Living in Iceland
Iceland is a small island nation that offers a unique living experience. Known for its stunning natural beauty, Nordic culture, and tight-knit communities, living in Iceland can be an exciting and rewarding experience. Below is practical information for those who are curious about the Icelandic culture and lifestyle.
Iceland's landscape is shaped by its volcanic geology, glaciers, and hot springs.
Reykjavik, the northernmost capital in the world, is the center of Iceland's arts and culture scene.
The housing market in Reykjavik and the surrounding area can be challenging, there are still many opportunities for those looking to buy or rent a home.
Commuting in Reykjavik, Iceland can be relatively easy due to the city's compact size and efficient public transportation system.
Iceland maintains a universal healthcare system, under which all legal residents are covered by the Icelandic social insurance system.
In Iceland, families with children can expect a high degree of freedom and a family-friendly environment that emphasizes equal opportunities for all.
Working in Iceland
In Iceland, non-EEA/EFTA nationals who plan to reside and work for over 90 days need to apply for a residence and work permit. The process takes about 90 days, requires various documents, including proof of health insurance and sufficient funds to support themselves, and involves submitting an application to the Directorate of Immigration. EU/EEA/EFTA nationals are exempt from this requirement and can enter and stay in Iceland for up to 90 days without a permit. If they plan to stay longer, they need to register their right to stay and apply for a registration certificate with Registers Iceland, which is a straightforward process. It is crucial to ensure that all requirements are met, and all necessary documentation is prepared before starting the application process. Links to more detailed information can be found on the websites below:
- Directorate of Immigration: https://utl.is/index.php/en/
This website provides information about residence permits, work permits, and other types of permits available in Iceland.
- Directorate of Labour: https://www.vinnumalastofnun.is/en
The Directorate of Labour is responsible for issuing work permits in Iceland. Their website provides information about the different types of work permits available, the application process, and the requirements for each.
- Registers Iceland: https://www.skra.is/english/
This website provides information about registering your right to stay in Iceland if you are an EU/EEA/EFTA national. It includes information about the registration certificate application process and what documentation is required.
- Work in Iceland: https://work.iceland.is/
This website is operated by the Icelandic government and provides information for those seeking information about working in Iceland.
In Iceland, tax regulations operate under a progressive tax rate system that increases with income levels. Employers are responsible for deducting and paying employee income tax and social security contributions. A monthly personal tax credit is available to all employees, which reduces the amount of calculated taxes. It is mandatory for employees to submit their tax returns by March each year. The process can be conveniently completed online using electronic identification. It is crucial for those considering working in Iceland to understand the tax regulations and requirements, including the registration process with tax authorities and compliance with tax obligations. The Icelandic Tax Authority website and the Work in Iceland website provide detailed information on tax regulations in Iceland.
- The Icelandic Tax Authority: https://www.skatturinn.is/english/
- Work in Iceland - Tax Regulations: https://work.iceland.is/working/tax-regulations/
Iceland provides a foreign expert tax exemption program to offer financial benefits to foreign professionals with exceptional skills and knowledge not commonly found in Iceland. The program allows eligible foreign experts to be exempt from paying income tax in Iceland for up to three years, provided they fulfill specific requirements, including a minimum one-year employment contract with a registered Icelandic company operating in a beneficial field. The objective of the program is to attract top talents from across the globe and encourage economic growth and development in Iceland. The Icelandic Directorate of Internal Revenue's website offers comprehensive details about the foreign expert tax exemption program, including eligibility criteria and application procedures. The website contains vital information about the eligible income types, mandatory documentation, and application submission process. For further information, please visit the following link: https://www.skatturinn.is/english/individuals/foreign-experts/
Iceland has a strong system of workers' rights and protections, supported by law and active unions, which ensure that employees are treated fairly and have access to important benefits. In Iceland, employees have the right to establish and join unions of their preference, and membership rates are notably high. The choice of union is typically based on an employee's profession and educational background. These unions are empowered to conduct collective bargaining negotiations that can encompass wages, working hours, and other pertinent benefits, providing workers with a platform to advocate for equitable compensation and working environments.
Working hours & public holidays
The typical work schedule in Iceland mandates a 40-hour workweek, with provisions for breaks throughout the day. Overtime work is remunerated at a higher rate, and there are restrictions on the total number of working hours per week. These measures help guarantee that employees are not burdened with excessive workload and can achieve a satisfactory work-life balance. Employees in Iceland are entitled to at least 24 days of paid annual leave, which may increase with years of service. Moreover, there are 13 public holidays per year.
In Iceland, workers are entitled to a pension as part of their employment benefits. This pension system is designed to provide employees with a secure and dignified retirement and is funded through contributions from both employers and employees. Oversight of the pension system is provided by the Icelandic Pension Fund.
In Iceland, having a pension fund is mandatory for all workers. Employees are required to select an Icelandic pension fund of their choosing, with options ranging from those linked to unions to those linked to banks. To fund their pension, employees contribute 4% of their total salary, while employers contribute an additional 11.5%.
In addition to the mandatory pension fund, employees have the option to contribute to a voluntary pension fund. By choosing to do so, employers will contribute a 2% fee of the total salary before tax, in addition to the employee's choice of either 2% or 4% of their paid-out salary.
- Further information on pension funds can be found at here: https://www.lifeyrismal.is/en
- For further information about worker's rights and related matters: https://work.iceland.is/working/workers-rights/
When planning to work and reside in Iceland, obtaining a personal ID number (kennitala) is required. While an electronic ID is not obligatory, it can be a helpful option for efficient tax filing and online banking. This electronic ID is connected to the SIM card in your mobile phone for authentication purposes.
To work in Iceland, it is also essential to have an Icelandic bank account and corresponding debit card, which can be used for withdrawing money from ATMs or making direct purchases. You will need your ID number and passport to open an account at any of the banks.
For more comprehensive information on necessary paperwork when working in Iceland, Work in Iceland provides useful guidance on their website at https://work.iceland.is/working/paperwork/
Iceland is recognized for its strong commitment to equality, with government policies and initiatives in place to ensure equal treatment and opportunities for all citizens, including laws on gender equality, parental leave, and LGBTQ+ rights. This dedication to inclusivity extends to the workplace, with programs aimed at promoting diversity and respect among employees.
As an employer, Alvotech pledges to create a workplace that upholds equality and mutual respect among employees, promoting fairness and equal opportunities for all. The company emphasizes communication and methods of work characterized by respect, integrity, fairness, and equality. Alvotech has published an Equality Report which outlines its initiatives and progress in promoting equality, which can be accessed at the following link: Alvotech Equality Report 2022