On Tuesday, Iceland’s government signed an amendment to regulations, making it possible for foreign citizens from certain countries outside the EES to stay in Iceland for up to 6 months, working remotely for foreign companies. While the measures should make it easier for foreign experts to work remotely from Iceland, applicants will need to have a monthly income of at least 1,000,000 ISK ($7039,28, €6032,09) for individuals arriving on their own and 1,300,000 ISK ($9151,06, €7841,72) for those who bring their partner.
According to the ministries’ press release, the Minister of Tourism, Industry, and Innovation, the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs have put in place measures to enable non-EEA foreign nationals to reside in Iceland for up to six months and telework for foreign companies. Foreign citizens who are exempt from the visa requirements will be allowed to apply for a long-term visa in Iceland for teleworkers and bring their families without having to move their legal domicile to the country or obtain Icelandic ID numbers.
Until now the authorisation has only been for 90 days. To be granted permission for this extended stay, the person in question must demonstrate an employment relationship, income and health insurance. Áslaug Arna has stated that “Fast technological developments call for us to be open and flexible to the growing opportunities available to us that arise when more employers encourage teleworking. The regulatory framework must take this into account.” According to her, this is only the first step. When asked why the income requirements were so high, she replied that they concluded that an income requirement was needed as these individuals wouldn’t be paying taxes in Iceland and wouldn’t receive any community services. “A decision was made to set the bar at an annual salary of $85k, a common figure for an expert working in a big city,” Áslaug wrote on Twitter. According to Registers Iceland, the median income of experts in Iceland in 2019 was 745,000 ISK ($5244,26, €4493,91) per month.
Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Bjarni Benediktsson stated that “We want to ensure that with regards to taxation, there is nothing to prevent the possibility of temporarily allowing individuals working for foreign companies to work from Iceland. We believe that these individuals will bring with them valuable experience and connections that will benefit Iceland on its path to economic recovery from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
The government has indicated that these are the first steps to make Iceland a more inviting destination for remote workers, stating that “ We will keep looking into the matter to find ways of extending the time period, but for now regulations have been changed to accommodate the six month period.”