The Complete Guide to Moving to Norway

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Every year millions of people move from their native country in pursuit of a better life. An American study  Americans Abroad is exploring why US citizens are leaving their country. If you consider moving to another country and Scandinavia seems to be one of your options, here is the complete guide to moving to Norway.

In this guide we will cover custom duties, tax, registration, work opportunities, social insurance rights, education, and housing.

Immigration

The Complete Guide to Moving to Norway
Norway’s immigration rules may not be as challenging as you think.

Immigration requirements depend on many things including your citizenship, reason for immigration, professional qualifications, and your family and financial circumstances. Norway’s immigration rules may not be as challenging as you think. Of the 5.48 million people presently living in Norway, approximately 15% were born in another country.

If you are a citizen in another Nordic country, you are entitled to move to Norway to live, work and study. However, you do not need to apply for a residence permit or similar. If you are a citizen of another EU/EEA country, you may freely enter Norway and stay in the country for up to three months. If you are staying in Norway for more than three months, you must register.

Related: 4 Great Reasons to Move to Scandinavia from the USA (and 5 Practical Tips)

The EEA provides for the free movement of persons, goods, services and capital within the European Single Market, including the freedom to choose residence in any country within this area. What this means is that citizens of EEA member states have a much easier time of things when it comes to immigration.

The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) is the body responsible for the immigration process, but the Norwegian police is responsible for most of the paperwork.

You need to book an appointment for a personal meeting at a tax office and undergo an ID check. If you are moving to Norway together with your family, it is important that all family members attend the personal meeting at the tax office. You need to take some documentation with you, such as an ID card, employment contract/student certificate, or similar. When you become registered as living in Norway, you will be given a Norwegian identity number. In some countries, you must also notify the population registry that you have moved to another Nordic country.

For those seeking relocation, finding a job as a ‘skilled worker’ is the most likely way to be granted a residence permit. To justify the skilled worker permit, the job must require a university degree or equivalent vocational training, with a minimum annual salary of NOK 449,900 ($43,500) if it requires a master’s degree or NOK 417,900 ($40,500) if not.

People who would qualify for a ‘skilled worker’ work permit can apply for a six-month job-seeker visa, although UDI states these are only given in “exceptional circumstances.”

Although there is a job seeker permit for certain professions, the general rule is that you’ll already need a firm job offer from a Norwegian company to be granted a work permit. The job will need to be of a certain salary to qualify.

Residence permits are also available for specific trades including seafarers, offshore workers, sports athletes and coaches, ethnic cooks, au pairs and religious teachers. Starting a business as a self-employed person is possible, but proof of expected income is required and, crucially, it must be necessary for you to be in Norway.

In 2022, UDI clarified the rules on remote workers. While many countries especially in Asia and Latin America welcome digital nomads, that’s not the case in Norway. UDI considers working in Norway for a remote employer (or your own online business) to be no different, meaning in most cases a skilled worker or self-employment residence permit is required.

After three years holding valid residence permits, it’s possible for non-EU/EEA citizens to apply for a permanent residence permit meaning you can live and work in Norway indefinitely with no need to renew permits.

Contrary to popular belief, having a distant Norwegian relative does not entitle you to Norwegian citizenship and gives you no kind of advantage in the immigration process.

A quick note for British citizens. The United Kingdom is no longer a member of the European Union, nor the EEA agreement. This means that the information above no longer applies to British citizens.

Housing

The Complete Guide to Moving to Norway
Most newcomers arrange temporary accommodation to tide them over for a few months. Photo: Karin Beate Nøsterud/norden.org

Finding accommodation in the major cities is becoming quite difficult. Most newcomers arrange temporary accommodation to tide them over for a few months while they look for something more suitable.

The process for renting a house, apartment or even just a room is fairly similar. Most people go through one of the online marketplaces such as Finn.no, or rely on their new employer to help.

Paying as much as three months’ rent as a security deposit is commonplace, which is another common financial barrier faced by new arrivals.

There are different types of housing in Norway. Foreign citizens and people living in other countries may freely buy or rent property in Norway. However, some properties have a residence obligation.

Housing in Norway

Language

Depending on your circumstances, passing an oral exam or attending a mandatory amount of formal tuition is required. However, there is no legal requirement for anyone to learn Norwegian to live in Norway, at least on a temporary basis.

Related: Understanding the Scandinavian language

Registration and MinID and Bank-ID

The Complete Guide to Moving to Norway
MinID is a personal log-in to public services in Norway.

MinID is a personal log-in to public services in Norway. With your personal MinID you can, for example, gain access to different services of the Norwegian Labor and Welfare Administration, NAV, apply for admission to higher education, apply for a loan and grant from the Norwegian State Educational Loan Fund (Lånekassen), and submit your tax return electronically. You need a Norwegian national identity number or a D number to set up MinID.

BankID is a personal, electronic ID that gives you access to public services at the highest level of security. To get a BankID you must contact your bank.

Registration in the National Population Register in Norway

Norwegian identification numbers

Customs and removal goods

If you have lived abroad continuously for at least one year, you may bring most of your removal goods free of customs duties and taxes when you move to Norway. For some items, you must complete a declaration form for the import of removal goods and submit the form to the Norwegian Customs (Tolletaten).

More on immigration  here: Work and residence permits in Norway

Education

General information on education in Norway.

The Complete Guide to Moving to Norway
Students studying at the Library. Photo: Nordic Council of Ministers

While most bachelor level education is conducted in Norwegian, Norway’s public universities offer a lot of master programs in English. Studying in Norway is a great way to experience Scandinavian lifestyle without committing to a permanent move.

Residence permits are available to students who have successfully applied and been granted a full-time place at a university college or university in Norway. Applicants in this category are required to prove existing funds or annual income of at least NOK 128,887 ($12,500) per year for full-time study, less for single semesters.

Successful applicants are permitted to work up to 20 hours per week part-time in order to help meet the income requirement and support themselves.

Working opportunities

Norway has areas with a skills shortage, including ICT, construction, and healthcare. The energy industry remains a major employer but competition for positions is high.

Taxes

The Complete Guide to Moving to Norway
If you work in Norway, you should generally pay tax on your salary in Norway. Photo: Nordic Council of Ministers

If you work in Norway, you should generally pay tax on your salary in Norway. If you are registered as living in Norway, your employer can get your tax deduction card electronically from the Norwegian Tax Administration. If you are not registered in Norway, or do not have a Norwegian identification number, contact your nearest tax office to apply for a tax deduction card.

The Norwegian Tax Administration is responsible for registration in the Populat…

Nordisk eTax has information about cross-border tax in the Nordic region.

Social insurance rights and pension

The Complete Guide to Moving to Norway
The main regulation is that you are a member of the social insurance scheme (sosialforsikret) in the country in which you work. Photo: helsenorge.org

The country in which you have your social insurance rights is significant for pension, unemployment benefit, sickness benefit, family benefits, and parental benefit. The main regulation is that you are a member of the social insurance scheme (sosialforsikret) in the country in which you work. If you do not have a job, you are generally a member in the country in which you live. However, there are many special situations. If you are in any doubt, you should contact the agencies in the country in which you are living, working, or studying.

If you receive a pension from another Nordic country, contact the pensions agency to find out whether you can still receive your pension paid if you move to Norway. You should also check the regulations for tax payable on the pension, both in the country you move from and in Norway.

If you have pension savings in another country, you should contact the pension company for more information about how this will be affected if you move to Norway.

In Norway, you earn rights to a pension while you are a member of the Norwegian social insurance scheme.

The Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration, NAV, is responsible for Norweg…

Healthcare

The Complete Guide to Moving to Norway
You are entitled to a regular general practitioner (RGP) in Norway. Photo: Christiaan Dirksen/Nordic Council of Ministers.

When you move to Norway and register in the National Population Register, you are entitled to a regular general practitioner (RGP). Contact your GP if you become ill or need medical help. If you need emergency medical help outside the surgery’s opening hours, contact an out-of-hours medical service.

Right to healthcare services in Norway

HelseNorge is a website providing public information about the healthcare secto…

Related: Nordic Healthcare: Why Scandinavians Are So Healthy

Cars and driving licenses

The Complete Guide to Moving to Norway
To get a driving licence, you must
have been living in Norway for at least 6 months. Photo: Wikipedia

You can apply for a temporary driving permit for a foreign-registered vehicle within 14 days when you move to Norway. You must present documentation to confirm your relocation, such as a change of residence certificate, employment contract, or some other relevant documentation.

If you want to bring a foreign-registered vehicle when you move to Norway, you must import the vehicle and pay customs duties and taxes. This applies regardless of your citizenship and where you are moving from. In some countries, you may be reimbursed some of the registration fee when your car is registered in another country.

How to take a driving test in Norway?

You can apply for a driving licence electronically on the website of the Norwegian Public Roads Administration. If you are to become a professional driver, in addition to holding a driving licence you must also obtain a special professional driver qualification.

To get a driving licence, you must have been living in Norway for at least 6 months satisfy the age requirement submit an application for a driving licence satisfy health requirements and have documented good conduct (issued by the police) the first time you apply for a driving licence.

All the compulsory training that is necessary to apply for a driving licence must be completed through an approved driving school (trafikkskole/kjøreskole).

How to get a driving licence (Norwegian Public Roads Administration)

Apply for a driving licence electronically (Norwegian Public Roads Administrati…

Exchanging a foreign driving licence for a Norwegian licence (Norwegian Public …

Pets and other animals

The Complete Guide to Moving to Norway
If you are intending to bring a pet when you move to Norway, you must find out the regulations about importing animals. Photo: Karin Beate Nysterud/Nordic Council of Ministers

If you are intending to bring a pet when you move to Norway, you must find out the regulations about importing animals.

Travelling with pets to Norway

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority (Mattilsynet) is responsible for the regula…

The right to vote in elections

The Complete Guide to Moving to Norway
Only Norwegian citizens have the right to vote in parliamentary elections. Photo: Norwegian Refugee Council

When you move to Norway, you have the right to vote in municipal and regional elections. Only Norwegian citizens have the right to vote in parliamentary elections. To vote in the Sami Parliament elections, you must be registered in the Sami Parliament electoral roll.

The right to vote in Norway

Moving to Svalbard

If you are intending to move or travel to Svalbard, you should find out the relevant regulations.

Moving or travelling to Svalbard

Norway’s relationship with Europe

Although Norway is not a member of the European Union, it is a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) along with Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland. In other words, Norway is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA).

The Complete Guide to Moving to Norway, compiled by Tor Kjolberg

Feature image (on top): Lysefjorden © Council of Nordic Ministers