A temporary work permit for a job in which special skills are required

A temporary work permit may be granted for a specific job in Iceland when the position requires specialist knowledge, per Article 8. of The Foreign Nationals' Right to Work Act, no. 97/2002. The conditions for granting a work permit according to this provision are, amongst others:  

  • The assistance of The Directorate of Labour has been requested to find an employee in Iceland and within the EEA, the EFTA- states or in the Faroe Islands.  
  • The foreign national has entered into an employment contract with an employer on the execution of a specific job which, according to legislation or customs in Iceland required expert knowledge as defined in Article 8.
  • The expert knowledge of the foreign national is essential for the relevant company. 
  • The foreign national’s special skills consist of university-level education, industrial, artistic or technical training, which is recognized in Iceland. The Directorate of Labour shall request verification of the foreign national’s education in the form of the appropriate certificates in accordance with Icelandic rules, if considered necessary. 

Specialist and/or manager moving from one establishment to another.

In instances of an employee who is temporarily posted by an employer to work at their establishment in Iceland, The Directorate of Labour may deviate from the condition of Article 7, paragraph 1, item a, provided that they are employed with the company for an indefinite period as a specialist at their place of business abroad. In cases of Managers who are employed for an indefinite period at the employer's establishment abroad, the Directorate of Labour may deviate from the conditions of Article 7, paragraph 1, item a, along with paragraph 1, items b - d. The Directorate of Labour may request the employer's reasoning regarding the need for the foreign national concerned to come to work at their establishment in Iceland should they consider it necessary.

Temporary shortage of workers for jobs of which specialised knowledge is required.

The Directorate of Labour may grant a temporary work permit for work that requires specialised knowledge which is temporarily lacking in Iceland and has been published in a regulation. A regulation shall publish a list of the jobs that require specialised knowledge which is temporarily lacking in Iceland. The Directorate of Labour requests confirmation of the specialised knowledge of the foreign national concerned in accordance with Icelandic rules if the Directorate of Labour considers this necessary.


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.

Necessary application supporting documents:   

1. Original copy of the application for a temporary work permit for a job in which special skills are required. 

  • The opinion of the relevant labour union must be obtained before it is submitted (section IV. on the application form).

2.  A contract of employment between a foreign national and an employer of which the following must be included:

  • Information regarding the foreign national’s intended job of with the employer, as well as information on the employee's place of work.
  • Information regarding the pension fund to be paid into, in respect to the foreign national’s nature of employment. 
  • The foreign national's terms of employment must be similar to other specialists that work in the relevant sector.
  • Detailed information regarding the foreign national’s intended duties with the employer and how the foreign national fulfils the requirements of the position.
  1. The application and employment contract must be signed by both the foreign national and the employer.

Please note that it is not a requirement to use the employment contract template provided by The Directorate of Labour. 


A general information sheet on how to fill out a permit application can be found here.

A general information sheet on how to fill out an employment contract accompanying a work permit application can be found here. 

A specific checklist for this type of work permit can be found here. Please consult this document before submitting an application on the grounds of Article 8.

Other necessary documents may include:

4. Certified copy of the foreign national's diploma in Icelandic or English. 

5.  A copy of the required licence issued by the relevant Icelandic authority. In instances of legally protected job titles or licensed trades, a confirmation from the competent Icelandic authority that the foreign national possess the required qualifications to perform the job for which they are is to be hired must accompany the application. Further information regarding licensed trades can be found here, and information regarding healthcare professionals here.

6. Confirmations of relevant job experience from previous employers. If the foreign national's expert knowledge is based on extensive work experience, the application must be accompanied by a confirmation of previous work experience and period of service. The confirmation must include an account of what expert knowledge this previous employment required and how the employee fulfilled these requirements.

7. Information regarding the attempts by the employer to hire an employee who already has a non-restricted access to the Icelandic labour market before searching outside the EEA for employees, or if this was not done, the reason for this not being done before searching for employees outside the EEA. 

Where should the application be submitted 

Applications should be submitted to the Directorate of Immigration, Dalvegi 18, 201 Kópavogur,  or alternatively to your local District Commissioner offices if you are located outside of the Capital Region.    

When can the employee start working?  

The general rule is that an employee may not commence work before the permit has been granted.   

From this general rule is an exemption where applicants can submit a written request for the foreign national to commence employment during the processing of their residence permit. The condition that this permission is granted is that the work permit for which special skills are required has been pre-approved by The Directorate of Labour, and that the employer guarantees the cost of the foreign nationals’ return trip home should they be declined a residence permit. The appropriate form should be filled and signed by the employer. The request should be submitted to The Directorate of Labour.


Application for a permit extension:

With the application for an extension of a specialist permit, generally only the application and the employment contract are required. However, The Directorate of Labour is permitted to request further information regarding the application, including information from the employer regarding in what manner the foreign nationals’ specialist knowledge has been utilised in the job for which they were hired. Furthermore, the employer must have must have paid withholding tax at source and social security tax regarding the foreign national’s employment in accordance with the legislation. 

The foreign national is generally permitted to work while the application for the permit extension is being processed. It is however a condition that the application for an extension be submitted to The Directorate of Immigration at least four weeks before the previous permit expires. 

A temporary work permit for a job requiring specialist knowledge is generally granted for one year, but such permits may be granted for periods of up to four years.

New employer:

All work permits are non-transferrable, and a new permit application must be submitted for a new employer. Individuals may hold more than one permit simultaneously if the permit requirements are met.    


If the foreign national, who has been issued a specialist permit, would like to change employers, they are required to apply for a permit with their new employer. Documentation listed in items 1 – 3 above must be submitted with the application. Other documents may be required depending on the employment in question. Please be informed that The Directorate of Labour will assess whether the job in question can be considered a job that requires expert knowledge under Article 8 of the Act. The directorate will then assess whether the foreign nationals’ specialist knowledge fulfils the conditions for a specialist permit regarding their new employment, regardless of the directorate’s previous assessment of their qualifications.


Termination of employment :

If the employment is terminated before the permit expires, The Directorate of Labour must be informed of the termination.  An email to workpermits@vmst.is is considered a sufficient notification.  

 In instances of termination, the provisions of the relevant collective agreement apply.     

The foreign nationals’ right to reside in Iceland after loss of employment:

The foreign nationals’ right to reside in Iceland after loss of employment: 

Should the foreign national lose their employment, they can apply for a 12-month residence permit at The Directorate of Immigration to be able search for other employment on the grounds of their specialist knowledge. Further information can be found at The Directorate of Immigration’s website here. 

Var efnið hjálplegt?

Þakka þér fyrir þitt álit.
Það væri gagnlegt að vita meira um hvað þér finnst.

Hvað er helst að?

Hunang Hunang logo

Þessi vefur notar vefkökur (e. cookies).

Sjá nánar í persónuverndarstefnu Vinnumálastofnunar.

Hi, Vinný here! How can I assist you?
Vinný snjallmenni