New Year’s Eve Bonfires at Ten Locations in Reykjavík

New Year's eve bonfire in Laugarás in Reykjavík

There will be ten New Year’s Eve bonfires in Reykjavík tonight to mark the end of 2023.

New Year’s bonfires are a tradition reaching back to the 18th century in Iceland, stemming from the belief that if you want to have a clean slate for the new year, you have to symbolically burn away the old year and everything it represents. The tradition was first started by rowdy students but these days, it’s a family-friendly occasion, with people gathering around a fire and singing a few songs. Since New Year’s Eve is linked to folk beliefs and superstitions, some say that elves or hidden people make an appearance at the fires.

This year’s bonfires will be lit at the following times in the following locations:

At Ægisíða at 8:30 PM.
In Skerjafjörður opposite Skildinganes 48-52 at 9:00 PM.
At Suðurhlíð, below Fossvogur Cemetery at 8:30 PM.
Laugardalur, below Laugarásvegur 18 at 8:30 PM.
Geirsnef, on the north side of Geirsnef at 8:30 PM.
At Jafnasel at 8:30 PM.
At Rauðavatn lake on the north side at 8:30 PM.
Gufunes by Gufunesbær at 8:30 PM.
At Kléberg in Kjalarnes at 8:30 PM.
Úlfarsfell at Fisfélagið activity area above Lambhagavegur at 3:00 PM.

All of the above bonfires are categorised as small bonfires except the first at Gufunes and Geirsnef, which will be large bonfires.

Can I bring my family to Iceland on a student visa?

Háskóli Íslands University of Iceland

In short, yes. If you have a residence permit as a student you can bring your family to Iceland with you. There, however, some rules which you can find below.

Obtaining a student visa yourself

People who are not from the European Economic Area (EEA) or EFTA (Iceland, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and want to study in Iceland for more than three months are obliged to file for a student residence permit. Usually, the student residence permit is valid depending on their enrolment and ability to financially support themselves. So if you can prove higher means of financial support, your permit will also be issued for longer.

To be eligible for a student permit, you must be 18 years and older (exchange students may be younger), and be admitted into studies that are recognised by the Directorate of Immigration. Those can be full-time studies at an Icelandic university, postgraduate studies at a university outside of Iceland that collaborates with an Icelandic university, exchange programmes, internships where working in Iceland is part of your studies, and technical studies at higher education institutions.

Útlendingastofnun directorate of immigration iceland
The Directorate of Immigration

You should apply for a residence permit for your studies before June 1 for the autumn semester and before November 1 for the spring semester each year. That way there is enough time for the permit to be processed before the semester commences. The application form can be accessed via Island.is and needs to be submitted in paper form to the Directorate of Immigration. Before handing in the application, you also need to pay a processing fee of ISK 16,000 for your application to go through.

In your application for a student residence permit, you need to show that you have enough financial resources for your entire stay. So if you stay for one year, you also need to prove that you can support yourself for that time. In your application, you need to attach a transcript from your bank account with the specific amount. The Directorate of Immigration has specific requirements for how much money is needed for an individual to live in Iceland. For an individual, the minimum amount required is ISK 217,799 per month [EUR 1,441 / USD 1,604].

Bringing the whole family to Iceland

According to the Directorate of Immigration, you have the right to bring your marital spouse or your cohabiting spouse (defined as a cohabiting partner of at least one year). If you have children under 18 and have custody of them, you are also allowed to bring them to Iceland. Likewise, if your parents are over the age of 67, you also have the right to family reunification with them.

In order to have all the paperwork sorted, your family members need to apply for a residence permit to the Directorate of Immigration. This can only be done in paper form to the address of the Immigration office. Additionally, they also need to pay a processing fee of ISK 16,000. To bring your entire family to Iceland, you need to prove that you can financially support them for their entire stay. 

For a couple, this means a minimum monthly amount of ISK 348,476 [EUR 2,306 / USD 2,566] and another ISK 108,898 [EUR 720 / USD 802] for every additional family member above the age of 18. For children under 18, there are no requirements for providing independent financial support. It is important to note that payments in the form of social assistance, alimony payments, support by a third party, assets other than bank account balances (e.g. real estate) and cash are not considered secure means of support.

What costs can you expect?

So if you’re thinking of bringing your spouse, your parent and your two kids to Iceland with you while you’re studying you should expect to be able to prove a minimum monthly budget of ISK 457,374 [EUR 3,027 / USD 3,368]. if you intend to stay for one year and also receive a student permit for that timeframe, you need to multiply that amount by twelve. So in total, you need to be able to showcase a whopping 5,5 Mio. ISK [EUR 36,312 / USD 40,416] on your bank account. 

Please keep in mind that this is merely the minimum amount required by the Directorate of Immigration for your application to be processed. Housing and living in Iceland are rather expensive. So don’t expect too comfortable of a lifestyle with those funds! You better start saving early.

You can find out more on the website of the Directorate of Immigration here. Read more about how to move to Iceland here.

Richest 0.1 Percent Gets Richer

currency iceland

The wealthiest 242 families in Iceland saw their wealth grow by ISK 28 billion [$207 million, €186 million] last year. On average, each of these families gained ISK 116 million [$858,000, €772,000] in one year, Heimildin reports.

This group, the top 0.1 percent richest Icelandic families, has almost no debt, as their equity ratio stands at 98.4 percent. Each family owned on average ISK 1.5 billion [$11 million, €10 million] at the end of 2022 and owed only ISK 23 million [$170,000, €153,000].

Money attracting money

Although income inequality in Iceland ranks among the lowest in Europe, according to the Gini coefficient, wealth inequality remains a topic of debate. This recent data was reported by Minister of Finance Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir in Alþingi as a response to an information request by Logi Einarsson, MP for the Social Democratic Alliance.

The data shows that the richest Icelanders earn most of their money by letting their money work for them. They invest in stocks and bonds, buy and sell businesses, and invest in property to be rented out or sold for profit. Therefore, nearly three quarters of the top 0.1 percent’s income was capital income. These earnings, which include dividends and profits from selling assets, are taxed at a lower rate of 22 percent, compared to the tax on wage income, which varies from 31.45 to 46.25 percent depending on the tax bracket.

In fact, 28 percent of all capital income in Iceland in 2022 went to these 242 families. If the group is widened to include the entire wealthiest top 1 percent, they received 46 percent of all capital income in Iceland last year.

Undervalued assets

Still, the assets of the top 0.1 percent are undervalued in these calculations. The data doesn’t include assets of Icelanders in pension funds and share prices are reported at their nominal value, instead of the market value which they could be sold at currently. The top 10 percent of wage earners last year owned 85 percent of all stocks held by households at the end of last year. These shares are worth a lot more than their nominal value indicates and, in all probability, the richer the family, the more shares it likely owns.

All in all, the wealth of all Icelandic households grew substantially last year, by ISK 1,624 billion [$12 billion, €11 billion] in total. The wealthier families received a disproportionally large share of this increase. Heimildin adds that for most Icelandic households, their wealth increase comes from rising property prices. Three quarters of Icelandic residential housing is held by people who own one property, generally the one they live in. For most people, this wealth could therefore only be realised by them selling their homes.