Iceland is an amazingly beautiful country with a high standard of living and happy citizens. The small island country with a population of about 376.5 thousand people is located in the northern part of the Atlantic Ocean next to Greenland and Great Britain. Today, a large number of foreigners are considering employment options in Iceland, and some dream of obtaining Icelandic citizenship and staying here to live forever.

Citizenship of Iceland

In terms of GDP per capita, Iceland is one of the five richest countries in Europe. In addition, according to the Global Peace Index report by the Institute for Economics and Peace, it is the safest country on the planet. In short, an Icelandic passport has a number of advantages even when compared to successful EU member states. Next, we will tell you how to get Icelandic citizenship for foreigners in 2024.

Obtaining citizenship of Iceland. Main ways.

The requirements and ways of obtaining a passport of Iceland are set forth in the Act "On Icelandic Citizenship" No. 100/1952, which entered into force on January 1, 1953. According to the document, there are four main ways to obtain Icelandic citizenship:

  • Birth

  • Naturalization

  • Declaration

  • Law

Icelandic citizenship by birth

The fact of birth on Icelandic territory does not automatically entitle you to an Icelandic passport. One of the parents must be Icelandic. However, it is possible that the mother or father may have held an Icelandic passport in the past and is now permanently and legally resident in Iceland.

Note. A child found (abandoned) in Iceland, in the absence of information about the parents, receives Icelandic citizenship.

Icelandic citizenship by naturalization

By law, the right to acquire Icelandic citizenship by naturalization comes after seven years of permanent residence in Iceland. The period may be shortened in the following cases:

  • The candidate is in a marriage relationship with an Icelandic citizen and has resided in Iceland for at least three years from the date of marriage, with the spouse having held citizenship for a minimum of five years. In the case of cohabitation, the period of residence is increased to five years.

  • A candidate whose parent is an Icelandic citizen must have resided in the country for two years, provided that the Icelandic parent has held Icelandic citizenship for at least five years.

  • A candidate who was previously an Icelandic citizen but then became a citizen of another country must live in Iceland for one year.

  • The period of residence in Iceland is four years if the candidate is a citizen of one of the countries of The Nordic Council, which includes Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland Islands.

  • A candidate who was born in Iceland and has no other citizenship can obtain a passport after three years of residence in the country.

Requirements for naturalization in Iceland:

  1. Having permanent resident status and uninterrupted period of residence in Iceland as stated above.

  2. Passing identification – original and copies of passport and birth certificate.

  3. Employability and decent behavior in Icelandic society, which is confirmed by a written statement of at least two independent persons – citizens of Iceland. That is, the opinion of close relatives is not taken into account here.

  4. Passing an Icelandic language proficiency exam. Some candidates are exempted. For example, due to age restrictions (over 65 years old) or for medical reasons.

  5. No tax arrears, bankruptcy proceedings or other financial obligations.

  6. Confirmation of the ability to support oneself and family financially in Iceland, and no receipt of assistance from local municipalities in the last 3 years. In general, the Icelandic Immigration Department requires that the monthly income of a candidate for citizenship is at least 212,694 kroner ($1,480) for a single person and 340,320 kroner ($2,365) for a couple. Children under 18, students 18-20, dependent relatives over 67, and spouses of Icelandic citizens are exempt from this condition.

  7. Absence of major fines and criminal record. Icelandic laws provide for different conditions under which fines and criminal records are considered cleared for the possibility of applying for citizenship. For example, if you have been imprisoned for one year or more, you will not be able to obtain an Icelandic passport until fourteen years later.

Applications for Icelandic citizenship take an average of 12 months to be processed.

Icelandic citizenship by naturalization

Important. Exceptions for uninterrupted residence on Icelandic territory until the application for citizenship may apply if the interruption is up to one year due to temporary employment abroad or due to circumstances beyond the candidate's control, such as the illness of a close relative, and up to three years due to study abroad.

Icelandic citizenship by declaration

Obtaining Icelandic citizenship by declaration is somewhat simpler than naturalization. The main requirements are:

  • Candidate’s age 18-20 and permanent residence in Iceland since the age of 11 or since the age of 13 for stateless persons.

  • Residence in Iceland for a minimum of two years, provided the candidate was previously an Icelandic citizen (by birth) and lived in the country until the age of 18.

  • The candidate has lived in Iceland for at least 7 years and is a citizen of one of the Nordic Council states.

  • A former Icelandic citizen who, after losing his/her Icelandic passport, became a citizen of one of the "Nordic Council" states. Residency in Icelandic territory is required.

  • Candidates who have been granted refugee status or residence permit in Iceland on humanitarian grounds need only have lived in Iceland for five years to obtain an Icelandic passport.

Note. Providing false information to the Icelandic authorities when applying for citizenship is punishable by a fine or imprisonment of up to one year.

Icelandic citizenship by law

Each year the Icelandic authorities grant a limited number of passports to people who cannot obtain citizenship by other legal means (see above).

Important. As of July 1, 2003, there are no restrictions on local citizens in Iceland holding passports of states other than Icelandic. Prior to this date, dual citizenship in Iceland was only allowed in a few cases.

According to official data of the Icelandic Statistical Office, the largest group of immigrants in Iceland is represented by citizens of Poland, who account for about 40% of the total number of foreigners permanently residing in the country. Next, come Lithuanians and Filipinos.

Only in 2018, 14.3 thousand people immigrated to Iceland. At the same time, only 2.8 thousand Icelanders left the country. The most popular destinations are Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Icelandic citizenship is granted to about 700-800 foreigners annually. In 2023, Icelandic passport holders can visit more than 160 countries without visas.

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