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Having a Baby

Information for expectant parents about the public services available during pregnancy, birth and early childhood.

Table of contents

Parental Leave

New parents have the following support systems at their disposal to stay home and take care of a new child during the first months after birth, adoption or permanent foster placement. If a pregnancy results in miscarriage or stillbirth, individuals may also be entitled to take leave and receive payments.

  • Paid parental leave is a paid leave offered to new parents working at least 25% full time during the six months leading up to the time the child is born or enters the home. The parent's wages are used to calculate the amount of the payments during leave.

Apply for payments from the paid parental leave fund

  • Parental allowances are intended for new parents who are studying, working less than 25% of full time or not active on the job market.

Apply for a parent allowance

  • Unpaid parental leave is leave from a paid position without entitlement to payments from the parental leave fund.

Website for the parental leave fund

Prenatal Care

The objective of prenatal care as administered by the healthcare centers in Iceland is to support the health of pregnant people and fetuses, offer guidance and address any high-risk factors.

Consultations and exams are offered from the beginning of pregnancy thorough birth. Your first consultation with a midwife generally happens over the phone soon after the pregnancy is confirmed. At that time time you'll make an appointment for the first exam between the 8th and 12th weeks of pregnancy. The number of prenatal exams depends on personal circumstances but are generally between 7-10 in number. Between exams you'll have access to phone consultations with a midwife.

Costs for Prenatal Services

During pregnancy and after birth the following services are offered at no charge:

  • Prenatal care at a local healthcare center

  • Ultrasound at 20 weeks

  • Home visits from midwife during first weeks after birth

  • Infant care at a local healthcare center

Expectant parents are offered the following optional services for a fee:

  • Early ultrasound

  • Ultrasound at 11-14 weeks

Birthing Settings

Most births in Iceland today take place in a healthcare setting, although home births have become much more frequent in recent years.

Healthcare settings for giving birth in Iceland:

  • Labor & Delivery Ward at the National University Hospital of Iceland, Reykjavík

  • Suðurnes Healthcare Facility, Reykjanesbær

  • Healthcare Facility of South Iceland, Selfoss

  • Healthcare Facility of South Iceland, Vestmannaeyjar

  • Healthcare Facility of East Iceland, Neskaupsstaður

  • Akureyri Hospital

  • Healthcare Facility of the Westfjords, Ísafjörður

  • Healthcare Facility of West Iceland, Akranes

Different settings offer different amenities. The midwives you see during prenatal care can help you select the right facility for you if you'd like guidance.

You can also contact the Björkin midwives if you're interested in having a home birth or delivering at a birthing center.

Infant Care

Infant care is provided for all parents at no cost.

The objective of infant and early childhood care is to support the health, wellbeing and development of young children with a schedule of examinations as well as providing their families with support and guidance on matters of children's health. Childhood development is monitored from birth until children begin primary school, with an emphasis on supporting the family.

If a child exhibits any abnormalities, the parents are welcome to contact the nursing staff at infant and early childhood care outside the regular appointments.

Naming Children

All children in Iceland must have a name registered with Registers Iceland by the age of 6 months.

You can register your child's name in the following ways:

  • by submitting a notice of naming/christening to Registers Iceland.

  • by submitting a notice of naming/christening to a clergy member or director of an officially registered religion/life stance.

  • through christening or other naming ceremony in the Church of Iceland or other officially registered religions/life stances

Once a child's name has been decided and the name is listed on the Registry of Approved Icelandic Personal Names (in Icelandic), you may notify Registers Iceland of the child's name.

More information on naming regulations.


Children in Iceland have the right to know who their parents are.

If a mother is neither married nor cohabitating when a child is born, she identify the father. This means that the man she identifies as father must acknowledge paternity. In such cases, a statement of paternity must be submitted to Registers Iceland. If the mother does not have a marital status registered with Registers Iceland, she must submit a certificate of marital status before paternity can be established.

If the child's paternity is contested, the declared father may request a paternity test. In those cases, the declared father must sign a declaration that he requires that a blood test to be performed, that he agrees to pay the costs associated with such a test and that he will acknowledge paternity if the test results indicate he is the father.

If the declared father refuses to pay for a blood test, the mother is notified and she is directed to take the matter before the courts to establish paternity.

The parties to paternity court proceedings are: the child, its mother and the man identified as the child's father.

More information on paternity and acknowledgment of paternity.


Daycare/Child Minders

In most communities in Iceland there are daycare facilities or independent child minders that provide daycare for children aged 6-18 months before they start preschool. Daycare generally refers to childcare from 7am to 7pm on weekdays. Daycare is typically run in the caregiver's own home or property owned by the municipality, like daycare centers.

It's important to apply for daycare services well in advance, up to 12 months, as waiting lists can be long. Each municipality has its own rules about subsidizing daycare costs.

Information about local daycare services and subsidies is available from your municipality. You can find contact information on this clickable map from the Icelandic Association of Local Authorities.

Infant Preschool Programs

Some municipalities offer daycare in the form of infant preschool programs, which are special programs for infants operated within existing preschools. Each municipality has its own rules about subsidizing daycare costs.

Information about any local infant preschool programs and subsidies is available from your municipality. You can find contact information on this clickable map from the Icelandic Association of Local Authorities.


Preschool - The First Level in the Icelandic School System

Preschool is the earliest level of schooling in Iceland and is for children under the age of 6. It is intended for all children regardless of physical or mental ability, cultural background or religion.

Although preschool is not mandatory, many children attend preschool from the time they are about 18 months until they begin primary school. Children attend preschool anywhere from 4 to 9.5 hours on weekdays.

Parents can apply for preschool enrollment for their child with the municipality where the child's legal domicile is registered. Once enrollment is accepted, the parents create an attendance agreement with the school to determine the child's hours at the school. The agreement has a mutual termination notice of one month.

More information on preschools, preschool fees and special needs services at preschools.

Child Allowance

The child allowance is a calculated amount paid automatically to parents resident in Iceland for dependent up to 18 years of age. To be eligible for the child allowance, you must be resident in Iceland and be subject to unlimited tax liability in the country.

The amount of the child allowance is determined by factors like parent income, marital status and number of children. There is no need to apply for the allowance. If the parents are no longer together, the allowance is paid to the parent who shares a registered legal domicile with the child. The child allowance is not counted as income and is not taxed.

The child allowance is paid out four time a year:

  • February 1

  • May 1

  • June 1

  • October 1

The first two payments are based on estimated income. The last two are based on income according to the parents' tax return(s).

More information on the child allowance and how it is calculated.

More information on child allowance amounts for 2020 and decreases due to income.

Financial Support for Infertility

Icelandic Health Insurance subsidizes costs associated with assisted reproductive technology (ART):

  • 5% of costs for a first attempt at in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)

  • 65% of costs for a second to fourth attempt at in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)

Icelandic Health Insurance's contribution is determined by a schedule of costs decided by the agency itself.

More on infertility and ART