size photo (35mmx45mm).
  • A photocopy of the applicant’s passport.  The validity of the passport must be at least three months beyond the proposed permit.
  • Criminal Record Check, original.  The certificate must be issued by the country/countries where the applicant has resided for the past five years. Criminal Record Check must be dated no earlier than 6 months prior to being submitted to the Directorate. Please note that individuals who have resided in the U.S.A. or Canada during the past five years, intending to apply for a residence permit in Iceland, must submit a Criminal Record Check based on fingerprints issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the U.S.A. and/or by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Canada. Instructions on how to apply for a FBI criminal record check is available on the website  and for RCMP criminal record check on the website.
  • Medical Insurance.  Confirmation from an insurance company authorized to provide services in Iceland that the applicant has purchased medical insurance covering at least 2.000.000 Icel.kr. valid for the first 6 months of stay in Iceland.
  • Authorization.  The applicant may grant an individual in Iceland authorization to follow up on his/her application (not a requirement for processing application).
  • Housing Certificate.  The applicant must prove that he/she has secure housing for the period of time applied for. The certificate must be signed by the homeowner and witnessed by two adults.

Please visit the Icelandic immigration site for detailed information: utl.is/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3&Itemid=4&lang=en


Housing options in Iceland vary and depend on purpose of stay. For shorter, more touristy purpose, guesthouses, bed and breakfasts and hostels are the cheaper alternatives. However for more permanent, long-term stay, it is essential to rent an apartment. Here’s a useful site to visit for accommodations: www.rentinreykjavik.com/

The capital Reykjavik is a sprawling city. It is also where most residential areas are located. Despite being the commercial center of Iceland, there aren’t any problems pertaining overcrowding. The Greater Reykjavik is the most ideal place to live, as most amenities and services, including schools are within reach.

Seltjarnares district is mostly a residential area. It is ten minutes away from the Reykjavik city center and can sometimes be separated during high tides. The second biggest town, Kopavogur is also mainly residential. One bedroom apartments can range from $935 to 1,224; three bedrooms apartments range from $1,442 to $1,821. Rental prices depend on the distance to the city center.

Driving License

Expats may use their domestic license to drive in Iceland, given their stay is temporary. However for a more permanent long-term stay, it is required to obtain an Icelandic license. Foreigners may apply for a local license at a district magistrate or commissioner as long as they have proof of their permanent residency.

Documents required:
  • A photograph (35x45 mm) of the applicant
  • Foreign driver's license
  • A statement about good health, or if appropriate a health certificate issued by a doctor, if the foreign license is not issued in the Faroe Islands or in member states of the EEA Agreement.

Please visit the Icelandic Multicultural Center site for further details: www.mcc.is/english/cars/drivers-licence/


The healthcare facilities in the country are well above standard, providing high quality services and professional treatments. However facilities are mostly within urban areas.

Expats may avail of emergency services from the public healthcare system in Iceland. Foreigners are advised to secure a medical insurance to cover or reimburse the cost of services as these can be expensive. However, if an employed expat has resided for more than 6 months, legally, in Iceland, they become a member of the Icelandic Health Insurance. This scheme is funded by contributions made by employers, not employees.

Insurance Companies

Icelandic Health Insurance

Sjukratryggingar Islands (Icelandic Health Insurance) administers health insurance and occupational injury insurance. Social insurance is an integral part of social security in Iceland, providing a certain minimum insurance coverage. An individual who has insurance pays less for health services.

Address: Vínlandsleið 16, 105 Reykjavík

Tel: +345 515 0000

Email: [email protected]

Website: www.sjukra.is/english


Vis Insurance Ltd.

VÍS positions itself as full service provider, focusing on quality and flexibility for its customers. The company employs about 200 people and 30 service agents, and runs an extensive service network with 41 branches nationwide. VIS operates claims service center in Reykjavik as well as call center both in Reykjavik and Akureyri.

Address: Ármúli 3, 108 Reykjavík, ICELAND

Tel: +354 560 5000

Fax: +354 560 5108

Email: [email protected] 



TM Insurance

Tryggingamiðstöðin hf. (TM) is a leading Icelandic insurance company offering comprehensive insurance services to individuals and businesses. The company also provides extensive financing services under its own name and through a number of partners.

Address: Tryggingamiðstöðin, Síðumúla 24, 108 Reykjavík

Tel: +345 660269 2079

Email: www.tm.is/english



Primary Health Care of The Capital Area Clinics

Primary Health Care of the Capital Area operate fifteen health clinics and four additional specialized centres in Reykjavik and vicinity.


The health care clinics offer various medical and nursing services, general medical service, general nursing care, infant or maternity service, school nursing, vaccinations for adults, health care for the elderly etc. The health clinics´activities are directed towards neighborhood services and are expected to serve inhabitants of particular parts of the capital city area. Here is a link to a map showing locations and service areas.

Website: www.heilsugaeslan.is/?pageid=7878bcc1-78d7-46d8-b489-35350bf3486f


Heilbrigðisstofnun Vestfjarða

Heilbrigðisstofnun Vestfjarða is a new institution after the merging of the District hospital Isafjordur and the Healthcare center for Bolungarvik. Healthcare providing public health services in each district are entitled under law to cooperate in the organization of health services in the affected areas, and in each health clinic operated or healthcare. District Hospitals in Iceland shall provide general hospital services, including outpatient departments as appropriate.

Website: www.fsi.is/information_in_english/


National University Hospital

Address: Landsspitalinn, V/Eirikisgata, Reykjavik IS 121, Iceland

Tel: +354 5 560 10 00

Fax: +354 5 560 15 95

Website (Icelandic): www.landspitali.is/


Reykjavik City Hospital

Address: Fossvogi, Reykjavik IS 108, Iceland

Tel: +354 5 525 10 00

Fax: +354 5 525 17 02


Reykjavik Primary Care Center

Address: Heilsuverndarstoo Reykjavikur, Baronsstigur 47, Reykjavik IS 101, Iceland

Tel: +354 5 585 13 00

Fax: +354 5 585 13 13