Innovation, Startups and Venture Capital in Iceland

Fifty-nine people have already moved to Iceland on Remote Worker Visas

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The Icelandic Directorate of Immigration has received a total of 111 applications for residence permits on the basis of rule changes, which were made last autumn to make it easier for foreigners from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) to come to Iceland and work remotely.

According to answers from the Directorate, fifty-nine of the so-called Remote Worker Visas have been granted so far, meaning a total of 59 people have moved to Iceland on the basis of the new residence permits, as the visas are not officially granted until people come to Iceland. 

104 applications in total have been approved, so 45 more people have had their applications approved without having yet moved to Iceland.

Northstack called for these same numbers from the Directorate in February, at which point only 10 people had moved to Iceland on the basis of the newly introduced residence permits. The number of digital nomads has therefore grown quite a bit in the past three months.

The applications for Remote Worker Visas include both the workers that want to come to Iceland and do their jobs remotely and their family members. Almost all the applications come from US citizens, or 105 of the 111 the authorities have already received, according to the Directorate of Immigration. The remaining six applications come from Canadians, Brits and Australians.

The new measures were put in place in October last year, but they enable non-EEA foreign nationals to reside in Iceland for up to six months and work remotely for foreign companies. The foreign nationals are allowed to bring their families without having to move their legal domicile to the country or obtain Icelandic ID numbers.

The Remote Worker Visas were talked about in a New York Times article last week. Brent Ozar, which has been working remotely from Iceland since January along with his wife, told the Times of his experience and spoke about the tax environment.

Ozar said to the Times that he was not saving money by working from Iceland — as the cost of living in Iceland was relatively high. “But would he do it again? “In a heartbeat,” he said.”

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies around the world have made significant changes to the way they operate and are now increasingly allowing and encouraging their staff to telework. The result is that in many instances employees can choose their home environment, irrespective of the location of their workplace.

How does one apply for the Remote Worker Visa?

To get a Remote Worker Visa in Iceland, applicants must have valid health insurance, either in Iceland or abroad. Applicants also need confirmation from their employer that they can perform their work remotely from Iceland. Self-employed applicants must confirm that they are verifiably self-employed in the country in which they have permanent residency or work typically.

Applicants must also have confirmation that their income from remote working will correspond to at least 1 million ISK per month. For example, an employee can present an employment contract with information on the monthly salary.

A self-employed person can, for example, show a contract for the project(s) they intend to work on remotely and the agreed payment(s).

If people are also applying for a spouse or cohabiting partner to join them in Iceland under the Remote Worker Visa, they must have income for their remote work which corresponds to 1,3 million ISK per month.

More information about the Remote Worker Visas can be found on the Directorate of Immigration’s website.

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