Q: Can you rent an apartment (sign a lease) without a kennitala? I’m coming to Reykjavik next month and I’ll apply for one as soon as I get there, but apparently it can take up to a month before it’s issued. I’m afraid that nobody will rent me an apartment before I receive my kennitala. So is it legal to let an apartment to someone who doesn’t have a kennitala (yet) and in practical terms, does it happen?
A: No, I’m afraid you cannot sign a lease without a kennitala. It is a notarized document, so both parties to it must be registered with Þjóðskrá (Registers Iceland). If you are applying for one to stay and work for a short period of time, it can take up to three to four weeks for the application to be processed. If you are applying for a permanent one and moving your legal residence to Iceland, it can take up to six weeks.
Some renters will make a tentative agreement, however, given that you pay an insurance deposit, as well as provide them a copy of your application for a kennitala, and somehow confirm that you will be staying in the country for some time, such as by having your prospective employer contact them. Feel free to contact Leigufélag Íslands (The Renting Association of Iceland) for further information.