Moving To Iceland From The USA

If you’re planning to move from your home country to a foreign country, it can be incredibly daunting, challenging, and stressful. Yet, although it is all of these things, a move to a new country is also exciting, exhilarating, and inspiring.

Iceland might be an incredibly small country compared to America, but many US citizens are moving to Iceland from the US. According to statistics, it is believed that approximately 10,200 people moved to Iceland in 2020, and a large proportion of this number was from the US.

Although the number of people moving to Iceland has decreased since 2017, many are still choosing this beautiful country in Europe known for its waterfalls and northern lights display as their new home. If you’re an American who has your sights set on moving to Iceland, you will likely find our guide informative and helpful.

We’re going to look into how you can move to Iceland, how you can move your possessions from one country to the next, and why many people are choosing to move to this truly fantastic country. Additionally, we will also look into where you should move to in Iceland, and the various frequently asked questions you need to know.

Here are some other articles that might help you plan your move:
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  • How much will your move cost?: This cost calculator will provide an immediate calculation of what your move should cost. Just plug in your moving dates, the size of your move, where you’re moving to/from, and let the calculator do the rest.

How Much Does it Cost to Move from the USA to Iceland?

Home Size Moving Company Moving Container Freight Company Truck Rental
Studio/1 Bedroom $1,680-$5,840 $1,923-$2,429 $1,520-$2,160 $1,093-$1,509
2-3 Bedrooms $2,200-$8,050 $2,422-$3,650 $2,185-$3,180 $1,142-$1,763
4+ Bedrooms $3,885-$10,300 $3,273-$4,134 $2,850-$3,600 $1,444-$1,949

*Pricing above does not include gas, tolls, lodging, and other related moving expenses.

How To Move To Iceland

When you’re considering moving to Iceland, often the first thing you need to consider and determine is which visa you’re eligible for. A few visas in Iceland will grant you permanent residency, while others will not. Additionally, when you apply for a visa as an expat, you will also need to apply for a residence permit.

Although moving from the US to Iceland is well known for being a difficult and complex immigration process, many have found it worthwhile. Every visa available in Iceland will have its own set of requirements.

What Visas Are Available For Americans Moving To Iceland

When you are an EEA or EFTA national, you can easily travel or move to Iceland. Still, if you’re a non-EEA citizen like an American citizen, you can only do so if you acquire one of the visas we speak about below.

Obtaining a visa and a residence permit will allow you to apply for citizenship further down the line. Yet not all visa options will grant permanent residency or citizenship to Americans. Additionally, you need to remember that you will need to register at Iceland’s Registration Office if you want to move to this country for longer than three months.

When you register, you will need to apply for a kennitala whether you plan to move to Iceland temporarily or permanently. The kennitala is an ID number similar to a social security number. You will need this number to open a bank account, borrow books from the library, attend university, or rent a home.

Spouse Visa

One of the more popular visa types that will allow you to move to Iceland permanently is a spouse visa. Those who intend on immigrating to Iceland to be with their spouses will choose this visa. However, for an American citizen to apply for this visa and be approved, their Icelandic partner needs to meet the following requirements:

  • He or she has to be an Icelandic or Nordic citizen.
  • He or she can be a foreign citizen who holds a temporary or permanent residence permit.

Additionally, you will need to be at least 18 years of age to apply for this type of visa.

Student Visa

A good temporary resident visa for Americans wanting to live and study abroad in Iceland is a student visa. Yet, did you know that if you’re planning on staying in Iceland for a short course, you won’t need to apply for a student visa as long as you will be leaving this European country within 90 days? If your course or degree lasts longer than 90 days, you need to apply for a student visa.

It may not seem believable, but many university programs are conducted in English in Iceland. Even though many citizens of Iceland speak the Icelandic language, you won’t have any issue speaking with the residents as most speak English.

To obtain a student visa, you will need a passport, proof of financial self-sufficiency, proof of admission into an Icelandic education institution, and two passport-sized photos. You will also need to pay a $50 visa fee, submit a completed application form, proof of health insurance that covers up to $16,000, and a copy of your clean criminal record.

Once your student visa has been approved, you will need to visit the Directorate of Immigration in Reykjavik for a residence permit. With this residence permit and a work permit, you will be able to work in Reykjavik for up to 15 hours a week, and you will be able to travel around the EU and EEA.

However, because your student visa is an Icelandic Schengen visa, you will have to enter European countries through Iceland.

Work Visa

One of the most common visa types that Americans apply for when they want to move to Iceland and become permanent residents or citizens is a work visa. A work-based visa is arguably the hardest type of Icelandic visa to get approved because of Iceland’s laws that give EEA citizens and current residents employment priority over immigrants.

After you have received your work and residency permit, you will be able to legally enter Iceland. Below we have briefly listed three of the four Icelandic work permits you could apply for when you want to move from the US to Iceland.

Yet, you should note that it is sometimes possible to get around the strict work permit laws and move to Iceland if you have specialized skills.

  • A qualified professional’s permit.
  • A temporary shortage of laborers permit.
  • An athlete permit.

Family Reunification Visa

Another visa option available to Americans who want to move to Iceland permanently is a family reunification visa. This visa is difficult to obtain because you will only be granted one if you have a close relative in Iceland who has the right to family reunification. Below we have listed briefly who potentially has the right to a family reunification visa in Iceland.

  • A Nordic or Icelandic citizen.
  • Foreign citizens who have a permanent residence permit.
  • Foreign citizens who have a temporary residence permit, such as a spouse, an athlete, or a qualified specialist.
  • Those seeking international protection.
  • Those who have special ties to Iceland.
  • Those who have certain humanitarian privileges.

The Process Of Moving To Iceland

Now that you’re aware of the various visa types, we can briefly look at the actual moving process involved with moving to Iceland from the US.

Similar to European Union countries, strict Icelandic immigration procedures need to be followed. Many steps need to be completed for you to be eligible to move to Iceland. Have a look below to learn a few of them.

  • Step one: Look into the various types of immigration and determine which visa best suits your needs and wants.
  • Step Two: Find and complete the residence application form that applies to your specific reason for wanting to move to Iceland.
  • Step Three: Collect all the necessary documentation you need for a temporary or permanent residence permit.
  • Step four: Submit all your documentation to the Icelandic Department of Immigration.
  • Step five: Prepare yourself for an interview as they are sometimes necessary.
  • Step six: Pay your Iceland immigration fee.
  • Step seven: Get in touch with moving companies to move your possessions to Iceland.
  • Step eight: Obtain an ID number to rent a house or apartment in Iceland.
  • Step nine: Open up a bank account
  • Step ten: Meet the conditions to apply for citizenship.

How To Move Your Things From The US To Iceland

When planning your move to Iceland from the USA, you need to consider how you will move your possessions across borders. Since moving to Iceland is an international move, you will need to utilize an international moving company.

When choosing your international company, you must choose between an air freight or sea freight international moving company. Should you want to learn more about these two options, continue reading below.

Air Freight

Airfreight is an ideal solution for those who need their possessions moved quickly. This transportation mode is also perfect for those who want to move their fragile items like art and sentimental possessions.

However, air freight has its limitations. For example, it would be far too costly to move the possessions of a three-bedroom house via air freight. This means that air freight moving services are usually only suited to those who need to move a studio apartment or one-bedroom house.

On average, to fly approximately 550 pounds worth of your belongings to Reykjavik from New York, you should expect to pay roughly $2,455. Although it costs a pretty penny, you can expect to receive your belongings within 5 hours.

International Air Freight Companies

  • Global Van Lines.
  • International Sea & Air Shipping.

Sea Freight

Unlike air freight, sea freight is a much more cost-effective transportation method to get your belongings to Iceland from the US. If you need to transport many possessions, then sea freight is a much better option. You can choose to hire out an entire container, or you can choose to share a container with someone else to save on costs.

On average, if you are shipping your belongings in a 20-foot container from Los Angeles to Reykjavik, you should expect to pay roughly $3,774. Unlike air freight, shipping your goods is going to take longer. This journey would take an estimated 23 days to receive your belongings in Iceland from the US.

International Container Companies

  • EFL Freight Forwarding.
  • Twill by Maersk.

Why Do People Want To Live In Iceland?

Although Iceland has a much higher cost of living and is believed to be the second most expensive country to live in, there are several reasons why people are choosing to live in this beautiful country. To learn more about the reasons people opt to make Iceland their new home, have a look below.

The Healthcare System

Were you aware that according to a 2018 study, Iceland has a universal healthcare system rated the second-best in the world? In Iceland, 84 percent of the healthcare systems costs are funded by the Icelandic government, while 16 percent are covered by out-of-pocket payments by temporary and permanent residents and citizens.

This is incredibly attractive to Americans who have to pay exorbitant fees on healthcare. Within six months of moving to Iceland, you will be able to gain access to various public healthcare services, including maternity, prescriptions, emergency care, hospital care, and dental.

The Safety

America is a safe country but not as safe as Iceland. Many US citizens are choosing to move to Iceland because of how safe it is compared to many other countries. According to statistics, America experiences 197 times more crimes than Iceland.

In addition to Iceland having a significantly lower crime rate, this country is also safe because it has no hazardous animals, minimal pollution, and peaceful protests. There is also a low maximum speed limit of 55.9 miles per hour, and less than 95 percent of the police force carries guns.

Gender Equality

How many countries in the world can claim true gender equality? Iceland is one of the only countries that can claim to practice true gender equality. This is why many Americans are choosing to immigrate to this wonderful country.

For example, in Iceland, the law stipulates that women cannot be paid less than men for the same work. Additionally, same-sex marriage is legal, and same-sex adoption is also legal. Moreover, in Iceland, everyone is allowed to practice their religion, so there are churches, mosques, and even a pagan center.

Free Education

Although the education system in America is excellent, with many superb schools, colleges, and universities, many American families are still choosing to move to Iceland for this country’s education system. Yet why is this the case?

According to data, Iceland has a literacy rate of 99 percent, while America has a literacy rate of approximately 88 percent. Additionally, in Iceland, education is free from 6 until 16. This is a huge drawing card considering the costly fees many parents have to pay depending on where they live in America for quality education.

What Are Some Of The Best Places To Move To In Iceland

Arguably, besides considering how you will move your belongings, one of the other major considerations you need to consider is where you should move to within Iceland. Since this country is considered one of the safest and one of the friendliest, there are many places you could move to and live happily and peacefully.

Besides living in Reykjavik, which is the most populous city, there are a few other options that we have briefly mentioned.

  • Akureyri – A harbor town perfect for those who enjoy spending time in the outdoors fishing, skiing, hiking, and horseback riding.
  • Seyðisfjörður – Ideal for those who enjoy the art scene and thrive on creativity.
  • Húsavík – Perfect for anyone who loves towns with a rich history and a cozy atmosphere.
  • Vestmannaeyjar – If you don’t like to live amongst people but still want access to basic amenities, this location is perfect.
  • Hafnarfjörður – Ideal for those who enjoy a bustling town with a lively social scene. There are many festivals and cultural events that take place in this town annually.

Moving To Iceland: FAQs

We have gathered the many frequently asked questions surrounding moving to Iceland from the US as promised. If you have a burning question about the moving process, you will likely find the answer below.

1. Can a US citizen move to Iceland?

A US citizen can move to Iceland from America as long as they are eligible for one of the country’s visas and can meet all the visa requirements.

2. Is it expensive to move to Iceland?

As the second most expensive country to live in globally, moving to Iceland is incredibly costly. When moving to this country, you’re going to consider the price of your airfare, how much moving your belongings will cost, your travel and health insurance, and the cost of renting or owning a house.

Let’s look at an example of moving from New York to Reykjavik. Flights from New York to Reykjavik will cost approximately $404 for a single person flying economy, and moving a 20-foot container worth of household belongings will cost on average $1,800. The cost of buying an apartment will be roughly 40 to 50 million Isk which is about $340,000.

This means that you should expect your basic moving costs to be around $342,204 if you plan on buying a home. You will still need to add in your food and transportation costs.

3. Is it difficult to move to Iceland?

For an American, it is very difficult to move to Iceland. There are not many visa options available, and the work visa has strict requirements with priority given to citizens and people already residing in the country.

4. How much money does a person need to live in Iceland?

If you are a single person moving to Iceland, you will need to budget approximately 150,000 Isk or $1,168.73 a month. This figure is broken down into $779.15 on housing and utilities and $389.58 on daily expenses and food.

5. Is there a large expat community in Iceland?

In Iceland, there is a thriving expat community of Americans from various industries and parts of America who have chosen to make Iceland their new home. According to data, most American expats living in Iceland stay in Reykjavik.

6. What are the disadvantages of moving to Iceland?

The biggest disadvantage to living in Iceland is the incredibly high cost of living. It’s believed that items like furniture, food, personal care, clothing, and fuel could be two to three times higher than in the US.

Additionally, a few of the other disadvantages to living in Iceland include odd store hours, difficulty finding fresh produce and spices, the cold winters, and the many tourists.

7. What are the transportation costs to move to Iceland?

How much you will spend on transportation costs to move to Iceland depends on whether you are flying alone, which airline you fly with, where you are flying from and to, and the date you fly.

On average, for a single person flying economy from Los Angeles to Reykjavik, you can expect to pay between $529.54 and $794.32.

8. What is the climate like in Iceland?

Contrary to popular belief, Iceland does not have as extreme temperatures as many believe. Since Iceland’s climate moves with the Gulf Stream’s flow, this country enjoys a cool and temperate maritime climate.

Essentially, they experience cool summers and mild winters, with the average temperature in summer reaching 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit and the average temperature in winter reaching 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

9. What are the best ways to get a visa to move to Iceland?

If you’re planning to move to Iceland, the best way to get a visa to move to Iceland is to speak with an immigration consultant. There are only four visa types available to Americans, and they are notoriously hard to acquire, but a consultant can help you navigate the process.

10. What is the citizenship requirement to live in Iceland?

Generally, for an American to be granted citizenship in Iceland, they need to be domiciled in Iceland for seven years.


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