The basic requirements for obtaining a temporary residence permit are stated in Article 11 of Act no. 96/2002 on Foreigners, and Chapter VII ofRegulation no. 53/2003. The text herein is a detailed clarification of the basic requirements for a temporary residence permit. A more simple clarification and check list are contained in each residence-permit category.

Please note that not all documents of the basic requirements have to be submitted when renewing a temporary residence permit. See information on the renewal of a temporary residence permit here.


How to show secure, satisfactory support

Health insurance

Secure housing

Criminal record certificate

Medical examination


Applicant fulfills the requirements of residence permit as stated in the other provisions of law


- Article 11, paragraph 1, item a, of the Act on Foreigners and Article 42 of the Regulation on Foreigners

Amount of support

The Icelandic Directorate of Immigration focuses on the minimum support criteria (minimum amount for paying one’s daily needs) of the Reykjavík City´s Department of Welfare. Today´s focus is on the minimum support criteria of April 1st 2013:

  • Individual: ISK 163,635 per month
  • Couple: ISK 245,453 per month

No special support amount is calculated for children and the criteria above (the amounts) are therefore unchanged although there are children, one or more, in the household.

Period of support

A foreign national’s support must be secured during the period of stay in Iceland. A residence permit is generally issued for one year at a time; however, residence permits for students are only issued for 6 months at a time. A foreign national must therefore be able to prove capability of support for a period of one year, whereas a student must prove capability of support for 6 months.

Who must prove capability of support?

All applicants for a residence permit must show independent capability of support, except in the following exceptional instances:

  • A child under the age of 18 who is supported by his/her parent or custodian who resides in Iceland.
  • An individual at the age of 18-20, who has had valid continous residence permit in Iceland as a child, is now studying, however, lives with a parent or custodian. Note that the support criteria here is 50% of the minimum support of an individual adult, i.e. ISK 81,818 per month in addition to own support which a parent or a custodian must have for the other members of the family and him-/herself.
  • The spouse of an Icelandic national or a foreign national. Due to the support duty of married couples, according to Act no. 31/1993 in Respect of Marriage, it is sufficient if one party to the marriage shows sufficient support for both parties. Note that cohabitation (living together without being married) does not equal marriage in this respect, as there is no support duty between cohabiters and therefore the applicant must illustrate independent support.
  • Relatives (parent, grandfather, grandmother, great grandfather and great grandmother) who are older than 67 and are supported by his/her child or children in Iceland.
  • The host family of an individual in its employment must illustrate support for the employed person. Additional support is based on 50% minimum support of an individual adult, ISK 81,818, plus the wage expenses of the employed person/au pair, ISK 40,000, per every four weeks of employment.


- Article 11, paragraph 2, of the Act on Foreigners

Support can come from more than one source to be considered satisfactory, for example, wages and own money.

Wages or income from independent activities

An applicant must submit an original employment contract and an application for a work permit (if a work permit is required, see further the section on individual permits). Click here for a description of the format of employment contracts and work permits in Iceland. If an applicant is supported by another person he/she must submit an employment contract. Note that the authorization of a foreign national to provide for others on grounds of independent activities is limited. According to Act no. 97/2002 on Foreign Nationals’ Right to Work, only a foreign national who has an unrestricted work permit can engage in independent work activities.

Pay-slips for the last three months

Pay-slips, printouts from an online bank, are sufficient. The pay-as-you-earn tax (withholding tax), however, must be paid on the wages; otherwise the pay-slips are considered to be meaningless. The Directorate of Immigration checks with the tax authority as to whether the pay-as-you-earn tax has been paid up to date. If an applicant is supported by another person he/she must submit pay-slips for the last three months to fulfill the same requirements as listed here.

Secure regular payments for support

Such payments can be payments from the Social Insurance Administration because of disability, unemployment payments, rental payments, and grants, which the applicant receives, for example, on grounds of research work. This is not a complete list of payments that may apply under this category.

Sufficient own money for support

The balance of an applicant or his/her provider, at a bank in Iceland or abroad, which is in a currency that is registered with the Central Bank of Iceland and may be withdrawn and used for support during the time of stay. An original bank statement showing the amount of the balance must be confirmed by the bank in question. Information about the registration of currencies is contained at the Central Bank of Iceland. A printout of a bank statement from an online bank is not a sufficient confirmation.

A study grant or study loan

If an applicant has received a grant/scholarship or a study loan, such payments are considered to be sufficient support if their amounts reach the aforementioned minimum criteria for support. A study grant or study loan must be in a currency that is ackowledged by the Central Bank of Iceland. A confirmation must be submitted showing the payments of loans from the relevant credit institution and a confirmation of a grant by the grantor as appropriate.

The following is not deemed as sufficient support

Payments in the form of social aid by a state or a municipality are not considered secure means of support. Support by a third party, i.e. in other instances than stated in this section, is not secure means of support. Assets other than bank balances are not considered to be secure support (for example, real estate), and dividents from corporations, interest or other payments whose availability for payment is not secure, is not considered to be secure support.


- Article 11, paragraph 1 a, of the Act on Foreigners

A confirmation by an insurance company must be submitted to the effect that an applicant has purchased a six-month health insurance at the minimum amount of ISK 2,000,000. The insurance company must be licensed to operate in Iceland and the first day of validity of the insurance must be the date of a residence permit being granted. After such time the Icelandic social insurance system becomes accessible. The Icelandic insurance companies send health insurances directly to the Directorate of Immigration when they have been accepted and paid.

The insurance must be valid for at least six months from the date of the registration of a legal address, or until the holder of the insurance has earned the right to be health insured in Iceland. Further information is provided by the insurance companies; SjóváTMVÍS and Vörður.

Children and adolescents under the age of 18 are health insured together with their parents or custodians. The same applies to adoptive children, stepchildren and fosterchildren.

Persons who are not health insured have to pay more for health services. Information about health insurance and other related matters are to be found on the websites of the Social Insurance Administration and the Icelandic Health Insurance.

A list of foreign insurance companies that have operating licenses in Iceland can be found here.


- Article 11, paragraph 1 a, of the Act on Foreigners and Article 44 of the Regulation on Foreigners

Secure housing is shown with the presentation of a housing certificate, a lease agreement or other documents showing that the applicant is authorized to live in housing that fulfills the provisions of the health and safety regulations (for example, it is not permitted to live in commercial or industrial housing). The certificate must be in original format, signed by the formally registered owners of the house and witnessed by two persons.

It must be stated in the application for a residence permit if an applicant intends to stay in own housing or the housing of his/her spouse. In such an instance a housing certificate needs not be submitted.


- Article 11, paragraph 1 d, of the Act on Foreigners

No circumstances must exist that could cause an applicant being refused entry into Iceland

An applicant must submit a criminal record certificate covering at least the last five years. If an applicant has resided in more than one state during the period, criminal record certificates from all of them must be submitted. An applicant who has lived in three states, for example, must submit a criminal record from each of the three states. A criminal record certificate may not be older than six months when submitted to the Directorate of Immigration. Different rules may apply in various states regarding the issuance of a criminal record certificate. Applicants should contact the Directorate of Immigration if there is any doubt about the format of a criminal record certificate.

Applicants who have resided in the United States or Canada must submit criminal record certificates with fingerprint registration (they must appear in person for fingerprinting). See here:

Criminal record certificates shall be certified, either with an apostille certification or a double stamp by the home state‘s ministry for foreign affairs and the embassy of the relevant state in Iceland, or the nearest embassy. See further information about apostille certification here.


- Article 11, paragraph 1 c, of the Act on Foreigners

Applicants from certain states have to consent to undergo a medical examination within two weeks from arrival in Iceland in conformity with law and instructions by the health authorities, see the Rules of Procedure of the Directorate of Health. If an applicant does not undergo medical examination when required to do so by the Directorate of Health, a residence permit will not be issued and the relevant applicant’s access to the social insurance system etc. will not be activated. Additionally, his/her stay in Iceland becomes unlawful and the applicant may expect to be refused entry or be expelled from Iceland.


Within two weeks of arrival in Iceland the applicant must go to the Directorate of Immigration to have his/her picture taken, or at the nearest district commissioner‘s office. The applicant must bring his/her passport to confirm his/her identity. Such photography is necessary in order to enable the authorities to issue a residence permit ID card and to finalize the issuance of a residence permit. Making a reservation for having one‘s picture taken is not necessary; instead the applicant should appear at the offices of the Directorate of Immigration or the nearest district commissioner‘s office during opening hours. If an applicant does not have his/her picture taken a residence permit will not be issued and the applicant‘s access to the social insurance system etc. will not be activated. Additionally, the applicant‘s stay in Iceland becomes unlawful and he/she may expect refusal of entry into the country or expulsion.


Applicants must fulfill the special requirements of a residence permit for which an application is made, see here.

Special requirements in addition to the basic requirements that have been listed herein include, for example, how a student must illustrate his/her registration in school, and how a spouse must submit a confirmation of marriage.