Foreign nationals who are not citizens of Member states of the European Economic Area (EEA) and who come to Iceland for the purpose of engaging in employment are required to hold work permits. Work permits are normally only issued in those occupational sectors in which there is a shortage of labour and it is not considered likely that domestic labour will be found to fill the positions. An employer wishing to employ a third country national has to assure the Directorate of Labour that no suitable resident labour is available for the vacancy in order to obtain a work permit. Once admitted into the labour market, equal treatment applies in labour law and taxation.
Work permits may be put into three categories:
Temporary work permit: A temporary permit granted to an employer, allowing him to employ a foreign national, usually for a period of 12 months.
Permanent work permit: A permit with no time restriction, granted to a foreign national and allowing him to work in Iceland.
Specialist work permit: A temporary permit granted to a foreign national in connection with specialized tasks.
Foreign spouses of Icelandic citizens, and their children aged up to 18 are exempt from requirements regarding work permits.