Citizens from Bulgaria and Romania are now able to live and work in Iceland with the same rights and ease of movement as all other European Union citizens. The news comes a full five years after the two countries joined the bloc.
Bulgarians and Romanians no longer need to get special residence and work permits to stay in Iceland. On 1st January the special law on Romanians and Bulgarians ran out and their citizens now enjoy the same rights in Iceland as other Europeans do.
Iceland is a member of the EEA, EFTA and Schengen; meaning its citizens are free to travel, live and work in most European countries with very similar rights to natives. Other Europeans enjoy the same rights in Iceland. However, when Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU on 1st January 2007, the Icelandic authorities decided to take advantage of the maximum time legally possible to update the two countries’ status (five years). It was widely reported at the time that the government was trying to protect its citizens from organised crime in the two countries. Unsurprisingly a fierce debate about discrimination and protectionism ensued, and continues even now.
Either way, in the case of Bulgarians and Romanians in Iceland, the case is over. Those who have already got residence and work permits do not need to renew them when they expire; and those coming to Iceland for the first time will not need them at all and will simply need to register their stay with the National Registry.