Net external migration in Iceland in 2017 was 8,240 compared with 4,069 last year. It is the highest positive net migration in one year since registration of migration began in 1801. The number of immigrants was 14,929 in 2017 compared with 10,958 in 2016. At the same time the number of emigrants decreased from 6,889 in 2016 to 6,689 in 2017.


Denmark the most popular country of destination for Icelandic citizens
Of the 2,819 Icelandic citizens who emigrated in 2017, a total of 1,856 migrated to Norway, Denmark or Sweden. Most of them emigrated to Denmark, or 888. These countries were also the major countries of origin for immigrating Icelandic citizens, as 2,207 out of 3,171 immigrants came from these countries.

Most of the foreign citizens emigrating from Iceland migrated to Poland, or 1,288 out of 3,870. Poland was also the largest contributor of immigrants with foreign citizenship, 4,479 persons out of 11,758 foreign immigrants.


Most frequent age of emigrants 25 years
The largest age group among those who emigrated or immigrated in 2017 was 20–29 years old, 40.2%. However, the modal age of emigrants was 25 years and the modal age of immigrants was 26 years.

Dramatic change in the sex ratio of international migrants
A significant change in the sex ratio of international migrants has taken place in recent years. Up until 2003 more females than males migrated each year to Iceland. This changed dramatically between 2004 and 2008 when 4,215 more males than females immigrated to Iceland. Between 2009 and 2012 respectively, 4,114 more males than females emigrated from Iceland. In 2017, males exceeded females by 2,894 in net migration.

Most foreign citizens from Poland
From the year 1996, the highest numbers of foreign immigrants to Iceland were Polish citizens, with the exception of 2004, when Portuguese citizens were most numerous. In 2017, 4,549 people with Polish citizenship immigrated to Iceland, and Polish citizens were also the largest group of foreign nationals to emigrate from Iceland in 2017, or 1,315.

Migration by regions 2017      
  Net migration
  Total Internal External
Total 8,240 8,240
Capital region 4,311 -427 4,738
Southwest 1,574 242 1,332
West 245 -33 278
Westfjords 106 -74 180
Northwest 20 -47 67
Northeast 662 -58 720
East 262 -26 288
South 1,060 423 637

All regions had net gains from international migration
When only taking into account internal migration between regions in the year 2017, only two regions had favorable net migration. The South had the most internal migration (423) and the Southwest had 242. Other regions had negative net migration. When considering external and internal migration, all of the country’s regions experienced positive net migration in 2017, most gains were experienced in the Capital region (4,311).