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The Ultimate Guide To Moving To Iceland


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Prudence Beer



Welcome to the land of fire and ice – Iceland! Known for its breathtaking landscapes, vibrant culture, and rich history, Iceland has become an increasingly popular destination for people looking to move abroad. Whether you’re drawn to the stunning natural beauty, the unique lifestyle, or the welcoming locals, relocating to Iceland can be an exciting and life-changing experience.


In this ultimate guide, we will provide you with all the information you need to know about moving to Iceland. From understanding the country’s visa requirements and finding a home to navigating the cost of living and exploring job opportunities, we’ve got you covered.


But moving to a new country isn’t just about logistics. It’s also about embracing a new way of life and immersing yourself in a different culture. We’ll delve into the Icelandic language, customs, and traditions, as well as the various leisure activities and social opportunities that await you on this Nordic island. So, get ready to embark on a journey of discovery as we uncover the ins and outs of making Iceland your new home.


Whether you’re planning to move to Reykjavik, the vibrant capital, or settle in one of the serene countryside towns, Iceland offers a unique blend of urban convenience and untouched wilderness. From volcanic landscapes and geothermal hot springs to majestic waterfalls and awe-inspiring glaciers, the natural beauty of this country truly knows no bounds.


While Iceland may be small in size, it compensates with a strong sense of community and a high standard of living. Its progressive healthcare and education systems ensure that residents are well taken care of, while its excellent transportation infrastructure makes it easy to travel within the country.


So, whether you’re an adventure enthusiast seeking thrilling outdoor activities, an artist looking for inspiration in the raw beauty of nature, or simply someone who craves a change of pace and a fresh start, Iceland offers a world of possibilities.


Now that you’re geared up and ready to embark on this exciting journey, let’s delve into the practical details of making Iceland your new home. From visas and housing to employment and leisure activities, we’ll provide you with the essential knowledge and insights to ensure a smooth transition and a fulfilling life in this enchanting Nordic nation.


Understanding Iceland

Iceland, often referred to as the “Land of Fire and Ice,” is a Nordic island nation located in the North Atlantic Ocean. With a population of just over 360,000, it is one of the least densely populated countries in Europe. Despite its small size, Iceland boasts an abundance of natural wonders and a thriving cultural scene.


The country is known for its dramatic landscapes, including volcanoes, geysers, glaciers, and hot springs. The famous Golden Circle route, which includes the geothermal area of Geysir, the majestic Gullfoss waterfall, and the Thingvellir National Park, showcases some of Iceland’s most iconic attractions.


Aside from its natural beauty, Iceland is a nation with a rich cultural heritage. Icelandic sagas, the medieval literary works that tell stories of the country’s early settlers, are an integral part of Icelandic identity. The capital city, Reykjavik, is a vibrant hub of artistic and creative expression, with a thriving music and arts scene.


Icelandic society places a strong emphasis on equality and social responsibility. The country is known for its progressive social policies, including gender equality and LGBTQ+ rights. Iceland consistently ranks high on global equality indexes, making it an attractive destination for those seeking an inclusive and tolerant society.


One of the most unique features of Iceland is its geological activity. The country is situated on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet. This geological activity results in frequent volcanic eruptions, geothermal energy, and geysers, giving Iceland its distinct volcanic landscape and the nickname “Land of Fire and Ice.”


The Icelandic people, known as Icelanders, have a strong connection to their land and nature. They have embraced sustainable practices and renewable energy sources, making Iceland a global leader in green initiatives.


As you consider moving to Iceland, it is important to familiarize yourself with the unique characteristics of the country. The breathtaking beauty of its landscapes, the warmth and creativity of its people, and the deep-rooted connection to nature all contribute to making Iceland an extraordinary place to call home.


Visa and Residence Permit

If you’re planning to move to Iceland, it’s important to understand the visa and residence permit requirements. The specific rules and regulations can vary depending on your nationality and the purpose of your stay, whether it’s for work, study, or relocation.


European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) citizens do not need a visa or a residence permit to live and work in Iceland. They have the right to freedom of movement within the EU/EEA. However, if you plan to stay in Iceland for more than three months, you will need to register your legal residence with the Icelandic Directorate of Immigration.


For non-EU/EEA citizens, the rules are more complex. Generally, you will need to obtain a residence permit before entering Iceland. Different types of residence permits are available, including work permits, student permits, and family reunification permits.


To apply for a residence permit, you will typically need to provide a valid passport, proof of accommodation, proof of financial means to support yourself, and documentation related to the purpose of your stay (such as a job offer or acceptance letter from an Icelandic educational institution). The application process can take some time, so it’s important to start the process well in advance of your planned move.


Iceland has a Points-Based System (PBS) for assessing residency applications. Points are awarded based on factors such as education, work experience, language skills, and age. The higher the number of points you accumulate, the more likely you are to be granted a residence permit.


It’s worth noting that renting or purchasing a property in Iceland does not automatically grant you the right to a residence permit. While having a stable address is important for your application, it is only one factor among many that immigration authorities consider.


It’s recommended to consult the official website of the Directorate of Immigration for up-to-date and detailed information on visa and residence permit requirements based on your specific circumstances. They provide comprehensive guidance and have helpful resources to aid you in the process.


Remember to familiarize yourself with the immigration rules and requirements well in advance to avoid any last-minute complications. Properly understanding the visa and residence permit process will ensure a smooth transition to your new life in Iceland.


Finding a Home

When it comes to finding a home in Iceland, whether you’re looking to rent or buy, there are a few key factors to consider. The housing market in Iceland can be competitive, especially in popular areas such as Reykjavik, so it’s helpful to be prepared and proactive in your search.


One of the first decisions you’ll need to make is whether you prefer to rent or buy a property. Renting is a popular choice, especially for those who are new to the country or uncertain about their long-term plans. There are various rental options available, ranging from apartments and townhouses to single-family homes. Websites such as Leiga.is and Mbl.is provide listings for available rental properties in different regions of Iceland.


If you decide to buy a property, it’s important to note that the process can be more complex and time-consuming. It’s recommended to work with a real estate agent who specializes in the Icelandic market and can guide you through the buying process. Websites like Mbl.is and Fastighetsmäklare.is can help you find real estate agents and browse available properties for sale.


Keep in mind that the cost of housing in Iceland, particularly in Reykjavik, can be quite high compared to other European countries. It’s essential to establish a budget and consider your financial capabilities when searching for a home. Prices can vary depending on the location, size, and condition of the property.


Another important factor to consider is the location of your potential new home. Reykjavik, the capital city, offers a vibrant urban lifestyle with a range of amenities, cultural attractions, and job opportunities. However, if you prefer a quieter, more rural environment, there are also charming towns and villages scattered throughout the country.


When searching for a home, it’s essential to be proactive and flexible. Stay updated on new listings, attend open houses if possible, and be prepared to act quickly when you find a property that suits your needs. It’s also advisable to familiarize yourself with legal requirements, such as signing a lease agreement or understanding the home-buying process, to ensure a smooth and secure transaction.


Overall, finding a home in Iceland requires patience, persistence, and a proactive approach. Whether you choose to rent or buy, understanding the housing market and working with professionals in the industry will greatly assist you in finding the perfect place to call home in your new Icelandic adventure.


Cost of Living

Before moving to Iceland, it’s important to have a good understanding of the cost of living in the country. While Iceland offers a high standard of living, it is also known for having a higher cost of living compared to many other European countries.


One of the significant factors contributing to the higher cost of living in Iceland is the country’s isolated location and its reliance on imports for many goods. This means that groceries, clothing, and other everyday items can be more expensive than in other countries.


Accommodation is typically one of the most significant expenses for residents in Iceland. Whether you’re renting or buying, housing costs can vary depending on the location and size of the property. In popular areas like Reykjavik, rental prices can be particularly high. However, if you’re willing to live outside of the city center or in smaller towns, you can find more affordable options.


Other essential living expenses, such as utilities (electricity, water, heating) and internet, are generally on par with European averages. However, it’s worth noting that heating costs can be higher due to Iceland’s colder climate, especially during the winter months. Keeping your energy consumption in check and utilizing energy-efficient practices can help reduce costs.


When it comes to transportation, owning a car in Iceland can be costly due to high fuel prices and vehicle taxes. However, public transportation options, such as buses, are widely available and relatively affordable, especially in urban areas. Cycling and walking are also popular modes of transportation, particularly in cities like Reykjavik where infrastructure supports these alternatives.


Dining out and entertainment expenses can vary depending on your preferences and choices. Eating at restaurants and cafes can be more expensive than preparing meals at home, but there are also affordable dining options available. It’s worth exploring local supermarkets and taking advantage of weekly discounts and promotions to help manage your grocery expenses.


It’s important to note that despite the higher cost of living, Iceland offers a strong social welfare system, high-quality public services, and excellent healthcare and education systems. These factors contribute to the overall standard of living and should be considered when evaluating the cost of living in the country.


Ultimately, your cost of living in Iceland will depend on your personal lifestyle choices and spending habits. Creating a budget and tracking your expenses can help you manage your finances effectively and ensure a comfortable living experience within your means.


While the cost of living in Iceland may be higher than in some other countries, many residents find that the high quality of life and the unique opportunities for exploration and enjoyment make it well worth the investment.


Healthcare and Education

When it comes to healthcare and education, Iceland is known for its high-quality systems that prioritize the well-being and education of its residents.


Healthcare in Iceland is universal, funded through taxes, and accessible to all citizens and legal residents. The country has a comprehensive healthcare system that provides a wide range of medical services, including preventative care, hospital treatments, and specialist care. The Ministry of Health oversees the healthcare system, and healthcare professionals are highly trained and experienced.


Residents of Iceland are required to register with a local healthcare center known as a “heilsugæslustöð,” where you will be assigned a general practitioner. This GP will serve as your primary point of contact for any medical concerns and will make referrals to specialists if needed. Emergency medical care is available 24/7, and emergency rooms are located in major hospitals throughout the country.


Education in Iceland is highly valued, and the country has a well-developed education system that provides equal opportunities for all residents. The educational structure includes compulsory education from the ages of 6 to 16, divided into primary school and lower secondary school. Higher education institutions, such as universities and colleges, offer a wide range of academic programs and vocational training.


Icelandic education emphasizes critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving skills. The country ranks among the top countries in terms of educational outcomes, and teachers are highly qualified and respected professionals.


Both healthcare and education in Iceland are generally of high quality and well-regulated. Iceland has consistently invested in the development of these sectors to ensure that its residents have access to top-notch services and opportunities. However, it’s important to note that the cost of education can vary depending on the level of study and the institution you choose.


For international students, Iceland offers an attractive destination for higher education. The country has a number of universities and colleges that provide international programs taught in English. These institutions offer a diverse range of subjects and disciplines, making Iceland an excellent choice for those seeking quality education and a unique cultural experience.


Overall, Iceland’s healthcare and education systems are designed to provide residents with a high standard of care and a well-rounded education. Whether you’re in need of medical services or looking to further your education, you can be confident that Iceland offers a supportive and well-functioning system to meet your needs.


Transportation in Iceland

Transportation in Iceland is well-developed, providing residents with various options for getting around the country. Whether you’re traveling within urban areas or exploring the stunning natural landscapes, there are transportation modes to suit every need.


Driving is a popular mode of transportation in Iceland, especially for those who want to explore the stunning countryside at their own pace. The road infrastructure is generally in good condition, allowing for smooth travel. However, it’s important to note that Iceland’s weather conditions can be unpredictable, and road conditions can change rapidly, particularly in winter. It’s essential to check weather and road conditions before embarking on any journeys and to drive cautiously, especially in rural and mountainous areas.


Public transportation is widely available, particularly in urban areas. Reykjavik, the capital city, has an extensive bus network operated by Strætó, with routes connecting various neighborhoods and surrounding towns. The buses are clean, comfortable, and equipped with amenities such as Wi-Fi. There are also long-distance bus services that allow you to travel to different parts of the country.


For those looking for a more eco-friendly and active mode of transportation, cycling is gaining popularity in Iceland. Many towns and cities have dedicated cycle paths and bike-sharing programs, making it convenient to navigate urban areas on two wheels. Additionally, walking is a pleasant option for shorter distances, especially in compact city centers.


Another unique transportation option in Iceland is domestic flights. If you’re planning to visit more remote areas of the country, such as the Westfjords or the Eastfjords, flying can save you time and provide breathtaking aerial views of the landscape. Airports are conveniently located in different regions, allowing for easy access to various destinations within Iceland.


When it comes to intercity and international travel, Iceland has several airports, with Keflavik International Airport being the main gateway for international flights. The airport has connections to numerous destinations around the world, making it easily accessible for both residents and visitors. In addition to air travel, there are ferry services available for transportation to nearby islands, such as the popular Vestmannaeyjar (Westman Islands).


Overall, transportation in Iceland offers a range of options to suit different needs and preferences. Whether you choose to drive, utilize public transportation, cycle, or fly, you’ll have no trouble getting around and exploring all the incredible sights and experiences that this unique country has to offer.


Job Opportunities

Job opportunities in Iceland vary depending on several factors, including your qualifications, skills, and the industry you wish to work in. While the country’s job market may be competitive, there are numerous sectors that offer employment prospects for both residents and expats.


One of the key industries in Iceland is tourism. With its stunning landscapes, natural attractions, and vibrant culture, Iceland attracts visitors from around the world. This has created a demand for various tourism-related jobs, including hospitality, tour guiding, accommodation services, and transportation. The tourism industry offers seasonal employment as well as year-round positions, making it a popular choice for those seeking work opportunities.


The renewable energy sector is another significant player in Iceland’s job market. The country is known for its abundant clean energy resources, including geothermal and hydroelectric power. This has led to a growing demand for professionals in renewable energy research, engineering, and development.


Iceland also has a strong fishing industry, with fishing and fish processing playing a crucial role in the country’s economy. Positions in the fishing industry range from fishing vessel crew members to processing plant workers. Additionally, Iceland’s abundant marine resources have created job opportunities in marine research and conservation.


The IT and technology sector in Iceland is expanding rapidly, with a focus on innovative solutions and startups. This sector offers employment opportunities for programmers, software developers, data analysts, and other IT professionals.


Healthcare and education are also sectors where job opportunities can be found, particularly for those with relevant experience and qualifications. Teaching positions in schools and universities, as well as healthcare roles in hospitals and clinics, are in demand.


As with any job search, it’s important to have a well-crafted resume and to actively search for job openings. Websites such as Vinnumálastofnun, Tvinna, and Mbl.is can be valuable resources for finding job listings and connecting with employers in Iceland.


Knowing Icelandic can be advantageous, especially for job opportunities that require interacting with the local population. However, many international companies and organizations operate in English, so fluency in Icelandic may not be an absolute necessity for all roles.


Networking is also highly valued in Iceland, so it’s beneficial to attend industry events and engage in professional communities to build connections and increase your chances of finding employment.


While the job market in Iceland may require some persistence and effort, the country offers a range of sectors with diverse employment opportunities. By researching the job market, tailoring your applications, and leveraging your skills and qualifications, you can boost your chances of landing a fulfilling job in this beautiful Nordic country.


Weather and Climate

Iceland’s weather and climate are unique and heavily influenced by its geographical location and the North Atlantic Ocean. The country experiences a cool, temperate maritime climate, characterized by mild summers and winters that can be cold and windy.


Summers in Iceland, from June to August, are relatively mild, with average temperatures ranging from 10°C to 15°C (50°F to 59°F). The long hours of daylight during this season provide ample time for outdoor activities and exploration. However, it’s important to note that Icelandic weather can be unpredictable, and even in the summer, you may experience rain, wind, or the occasional chilly day.


Winters in Iceland, from December to February, are colder, with average temperatures ranging from -3°C to 2°C (27°F to 36°F). The country experiences a limited amount of daylight during this period, with shorter and darker days. Winter weather can be changeable, with snowfall and strong winds. It’s important to dress warmly and be prepared for varying weather conditions, especially if you plan on venturing into the countryside where temperatures can be colder.


One of the unique features of Iceland’s climate is its proximity to the Arctic Circle. This can result in phenomena such as the Midnight Sun in summer, where the sun can be visible 24 hours a day in some parts of the country. On the other hand, Iceland also experiences the Polar Night during winter, where there are extended periods of darkness.


The weather in Iceland can change rapidly, even within a single day, so it’s essential to be prepared for various weather conditions. Layered clothing, waterproof and windproof outerwear, and sturdy footwear are essential items to have, no matter the season.


Another factor to consider is the country’s natural landscapes, which are shaped by its weather and climatic conditions. Iceland is known for its stunning glaciers, geothermal areas, and volcanic landscapes. These geological features are a result of both Iceland’s unique position on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the interaction between fire (volcanoes) and ice (glaciers).


Overall, Iceland’s weather and climate offer a diverse and dynamic environment that adds to the country’s charm. It’s important to embrace the changing weather conditions, be prepared for the elements, and take advantage of the unique experiences that each season brings.


Language and Culture

The Icelandic language and culture are deeply intertwined, reflecting the country’s rich history and unique heritage. As you embark on your journey to Iceland, understanding and embracing the language and culture will greatly enrich your experience in this vibrant Nordic nation.


The Icelandic language, often considered one of the most challenging languages to learn, is spoken by the majority of the population. Icelandic is closely related to Old Norse, the language spoken by the early settlers of Iceland. While English is widely spoken, particularly in urban areas and within the tourism industry, learning some basic Icelandic phrases can greatly enhance your cultural immersion and interactions with locals.


Icelandic culture is rooted in traditions, folklore, and a love for the country’s breathtaking landscapes. The concept of “þetta reddast,” meaning “it will all work out,” embodies the Icelandic ethos of resilience and adaptability in the face of challenges.


Icelanders value equality, social responsibility, and environmental sustainability. The country consistently ranks high in global equality indexes and emphasizes environmental protection, renewable energy, and sustainable practices. Iceland’s commitment to gender equality is especially notable, with the country being a global leader in this aspect.


Icelandic literature and sagas hold a significant place in the country’s culture. Icelanders take great pride in their literary heritage, and the country has produced internationally acclaimed authors and Nobel laureates. The Icelandic sagas, ancient literary works, tell stories of the country’s early settlers and are considered essential pieces of Icelandic identity and folklore.


Music and art are also integral parts of Icelandic culture. Iceland has a vibrant music scene, with a diverse range of genres and talented musicians. The country gained worldwide recognition with artists like Björk and Sigur Rós. The visual arts scene is equally thriving, with galleries and museums showcasing both traditional and contemporary Icelandic art.


When it comes to socializing and making friends in Iceland, Icelanders are known for their friendly and welcoming nature. Participating in local community events, festivals, and social activities provides opportunities to connect with locals and immerse yourself in the Icelandic way of life.


Icelandic culture also embraces the outdoors and a love for nature. From geothermal hot springs to stunning waterfalls and mountains, Iceland’s natural wonders offer endless opportunities for outdoor activities like hiking, skiing, and exploring volcanic landscapes.


By embracing the Icelandic language and culture, you’ll gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the country and its people. Immersing yourself in the local traditions, engaging with the arts, and connecting with the community will enhance your experience and make your time in Iceland truly unforgettable.


Leisure and Activities

Iceland offers a wealth of leisure activities to suit every interest and preference. Whether you’re seeking adventure in the great outdoors or looking to explore the vibrant cultural scene, there is always something exciting to do in this captivating Nordic country.


Outdoor enthusiasts will find a paradise in the rugged landscapes of Iceland. Hiking and trekking opportunities abound, with trails winding through volcanic terrains, moss-covered lava fields, and breathtaking mountain ranges. The iconic Laugavegur Trek, with its diverse scenery and natural hot springs, is a popular choice for hikers.


Iceland’s numerous glaciers offer unique experiences such as glacier hiking, ice climbing, and ice cave exploration. These activities allow you to get up close to the stunning icy formations and marvel at the beauty of these natural wonders.


For those who seek more exhilarating adventures, Iceland’s rivers and waterfalls provide the perfect setting for whitewater rafting and kayaking. The Hvítá River near Reykjavik and the West Glacial River in the Westfjords are popular destinations for these thrilling water sports.


Iceland’s coastal waters are home to abundant marine life, making the country a premier destination for whale watching. Boat tours take you out to the open sea, where you can catch a glimpse of majestic whales breaching the surface or spot cute puffins nesting on the cliffs.


Cultural enthusiasts will find a wealth of options in Iceland’s vibrant arts and music scene. Reykjavik boasts a thriving music scene, with various venues hosting concerts and festivals throughout the year. From intimate indie gigs to large-scale music festivals like Iceland Airwaves, there is always something for music lovers.


The visual arts are celebrated as well, with numerous galleries showcasing both traditional and contemporary Icelandic art. The innovative architecture of buildings such as Harpa Concert Hall and Perlan provide not only cultural experiences but also breathtaking views of the city.


For a relaxing experience, Iceland’s geothermal hot springs are the perfect place to unwind. The world-famous Blue Lagoon is a must-visit, offering warm mineral-rich waters surrounded by a striking volcanic landscape. There are also less crowded and more natural hot springs such as the Secret Lagoon and Reykjadalur Hot Springs.


Icelandic cuisine is gaining global recognition, and trying traditional Icelandic dishes is a must. Explore the local food scene and indulge in delicacies such as fresh seafood, Icelandic lamb, and the unique fermented shark (hákarl). Whichever cuisine or dining experience you choose, be sure to pair it with a taste of the local craft beer or the traditional Icelandic schnapps known as “brennivín.”


Iceland is also home to a range of museums and historical sites that offer insights into the country’s unique heritage and history. From the National Museum of Iceland, which showcases Iceland’s cultural history, to the Snæfellsjökull National Park with its mystical glacier and folklore connections, there is plenty to explore and learn.


No matter your interests or preferences, Iceland offers an abundance of leisure activities to keep you entertained and captivated throughout your stay. Embrace the adventurous spirit, immerse yourself in the vibrant cultural scene, and create memories that will last a lifetime in this captivating Nordic wonderland.


Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping in Iceland provides an opportunity to explore the local flavors and culinary delights while fulfilling your daily food needs. With a variety of supermarkets and local markets, you’ll find a wide range of fresh produce, pantry staples, and Icelandic specialties to stock your kitchen.


One of the largest supermarket chains in Iceland is Bónus, known for its distinctive pink pig logo. Bónus offers a wide selection of groceries at affordable prices and has locations throughout the country. Another popular supermarket is Krónan, which provides a similar range of products at competitive prices.


For those seeking organic and specialty items, Hagkaup is a great option. They offer a wide selection of high-quality products, including organic produce, health foods, and international brands. Vinbuðin, the state-owned liquor store, is where you can purchase alcoholic beverages, including wine, spirits, and local Icelandic craft beers.


Icelandic cuisine features an array of fresh seafood, including salmon, cod, and herring. You can find a wide assortment of seafood products at local fishmongers or in the fish section of supermarkets. Don’t miss the opportunity to try traditional Icelandic delicacies like smoked lamb (hangikjöt) and skyr, a thick and creamy yogurt-like dairy product.


Visiting local markets is a wonderful way to experience the culinary culture of Iceland. Kolaportið, located in Reykjavik, is the largest indoor market in the country. Here you can find everything from fresh produce and seafood to crafts, clothing, and local delicacies. The Reykjavik Flea Market, also known as Kolaportið, offers a unique shopping experience with a variety of vendors selling vintage items, secondhand clothes, and Icelandic memorabilia.


It’s worth noting that grocery shopping in Iceland can be more expensive compared to other countries. The country’s remote location and reliance on imports contribute to higher prices, particularly for imported products. However, shopping locally and taking advantage of seasonal produce can help keep costs manageable.


Icelandic supermarkets generally have fixed opening hours, typically from early morning to late evening. While you can find many essential items in the smaller towns and villages, larger supermarkets in urban areas offer a wider variety of products and brands.


When planning your grocery shopping, it’s important to consider the size of your household and the quantity of food you need. Proper meal planning and making a shopping list can help you stay organized and avoid unnecessary purchases.


Iceland’s tap water is of exceptional quality and safe to drink, so there’s no need to buy bottled water. Consider bringing a reusable water bottle to refill and reduce plastic waste.


In summary, grocery shopping in Iceland allows you to explore the local culinary scene, discover Icelandic specialties, and stock up on the essentials. Embrace the local flavors, support local producers, and enjoy the unique experience of navigating the aisles of Icelandic supermarkets and markets during your time in this captivating country.


Banking and Taxes

Understanding the banking system and tax regulations in Iceland is crucial for managing your finances effectively during your stay in the country. Whether you need to open a bank account, transfer funds, or navigate tax obligations, being informed will ensure a smooth financial experience.


Opening a bank account in Iceland is relatively straightforward for residents and non-residents alike. The major Icelandic banks, such as Íslandsbanki, Landsbankinn, and Arion Bank, offer a range of services to meet your banking needs. These services include checking and savings accounts, debit and credit cards, online banking, and mobile banking apps.


When opening a bank account, you will typically need to provide identification, proof of address, and your Icelandic identification number (kennitala) if applicable. It’s recommended to visit the bank in person and speak with a representative who can guide you through the process and answer any questions you may have.


Iceland has a progressive tax system, which means that tax rates increase as income rises. Tax rates for individuals vary depending on income brackets, and there are separate tax rates for employment income and capital gains. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the tax rules and regulations to ensure compliance with Icelandic tax laws.


If you’re working in Iceland, your employer will typically handle the deduction and payment of income taxes on your behalf. The Icelandic tax year follows the calendar year, running from January 1st to December 31st. You will need to file an annual tax return, and it’s recommended to seek assistance from a tax advisor or use the online services provided by the Icelandic Tax Administration (RSK) to ensure accurate reporting.


Value Added Tax (VAT) is applicable to most goods and services in Iceland, and the standard rate is currently 24%. Some items, such as food and books, are subject to a reduced VAT rate of 11%. When shopping, VAT is included in the displayed prices, and you can request a tax refund for eligible purchases made by tourists when departing from Iceland.


When managing your finances in Iceland, it’s important to keep track of your expenses and maintain good financial records. This will enable you to accurately report your income and deductions during tax filing and ensure compliance with financial regulations.


It’s also advisable to familiarize yourself with online banking and mobile payment options, as they are widely used in Iceland. These services provide convenience and allow you to manage your finances easily, whether you’re transferring funds, paying bills, or checking your account balances.


Remember to stay informed about any updates or changes in banking regulations and tax laws, as these can impact your financial obligations and rights while living in Iceland.


By understanding the banking system and tax regulations in Iceland, you can confidently manage your finances and ensure compliance with local requirements. Whether it’s opening a bank account or fulfilling your tax obligations, being financially informed will help you make the most of your time in this beautiful Nordic nation.


Safety and Security

Iceland is generally considered a safe and secure country, making it an attractive destination for both residents and tourists. However, as with any location, it is important to be aware of certain factors and take necessary precautions to ensure your safety and well-being.


One of the notable aspects of Iceland is its low crime rate. Violent crime is rare, and Iceland consistently ranks among the safest countries in the world. However, it is still advisable to practice common sense and take basic precautions to protect yourself and your belongings.


While the overall crime rate is low, petty theft and pickpocketing can occur, particularly in crowded tourist areas or public transportation. It’s essential to keep an eye on your belongings, especially smartphones, wallets, and bags, and be cautious of your surroundings.


The Icelandic wilderness offers spectacular natural attractions, but it’s important to respect the environment and be aware of potential hazards. If you plan on exploring the outdoors, always check weather conditions, inform someone of your plans, and be prepared with appropriate clothing, equipment, and knowledge of the area. Sudden weather changes, strong winds, and challenging terrain can pose risks, so it’s crucial to stay informed and take precautions.


Iceland is known for its geothermal activity and natural hot springs, like the popular Blue Lagoon. While these attractions are enjoyable, it’s important to follow safety guidelines and be cautious around hot springs, as water temperatures can vary and the ground can be slippery.


When traveling by car, it’s crucial to exercise caution, particularly during winter when road conditions can be challenging. Ice and snow can make driving conditions hazardous, and roads in rural areas might be less maintained. It’s important to monitor weather and road conditions, be prepared with appropriate tires, and follow traffic rules.


Emergency services in Iceland are reliable and responsive. The general emergency number is 112, which can be dialed for medical emergencies, police assistance, or fire-related incidents. It’s recommended to have an understanding of basic first aid techniques and carry travel insurance that covers medical expenses and emergency evacuations.


It’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with local laws and regulations to ensure compliance. Icelandic laws prioritize safety and environmental protection, and it’s important to respect rules related to nature conservation, wildlife preservation, and responsible travel.


For up-to-date travel advisories and safety information, it’s advisable to consult your embassy or consulate before your trip. They can provide valuable guidance and information specific to your home country.


While Iceland is known for its safety and security, it’s essential to remain vigilant, exercise caution, and use common sense to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience during your time in this remarkable Nordic country.


Socializing and Making Friends

When moving to Iceland, socializing and making friends can greatly enhance your experience and sense of belonging in this welcoming, community-oriented country. The Icelandic people are known for their friendliness and inclusive nature, making it relatively easy to connect with locals and form lasting friendships.


Engaging in social activities and joining local communities is a great way to meet new people and establish connections. Icelandic cultural events, festivals, and celebrations provide opportunities to immerse yourself in the local culture and foster new friendships. Attending these gatherings and actively participating in community activities demonstrates your interest in Icelandic traditions and can help you connect with like-minded individuals.


Joining clubs, hobby groups, or sports teams is another effective way to meet people and make friends. Icelanders have a strong sense of community and participate in various recreational activities. Whether it’s a hiking club, football team, or knitting circle, finding a group with shared interests provides a natural platform for friendship building.


Icelandic language skills are not necessary for making friends, as many Icelanders are fluent in English. However, learning some basic Icelandic phrases can be a wonderful ice breaker and show your appreciation for the local culture. Locals are often eager to help newcomers and share their knowledge of Icelandic language and customs.


Reykjavik, as the capital city, offers a vibrant social scene with numerous cafes, bars, and entertainment venues where you can meet people with diverse backgrounds and interests. Expanding your social network can be as simple as striking up conversations with locals at a coffee shop or attending cultural events and performances.


The concept of “kvöldvaka,” which loosely translates to “evening visit,” is deeply rooted in Icelandic culture. It involves visiting friends, family, or neighbors for conversations and coffee. Embracing this tradition or inviting others for a casual gathering at your home can be a great way to foster friendships and create meaningful connections.


Icelandic society values equality and inclusivity, creating a welcoming environment for people from different backgrounds. Embracing the local culture, expressing genuine interest in Icelandic traditions, and respecting local customs will help you to integrate into the social fabric of the country.


It’s important to be patient and allow friendships to develop naturally. Icelanders tend to value deep, long-lasting relationships, so it may take time to establish meaningful connections. Building trust and showing genuine interest in others’ lives and experiences are key elements in forming strong friendships in Iceland.


Lastly, maintaining an open mind and a positive attitude will go a long way in socializing and making friends in Iceland. Embrace the opportunity to connect with locals, share experiences, and learn from one another. Remember, Icelanders are known for their warm hospitality and genuine friendliness, so don’t hesitate to reach out and build your social circle in this beautiful Nordic country. 


Moving to Iceland offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in a captivating land of fire and ice. From its breathtaking landscapes and vibrant culture to its high standard of living and welcoming community, Iceland has much to offer those seeking a new home abroad.


In this ultimate guide, we have explored the essential aspects of relocating to Iceland. We covered the visa and residence permit requirements, highlighted the diverse housing options, and discussed the cost of living in this beautiful Nordic country.


Furthermore, we delved into the healthcare and education systems, ensuring that you are aware of the top-notch services and opportunities available in Iceland. We also discussed the various modes of transportation and job prospects, providing insights into how to navigate the country’s infrastructure and employment landscape.


Understanding Iceland’s unique weather, language, and cultural heritage is important for integrating into this vibrant society. We explored the geothermal wonders, the Icelandic language, the rich traditions, and the plethora of leisure activities that await residents in this land of natural wonders.


We touched upon the practical aspects of living in Iceland, such as grocery shopping, banking, taxes, safety, and socializing. Equipped with this knowledge, you can confidently navigate everyday life, form meaningful connections, and enjoy all the opportunities this magnificent country has to offer.


Moving to Iceland is an adventure filled with awe-inspiring landscapes, vibrant cultural experiences, and welcoming communities. By familiarizing yourself with the practicalities and embracing the unique aspects of Icelandic life, you can create a fulfilling and enriching life in this unforgettable Nordic nation.


So, whether you’re captivated by the elusive Northern Lights, eager to explore the breathtaking volcanoes and glaciers, or yearning for a close-knit community that embraces equality and sustainability, Iceland awaits with open arms. Embrace the journey, immerse yourself in the local culture, and savor the countless wonders that make Iceland a truly extraordinary place to call home.