Temporary Work Permits

Generally, an employer who wants to hire foreign nationals from countries outside the European Economic Area, EFTA or the Faroe Islands must apply for and be issued a work permit before the foreign national can commence work. If a foreign national starts working without a work permit, this may lead to the permit application being declined, and the imposition fines or imprisonment for up to two years.

If an employer is issued a temporary work permit, it is restricted only to the foreign national that was applied for, and the foreign national is only permitted to work for the employer to whom the work permit is granted. If the foreign national wishes to work for another employer, they must apply for a new work permit from the new employer which must be granted before they are permitted to commence working. See further information below on this page.


If you need further information you can contact us by email workpermits@vmst.is or during call hours of the department. Information regarding call hours can be found here.

Processing of a temporary work permit application:

An application for a temporary work permit, together with all the necessary documents must be submitted to The Directorate of Immigration. Generally, The Directorate of Immigration first determines if the foreign national fulfils the conditions for obtaining a residence permit before the work permit application is forwarded to The Directorate of Labour for processing.

If any documents or further information is missing, The Directorate of Labour will send a letter to the employer and the foreign national requesting the missing documents or information.

Following the assessment of the application being deemed as satisfactory or deadlines provided for submitting further documents or information, The Directorate of Labour will make a decision on the application. The requested permit is either approved or declined. The Directorate of Labour’s decision is notified to the employer and the foreigner by letter, and a notification is sent to The Directorate of Immigration as it may affect the foreign national’s right to a residence permit in Iceland.

If The Directorate of Labour declines to issue a work permit, the decision can be appealed to The Ministry of Social Affairs.

General conditions of temporary work permits:

The following conditions must always be met for the Directorate of Labour to grant a temporary work permit:

  • Application for a temporary work permit signed by an employer and a foreign national.
  • Employment contract between employer and foreign national, signed by employer and foreign national.
  • Opinion of the relevant labour union.

Furthermore, the relevant particular conditions of each type of temporary work permit must be fulfilled. Find out more about the particular conditions of each type by selecting the appropriate type of work permit below.

Extending the work permit

An application for a temporary work permit extension must be submitted to the Directorate of Immigration four weeks before it expires. Upon extension, all the conditions of the temporary work permit must be met, and the employer must have paid withholding tax and social security contributions according to law regarding the foreign national’s work.

Foreign national’s new employer:

A foreign national with a temporary work permit is not permitted to work for an employer other than the one who is issued a work permit to employ them. If a foreign national wishes to chance their workplace, they must submit a work permit application to The Directorate of Immigration from the new employer, which must be granted before they are permitted to commence work.

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