Icelandic nationality law is founded on jus sanguinis principles. In other words, the primary way to obtain Icelandic citizenship is by descent from an Icelandic parent. Icelandic citizenship is only direct, so only Icelandic nationals can give citizenship to their children.
Birth in Iceland to non-Icelandic parents does not confer Icelandic citizenship.
Who is eligible to petition for Islandic citizenship by ancestry?
Based on the Icelandic Nationality Act (more info here), there are multiple ways you can acquire Icelandic citizenship:
- Child born in Iceland to an Icelandic mother or father, regardless of the child’s native country.
- Child born out of wedlock to an Icelandic lady, regardless of where the child was born.
- Child born out of wedlock by an unmarried foreign national mother and an Icelandic father, paternity established in accordance with Icelandic law.
If a child’s mother is an Icelandic citizen or if the child’s father is an Icelandic citizen who is married to the child’s mother, the child is born with Icelandic citizenship.
If a child is born in Iceland between an Icelandic father and a foreign mother who are not married, the infant will immediately receive Icelandic citizenship at birth if the paternity is certified under the Children’s Act.
If the child is born outside of Iceland, the father may apply to the Ministry of the Interior to have the child granted Icelandic citizenship. Children over the age of twelve should be consulted on this topic.
If a child has not yet obtained Icelandic citizenship on any of the circumstances specified above, and its parents, at least one of whom is an Icelandic citizen, marry, the child acquires Icelandic citizenship with the parents’ marriage.
This, however, only applies to children born after October 1, 1988. Further information is available on the Ministry of the Interior’s website, and the applicable statute is available on the website of Iceland’s parliament, Althingi.
Applying for Icelandic citizenship
The Directorate of Immigration receives applications for Icelandic citizenship. The applicant must have lived in Iceland for seven years in order to be granted Icelandic citizenship.
Nordic nationals are an exemption, as they simply need to have lived in Iceland legally for four years.
The applicant must have lived in Iceland continuously for the three years preceding the submission of the citizenship application. However, exceptions to the necessity of continuous residence are available.
The following criteria are also established:
- The applicant may not have received municipal living aid in the previous three years.
- An applicant must not have been punished or imprisoned, either in Iceland or elsewhere, and must not have any unresolved issues in the criminal court system where he or she is suspected or accused of a criminal offence under Icelandic law. However, after a specific period of time has passed, deviations are permitted.
- As of the beginning of 2009, applicants had to have passed an Icelandic language test (you can find the test here). The Directorate of Education prepares and examines the exams, while Mímir Símenntun administers the tests. In some situations, exceptions are permitted.
- There is a unique application fee, as well as a participation fee for the Icelandic exam.
Icelandic children born in another country
Children of Icelandic residents living abroad can be enrolled in the National Registry. If there is any dispute about whether a parent is an Icelandic citizen, documentation confirming the parent’s citizenship are asked.
Inclusion in the National Registry.
Form A-170 (Application form to register a child born abroad to the National Registry) must be completed and submitted if the child’s parents are Icelandic citizens. Note! If an unmarried Icelandic male has a kid abroad with a foreign citizen before July 1, 2018, the application process is handled by the Directorate of Immigration. Once the child’s citizenship is proven, the Directorate of Immigration makes a request for registration in the National Registry. All attached documents indicated in A-170 must accompany the request and meet the foreign document standards. Birth certificates must be issued by the applicable country’s registration body. The certification must include the child’s date of birth, parents’ names, and the child’s name. A certificate from a hospital is insufficient. A birth certificate may not be adequate in some cases, in which case Registers Iceland maintains the right to request additional paperwork on the child, such as its mother’s hospital stay, birth report, pre-natal medical examinations, and other data deemed satisfactory by Registers Iceland. This is especially true for children born in the United States, India, and Ukraine, but it can also apply in other cases.
The child’s parents’ information is recorded.
According to the information on the birth certificate, the child’s mother is registered. If the father’s name is not listed on the birth certificate, the child’s paternity will not be recorded in the National Registry unless additional information is received. When a kid is born to two married mothers, paperwork proving which mother gave birth are required.
The custodians of the child are recorded.
If the mother is married to the declared father, joint custody for the mother and her spouse is registered at the time of the child’s birth. Otherwise, custody is not determined unless the child moves to Iceland and custody documents are submitted; see registration of child custody.
Naming of foreign-born children
The child’s name is listed in the National Registry exactly as it appears on the birth certificate. If a kid was not named at the time of registration, the birth certificate or other documents from the relevant foreign authority confirming the child’s name registration must be supplied anew. If the child’s legal domicile is in Iceland, his or her name must comply with the provisions of Personal Names Act No. 45/1996.
A child adopted from another country
When the adoptive parents arrive in Iceland, they notify Registers Iceland. Form A-170 (Application for registration of a child born abroad in the National Registry) must be completed. The date of the move to Iceland, as well as the supplemental documents asked on the form, must be specified. The child is enrolled in the National Registry at the legal domicile of his or her adopted parents and assigned a family registration code number. The child’s name and citizenship are registered in line with the birth certificate and passport. When a district commissioner confirms the adoption, the child’s citizenship is changed, as is the child’s name if a name change is desired. The adoptive parents will also be named as the custodians of the child.
Acquiring Icelandic citizenship through naturalization
The Parliament and the Ministry of Justice are the entities that grant Icelandic citizenship, with different rules governing people in various situations. Contact the Icelandic Embassy for more information. These are some fundamental principles:
In order for authorities to grant citizenship, the person with foreign citizenship will have to complete a permanent residence period ranging from three to seven years, depending on the individual and their tie to an Icelandic national (Icelandic spouse).
A person must have a job or another source of income. Members of the Nordic Contracting States, foreigners who marry Icelandic people, and former Icelandic citizens who have taken up residence again are all eligible for special consideration.
Dual citizenship in Iceland
Iceland does not recognize dual citizenship. Some exceptions to this rule include:
- Children born to married parents of different nationalities, one Icelandic and the other foreigner, are exceptions to this law.
- Naturalized citizens are not forced to renounce their previous citizenship once they have acquired Icelandic citizenship.