Norway is a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), together with Iceland, Lichtenstein and Switzerland. Relations between the EFTA and EU countries are defined by the European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement which upholds the four freedoms of the European Union: free movement of goods, people, freedom of establishment and provision of services, and freedom of capital between member states.
According to the 2019 Index of Economic Freedom, Norway, with a population of 5.3 million and 4.2% unemployment, is ranked 14th out of 44 countries in the European area. A thriving private sector supports the state sector and public / social services.
Norway is rich in natural resources and the main industry sectors are petroleum, gas and hydro-electric power. The country is also a world leader in sea farming, production and export. The shipping industry and tourism are also significant. Potential growth areas have been identified as aluminium, healthcare, fisheries, and green technology.
Requirements for securing employment in Norway depend on whether the jobseeker comes from one of the Nordic countries: Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden; from another EU/EEA state, or from outside the EU/EEA.
Nordic residents can apply for a job, find local accommodation and register for work. An EU/EEA resident must complete the job application process and verify that their qualifications match Norwegian requirements before relocating.
A visitor’s visa (60€) is required for non-EU/EEA nationals who wish to visit the country prior to taking up permanent employment.
Work permits are required for foreign nationals outside the EU/EEA and must be secured prior to commencing employment. A work permit costs approximately 140€ and applications can take up to two months for approval. There are no specific quotas or country specific priorities.
You will be enrolled in the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme on the day your employment starts. However this does not apply if you are relocating on a temporary basis as an employee of a non-Norwegian company. Membership of the National Insurance Scheme determines any entitlements you may receive from the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV).
Learning Norwegian is not mandatory. However, with unemployment at only 4.2%, you will be in competition with native job seekers and therefore language skills and qualifications will significantly enhance your prospects.
The NAV database lists all published jobs in Norway, and although these are predominantly in Norwegian, English-language searching is enabled.
The Norwegian government requires certain qualifications for specific professions. A full list of industries and the qualifications required can be found on the website of the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education (NOKUT).
The following websites specialise in English language speaking vacancies in Norway: Jobs in Oslo, which also links to Jobs in Bergen and Trondheim, and The Local. International agencies Indeed, Adecco and Manpower all cover Norway.
Jobs are also advertised in the press and on employers’ websites. It is also perfectly acceptable to contact prospective employers directly, even if they are not advertising vacancies.
Applying For A Job
Your CV should consist of 1-2 pages and be tailored for individual applications. Standard CVs can be registered with local agencies and uploaded digitally to employment websites. Personal details should include your date of birth, marital status and number of children if applicable. Some employers prefer to see key qualifications and years of experience listed at the beginning of the document. Education and work information should be presented with most recent details first.
The CV should include work and vocational experience, qualifications, relevant courses, and positions of trust in external organisations, such as school governor appointments, sports clubs and so on. Language and IT skills, hobbies and interests should also be included. You should state that references are available on request. You will be required to supply documentary evidence for any qualifications or certificates mentioned. If required, original documents should only be produced at interview.
NAV run regular job fairs and many universities and colleges hold specialist career days. Job fairs comprise Trade, Education & Training and Jobs & Careers. The majority of trade fairs are held in the town of Lillestrom. The Trade Fair Dates website lists forthcoming events and can be searched by region, industry sector, city and date range.
Contracts And Remuneration
A written job contract is mandatory and must be in place no later than one month from the employment start date. It details roles, responsibilities, location, any probation period, notice period, working hours and holiday entitlement.
It is not unusual for employment to be governed by some form of collective agreement. The two main collective bodies are the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (Næringslivets Hovedorganisasjon, NHO) and the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (Landsorganisasjonen i Norge, LO). There is a range of unions and employers who are entitled to enter into collective agreements.
There is no official minimum wage in Norway and remuneration packages are agreed between employer and candidate during the interview process. However, if employment is subject to a collective agreement, specific pay bands may be included in the terms of the agreement. Particular sectors to which this applies are construction, maritime and shipbuilding, agriculture and gardening.
Working hours are a maximum of 9 hours per day with a total of 40 hours per week. A worker is entitled to a 30-minute break when working 5 or more hours consecutively. There must also be a continuous 11-hour period off work per 24 hours. Additional regulations apply for shift workers.
Workers are entitled to 25 vacation days per year. In Norway, Saturday is considered a working day, therefore the minimum holiday entitlement is four weeks and one day. Holiday pay must be 10.2% of the annual remuneration. However, under many collective agreements, an entitlement of 5 weeks is granted and holiday pay is 12% of the annual remuneration.
Holiday pay is governed by the Holidays Act. The employee’s salary is deducted for the holiday period and substituted by holiday pay based on the previous year’s remuneration. This must be paid in advance of the holiday period.
Cost Of Living In Norway
Overall, the cost of living in Oslo is 6.7% less than London. Restaurants are 24.9% cheaper, groceries 33.8%, transportation 30%, clothing 22%. However, housing is 51.7% higher, entertainment & sport 5.1%, and childcare is 2.3 times more expensive.
The cost of living in Oslo overall is 8.1% higher than New York. Housing is 15.9% more expensive and childcare is twice as much as in New York. However, restaurants are 28% cheaper, groceries 5.1%, transport 3.8%, entertainment & sport 21.3%, and clothing 38.6%.
Norway, a prosperous Scandinavian nation with a strong economy and an attractive standard of living, is an appealing destination for many expats. Whether or not you will need a visa in order to travel there, for a holiday or to take up employment, will depend on your reasons for travel and your nationality. We will look at some of your options below.
If you are a citizen of a European Union (EU) / European Economic Area (EEA) / European Free Trade Association (EFTA) member state, or coming in from the UK, you will not need a visa to enter Norway. The country is not an EU member, but it does belong to the EFTA and it does have reciprocal agreements with the EU.
If you are from outside the EU / EEA / Schengen Area, you will need a visa. A Schengen visa will allow you to remain in Norway for up to 90 days.
Long stay entry visas (D-visas), for applicants outside the Schengen Zone, are generally issued only to applicants who have been granted a residence permit for Norway. As a general rule, an applicant must have been granted a residence permit before entering Norway.
If you are a British passport holder, you will not need a visa to enter Norway and will be able to remain for 90 days. If you wish to remain in the country for longer, you will need to register with the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI). You will need to fill out an application form and make an appointment. Once you have your residency permit, you can apply for a Norwegian personal number from the local people register (Folkeregister).
If you are from outside the Schengen Zone, you will need a visa. In order to apply for a Schengen visa (a short-term entry visa applicable to the countries in the Schengen Zone), you will need:
• A completed application form
• Two passport format photos
• Your passport and any copies of previous visas
• Travel insurance (including medical coverage) with confirmation of a minimum of €30,000 coverage within the entire Schengen Area
• A cover letter stating the purpose of your visit and your itinerary
• Proof of civil status (for example, your marriage certificate or the birth certificates of your children)
• Flight itinerary
• The address of your accommodation, including hotels
• Proof that you are able to support yourself financially throughout your stay (for example, a recent statement from your bank for the last three months that shows funds of at least €50 (£40) per day, or traveller’s cheques, or proof of sponsorship
You may need further documentation depending on your status. If you are employed, you may need to supply:
• A contract of employment
• A letter of leave from your employer
• A bank statement for the last six months
• An income tax return
• Your business license (if you are self-employed)
If you are a student, you will need to include your certificate of enrolment at the relevant educational institution.
If you are retired, you will need a statement of your pension for the last six months.
From 2021, non-EU nationals who do not require a visa to enter the Schengen Area will need to request prior authorisation to visit Schengen countries. This authorisation is not the same as a visa. You can apply for authorisation via the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS). You can only apply online. The date on which these changes will come into force is not yet known.
The standard cost of a visa is €80, but you will be exempt if you are in one of the following categories:
• A child younger than six years of age
• A family member of an EU/EEA national
Documents required for exemption are:
• Original marriage certificate or civil partnership Certificate
• Original full birth certificate
• EU/EEA national’s passport
You will also be exempt if you are travelling for the purpose of study or educational training, such as if you are a school pupil, an undergraduate student or a postgraduate student. You must be accompanied by your teachers/professors. In addition, invited researchers are exempt.
Documents required for exemption are:
• An invitation letter from the Norwegian institution • A letter from the university/organisation in the UK
There is a reduced fee of €35 for nationals of countries that have a visa facilitation agreement with the EU.
Fees are non-refundable and are not a guarantee that you will be issued with a visa.
A business visa is estimated to take between seven and 15 days to be processed from the start of your application.
A Schengen visa should take about a week.
If you are a British national and wish to work in Norway, you must make an appointment with the UDI. At your registration appointment, you will need to bring:
• Your completed application form
• Your valid ID card or passport
• An employment certificate completed by your employer (ansettelsesbevis) or an employment contract
You may also need income tax information and bank statements, and a ‘leave’ permission from your current employer.
If you are from the EU/EEA/EFTA, you will, similarly, be able to work in Norway. If you are in the country for more than three months, you will need to register with the police, bringing along your employment contract and an employment certificate from your employer.
If, as an EU/EEA citizen, you move to the country without a job, you will need to register in the country as a job seeker. You will have six months to look for employment. If you do not find one within this time frame, you must leave the country, although you will still have the right to move back and begin the process again.
If you are from outside the Schengen Area, the visa criteria will be stricter for you. You will need to have a firm job offer in order to apply for a skilled worker long term D visa, and you will need to apply for a residence permit.
D visas may be issued to enable skilled workers to either apply for a work permit or await a decision on a previously lodged application in Norway. The following documents must be provided if you are a skilled worker applying for a D visa:
• Cover letter from the Application Portal Norway
• Passport / travel document valid for at least three months after the visa expiry date
• Valid travel insurance
• Valid resident permit valid for at least the last six months for the country where the application is lodged
Note that you will not be able to use a blue card in Norway.
Many expats take out private medical insurance, even if this is not a requirement of residence, because healthcare is expensive in their destination country or because certain treatments and procedures are not available.
When taking out health insurance, be sure to check factors such as the annual and lifetime policy limits, whether there are any exclusions which are likely to affect you, whether you are limited to treatment from specific types of healthcare providers, and whether the policy covers emergency evacuation for medical treatment.
Too frequently, potential buyers of health insurance look only for the lowest cost of premiums before really considering the specific benefits and areas of cover they may actually need. Some plans are cheaper for a reason. Often they include large voluntary deductibles on any claim you might make in the future and may severely cap the benefits received under the plan. Clients should define their needs first, establish the particular area of cover they need, then determine their annual healthcare insurance budget. Only then should they look to premium comparisons, last of all.
Do not buy a plan without studying the policy wording carefully. If in doubt, ask, and only when completely satisfied complete all application forms fully, to the best of your ability.
Important questions to ask the insurance provider:
1. Does the plan allow for cooling off periods, cancellation and then repayment of premium in full?
2. Does the plan offer "Moratorium" or is it "Full underwriting" and do you need to have a medical examination before joining?
3. Does the insurer offer a 24 hour help line, 7 days a week, available from anywhere in the world (freephone)? Most insurers now offer this facility.
4. Are pre-existing conditions excluded when joining and if so, for how long are such conditions excluded?
5. Are all and any nationalities accepted or are there restrictions which apply to local nationals? Some insurers will only take expatriates abroad and not local nationals into an overseas plan.
6. Does the plan allow you to continue cover unbroken through your lifetime? In most cases insurers will continue to offer existing clients cover year on year, irrespective of age or claims history, although premium rates charged can increase dramatically with age.
7. Does the insurer allow for any doctor or consultant or hospital within the plan? Are there any restrictions in this respect? Most international plans do not place restrictions on either hospitals or doctors, but almost all demand that their help lines are called first, prior to approval of any inpatient care.
8. Does the insurer provide for the direct settlement of bills presented by hospitals worldwide, regardless of location (or do you have to pay first)?
9. What are the insurers procedures for outpatient claims? Do these require any pre-authorization or if stated in the plan can you just pay and claim? How long before you get money back from the insurer? 14 days? 28 days?.
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The rental market in the main cities of Norway is driven by students, young professionals and expats. Quality rentals are highly sought after and difficult to find. Outside of the cities, in small towns and villages, the rent may be lower, but there is less industry.
You may come across some terms that you are not familiar with when looking at rental advertisements. The most common of which arehybel (a studio apartment or bedsit, popular among students) and kollektiv (essentially a shared house).
One thing to mentally prepare yourself for is the high deposits that come hand in hand with renting in Norway. A deposit equal to three months’ rent is not uncommon, in addition to the first month’s rent paid in advance. By law, the landlord cannot demand a deposit that exceeds the equivalent of six months’ rent. If you think you will struggle with the deposit, but already have a employment contract, it is worth speaking to your employer, as they may be able to act as your guarantor or lend you the money.
Furnished and unfurnished properties are both options when it comes to renting in Norway. However, make sure that, if you are renting a furnished home, you ask for (and check) an inventory list. Once you have found a room or a property that you like, you will need to act fast, particularly if you are looking to rent in one of the major cities, as properties are high in demand and go very quickly.
You may want to look at some of the popular websites that the locals use, such as Finn and Hybel. Additionally, make use of any contacts you have in the area, and speak to your company HR department. Many Norwegians find a place to rent through word of mouth or by posting and responding to adverts.
According to online database Numbeo, rent in Norway is typically 3.58% higher than in the United Kingdom. On average, a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre will set you back approximately 10,554.23 KR (equivalent to around £800 or $990), whilst a similar apartment outside of the city centre would cost closer to 8,185.40 KR (£620 or $767). A three-bedroom apartment in a Norwegian city typically costs 17,083.65 KR (£1,296 or $1,601), with its more suburban counterpart costing on average 13,418.68 KR (£1,018 or $1,257).
The government has been cracking down of late on short-term rentals. The aim of this is to try and reduce the impact of investors buying up numerous apartments and renting them out, which is damaging local hotel businesses. It is also worth noting that there is a limit to the number of days per year that homeowners can rent out their homes on a short-term basis. In addition, they are faced with harsher taxation laws, in order to curb the desirability/profit margin.
Despite property prices in Norway growing steadily more expensive, the country has one of the highest levels of home ownership in the whole of Europe. It is estimated that almost 80% of Norwegians own their own homes. The government has been purposely introducing initiatives to aid Norwegian citizens in becoming homeowners.
In Norway, the deal is essentially made as soon as the seller accepts your offer. You shouldn’t make an offer unless you are sure that your finances are in order and you have a genuine intention to purchase the property. It is worth noting that the whole buying process will move a lot quicker if you have a residence permit.
Properties in Norway usually go on the market, and then there is an open house viewing on a set date, where anyone can view the property. The bidding is usually opened as soon as the next day. Bids for properties can be done in person or digitally.
The bidding is usually fast-paced and competitive, so decide beforehand what the maximum is that you’re prepared to bid. The real estate agent represents both the seller and the buyer throughout the process, but the agent’s fee is most typically paid by the buyer. The agent should guide you through the process and organise for the contract to be drawn up. During the signing of the contract, the seller will issue the deed of the property to the buyer. The deed will be kept by the agent until its registration. Upon registration, a certified copy of the land register is issued by the registration authorities. The completed sales contract is usually retained by the real estate agent.
Additional costs typically add up to around 3.75% to 5.62% of the property price. Additional costs usually include stamp duty (2.5%), a registration fee (525 KR or £40 or $50), and the real estate agent’s fee (1% to 2.5% + 25% VAT).
There are currently no legal restrictions on foreigners who are looking to purchase property in Norway.
Mortgage (boliglån) repayment periods can be long, but if you are buying for the first time, you may benefit from a first-time buyer mortgage, which is a plan with the same interest rate for the full period. First-time buyers in Norway can often borrow up to 100% of the purchase price.
You will need to take your tax return and/or pay slip to the bank to see how big a loan you qualify for and what interest rate they can offer you. At Finansportalen, you can search for which banks offer the lowest interest rates.
The Norwegian State Housing Bank (Husbank) also provides grants for building new houses or for the renovation of older properties. There are, however, strict guidelines and criteria that must be met.
Consider if you want (or are able) to transport your belongings yourself or whether you will need the services of a removals company that deals with international moves. Unless you are travelling very light, or making a fairly short move by road, you will probably need professional help to ship your possessions. Ask for quotes from several companies first, ensuring that they visit your home to carry out a survey of your requirements. It may be worth paying extra for the removals firm to pack your possessions for you, particularly if they are going to be transported to a distant country and need special protection for the long journey. Make sure you bring to their attention anything fragile or precious that needs particularly careful wrapping and packing.
Before agreeing to a quotation, ensure that you are fully aware of exactly what is covered in the price, and that the service to be provided meets all of your requirements. For example, does the service include both packing and unpacking of your household effects? What about disassembling and reassembling of furniture? If you are planning to put anything into storage in your destination country while you find accommodation, does the price include final delivery and unpacking at your home, or will you need to arrange collection of the items? Obtain a firm estimate of the likely arrival date of your items and obtain contact details for any agents that will be dealing with the removal in your destination country. Ensure that the removals company is aware in advance of any practical considerations such as the lack of an elevator to your apartment, or likely parking problems.
If using a removals company, you may be required to take out their insurance cover for your possessions. Whether or not this is the case, ensure that you have adequate insurance for anything of actual or sentimental value that could get lost or damaged during the move. Take the time to accurately complete or check an inventory of your possessions to be moved, as this will form the basis for any insurance claim for losses or damages. Find out if insurance is included in the price quoted by the removals company, or whether you are required to pay extra for this.
The removals company should arrange any customs and importation documents on your behalf, but if you are arranging the move independently you will need to find out what documents are required and what import duties and taxes are payable (and whether you are eligible for exemption from these).
Make sure that you set aside the important documents you will need for the journey, such as passports and air tickets, and keep these easily accessible in your hand luggage.
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QUICK LINK: Norway health insurance
Healthcare and health insurance are run by municipalities and the Norwegian government: budgets are organized locally but levels of some spending are nationally set. Norway’s public hospitals are run by the four Regional Health Authorities (RHA).
EAA citizens are automatically covered by the national health insurance scheme, but may need to seek hospital care beyond their local areas if there is high demand.
You will find that, unless you are in a vulnerable group, you will have to co-pay for GP visits and outpatient hospital care. In addition, you will need to pay some of the cost of prescriptions. The average doctor’s visit costs between 150 and 350 kr (€15 – €35). If you are visiting Norway, you might also have to pay a non-refundable fee in addition to this, but check with the medical provider, particularly if you have an EHIC card.
Costs are capped by the state: once your expenditure reaches the 2000kr mark (about €200) you will be eligible for an exemption card (frikort) which will give you free treatment for the rest of the year.
The Norwegian government revises the exemption limit every year. This is quite complex: there are two exemption cards, for different parts of the Norwegian healthcare system, and you will not be able to use your Group 1 card for Group 2 treatment.
Your treatment provider will report your user fees automatically to the Norwegian Health Economics Administration (Helfo), but you must keep your receipts.
If you are elderly or disabled, you will receive some care, but it is means-tested. Some groups (for instance, those who have HIV) are eligible for free treatment in any case, so check to see if this applies to you.
Your first port of call for information is Helfo, who can supply you with an EHIC if you are from an EU member state. If you have an EHIC, you will still have to pay the standard (non-refundable) patient fees.
There are some exemptions due to bilateral healthcare agreements, for example with Australia, so you will need to take a look at the terms of the agreement if you are coming from this part of the world.
You will need to register with a GP, but you can choose which surgery you sign up with and you can change your GP up to twice a year. You can do this online via helsenorge.no. The GP is likely to be self-employed but will be funded by the municipality, Helfo, and out of pocket co-payments from patients. The latter have to pay upfront unless they require further care: this will be paid directly by Helfo, but after that you will need to apply for reimbursement.
Finally, note that this does not apply to the overseas territory of Svalbard: you will need to take out private insurance if you are going there.
The kingdom of Norway is located in the Scandinavian area of northern Europe. It is not a member of the European Union (EU), but as a member of the European Free Trade Agreement it is part of the European Economic Area (EEA).
Norway has been using the Norwegian Krone (NOK) since 1875 and there is no expectation this will change. Because Norway is not part of the Eurozone, the Euros and Cents are not legal tender here.
The Kroner, distributed by the Central Bank of Norway, circulate as banknotes in denominations of 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 NOK. Coins are found in the value of 1, 5, 10 and 20 NOK.
The Norwegian Krone can be subdivided into 100 Ã¸re, but since 2012 these Ã¸re coins have been removed from circulation. They now only exist as an electronic unit of currency.
Norway has had very few issues with the circulation of counterfeit money. However, they have been informed from the experiences and developments of other countries. At the end of 2016 a new series of banknotes was released incorporating sophisticated security techniques. They have broken with tradition by having no portraits, but instead have been designed around the theme of â€œthe seaâ€.
Syrian money, whilst relatively rare in Norway, has been caused problems for coin operated machinery for more than ten years. The 10 Syrian Pound coin bears little visual similarity to the 20 NOK coin and is worth substantially less, but is accepted as a valid 20 NOK payment by many machines. The Norwegian postal service, â€œPosten Norgeâ€, has in the past closed many of its coins-to-cash machines after widespread abuse, and a Norwegian man was given a suspended jail sentence in 2005 for using Syrian coins in arcade machines in Baerum.
Cash machines are found in plentiful supply across towns and cities. In rural areas small shops and kiosks will often hold an ATM. It is likely you will be charged a small fee for using one of these, because of the costs of maintaining the machines and supply of funds for a limited number of customers. The screens will inform you of the charge and ask you to confirm your agreement before the cash is issued.
The majority of payments across Norway are made by debit or credit card. Cash has become rare enough that some establishments will find difficulty providing change if you pay with a large note.
Foreign credit cards are sometimes not accepted by post offices, grocery shops and supermarkets if their machinery is aging. However, they will take debit cards from most countries. Meanwhile new machinery is continually replacing the old so foreign credit cards have an ever increasing acceptance rate.
It is normally possible to pay by debit or credit card for airport buses, long distance buses, automated car parks and petrol stations. To travel on normal buses, a tram or the subway in major cities, you can buy your tickets from vending machines which will accept card payments or from convenience stores. Bus drivers on urban routes cannot accept card payments. Multi-use passes may be a good alternative to individual tickets depending on your travel plans; the Oslo Pass covers local bus and ferry travel. Museums, hotels, restaurants and other places of leisure will welcome card payments. Even taxi drivers prefer your payment by card rather than cash.
Retailers are unlikely to ask for a minimum purchase amount for card payments.
Norway, like most countries using card payments, has implemented chip and pin systems across the board to improve security. The US has a different banking structure to most countries and the costs of chip and pin technology fell mostly on to retailers, so take up has been lagging years behind. Therefore many people arriving in Norway from the US will not have a chip and pin card. This is not a problem in most paypoints supervised by a member of staff, as they will often have an old card signatory printer available for use. However, no machine operated paypoint will accept cards without chip and pin.
Foreign credit cards often attract a currency conversion fee with each transaction. If you use credit cards, you should aim to secure one issued by a Norwegian registered financial institution as soon as you can after settling in Norway. The cost of living in Norway is high enough without paying unnecessary transaction costs.
American Express and Diners Club cards are accepted by many locations, especially at the more international or expensive service providers such as large hotels and city centre restaurants. However, these card providers levy a different fee structure on retailers than charged by Visa and Mastercard. Therefore, the number of retailers accepting American Express and Diners Club cards is less widespread than for Visa and Mastercard.
Norway is an expensive country to visit and live in. You can cut costs by:
â€¢ Doing more home cooking and eat less in restaurants
â€¢ Booking your bus, train and plane journeys well in advance to pay lower fares
â€¢ Enjoying hiking, biking and camping when the weather forecast permits
â€¢ Researching tourist attractions to see if they offer special free or discounted days
Norwegian banks have tight regulations in place to safeguard against corruption.
Norway has a small population of approximately 5 million people, but a large land mass with access to significant natural resources. Unemployment rates for the 28 member countries of the European Union vary significantly, but averages 9.4%. In Norway, unemployment remains well below 5%.
The nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Norway in 2016 was 334.9 billion Euros, according to the European Commissionâ€™s statistical information service Eurostat. When this is divided by the number of residents in Norway, the country has a level of wealth higher than many other European countries. Inflation rates have also been significantly higher than in many other European and westernised nations whose requirement for cheap lending has driven interest rates down.
The major credit rating agencies in 2016 assessed Norway as AAA or â€œtriple Aâ€; it is seen to have a healthy and stable economic position. The value of the Norwegian Krone against the Euro reached its height in December 2008, as many countries grappled with the global financial crisis. Whilst the value plummeted during 2012, it has again crept up again during the following five years.
Norway balances free market activity with significant state ownership in key sectors. These include hydroelectric energy production, the petroleum sector, aluminium productions, telecommunications and the banking industry.
Commercial and regional savings banks form the backbone of the Norwegian banking industry, which contains 168 banks. A number of foreign-owned banks from Sweden, the UK, Germany, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands and Belgium are also present in the country. Just under 40 branches in Norway are operated by foreign banks from these countries.
The major banks in Norway, which all have a website accessible in the English language, are:
Norwayâ€™s banking industry is regulated. You will need to provide proof of identity and residence when opening an account. You will also be asked to provide proof of your income so that checks can be made to ensure you are not involved with money laundering activities.
Norway is one of the 82 signatories to the Double Taxation Agreement (DTA) which came into force after 1 January 2013, with further signatories joining the agreement after that date. It allows citizens from one country who now live in another to avoid paying two sets of taxation, as long as both the countries in question are signatories to the DTA.
Norway has also signed up to Tax Information Exchange Agreements covering 44 countries. These involve sharing information about an individualâ€™s tax affairs with other relevant signatory countries. This applies to information which must be automatically sent following a countryâ€™s request, or because a relevant situation has arisen.
The United States Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FACTA) became law in March 2010. One of its aims was to receive relevant reports from foreign financial institutions about the financial affairs of US taxpayers. Since 2013 Norway has had a reciprocal FACTA agreement in place with the US, so financial accounts held in the US by Norwegian taxpayers will be reported to the Norwegian government from January 2017 onwards.
Norwayâ€™s economy remained strong in 2008 even as the rest of the westernised world grappled with a global and interdependent economic crisis. Norwayâ€™s bank accounts do, however, operate a Deposit Guarantee Scheme which would protect the depositor in the event that a bank cannot meet its obligations. The maximum protected deposit is 2,000,000 NOK, as long as the terms and conditions are met. These include the eligibility of the depositor, the participation of the bank in the depositor scheme, and the type of deposit held. It is important to check the terms of any account you are considering for your savings to ensure you understand the degree to which your individual circumstances meet the Deposit Guarantee Schemeâ€™s conditions.
There are many ways of sending money from one country to another. As always, expats can save themselves a lot of trouble and expense if they do a little research and shop around for the best deal.
International Bank Transfers
For most expats, currency transfer involves transferring small to medium sized amounts regularly from an existing bank account back home into a new overseas bank account in the local currency. These may be pension payments, benefits, or any other form of income.
Your home bank will usually be glad to oblige. You can set up facilities with them "on demand" whereby you fax or call them on the phone, provide a secret code or two, tell them the amount in question, and they will transfer it to your new bank, automatically converting it into the relevant local currency. Some banks also allow you to make international payments online. Whatever method you choose, transfers normally take between 3-7 days although 1-2 day transfers are often available but be prepared to pay more for these.
You can also set up regular transactions that are processed automatically on a fixed day of each month. Many state pensions and benefits can be paid directly into your new bank abroad without going through your home bank at all. Some private pension organisations may also offer the same facility.
When you first set up a transfer of funds abroad, the sending bank or institution will ask you for various codes that identify the destination bank. Often they will ask for IBAN (International Bank Account Number), BIC (Bank Identifier Code) or SWIFT codes but don?t panic - your new bank will give these to you and they may even already be listed in your new chequebook or bank statements.
As far as charges are concerned, you will probably be required to pay a flat fee per transaction. Additionally a percentage fee is often charged for the currency conversion itself. You may also find that your receiving bank charges you for receiving the transfer. Charges vary by bank but can quickly add up - ask your bank(s) for an indication of the fees involved.
As a general rule, transferring larger sums less frequently usually works out cheaper than transferring smaller amounts more often. However, if you need to transfer regular amounts of at least a few hundred pounds/dollars or need to make a larger one-off payment (e.g. for a house purchase) you should consider the services of a currency broker.
Cash Machine/ATM Withdrawals
Thanks to modern technology, most people abroad can go to a cash machine/ATM and withdraw local currency funds directly from their home bank account. This is a useful option to have for expats but exercise caution - many banks make hefty charges for using this type of facility. You may also find that withdrawal limits are in place (as a security measure) even if you significant funds in your account back home.
You can also use VISA or Mastercard credit cards to obtain cash in this fashion and if you pay the amount off quickly and avoid interest charges then fine - but once again credit card charges for cash withdrawals can be high. Check the rates carefully.
Currency brokers (also called foreign exchange brokers) offer significant advantages over traditional banks. Firstly, brokers will often be able to offer you a better rate than your bank. Secondly, the entire process is more transparent - many banks require you to accept the exchange rate available on the day they process your transaction, whatever and whenever that may be, but a specialist broker will offer greater flexibility, even allowing you to specify the rate you want in advance.
Currency brokers are smaller companies than major banks so always check their background carefully. Ask existing expats for their own experiences and recommendations before choosing a firm to handle your own foreign exchange requirements.
A good broker will discuss all the options with you and enable you to make the best decision for your circumstances. Using a broker will typically off the following advantages:
1) Currency brokers generally provide superior exchange rates to the high street banks. The currency brokers have access to the interbank rate and do not have the high costs that the banks have. This means that they can usually offer better exchange rates.
2) Use of a free Market Watch/Order Service: This allows you to tell your currency broker your target or budget exchange rate and they will ring you if that exchange rate level is reached. As the rate moves every few seconds, currency brokers can act as your eyes and ears on the market.
3) Ability to fix the exchange rate in advance using a Forward Contract. If you know you need to convert/move funds in the future but don?t yet have the money you can reserve a rate in advance using a Forward Contract. During this period, you are exposed to exchange rate movements and therefore, a forward contract is ideal if, for example, you have agreed to buy a house and want to fix the rate now but will not be making payment for a couple of months.
Savings from currency brokers can vary from between 1 and 4 per cent on the exchange rate alone, and specialists do not typically charge any fees for transmitting the funds abroad, unlike banks which often levy expensive fees or charges. If you are emigrating and transferring a large sum of money - such as the proceeds of a property - a foreign exchange company could potentially save you thousands.
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If you are intending to live and work in Norway, you may be asking how easy it will be to communicate with your colleagues and local people. Will you need to master Norwegian, or can you get by in English during your stay in the country? We will answer some of your questions below.
95% of the population of Norway speak Norwegian, a North Germanic language descended from Old Norse and closely related to Swedish and Danish. It has a long history, and for a time Danish was the language spoken by the Norwegian ruling classes, usurping the native tongue.
However, the Norwegian language became more standardised in the 19th century, and now has two written variants: Nynorsk ("New Norwegian"), and Bokmål ("Book Language"), both of which are official. Nynorsk tends to be the spoken langugage of the country outside the cities, but over 90% write Bokmål, which is more commonly used in urban areas. Efforts to further standardise the two have thus far proved unsuccessful.
Other languages spoken in the country include the languages of the Sami people, who are found mainly in the north of Norway, such as Kven; the language of Romani, and Rodi, a Norwegian Traveller language. Norwegian also has a number of dialects, such as Trøndersk, spoken around Trondheim. As with all countries, you will find a range of accents across the nation.
English is widely spoken in Norway. It is estimated that out of a population of five million, around 4,300,000 people speak English as a second language. This is typical of most of Scandinavia, where proficiency in English is high. As an English-speaking expat, therefore, you should experience few difficulties in making yourself understood. English is widely spoken in the workplace, particularly if you are working for an international company such as software companies or the oil industry.
However, some expats advise that speaking Norwegian will give you a distinct advantage. They point out that many local companies tend to prefer Norwegian hires, and that informal conversations in the workplace often take place in Norwegian even if the formal language is English.
It may also be practical to master some basic phrases in Norwegian if you are planning to travel to more remote rural parts of the country where the older generation in particular are likely to be less fluent in English.
You will be able to learn Norwegian once you are on the ground. You can find some Norwegian training resources online but when you are in the country you may wish to sign up with a language training organisation. Immersive programmes are available, and language classes are aimed at different levels, from complete beginners to advanced speakers. Some employers may pay for you to learn Norwegian, too.
Most students will begin with Bokmål, which is likely to be more useful to you if you are working in one of the cities. You might also like to find a language partner. Although so many Norwegians already speak English, expats say that language exchange is possible: you can, for example, offer to proofread someone’s university assignments in English in exchange for some conversation in Norwegian. You may also be able to find a local språkkafé in which you can practice your language skills.
If you are in the country for a short time and are there mainly for the purposes of learning the language, some language schools can arrange homestays: this sort of immersive environment is particularly helpful when it comes to mastering a language. Do not be put off by the locals answering you in English if you address them in Norwegian: explain that you are practising and need to learn.
The good news is that linguists say that Norwegian is relatively easy to learn if you are an English speaker. The manner in which verbs work, a lot of the word order and a large amount of vocabulary is common to both languages.
You may be planning to visit Norway in order to teach English. It is always easier to get work in international education if you have at least a certificate in either TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages). Due to the level of English proficiency in Norway, TEFL jobs are not as widespread as in some other countries, but you may be able to find work in a private or international school. Salaries are in the region of £2100 – 2600 per month, but note that the cost of living in Norway is quite high relative to other European nations.
It is also preferable if you have experience in teaching schemes such as the Cambridge English exams or IELTS (International English Language Testing System): the English test for study, migration or work. Some teaching experience in the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) will also be helpful. This assesses analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills in written English for use in admission to graduate management programs, such as the MBA. You may also find work more easily if you are experienced in teaching English for particular sectors, such as tourism and hospitality, or in summer schools. Hiring for Norwegian institutions usually takes place in the autumn.
It will also be helpful to have at least a Bachelor’s degree as most language schools require this: basically, the rule of thumb is that the more qualifications you have, both in TEFL and in academic subjects, the easier you will find it to get work.
If you intend to seek work in translation or interpreting, note that your proficiency in Norwegian will need to be extremely high, and you will also need the relevant qualifications.
The standard of education in Norway, whether in the public or the private sector, is high. The country ranks well in the OECD/PISA ratings, performing above Sweden though below Denmark.
The Norwegian educational system is divided into three parts:
• elementary school (Barneskole: ages 6–13)
• lower secondary school (Ungdomsskole: ages 13–16)
• upper secondary school (Videregående skole: ages 16–19)
The Barneskole and Ungdomsskole levels (the Grunnskole / base-school) are compulsory for all childrend aged 6-16. Public education is free. The national curriculum is based around a broad range of subjects, similar to that in other countries, but recently the Kunnskapsløftet reform has begun to offer a further track: a general studies (studiespesialisering) track or a vocational studies (yrkesfag) track.
The school day is comparaively short: running from 8:15 am – 1:10/1:55 pm depending on the school. The school year in Norway begins in mid-August and ends in late June of the following year, divided by the Christmas break.
Basic English is taught from primary level onwards and the language of instruction is Norwegian, so you will need to consider whether there are linguistic factors in your choice of school: if one parent is, for instance, Norwegian and the family is likely to be spending a long period of time in the country, then you might want to consider state education for your child. However, if your child is not currently fluent in Norwegian and you are going to be resident for a relatively short period it might be worth considering private education. You need to be aware, though, that private educational provision in this country is limited in comparison to that found in other nations.
The private educational sector in Norway is not extensive: it was illegal to have private schools except for religious or other pedagogic-based institutions up until 2005.
Around half of Norway’s kindergartens are run by private organisations, but under municipal supervision and with municipal grants. You will also need to pay a monthly fee, which is currently capped at around US$333.
At higher levels of education, those independent schools which have been approved under the Independent School Act are grant-aided and will receive 85% of their total expenses from the state. Norway has 26 private higher education institutions with recognised study programmes and 17 of these receive state funding for some of their activities: 10 of these institutions have fewer than 1,000 students. Such schools need to submit budget proposals, yearly accounts and reports on examination procedures, numbers of registered students and other information to the Ministry of Education.
Curricula in private schools, as opposed to international schools, are usually taught bilingually in English and Norwegian. In international schools, the language of instruction will depend on the national orientation of the institution: for instance, in Deutsche Schule Oslo it will be German and in the Lycée Français René Cassin d’Oslo classes will be taught in French.
The Oslo International School, founded in 1963, provides education in English. This is an independent international day school for around 600 students from 3 to 19 years of age (Pre-School to IB Diploma). It is a not-for-profit educational trust. The annual fees for the academic year 2020-21 are 102.500 NOK for pre-school and 224.000 NOK for years 1 through IB2 (tuition and facility costs are in the region of US$10K – 23K).
The Norlights International School Oslo, a state funded private school (friskole) in Oslo established in 2015, also has English as the primary language of instruction, intended for children of primary school age. The school offers the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Program (PYP) and Middle Years Program (MYP). Fees range from 33 280 NOK - 34 330 NOK (US$3500 – 3700) per annum.
The British International School of Stavanger teaches in English. It offers the International Baccalaureate and is based on the English national curriculum. It is accredited by the Council of British International Schools (COBIS). Fees are in the region of US$16K per year.
Most schools will charge an enrolment fee, which can be in the region of US$1500. Make sure you read the small print carefully to see exactly what your costs cover. Most schools will want to see school records and may test your child for proficiency in maths and English. Requirements between schools will vary, so contact the school directly to see what documentation they will need.
Overall, your child will receive a high standard of education in Norway but the question of the language of instruction will be crucial. You are legally allowed to undertake homeschooling, but you must notify local school authorities of your intention to do so. A homeschooled child does not have an automatic right to a diploma, but some schools will let homeschooled children sit for the 10th year exams and will issue a diploma. However, exams are likely to be at least in part in Norwegian.