Guide: Moving from Iceland

Gátlisti vegna flutnings frá Íslandi til hinna Norðurlandanna
Various things need to be considered when moving from Iceland to one of the other Nordic countries. Below is a list of useful things to keep in mind. Remember, though, that this list is not exhaustive and that it varies from one person to the next which of the items apply.

Registering legal domicile

Registration of a legal domicile is governed by a Nordic agreement on registration in the country's National Registry. To transfer your legal domicile, you must contact the agency that looks after the registry in the country to which you are moving. In Denmark this is the municipalities, in Sweden and Norway it is the tax authorities and in Finland it is the Magistraterna. When you register you will be given an identification number (Id. No.). There is no need to formally notify the National Registry of Iceland when you move from Iceland to another Nordic country.

It varies from country to country how long you can stay there without registering in the National Registry, this can be from 6 months to 12 months. 

If you move to study in another Nordic countries you transfer your legal domicile to that country. You are then covered by the social security rules of the country in question. Assistance is provided according to the rules of the country in question and may vary from country to country.

Social insurance

In principle, when an individual moves abroad to work, he/she is covered by the social security of the country to which he/she is moving.

If you move temporarily to work abroad, you can apply for an A1 certificate. You can then continue to earn entitlement in Iceland and continue to be covered under the Icelandic social insurance system. It can make a difference to have the A1 certificate with you, as it prevents you from having to pay social security contributions both in Iceland and abroad. 

Persons who expect payments from social security must contact the Icelandic Social Insurance Administration before moving. This is especially important for people receiving an invalidity or old-age pension. As you have to file a tax return in Iceland for pension payments, it is a good idea to obtain information about that from the Social Insurance Administration before leaving.

Maternity/Paternity leave and child benefits

Child benefits are paid by the tax authorities in Iceland, unlike the other Nordic countries where they are paid by the equivalent of the Social Insurance Administration or the municipality (Denmark). 

For persons who do not reside in Iceland all year round, child benefits are calculated in proportion to the length of stay in Iceland. However, this does not apply to students abroad who continue to have tax residency in Iceland: they are entitled to child benefits in Iceland to the extent that they are higher than child benefits received or similar payments from abroad.

Pregnant women should familiarise themselves with rules on maternity/paternity leave before making a decision on moving, as where the child is born can make a difference, in addition to which precise rules must be followed if the right to paternity/paternity leave is to be transferred between countries.


Moving abroad for study

If you are studying abroad, you can apply to maintain tax residence in Iceland and by doing so keep all the rights granted by residence in this country. This means that taxation takes into account the tax deductions and benefits to which you would be entitled if your domicile had been in Iceland all year. Income and assets abroad affect taxation, as provided for in double taxation agreements, and child benefits and similar payments abroad will reduce child benefits paid in Iceland.

Only persons who have lived in Iceland for the last five years before starting their studies abroad can keep their tax residency in Iceland. Studies must also begin within three months of moving.

Moving abroad for study

The Nordisk eTax website contains much useful information regarding income taxation. 

Transport of household effects and vehicles

Make sure you acquaint yourself well with customs rules if you are taking household effects or a vehicle with you to another Nordic country. Both vehicle registration fees and the cost of transport are often high, so you need to look into the matter carefully and calculate whether it pays to take a vehicle with you.

Unemployment benefits

If you are receiving unemployment benefits, you can go to Europe to look for work and keep your daily allowance. You apply for a U2 certificate to go abroad, which gives you the right to receive unemployment benefits for up to three months (but never for a longer period than your entitlement lasts) while you are looking for work in an EEA state. An application form for a U2 certificate can be obtained at all offices of the Directorate of Labour around Iceland, as well as on the Directorate's website.

The main requirements for obtaining a U2 certificate are that you must be completely unemployed, have received benefits continuously for four weeks before departure and have not rejected a job offer.

The certificate must be applied for 3 weeks before departure. It is valid for up to 3 months.

Opening a bank account in another Nordic country

It can be a good idea to contact your bank, e.g. to close an account, change the postal address on your account or see to outstanding debts before moving. It can also be useful to have a letter or some sort of recommendation from the bank to present when opening a transaction with a bank in the new country.

Necessary medicines

It may be a good idea to contact your physician and get a medical certificate in a Nordic language or English if you suffer from a chronic illness. It is also a good idea to have a prescription for medicines you need to last the first few weeks in a new country.


Subscriptions to TV and media, the gym, telephones and the like need to be cancelled.

Postal service

You can submit a forwarding address at the post office to have your mail forwarded to you abroad or to friends or family in Iceland. It's a good idea to change your address with the bank and other institutions.

Ask Info Norden

Please fill in our contact form if you have any questions or if you have encountered an obstacle in another Nordic country.

NB! If you have questions regarding the processing of a specific case or application, or other personal matters, please contact the relevant authority directly.

Info Norden is the information service of the Nordic Council of Ministers. Here you can find info and tips if you wish to move, work, study, seek support or start a business in the Nordic region.