You’ve made the big decision. You’re moving to Oslo. Even bigger, you could be moving to Norway from a different part of the world. That’s awesome!
…and challenging at the same time. What legal and tax formalities do you need to take care of? Where are you going to live? How do you go about becoming a local? These are (some of) the questions you’d like to get answered.
Fortunately, we have all the information you need in one simple guide with useful links. Continue reading for a smooth relocation experience. Let’s go!
Let’s start with the paperwork. You’ll want to take care of it as soon as you make the big decision – some processes can take upto several weeks. So make sure you’re all set by the time you arrive and ensure you don’t miss any deadlines.
If you’re a EU/EEA (European Economic Area) citizen, you can stay beyond three months if you have a basis for residence, i.e. a job. In this case you don’t need to apply for a residence permit but you must register online.
People coming from outside the EU/EEA need to obtain a residence card. When moving for work this temporary residence is usually granted on the basis of a skilled worker visa. The criteria for this is often higher education or vocational training, and your employer can help you with obtaining this.
With a proper identification number, you can apply for a tax deduction card and get a bank account to receive your salary.
Most foreign workers will pay tax according to a simplified tax scheme called PAYE the first year they work in Norway. Under this scheme you pay a set tax percentage, which your employer deducts before paying your salary. The upside here is that you don’t have to claim deductions, submit a tax return or wait for your tax assessment – which is a huge easement while you are getting settled.
You have free choice in paying tax according to the general tax rules or the PAYE scheme – if you opt out of the PAYE scheme however, you cannot change your mind afterwards.
The 6 Steps of Moving to Norway
1. Register online
As mentioned above, the first thing you need to do is register that you are moving to Norway from abroad. You can find the form here.
2. Register with the police
Make sure to register with the police no later than three months from the date you arrive.
3. Get a bank account
You need a Norwegian bank account to receive your salary. DNB is well known and has English service but you can also check out some of the other popular banks here like Nordea, S-banken, and DanskeBank. We’d recommend doing some research to pick what fits you best. Remember that you need to first have a Norwegian ID number (or D number) to open a bank account.
4. Register with a doctor
No one plans to get ill, but well – things happen. In Norway, you need to register for a General Practitioner (called ‘fastlege‘ here). You can find more information about it here.
Under the health system in Norway all medical consultations must first happen with the general practitioner who can refer you to other specialists within the public healthcare system as required. This also applies to psychological treatment. Healthcare is covered by the velferdsstat or welfare state, so you pay user fees of up to 2,258 NOK a year and after that all consultations and treatments are free.
Public treatment might have longer waiting times (in some cases up to several months!), so if you need to see a specialist sooner, you can always find a private practitioner – although this might mean higher fees and no reimbursement unless your insurance covers it.
5. Find a home
The last step about moving is, well, having a place you can move into.
What neighborhood should you choose? That depends of course, as you’d ideally like to live as near your office as possible.
Here’s what stands behind those Norwegian names:
Neighborhoods in the City
• Aker Brygge – city center – many restaurants and the sea
• Vika – Western Oslo, quiet, popular with young couples
• St. Hanshaugen – Western Oslo, close to a park
• Bislett – Western Oslo, popular with students and young professionals
• Frogner – Western Oslo, one of the oldest and most well-established areas to live
• Majorstuen – Western Oslo, popular with expats, excellent metro connections
• Grønland – Eastern Oslo, ethnically diverse, close to the city center
• Grünerløkka – Eastern Oslo, trendy, with many places to hang out
• Tøyen – Eastern Oslo, popular with young professionals
• Kampen – Eastern Oslo, popular with families
• Torshov – Northern Suburbs, still close to the city center
Neighborhoods in the Suburbs
• Nydalen – Northern Suburbs, popular with students, universities nearby
• Ullevål-Hageby – Northern Suburbs, posh, family-friendly area
• Grefsen & Kjelsås – Northern Suburbs, residential, family-friendly area
• Bygdøy & Vestre Aker – Western Suburbs, picturesque but pricey
• Helsfyr & Hellerud – Eastern Suburbs, working-class neighborhood, popular with families
• Furuset & Stovner – Eastern Suburbs, perfect for nature lovers, close to the forest but quite far from the city.
• Ekeberg – Southern Suburbs, luxurious, with a great view of the city
6. Learn the language?
Maybe, but unless your job requires you to converse in Norwegian, this is more a question of personal choice. Most Norwegians understand and speak English at a good enough level for there to not be so much of a language barrier in your everyday life.
The Cost of Living
As in most European cities, the closer to the city center, the higher the prices for apartments.
The rent for a 50 m2 apartment in the city can average around 15,000 NOK per month.
The cost of living is relatively high. For example, a meal in a moderate restaurant can cost you anything between 200-350 NOK, at McDonald’s it could be around 110 NOK. Your morning coffee around the corner will set you back by 40 NOK. But you can buy a litre of milk at the supermarket for 18 NOK, a loaf of bread for 25 NOK, and so on.
There is one ticket system for all modes of transport in Oslo – buses, trams, the metro, and ferries. Tickets can be purchased through ticket machines around the stops or in the Ruter app (recommended). If you live in Oslo proper, you will normally only need tickets for Zone 1. Prices for tickets can be found here.
If you’re looking to travel around other parts of Norway, trains are a good alternative. Here’s a map of all the connections. You can buy your tickets online or through the app, and there are season passes as well).
As in every bigger city in Europe – stick to the well-known taxi companies and avoid the ones that look shady. Just remember that taking taxis is not one of the more reasonable ways to travel on a daily basis.
If you’re from an EEA country, you don’t need to take another driving license test. You just need to convert the one you already have.
If you’re coming from outside EEA, you can legally drive in Norway for the first 3 months. After that you will need to apply for a Norwegian driver’s license.
To register a car, you'll need:
• Proof of sale – i.e. a receipt
• Valid identification number
• Fill in a notification of sales or change of ownership form
• Pay AMV tax and registration fees
• Provide proof of roadworthiness – if necessary
• A declaration from an insurance company that you have the liability insurance (mandatory for all vehicles)
Cars are taxed in Norway. The amount is calculated on the basis of the weight of the car and the size of its engine. Electric cars have the lowest rate and have lower import duties (that’s also why there are so many of them!).
You can try commuting on a bike with the City Bikes (Bysykkel). There are over 200 stations around the city, so you’re likely to find one near where you live or work. A season pass costs 399 NOK and 1 to 3 days passes cost from 49 NOK to 99 NOK.
Some find it convenient enough to continue using City Bikes instead of eventually buying one of their own. But in case you want to cycle between December and March you might need to get one since that’s when City Bikes are not available.
The Norwegian government provides quite a lot of benefits that you may or may not be used to depending on your previous country of residence.
National Insurance Scheme
The public social security system in Norway is called the folketrygden or the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme. Membership comes by way of being a resident or employed in Norway and is necessary to be able to utilise benefits from the healthcare system and from NAV (the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration).
To become a resident in Norway, you have to stay here for at least 12 months or intend to stay for at least 12 months. While being a resident, you can stay abroad for up to 12 consecutive months and still remain a member of the National Insurance Scheme.
Norwegian health policy ensures that everyone has access to good health and care services. Anyone residing in Norway is entitled to healthcare under the National Insurance Scheme. The coverage for different services varies depending on the length of your stay.
Employees get paid for periods of occupational disability due to illness or injury. To get your payment while being sick, you need to have documentation: a personal declaration or sick leave certificate from your doctor.
The first 16 calendar days of your leave are paid by your employer as 100% of your income while the rest is covered by NAV – also 100% but up to the level of 6 times the amount of the national insurance base.
The pension in Norway’s National Insurance Scheme consists of a basic pension – earned irrespective of the previous income and a supplementary pension based on ‘pensionable income’ and the number of pension points earned. There are other supplementary pensions as well.
You are eligible to get parental benefits that replace your income during the time you stay home with a newborn baby or after an adoption. Parental leave is often shared between both parent There’s also a pregnancy benefit that is granted to women who are unable to work during pregnancy because it may harm the unborn baby.
If you have a child under the age of 18 living in Norway with you, you are eligible to receive benefits. This is paid as a fixed amount per child while single parents may receive extended benefits and infant supplements.
If you have up to two kids under the age of 12, you can get 12 extra care days. If you have more than two, it’s 15 days.
Additionally, Norway also provides an attendance allowance for the period you are taking care of your child during illness to compensate for the loss of income.
Access to higher education in Norway is free as most universities are public. Therefore, in general, if you plan to study, you won’t have to pay any tuition fees. Private institutions charge some fees but they are still lower than in most European countries.
Personal Income Tax
Similar to other Nordic countries, Norway has a dual income tax. Income from labor and pension is taxed at progressive rates and capital income is taxed at a flat rate.
There is a dual tax base system – general income and personal income.
General Income Tax
General income is taxed at a flat 23% rate. The tax base consists of income from employment, business, and capital.
When calculating general income, tax allowances, expenses, and certain losses are deductible from the tax base. On the general income, the taxes that are applicable are county tax, municipality tax, and state tax.
Calculate Your Tax
Of course, there are several tax calculators out there. Here’s the one we find the most useful – and it’s in English as well! Just click “Bokmål” in the upper right corner and change it to “Engelsk”.
So what can you spend your time doing around town?
• Illegal Burger
• Tommis Burger Joint
• Freddy Fuego
• Villa Paradiso
Treat yo self
• Der Peppern Gror
Street food from around the world
• Mathallen Vulkan
• Oslo Street Food (Torggata Bad)
Gourmet Eats and Michelin Star restaurants
• Ekeberg restauranten
The most popular food delivery operator in Oslo is Foodora and there are plenty of options to satisfy every taste.
• Himkok (Drinks) – 20th place on “The World’s Top 50 Bars”
• Røør – craft beers, shuffleboard, no food
• Torggata Botaniske – original plant-inspired drinks
Oslo has a vibrant nightlife, and many venues to dance or have some drinks.
• Jæger – good music and drinks, often crowded
• The Villa
• Blå – popular jazz club
Activities and Entertainment
• Holmenkollen National Arena: Area for winter sports like cross country skiing, ski jumping, etc.
• Ullevaal Stadion: Stadium, home of Norwegian football team
• Bislett Stadion: Stadium hosting football team, track-and-field area is open to use for people
• Vallhall Arena: Indoor area hosting football and basketball matches
• Telenor Arena: Host variety of events including sports music and entertainment.
Sporting Events and teams:
• Vålerenga Ishockey: Oslo Ice hockey team
• Vålerenga Fotball: Oslo Soccer team
• FC Lyn: Oslo based soccer team
• Ammerud Basket: Oslo based basketball team
• Rockefeller Music Hall: A big complex with multiple stages.
• Underwater Pub: Opera along with pint of beer and food.
• Bla Concerts by the River: Live music shows for up-and-coming bands.
• Oslo Spektrum: Venue that hosts many international stars
• Cafe Mono: a bar and concert hall hosting bands that are new to the scene
• Revolver: a venue for rock music
• Oslo Concert Hall: the home of classical music, symphonic sounds of Oslo’s Philharmonic Orchestra
• Herr Nilsen: Unique cocktails and Dixieland Jazz
• Parkteatret: Historic building to hear pop, indie, bluegrass to country music.
Popular Festivals, Holidays, and Traditions
• Øyafestivalen: Annual music festival
• Norwegian Wood Festival: Annual music festival taking place in June
• Oslo World Music Festival: Annual music festival in October showcasing music from Asia and the Americas.
• Oslo Medieval Festival: Featuring music and traditional arts and crafts.
• Gladmat: Food Festival
• Oslo Jazz Festival: Annual events in the month of August
• St. Lucia Day: National holiday. Festival of lights and parades across Norway.
Museums and Attractions
• The Viking Ship Museum: Home to the world’s best-preserved Viking ships
• The Fram Museum: Explore the story of Norwegian polar expeditions
• Munch Museum: Houses works by Edvard Munch.
• National Gallery: the largest public collection of paintings, drawings and sculptures
• Norsk Folkemuseum: Open-air museum with 155 traditional houses
• Popsenteret: Explore Norwegian pop music
• Vigeland Park: Largest sculpture park by a single artist
• Nobel Peace Center: Museum dedicated to the Nobel Peace Prize
• SatsElixia: Largest fitness center chain in Oslo
• Skiing in Oslo: Cross country skiing areas like Nordmarka are easily accessible by metro.
• Jogging in Oslo: There are various jogging trails in parks and forests. Most of the trails can be found in Endomondo, or look up hiking trails on ut.no
If you can’t wait to join a new community with which you could develop your skills – or just hang out – we got you. Here’s what you can do:
• Talk to your new colleagues – they should be able to recommend some interesting events or include you in hobby groups of your liking
• Find a MeetUp group in Oslo
• Join InterNations to connect with fellow expats
• Join Oslo Expat Cafe Facebook group
Ready? Good luck!