Visas and residence permits
For exchange students from inside the EU/EEA
Exchange students from the EU/EEA do not need to apply for a visa or Icelandic residence permit. The spring and fall terms at Bifröst last four months and thus do exceed the 90-day period in which EU/EEA citizens are allowed to stay without registering their residency. However, EU/EEA citizens are allowed to stay in Iceland without registering their residency for an extra three months if they are looking for work, and since it is very difficult to determine whether someone is looking for work or not, the Icelandic Directorate of Immigration has not in the past made students from the EU/EEA countries apply for legal domicile in Iceland for a stay of up to six months. So if you are an EU/EEA citizen planning to stay only one term, do not worry about permits. Simply buy your plane ticket and come.
For exchange students from outside the EU/EEA
Students from outside the EU/EEA (including China, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Canada, USA) who plan to spend more than 90 days in Iceland need to apply for a residence permit well before their arrival in Iceland.
With the application, you must request that the embassy in your country of residence that handles Icelandic visa matters (generally the Danish embassy) be instructed to issue you a so-called D-visa. Once the residence permit application is approved, the embassy will be notified and you can send your passport to the embassy to receive the D-visa. The D-visa allows you to enter Iceland.
Once entering Iceland, you must register your address with the National Registry (Þjóðskrá) and undergo a very brief medical examination to receive your actual residence permit. The school can help arrange for the medical examination at the clinic in Borgarnes. The initial residence permit is valid for one term and must be renewed if you are staying longer.
There is unfortunately a rather long list of things you will need to do to apply for your student residence permit,and it can take up to 90 days between your application and the approval of your D-visa, which means that you need to start early. See the Directorate of Immigration’s application instructions for the full details. We recommend patience and an early start.
For the most complete and authoritative information on visas and residence permits in Iceland, see the website of Iceland’s Directorate of Immigration (Útlendingastofnun). Some of the information on the site is confusing, but rest assured that the International Office at Bifröst will help all admitted students complete the required paperwork.