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Financial assistance in Iceland

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Information on financial assistance from municipalities in Iceland is available here.

Each municipality sets its own rules on financial assistance based on the Municipal Social Services Act. Anyone who is domiciled in the municipality can apply for financial assistance.  An application for financial assistance is submitted to the municipality where you are legally domiciled. If people are in need of emergency assistance in the municipality where they are dwelling, temporary assistance must be provided. The municipality of legal domicile is to be consulted on this and the assistance assessed and provided in accordance with its rules. The municipality of legal domicile reimburses the municipality of residence the cost of this, cf. the Act on Municipal Social Services.

Before applying for financial assistance to the municipality, people need to check on their right to assistance from other sources, such as unemployment benefits, sickness funds, pension funds and the Social Insurance Administration (Tryggingastofnun). Persons who are not entitled to assistance in from other sources can apply for financial assistance to the municipality. Financial assistance is divided into maintenance support and allowance grants. Maintenance is determined by a basic amount set by each municipality; if the applicant’s income is below this amount he or she is entitled to financial assistance. Applicants can also apply for allowance grants for children, dental costs, home establishment, specialist assistance etc.

What are the requirements for financial assistance?

The person in question must be domiciled in a municipality and not entitled to social assistance from other sources. Financial assistance shall normally be paid for one month at a time, and decisions on assistance shall, as a general rule, not extend over a period longer than three months. If an applicant also receives benefits from Social Insurance Administration (Tryggingastofnun), and it is evident that his/her circumstances are not about to change, assistance may be granted for six months at a time. The circumstances of persons who have received financial assistance for more than three months shall be examined specifically, social counselling provided in accordance with the Act on Municipal Social Services, and the person in question advised to seek the assistance of the Debtors' Ombudsman. In exceptional cases, financial assistance may be provided weekly due to special circumstances.

How much financial assistance is offered?

The basic amount varies from one municipality to the next. Here you can see the basic amount for financial assistance in Reykjavík, however, this varies depending on whether the financial assistance is provided to an individual or a married/cohabiting couple.

How do you apply for social assistance?

You need to submit an application to the social services in the municipality where you are domiciled.

Are you entitled to social assistance immediately after moving to Iceland?

No, you need to formally apply for financial aid. You must have checked your entitlement to benefits from other sources before you apply for financial aid to the municipality.

Is it possible to receive payments when you move abroad?

No, you must be domiciled in Iceland to be able to apply for financial assistance from a municipality.

Who should you contact if you have any questions?

Further information can be found on the website of the Association of Icelandic Local Authorities. You can also get information from a service advisor by telephone at +354 5154900.

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