Right to maternity/paternity grant

Maternity/paternity grant is acquired at the birth of a child, primary adoption of a child under eight years of age, or the permanent foster care of a child under eight years of age. A right to maternity/paternity grant is also acquired due to miscarriage after 18 weeks of pregnancy, and stillbirth after 22 weeks of pregnancy.


Duration and division of entitlement

  • The duration of a maternity/paternity grant is determined by the year of birth, primary adoption or permanent foster care.
  • The duration  is 12 months in total. Each parent is entitled to 6 months, and 6 weeks are transferable.

The start date of maternity/paternity grant and when an entitlement expires

  • Both parents can start receiving the maternity/paternity grant from the 1st day of the month in which a child is born or later. Entitlement to a maternity/paternity grant expires when the child is 24 months old.
  • In the case of a primary adoption or permanent foster care, both parents can start receiving maternity/paternity grant payment on the 1st day of the month in which the child enters the home. If there is a trial period before the primary adoption or permanent foster care of a child, or if the child is adopted from abroad, it is permitted to start the maternity/paternity grant at that time providing that The Child Welfare Committee or the relevant authorities have confirmed the arrangement. Entitlement to maternity/paternity grant expires 24 months after the child enters the home.

Requirement of full-time studies

  • Full-time study is considered to be 75-100% continuous study, practical or theoretical, in a recognized educational institution within the general education system in Iceland that lasts for at least 6 months. Furthermore, this refers to 75–100% studies at university level and other studies which make the same demands as university studies regarding preparatory education. Individual courses shall not be regarded as studies.
  • A parent must have been enrolled in full time studies for at least 6 months in the last 12 months prior to the child’s birth, early adoption or permanent foster care and have met the relevant academic requirements during that time. In most cases, this means that the parent must return at least two semesters in whole or in part to fulfill the requirement of full-time study for 6 months.
  • Parents should submit confirmations from the school in question that they have been registered as full time students and have met the requirements regarding academic progress during that period. It is permitted to take into account the practice of studies instead of academic results in the school term in which a child is born.

Exceptions to the requirement of full-time studies

  • When a parent has worked for at least 6 months continuously in the local labor market until the commencement of the study.
  • When the parent has completed at least one semester and has since been working continuously in the local labor market. The condition is that studies and work have been continuous for at least 6 months.
  • When a mother has not been able to study during pregnancy due to health reasons related to the pregnancy. The mother shall submit a medical certificate from the specialist who attended her during the pregnancy in confirmation of this, together with a certificate from the educational institution stating that she was registered in a full-time programme of studies.
  • A maternity/paternity grant may be paid to a parent even though the condition regarding full-time studies is not met if the parent has less than what is considered 75% continuous studies in their last semester if they are finishing a particular degree. The parent shall satisfy other requirements of full-time studies.

Legal domicile requirements

  • A parent must have legal domicile in Iceland at the time of the child's birth, early adoption or permanent fostering and have had legal domicile in Iceland for the last 12 months before that time.
  • An exemption from the legal domicile condition may be granted if a parent has moved their legal domicile temporarily due to studying abroad and has had a legal domicile in this country continuously for at least 5 years prior to moving abroad. The same applies when a parent has moved their legal domicile temporarily and is studying at a distance at an Icelandic school and has had a legal domicile in Iceland for at least 5 years prior to moving abroad.
  • If a parent has resided in another EEA member state during the aforementioned 12 month period, it is taken into account that the parent had legal residence in Iceland at the time of the child's birth, early adoption or permanent fostering, and that no more than a month has passed since the insurance period ended in that state. In such instances, a parent shall submit a S-041 certificate with their application which confirms their legal residence and accrued insurance in another EEA state.
  • Parents who have received a residence permit in Iceland on the grounds of international protection or on the grounds of humanitarian reasons for the first time, according to the law on foreigners, may be entitled to a maternity/paternity grant even though they did not have a legal residence in this country for the last twelve months before the birth of a child, first adoption or adoption of a child for permanent foster care, as long as less than twelve months have passed since the residence permit was granted.

Extension and transfer of independent right to maternity/paternity grant

  • A single mother who has undergone artificial insemination, or a single parent who has primarily adopted a child or taken a child into permanent foster care, is entitled to maternity/paternity grant for 12 months in the year 2021, 10 months in the year 2020, but only to 9 months in the year 2019. The same applies to a surviving parent if the other parent dies during pregnancy and the child is born alive.
    Necessary documents to be submitted: Confirmation that a parent has undergone artificial insemination, adopted a child or taken a child into permanent foster care.
  • If one parent dies before the child is 24 months old, the parent’s unused entitlement is transferred to the surviving parent and becomes part of the entitlement earned by the surviving parent. In the case of a primary adoption or a permanent foster care, the limit is 24 months after the child enters the home.
  • If a parent is unable to take care of their child due to illness or the consequences of an accident during the first 24 months after birth, they are permitted to transfer their unused entitlement to maternity/paternity grant to the other parent. In the case of a primary adoption or a permanent foster care, the limit is 24 months after the child enters the home. The parent’s condition shall be confirmed with a medical certificate from the specialist doctor who cares for the parent, and also when the parents’ condition prevents them from giving their approval for the transfer of entitlement. Necessary documents to be submitted: A certificate from a specialist doctor and a confirmation of the parent’s will to transfer their entitlement.
  • If a parent is unable to take care of their child on account of imprisonment the first 24 months after birth, they are permitted to transfer their unused entitlement to a maternity/paternity grant to the other parent. In the case of a primary adoption or a permanent foster care, the limit is 24 months after the child enters the home. The prison authorities shall confirm that the parent will be serving a sentence during the aforementioned period.
    Necessary documents to be submitted: Confirmation from the prison authorities.

Custody of a child

  • A requirement for parents to be able to use their entitlement to a maternity/paternity grant is that they have sole custody of the child or the parents share the custody.
  • Parents without custody can use their entitlement to a maternity/paternity grant if parents with custody give consent for visiting the child during the period of the maternity/paternity grant.
  1. A parent without custody needs the approval of the parent with the custody of the child: An application for visitation rights of a parent without custody during maternity/paternity grant
  2. Paternity must be established and a birth certificate issued by Registers Iceland must be sent.

Paternity can be established:

  1. At The District Commissioner’s office.
  2. Before a judge in a paternity court case.
  3. With a written statement, and its signature shall then be confirmed by a lawyer or two witnesses. It shall state that the issuer of the declaration has written their name or recognized his signature in the presence of the person or persons certifying the signature. The witnesses shall write their ID number or in certain instances, date of birth and address.

Termination of rights

A right to parental grant will be terminated from the day a parent gives up a child for adoption, upbringing, or foster care. In these cases, the birth parents are entitled to 2 months of maternity/paternity grant after the birth of a child.

The following only applies to the birth of a child, primary adoption or permanent foster care of a child from January 1st 2021.

  • A parent who has given birth to a child earns an entitlement to a maternity grant for up to 12 months when the parent is not able to fulfill the duty of confirming the paternity of the child. Necessary documents to be submitted: The ruling in a paternity case from a District Commissioner’s office or courts.
  • When a parent is not entitled to a maternity/paternity leave or maternity/paternity grant in Iceland, or has an independent right to a maternity/paternity leave or maternity/paternity grant in another country, the other parent can earn an entitlement to maternity/paternity leave for up to 12 months. If the other parent has a right in another country, the entitlement period is subject to deduction.
    Necessary documents to be submitted: Confirmation of an entitlement/no entitlement from the country where the parent could have earned an entitlement and a birth certificate where the person is confirmed to be the child’s parent.
  • If a parent is not allowed to contact their child or the other parent due to a restraining order, and/or an expulsion from the home and is therefore unable to care of his or her child during the first 24 months after birth, the entitlement to the unused maternity/paternity grant is transferred to the other parent.
    Necessary documents to be submitted: A confirmation from a police commissioner or courts in the case of a restraining order/expulsion during the period the parent can take maternity/paternity grant.
  • If it is apparent that a parent without custody will not take care of their child in the first 24 months after birth, or from when a child enters the home after primary adoption or permanent foster care where the parent will not visit the child due to a decision by a legal authority or courts, it is permitted to transfer the unused entitlement of the parent without custody to the other parent. The same applies if visitation rights of the parent without custody are very limited, for instance by being under surveillance on the basis of a decision by an authority or courts.
    Necessary documents to be submitted: A confirmation from The District Commissioner of the parent’s full and undivided custody, and a confirmation that the parent without custody does not have visitation rights on the basis of a decision by The District Commissioner, or courts/confirmation of very limited visitation rights from The District Commissioner or courts.

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