How to Become an Icelandic Citizen

How to Become an Icelandic Citizen

Iceland is a small island nation known for its tolerance of immigrants. Every year thousands of people choose the country as their new home. At the same time, only 93% of the population are Icelanders. It is anticipated that immigrants will account for 15% of the population by 2030.

Iceland has well-developed democratic institutions, social systems and infrastructure. High taxes correlate with high salaries. Finally, Iceland boasts world-famous natural wonders such as majestic fjords, cold sea waves, and the northern lights, attracting both local residents and tourists.

Ways of Obtaining Icelandic Citizenship

By Descent

You can apply for Icelandic citizenship if one of your parents is a citizen of Iceland. If children are born to a foreign mother and an Icelandic father, they can get the passport of Iceland in the following circumstances: if they were born in Iceland and are recognised by the father. However, even if children were born abroad, they are still eligible for Icelandic citizenship, but only if they apply for citizenship before they reach the age of 18.

By Naturalisation

You can apply for Icelandic citizenship by naturalisation after living in the country for seven years. However, there are also a few instances where you can apply earlier than that.  Check the list below.

  • If you are married to an Icelandic citizen, three years will suffice.
  • If you lost your citizenship and now want to restore it, naturalisation will take a year.
  • Children born in Iceland who have no other citizenship can become Icelandic citizens in three years.

Northern Lights in Iceland. Photo:

How to Get a Residency Permit 

As an economically developed country, Iceland always welcomes immigrants with valuable skills. You can obtain a residency permit in Iceland in the following instances:

  • you receive a job offer in Iceland,
  • you launch your own business in the country,
  • you enrol with a university in Iceland, or
  • you spent at least EUR 100,000 to buy Icelandic real estate.

Applicants must prove that they are financially independent and have no criminal record. The new rules allow you to keep your original citizenship and have two passports.

In addition to a residency permit, you also get an Icelandic ID card called kennitala. It looks like a 10-digit number that includes your date of birth. You need the ID card to open a bank account, go to a hospital, take out books from a library, and do many other things.

Lutheran Church of Iceland Parish church in Reykjavik, Iceland. Photo:

Required Documents

After legalisation, meeting the requirements and complying with the residency period, you have to collect the following documents to apply for citizenship:

  • a certificate stating that you have no criminal record and no debts,
  • references from Icelanders,
  • a residency permit and ID,
  • proof of your source of income, and
  • a title deed.

You can submit documents in English or in one of the Nordic languages.

Basalt columns in Iceland with layered rock formations. Photo:

Icelandic Features Worth Knowing

Nature in Iceland is beautiful, but merciless: owing to the harsh climate, you can hardly ever go outside without a coat. Supermarkets always offer a wide range of fresh fish and seafood, whereas fruit and vegetables are imported and are consequently available in a limited range and are expensive.

Most shops in Iceland are open until 6 PM on a working day and closed at the weekends. It is advisable to obtain a local bank card as soon as you arrive as not all businesses accept cash or cheques.

Goðafoss waterfalls, Iceland. Photo:

In a Nutshell

It is not easy to obtain citizenship in Iceland, but it is possible. Iceland values immigrants who respect its laws and contribute to the development of the local economy. However,  you should bear in mind the challenges of living on an island with high property prices and a cold climate.

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