Internship Opportunities and Student Visa Requirements in Iceland

Your Comprehensive Guide to Navigating Internship and Educational Opportunities in Iceland

Iceland, a country celebrated for its breathtaking natural landscapes and innovative atmosphere, is an increasingly attractive destination for internships and educational pursuits. At Piktalent, we are proud to extend our services to Iceland, offering a variety of placements across diverse sectors. These opportunities are tailored to provide practical experience that aligns with your career goals in a country known for its unique blend of nature and innovation.

For those seeking internships in Iceland, it’s important to understand the country’s visa and work permit regulations. Iceland offers a supportive environment for students and interns, but adhering to legal requirements is essential for a smooth experience. From the vibrant city life of Reykjavik to the serene beauty of the Westfjords, Iceland provides a dynamic backdrop for those at the beginning of their career or looking to enhance their educational journey. Whether it’s engaging in ecology research or exploring innovative industries, Iceland’s unique setting offers a wealth of opportunities and unforgettable experiences.

EU citizens

1. Duration and Conditions of Internships

Internships in Iceland can vary significantly in duration, typically from a few weeks to a full year. The specific conditions, such as work hours, responsibilities, and any academic requirements, are usually outlined in the internship agreement. For EU citizens, these internships can be part of an academic program or a separate professional development opportunity. It’s important to ensure that the internship’s duration aligns with your academic or career goals.

2. Internship Contract Essentials

A comprehensive internship contract is crucial. This document should detail the internship’s scope, including the duration, expected duties, learning objectives, mentorship provided, and terms of termination. For legal protection and clarity, ensure that the contract is in a language you fully understand and that it specifies the nature of the work, including any projects or tasks you are expected to complete.

3. Understanding Remuneration and Unpaid Internships

In Iceland, the approach to internship remuneration varies. While some internships, particularly those linked to universities or vocational training programs, may not offer financial compensation, others might provide a stipend, salary, or other benefits like housing or travel allowances. The distinction between curricular (part of an academic program) and extra-curricular (independent of academic programs) internships is crucial here, as it often influences the compensation structure.

4. Post-Arrival Procedures for EU Citizens

Upon arriving in Iceland for an internship, EU citizens should register with the local Register Iceland (Þjóðskrá Íslands) for a Kennitala (personal identity number). This registration is essential for accessing services like healthcare, banking, and signing an employment contract. Additionally, familiarize yourself with local labour laws and any workplace regulations specific to your internship.

5. The Importance of a Personal Identity Number (Kennitala)

The Kennitala is a unique identification number critical for all residents in Iceland, including interns. It’s used in various transactions, from opening a bank account to accessing healthcare services. Obtaining this number should be one of your first steps upon starting your internship in Iceland.

6. Social Security Contributions: Paid vs. Unpaid Internships

For paid internships, interns are generally required to contribute to Iceland’s social security system, which includes payments towards pension funds, health insurance, and employment insurance. The contribution rates and requirements may differ based on the nature of the internship and the salary. For unpaid internships, these contributions are typically not applicable.

7. Navigating Remuneration Law for Internships

Iceland has specific laws to ensure fair labour practices, which also cover paid internships. These laws dictate minimum wage requirements, working hours, and other employment rights. As an intern, you should be aware of these laws to ensure that your internship terms are compliant and fair.

8. Tax Implications for Interns and Employers

Interns in Iceland are subject to income tax on their earnings, with a progressive tax rate. They must obtain a tax card (skattkort) for tax deductions. Employers are responsible for withholding tax, making social security contributions, and reporting salaries to the tax authorities.

Practical Example
Let’s consider an intern, Anna, from an EU country, doing a paid internship in Reykjavik. Her monthly salary is ISK 300,000.
Personal Allowance: As of 2023, the personal allowance is around ISK 50,000 per month.
Income Tax: Assuming a tax rate of 35.7% (for illustration purposes), the taxable income would be ISK 250,000 (300,000 – 50,000). Therefore, her monthly income tax would be approximately ISK 89,250.
Social Security Contribution: This is around 11.5% of the salary, so ISK 34,500. Net Salary: Anna’s take-home pay would be ISK 300,000 – ISK 89,250 – ISK 34,500 = ISK 176,250.

The employer must contribute to social security (approximately 6.35% of the salary) and other statutory contributions based on Anna’s salary.

9. Essential Steps for a Fulfilling Internship Experience

To maximize your internship experience in Iceland, consider the following: Acquire comprehensive health insurance that is valid in Iceland. Open a local bank account for ease of financial transactions, especially if you receive a stipend or salary. Learn about Icelandic culture and basic language skills to enhance your social experience. Stay informed about your legal rights as an intern, including working conditions, hours, and any recourse in case of disputes.

An internship in Iceland offers a unique blend of professional development and cultural immersion. For EU citizens, understanding the legal and practical aspects of interning in Iceland is key to a successful experience. Ensure you are well informed about your rights, responsibilities, and the cultural nuances of working in Iceland to make the most of your internship opportunity.

Non-EU citizens

In the dynamic landscape of 2023/2024, Iceland stands out as a beacon of innovation and cultural exchange. For non-EU citizens looking to intern in this captivating Nordic country, navigating the legal intricacies with precision and care is essential.

1. Visa Requirements: A Detailed Overview
  • Short-Term Internships: For those planning internships under 90 days, a Schengen visa is typically required. This visa facilitates travel within the Schengen zone but imposes strict limitations on the duration and purpose of your stay.
  • Essential Documentation: Prepare to submit a letter from your Icelandic internship provider, proof of accommodation, a return ticket, and evidence of financial independence.
2. Residence Permit for Longer Internships
  • Application Essentials: For internships exceeding 90 days, you’ll need to apply for a specific residence permit. Applications must be submitted in paper form, either by regular mail to the Directorate of Immigration or delivered to the drop box in the Directorate’s reception. A processing fee of 16,000 ISK is required. The application will be returned if unpaid, and the fee is not refunded if the application is cancelled.
  • For the fall semester, applications should be submitted no later than June 1st. For the spring semester, the deadline is November 1st.
  • Timely Application: Given the variable processing times, applying well ahead of your intended internship start date is advisable.
  • Residence permits for students are granted to:

    • Individuals intending to engage in full-time studies at a university in Iceland.
    • Postgraduate (doctorate) students from foreign universities collaborating with an Icelandic university.
    • Exchange students from acknowledged exchange-student organizations.
    • Interns.
    • Students in technical studies and recognized workplace studies at the higher-education level.
    • Graduates looking for employment.
  • Residence permits for students are not granted to individuals intending to study at Icelandic secondary schools (except for approved exchange programs), attend courses in the Icelandic language, or study at foreign universities and stay in Iceland.

3. Extensions and Special Considerations
  • Permit Extensions: Should your internship extend beyond its initially planned end date, ensure you apply for a residence permit extension before the current one expires.
  • Special Circumstances: In certain instances, such as internships of significant cultural, educational, or professional importance, there may be flexibility regarding duration and conditions.
4. Employment During Internship
  • Legal Framework: Interns holding a residence permit may have the opportunity to work part-time, subject to the specific conditions of their permit. It’s crucial to confirm this with both your employer and immigration authorities.
5. Post-Internship Opportunities
  • From Learning to Earning: A successful internship in Iceland can sometimes pave the way for employment opportunities. Non-EU citizens must then transition from an internship residence permit to a work permit, complying with the requirements for non-EEA nationals.
6. Key Steps for a Fulfilling Experience
  • Cultural Integration: Embracing Icelandic work culture and acquiring basic language skills can significantly enrich your internship experience.
  • Emergency Preparedness: Familiarize yourself with emergency contacts and procedures in Iceland.
  • Networking: Actively engage with local and expatriate communities for support and additional opportunities.
  • Discover and Enjoy: Iceland’s unique geography offers many experiences, from witnessing the awe-inspiring Northern Lights to relaxing in geothermal springs. Striking a balance between work and exploration can lead to a more rewarding stay.
Embarking on an internship in Iceland as a non-EU citizen in 2023/2024 is a journey filled with learning and growth. By meticulously planning and adhering to Iceland’s legal framework, you can fully immerse yourself in the professional and cultural opportunities this extraordinary country has to offer.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Internships in Iceland range from a few weeks to a full year, with conditions like work hours and responsibilities detailed in the internship agreement.

It should detail the internship’s scope, duration, duties, learning objectives, mentorship, and termination terms.

It varies. Some offer stipends or benefits, while others, especially academic ones, may be unpaid.

Register with the local Register Iceland for a Kennitala, essential for services like healthcare and banking.

It’s crucial for transactions like banking and healthcare access for all residents, including interns.

Yes, for paid internships. Contributions include pension funds, health insurance, and employment insurance. Unpaid internships usually don’t require this.

They must adhere to laws covering minimum wage, working hours, and employment rights.

Interns pay income tax on earnings and must obtain a tax card. Employers handle tax withholding and social security.

Get comprehensive health insurance, open a local bank account, learn about Icelandic culture and language, and understand your legal rights as an intern.

For internships under 90 days, non-EU citizens typically require a Schengen visa. You must submit essential documents like a letter from your Icelandic internship provider, proof of accommodation, a return ticket, and proof of financial independence.

For internships exceeding 90 days, apply for a residence permit by submitting a paper application with a 16,000 ISK fee to the Directorate of Immigration. Deadlines are June 1st for the fall semester and November 1st for spring. Apply early due to variable processing times.

Student residence permits are granted to those engaged in full-time university studies, postgraduate students from foreign universities collaborating with Icelandic universities, exchange students, interns, students in technical and workplace studies at higher education level, and graduates seeking employment.

Yes, if your internship extends beyond its planned end date, you can apply for a residence permit extension before the current one expires. Some flexibility may be offered for internships of significant cultural, educational, or professional importance.

Interns with a residence permit may work part-time, subject to specific conditions of their permit. It’s essential to confirm this with your employer and immigration authorities.

A successful internship may lead to employment opportunities in Iceland. Non-EU citizens must transition from an internship residence permit to a work permit, meeting the requirements for non-EEA nationals.

Embrace Icelandic work culture, learn basic language skills, familiarize yourself with emergency procedures, engage with local and expat communities, and explore Iceland’s unique geography, like the Northern Lights and geothermal springs, for a fulfilling experience.

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