Making an International Move to Iceland
Iceland is one of the most majestic countries in the world. From its stunning local sights to its geographical wonders, which include some amazing, active volcanoes, it’s the perfect place for those who wish to be at one with the natural world.
That’s likely one of the reasons you’ve chosen to move to Iceland.
Now, you’re in the process of preparing for the overseas move. These crucial tips help you to make the transition successfully and with minimal hassle.
Tip No. 1 – Work With an International Moving Company
Moving overseas isn’t like moving to another part of the United States, a foreign country is a different animal as you need to consider your visa requirement for this nordic country. You can’t simply rent a truck and get a few friends to help you. Your household goods need to be transported over a huge distance, which usually means ferrying them over water via a boat or loading them into an aircraft.
That’s a lot for an inexperienced international mover to deal with.
Working with appropriate international movers takes all of that hard work off your plate. Experienced movers can guide you on issues including if you need an import permit, how to pack your items appropriately, and what you need to do to get them past customs safely. Look for a company that has an established track record of international moving. Check Google and social media reviews to find a mover with a good reputation. It’s also a good idea to understand the rates you’re likely to pay, so see Three Movers for overseas moving rates so you can budget appropriately.
Tip No. 2 – Obtain Icelandic Residency and Work Permits
If you’re moving to Iceland from another country in the European Union (EU) as an EU citizen, obtaining residency and work permits is a fairly simple task. You’re allowed to work in the country for up to three months before you have to register a legal home. This can be extended up to six months if you seek employment upon arriving. Once you hit the appropriate threshold, you have to apply for permanent Icelandic citizenship using the “Registration of an EEA or EFTA foreign national” form.
Moving to Iceland from a country outside the EU, such as the U.S., is a more complicated process. There are several application forms you may have to fill out, depending on your intended residency status:
D-200 – Temporary residency.
D-201 – Permanent residency based on cohabitation or marriage with an existing Icelandic citizen.
D-202 – Permanent residency based on marriage or cohabitation with another foreign citizen.
D-206 – Residency for those over the age of 67.
D-207 – Residency permit based on employment.
D-208 – Application for residency as a student.
D-209 – Application for residency based on appointment. This is typically used for those under the age of 18, parents of children under 18, and people with special reasons for entering Iceland.
All of these forms can be found on Iceland’s Directorate of Immigration’s (DOI) website. It typically takes the DOI up to 180 days to process your residence application, assuming there are no complications. As such, it’s a good idea to start this process at least a year before your move. The Icelandic consulate may be able to answer any questions as you prepare your paperwork.
Tip No. 3 – Research Icelandic Weather
One of Iceland’s more interesting quirks is the long hours of darkness you can expect during the winter. The country’s high latitude leads to extremely short days during the peak of winter. For example, the longest period of daylight in a single day during December is just five hours. The sun rises at 11 a.m. and sets at about 3 p.m. Summer light is the opposite, with the daylight hours being exceptionally long.
It’s important to research these types of weather phenomena because they will shock your system if you’re accustomed to longer days in winter. These short days can also cause seasonal affective disorder, also known as winter depression. The symptoms include poor mood, lethargy, and food cravings. Understanding what you’re getting into is key to preparing for Iceland’s short winter days.
Tip No. 4 – Consider Visiting Before the Move
Many people who wish to move to Iceland permanently begin by visiting the country. Since tourists can move between Schengen Agreement countries, you may want to consider making it part of a bigger holiday. You can obtain a 90-day tourist visa that gives you a chance to experience the culture and hopefully adjust to the country’s weather.
Making this visit also gives you a chance to start looking for employment. Iceland has one of Europe’s lowest unemployment rates. Typically, about 99% of the population works, which can make finding an open position difficult. Networking is a vital part of finding a job in the country, meaning that arranging a visit before moving gives you a chance to meet people who may be able to guide you toward a job.
Tip No. 5 – Prepare for a High Cost of Living
The average rent for a single-bedroom apartment in Iceland’s capital Reykjavik is equivalent to about $1,700 per month. Expect to pay more than that if you need a larger place or if you move close to the city’s center.
Food is more expensive too. The average loaf of bread costs $3.10, with a carton of breakfast cereal averaging $5. Fresh fruits and vegetables are also costly as they need to be imported. The point here is that you may have to deal with a higher cost of living in Iceland than you would in the United States. Ideally, the job you secure in Iceland will be enough to cover these costs. If it isn’t, it’s a good idea to use your preparation time to save money to make the initial high price shock more manageable.
Prepare for a New Challenge
Iceland is a fascinating country filled with natural beauty and wonderful people. However, there’s no denying that making an international move to Iceland can be a culture shock. In addition to the weather extremes, you must prepare for a competitive job market and a high cost of living.
Thankfully, the practicalities of making the move and shipping your possessions are simpler. Working with an experienced international moving company ensures your possessions reach Iceland safely. The country’s immigration rules are also clear, with the forms you’re required to complete being simple to follow. You need at least a year of preparation time to ensure all of your documents are in order. But it may be best to spend two or three years preparing, both to account for any complications in immigration and ensure you have enough money saved to live comfortably once you arrive. In the end, you can join the expats that call Iceland home.