Social security and welfare

The Icelandic Constitution upholds the principle of equality and acknowledges the right to social security, encompassing assistance and support during times of need or vulnerability.

This right ensures that individuals have access to essential resources and aid to maintain a dignified life, particularly when facing unemployment, illness, disability, or old age.

The Icelandic Constitution plays animportant role in shaping social security and welfare policies in Iceland. It provides guidance to the legislature and the government in developing and executing programs and services designed to protect and support individuals in diverse life situations.

Our member associations can always be contacted for information and direction to the relevant services.

Health care services

In Iceland, access to healthcare services is governed by the Health Care Services Act and other relevant laws and regulations. The system is residence based and funded through general taxation.

Any individual who has legally resided in Iceland for at least six months becomes a member of the Icelandic social insurance system, regardless of nationality. The services provided to insured individuals are available at reduced rates as determined by government regulations.

EEA nationals coming to Iceland are obligated to carry their EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) as evidence of their right to healthcare in their home country. By presenting the EHIC card, they are eligible for healthcare services at the same rates as legal residents in Iceland.

Non-EEA nationals who have not resided in Iceland for the required six-month period can still receive medical assistance; however, they are responsible for covering the full cost of the services they receive.

Healthcare services are based on the principles of universal access, primary healthcare services provided by primary healthcare centres, access to specialist care through referrals, availability of emergency care, and protection of patient rights under the Patients' Rights Act.

More detailed information is available at:

Occupational pension

The Occupational Pension Funds Act mandates that all employees must be affiliated with a pension fund. It requires both employers and employees to make premium payments, which contribute to the accumulation of pension rights and the eligibility to receive pension benefits upon reaching the retirement age stipulated by the pension fund. The premium amount is determined by the relevant collective agreement.

Generally, pension benefits are disbursed as a monthly pension, ensuring individuals a steady income during their retirement years. Specific details and requirements may vary among different occupational pension funds.

Self-employed individuals are also required by law to be affiliated with a pension fund.

Additionally, a residence-based social security system offers a public pension, functioning as a safety net for individuals who do not have adequate coverage from occupational pensions or other private pension arrangements. The social security system and occupational pension schemes are aligned to ensure that individuals receive a comprehensive and integrated pension income.

For more detailed information, please refer to Q&A on the pension system in Iceland (in English and Polish).


The Directorate of Labour administers an unemployment benefits programme that covers both employees and self-employed individuals.

Those who receive unemployment benefits are expected to actively seek job opportunities, engage in activities related to job hunting, and comply with any reporting or monitoring requirements stipulated by the Directorate of Labour.

For more information, please contact the Directorate of Labour.


Individuals who require rehabilitation services due to disabilities, injuries, illnesses, or other impairments have the right to access appropriate rehabilitation programs and support. The process typically starts with an assessment by healthcare professionals to determine the specific rehabilitation needs of the individual. Based on the assessment, appropriate rehabilitation services and programs are recommended, or the individual is referred to them.

Consulting the relevant authorities or healthcare providers can provide more specific information regarding access to rehabilitation services and associated benefits in particular cases.

For more detailed information, please contact:

Borgartúni 27, 105 Reykjavík
Kt. 630387-2569

595 5100
BHM opening hours

Service desk:
Monday to Thursday 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM.
Friday 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM

Monday to Thursday 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM,
Friday 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM