Nordic citizens are free to study, work and reside in Iceland. Citizens from other EU/EEA countries including citizens of Switzerland may in some cases be subject to some special rules. For citizens of non-EU/EEA countries there are a number of things to take into account. One can read more about the regulations here.
Programs such as Erasmus, Leonardo da Vinci and Nordplus offer students the opportunity to apply for a placement grant. Through these placements such students are given the possibility to work in organizations that are related to their’ field of studies. The duration of placements in Iceland ranges from a minimum of 3 to 12 months. However, for those students with higher and shorter professional educations the minimum is two months. There are many organizations that offer student placements, such as training centres, higher education institutions and companies. There are however no possibilities for student placements in EU bodies such as EU institutions or in public institutions that represent the students’ home country, in Iceland.
Further information about different programs can be found on:
Internship and placement advice
There are many practical issues relating to international placements that need to be addressed either by the trainee or the host company. It is important to ensure that you allow enough time for all the arrangements and the necessary formalities. The training organisations, educational institutes and home and host organisations are able to help with these.
Social security and European health insurance card
As a foreigner you will need medical insurance since in order to qualify for the Icelandic social security system you first need to have been resident in Iceland for six months. After this period you will be covered by with Icelandic social health care system.
In the unfortunate case of an emergency, one should dial 112. When you need non-emergency medical treatment in the Reykjavik area during business hours you should dial 544-4114. Outside of business hours, the number to dial is 1770.
Non – EU/EEA Students
If you are coming from a non-EU/EAA country you will need medical insurance from the country of your origin that is valid in Iceland or get insurance from an Icelandic company. Some options are: TM, VÍS, Sjóvá and Vörður. In order to qualify for a student visa you need to have insurance.
EU/EEA or Switzerland Students
If you are a European citizen make sure to bring your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with you so you can prove that you are entitled to health insurance in your country of origin. If you are insured in an EEA country, you will receive free medical treatment in urgent cases during a temporary stay in Iceland. When going to see a doctor, remember to bring your passport and EHIC with you.
You can travel to Iceland with peace of mind since it is one of the safest countries in the world. For example, in Reykjavík crime rates are very low and problems related to violence or drugs on the streets are rare. However, at night it is recommended that people stick together. One of the places to steer clear of in Reykjavik is Austruvöllur Park at night time. Do not be afraid to contact the police and other authorities in Iceland, since just as the crime rate is low, so is the rate of corruption too. The whole Icelandic way of living is founded on tolerance and mutual trust. Icelanders trust the police, almost as much as they trust the Coast Guard!
Do I need a visa?
Iceland is a Schengen country which makes visiting easy for most European nationalities. However, the UK and Ireland are not members of the Schengen agreement and therefore citizens of these countries need to apply for a visa before entering Iceland. When coming to Iceland you will need a passport that is valid for three months longer than you intend to stay. If you are a citizen of a non-EU/EEA country you will need to get a visa before you enter Iceland because if your visa application has not been approved by the time you enter the country, you will need to leave and wait until you have been granted your visa.
If you are a non-EU/EEA citizen and you are coming to Iceland for study or work, you will have to apply for a residence permit and cannot enter Iceland before your application has been approved. You should be prepared to wait for 90 days for your application to be processed. However, it can take longer if you fail to supply all the required documents to the Directorate of Immigration. If your application is approved you need to get a D-Visa from the closest embassy issuing these visas so that you can then enter Iceland.
People coming from non-EEA countries, Africa, Asia, Central and South America, Romania and Bulgaria have to undergo a medical check. Exceptions to this are citizens of Switzerland, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. However, if you have a valid medical certificate that is less than three months old, you might not need to have another medical examination.
If you are a citizen of either the EU or the EEA, you will also need a residence permit if you intend to stay for longer than three months. If you are seeking employment, you can stay for 6 months in Iceland without having a residence permit. However, you can enter Iceland before your application has been approved. EU/EEA citizens do not need to worry about getting work permits, since getting a residence permit will be enough for them.
Whether you are a EU/EEA citizen or not, coming to Iceland for study means that you will need to register your domicile, apply for an Icelandic ID number and go to the municipal office with your passport, acceptance letter from your host university and residence permit (if applicable). You can apply for an ID number before your arrival and it is advised that you apply for it a month before you enter the country since in order to register at the University you will need to have been issued with an Icelandic ID number.
If you are coming to Iceland and you are a citizen of a Nordic country, you do not need a residence permit and simply need to register at the Registers Iceland when you arrive in the country.
Internship and placement salary
Students may be paid whilst on placement but this is not the norm. The students role is often more of a supporting one. Students cannot replace full-time employees. Naturally the goals of student placements are to help the student to prepare to enter the labour market. Skills development, improving language skills and understanding culture are also central aims for student placements.
Internship and placement accommodation
If you are going to Iceland on a student exchange, you should contact your host university as they will assist you in finding a place to stay. Alternatively, while you a searching for more permanent housing you can use youth hostels or guest houses as a short-term solution. Websites like www.visitreykjavík.is and www.gisting.is are worth visiting when looking for guesthouses, hostels and hotels. You should remember that as property is generally privately owned in Iceland, finding a place to rent might be challenging.
When looking for housing in the Reykjavík area, you might want to take a look at the following services:
- The Student Rental Agency (Stúdentamiðlun, see website: http://www.studentamidlun.is/english/ [en])
- Keilir campus (close to the Keflavik airport) (see website: http://en.keilir.net/ [en])
When looking for housing outside the Reykjavík area, the following services may be helpful:
- Accommodation at the University Centre at the Westfjords
- Accommodation at Bifröst University
- Student Housing at the University of Akureyri
Once you have found an apartment, in order to apply for a rent subsidy you will have to sign a lease. It is recommended that you read about leases on the Intercultural Centre website, as it is important that you know what you are signing. If you are a student coming from outside of the EEA you will need a housing certificate to show that your accommodation in Iceland is secured for the period that you will be in the country.