Have you set your mind on moving to Norway, one of the happiest, wealthiest and safest nations in the world? If so, know that you will never feel alone or strange in the so-called Land of the Midnight Sun because almost 17% of the entire population are immigrants.
What makes this Nordic nation so attractive to foreigners? Maybe it’s the economic stability and diverse job opportunities related not only to the oil industry but to shipbuilding and tourism as well. Many international companies have found a home here, providing locals and expats alike with well-paid and stable employment possibilities. Americans relocating for higher education rather than work get to learn for free in some of the top-rated universities scattered all over the country.
To make this lengthy process easier for you, we’ve prepared a guide that will provide you with all the necessary information and make your international relocation smooth and stress-free.
Gather the Necessary Documents Before Moving to Norway
To enter any country, you will need valid documentation that varies depending on the nation you choose to travel to. A basic document that will help you obtain every other permit is a passport. Before applying for other documents needed to travel abroad, check to see the expiration date of your passport. It should be valid for at least six more months. If it’s set to expire, renew it as soon as possible.
Are you relocating with your pets overseas? To take them with you across the Atlantic, they will have to comply with ISO standards 11784 and 11758. Also, your pet must get a rabies vaccine at least 21 days before your trip. Don’t worry; the same rules apply regardless of whether you are moving with dogs or moving with cats.
Gathering papers can seem like an overwhelming process. To avoid getting too stressed, consider creating a checklist of all the necessary documents. Research, contact the Norwegian embassy and talk to people who relocated before you. Other expats might give you some tips on picking the right kind of visa and share with you the best and fastest ways to get it.
All Visa Requirements
Relocating here means you will have to pick the right type of visa to apply for. There are skilled workers permits, student, family, and many other types of visas.
Americans migrate here mostly because of jobs and education. That’s why we will go over all the requirements you should fulfill in order to obtain those types of visas:
Skilled workers should have their documents in English and Norwegian. Also, they should prepare a passport, UDI (Norwegian Directorate of Immigration) Offer employment form, proof of residency, and CV. If you are not sure that you collected all the documents, the UDI website has a checklist you can go over.
You can obtain student visas once you provide a passport, a filled application form, admission letter from an educational institution, and proof that you are able to pay tuition.
If you have any questions, or you are not sure that you have all the papers you are required to have, contact the embassy and check with them. If you have long term plans for staying in Norway, you can also ask about all the ways you can become a citizen.
What Do You Need to Become One of Norway’s Citizens
Are you willing to put down some roots here? If so, think about all the benefits of becoming this Scandinavian country’s citizen or resident. Before you get to that step, keep in mind that there are two types of residencies you can apply for – temporary and permanent.
Firstly, let’s go over the process of obtaining a temporary residency. There are a few ways you can get papers for a temporary stay. If you qualify as a skilled worker, you can also bring your family with you. If you are a student, you can obtain a study permit. To get all the details about applications, visit the Directorate of Immigration site. There you will find everything you should know about.
Secondly, staying indefinitely in Norway will require a permanent residency permit. You become eligible for it after three years of living here temporarily. This type of application is done in person, and you should book an appointment three months before your valid permit expires. To get a permanent visa, you should have:
- Proof of valid permanent residency for the last three years
- Confirmation of financial independency
- Proof that you are not convicted
Lastly, you can apply to become a citizen after living in the country legally for the past seven years. Besides, you’ll have to pass Norwegian language and social studies tests before you can enjoy all the benefits of full citizenship.
A Key Step Is Picking the Place to Live
What do you prefer – apartments, detached homes, or semi-detached ones? Accommodation in the Land of the Midnight Sun varies depending on the area you choose to call home.
With a shortage of high-quality rental properties, you should consider looking for a house even before you relocate. Check out sites like Finn and Hybel; you might get lucky and find a perfect home even before you leave the States.
If you want to buy a house, you will be happy to learn that foreigners can buy properties without restrictions, and first-time buyers can qualify for a mortgage, which allows you to take a loan of 100% of the purchase price. Nevertheless, before you get to house hunting, you should pick the area to settle down in, because Norway has to offer many different places you can call home.
Let’s kick off this list of best places with the capital – Oslo. From quality healthcare to a charming overall atmosphere and more than a few employment opportunities, foreigners flock here in pursuit of happiness and excellent quality of life. Living in Oslo will be an exciting adventure because of its rich cultural and entertainment offer. You will get to enjoy some 20 theaters, a six-day jazz festival, and let’s not forget a variety of restaurants and coffee shops that are spread all over the city.
Adventurous people will love spending time in Trondheim because there are animals such as beavers, deers, and foxes walking around freely. This, more than a thousand-years-old place, is known as a technology hub of the nation, attracting all the folks willing to excel in the tech industry.
Stavanger, once known as the “canned capital” due to its booming fish canning industry, is now one of Europe’s most prominent oil and energy capitals. It hosts a large number of domestic and international energy giants, including Norway’s national oil company – Equinor. Add domestic and international military installations that are located here, and you will see why 11% of the population is made up of immigrants looking for decent work.
The second biggest city is Bergen, famous for being one of the rainiest places in Europe, but also a hot spot for tourism. It receives around 5.2 million tourists every year. People flock here to enjoy fjords and hike along the seven surrounding mountains: Sandviksfjellet, Lyderhorn, Damsgårdsfjellet, Fløyen, Løvstakken, Rundemanen, and Ulriken.
Are you an angler in disguise? The person that enjoys being outdoors and spending time by the water? If so, pack up your bags and head to Alesund, the most important fishing harbor in the nation. That’s why this is a place that offers plenty of jobs in the fishing and port sector.
Choose the Right Job and Make a Decent Living
Building a life in the nation with second-highest GDP per capita within European countries screams good career opportunities and a chance for you to earn a decent living. The nation ranks as the second-richest in the world, and it has the largest per-capita capital reserves. This Nordic nation is rich with natural resources that include forests, minerals, fish, petroleum, and hydropower.
Vast petroleum reserves helped the energy sector develop into one of the pillar industries. This nation is the fifth-largest oil exporter and third-largest gas exporter in the world. The oil industry is thriving, and it always has to offer jobs to people that don’t mind getting their hands dirty.
This Scandinavian nation has 62,706 miles of coastline, and with that kind of access to the Atlantic, it’s only natural that the fish industry is the second largest. If you don’t get seasick and you don’t mind working at sea, pursue a career in this vibrant industry.
Are you looking for the best European country to live in? Because this might be it! Besides the above-mentioned leading industries, there are more than a few others you can find employment in, depending on your particular set of skills. Nevertheless, let’s go over the benefits of networking and how can you as an expat land a dream job.
Finding Work as an Expat
Having connections all around the world will make a career hunt that much easier. Even when you are still in the international moving process, start networking. Go online, freshen up your LinkedIn profile, and join some local professional groups. Also, don’t forget to do your research, learn about the job market, and what type of skilled workers companies need.
When you find openings that you want to apply to, don’t forget to tweak your CV beforehand. Adjusting its style will boost your chances of landing an interview, and hopefully, employment in the desired company. Keep it two pages long and clearly state your professional history, personal information, and don’t forget to add a personal touch by writing down your interests and hobbies outside the working environment.
When you get a call back from a company, brush up on national business culture. Knowing how to conduct yourself during an interview will help you make a memorable first impression on potential bosses. Working for a company here means that you will have to get used to a very loose hierarchy, and a high level of equality. This being said, the dress code in most enterprises will be rather informal. Don’t be surprised if you bump into people dressed in jeans and t-shirts.
Dressing casually could be an everyday reality if you pick the right kind of job. Most foreigners here find jobs in teaching, tourism, and the seasonal agricultural sector. However, if that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, there are more than a few international companies you can check out:
- Equinor is a multinational oil and gas giant that operates in 36 countries. They are looking not only for qualified professionals but also for students that wish to gain experience.
- Telenor is a telecommunication enterprise and a second-largest company, with TV and broadband distribution operations.
- Norsk Hydro has over 30,000 employees, and its main field of business is renewable energy and aluminum, but it has activities in the oil and gas sector as well.
- Yara International specializes in producing chemicals such as nitrate, nitrogen fertilizer, and ammonia. If you are an ambitious chemist, take a look at the openings that this company has.
With more than a few international enterprises and low unemployment rates, you can see why foreigners choose to stay here. And if you play your cards right and land a job, you can become one of them.
Healthcare Is Not Entirely Free, but It Is Outstanding and Affordable
Healthcare is something you have to pay for in the US. It’s only logical that you pay it in any other place you travel to because you never know when you will need it. Healthcare for expats in the Land of the Midnight Sun is universal but not free. If you are a non-resident older than 16, you are expected to pay $222 a year to access the exceptional state healthcare system.
You will be settling down in a nation with one of the best healthcare systems in the world. The public healthcare system covers:
- Emergency transport and services
- Pregnancy and childbirth costs
- Treatment of children under the age of 16
- Work-related injuries
If you want to add up to your healthcare coverage, having private health insurance is a smart move. However, here there is a small market for it. Private insurance covers dental care, surgeries, consultations with specialists, and a psychologist.
Don’t Forget to Find a Doctor or Dentist
It’s always smart to choose a doctor in advance than to look for them when you are actually sick. When you settle down, take the time and research general practitioners, dentists, and other healthcare specialists you might need.
When you register with the National Registry, you are entitled to a doctor, and you can choose one from the list as long as they are not overbooked with other patients. If you are relocating with children under the age of 16, they will have the same doctor as you.
A smile can go a long way – and to have one that can compete with Mona Lisa’s, you will need to have regular dental check-ups. Adults are expected to pay out of pocket for dental services, but if you get private insurance, your policy might cover extensive dental work. Use the Tannlegerinorge directory to look for dentists in your area.
Let’s say you decided to move to another country for love, and along the way, kids happened. Giving birth here means you will have to apply for a residence permit or certificate for your baby. Even if you have to worry about paperwork, you will be spared of worrying about the money, because having a baby in local hospitals is free. Giving birth here has a child, parental, and pregnancy benefits.
Make Sure You Open a Bank Account and Learn About Taxes
Money makes the world go round, won’t you agree? This is something that applies everywhere around the globe. First things first, the national currency is Norwegian krone or NOK, and you will be expected to use it to pay for services and items you buy. When we are talking about the money, figuring out the way banking and taxes work is one of the essential parts of relocation to the Land of the Midnight Sun.
As a non-resident, you can only open a savings account at a bank at first, and to do so, you will have to provide:
- ID number issued for a time period longer than six months
- D-number if you are staying for less than six months
- A photo
- Employment guarantee
- Rent lease
To get a credit card here, you will have to wait until your first tax return. The tax system in this Nordic land is the dual income tax. When you relocate, don’t forget to get a tax deduction card, which can be obtained at the local tax office. Every employed person is obligated to file tax returns that are due on April 30, every year, and they are all done electronically.
You, as an expat, are entitled to a 10% deduction on gross income for the first two assessments, but that deduction is limited to $4,365 (40,000 NOK). Remember, property taxes are optional, and each municipality determines them for itself.
Saving up Is a Way of Life
Do you know that saying – a penny saved is a penny earned? When you settle down among people that are used to saving up, you might consider doing it, too.
According to the Trading Economics site, the household saving rate increased to 8.50 percent at the beginning of 2020. Also, the Ipsos barometer shows that people spend their money on housing and vacation.
When you land a job with a good paycheck, you will be able to put some money in the savings account, as well. If you are planning on spending a long time here, maybe you should invest your savings into buying a house.
Norway Is a Great Place for Pursuing Knowledge
Are you moving across the world alone in pursuit of knowledge, or you are traveling with your kids and need to provide them with the best possible education? Whatever the case, this is the perfect location for you because it has some of the best educational institutions in the world.
This Nordic nation has an education level that is higher than the European average, and you can choose between enrolling your young ones in public or international schools. Keep in mind that despite being free and top-rated, public schools have classes that are taught in Norwegian. If your kids haven’t mastered the language, international institutions will be the obvious choice. Also, there is a wide selection of private schools that favor expat kids versus locals.
If you are relocating to Norway in search of higher and better education, check out the top universities for international students:
- University of Oslo
- University of Science and Technology
- University of Bergen
- University of Life Sciences
- UIT The Arctic University
Many courses and programs are taught in English, and the most popular subjects to study here are natural science, agriculture, social science, IT and technology, digital media, and tourism. International students mostly study architecture, business, law, teaching, and medicine. According to Diku statistics, the number of students from the US enrolled in schools here is steadily increasing each year.
To stay on the topic of education, let’s not forget about non-existent tuition fees. Norwegians believe that everyone should get an education despite their social background.
You Can Choose From a Wide Range of Transport Options
The country has a well-established transport system, and a well-connected network of trains, ferries, buses, and planes.
Almost every city has a local network of buses that cover the whole area, including faraway locations. Fares are between $2.50 and $5 or between 25kr and 45kr. People can also travel by NSB, which is a railway company that connects Oslo with many places such as Fauske and Bodø, Åndalsnes, Stavanger or Bergen, but it also connects the country with neighboring Sweden.
Oslo Airport in Gardermoen is by far the most frequent international airport in the country, followed by Bergen Airport, Flesland, Stavanger Airport in Sola, and Trondheim Airport in Vaernes. It’s interesting to know that Norwegians rely on air travel more than any other nation in the world, due to vast distances and rough terrain between its largest cities.
If you are used to riding in taxis, you will notice that they can be pretty expensive here, because they charge from the moment the call is taken. If you want to be in the car, maybe you should skip the taxi and drive on your own.
Would You Like to Drive a Car Here?
Are you considering shipping your car along with your household items? If so, remember that you can use your drivers’ license for three months, then you will have to update it with an international driving permit. Also, if you want to get a Norwegian license, you will have to pass a practical driving test first. For all additional information about permits, contact Public Roads Administration.
Sitting behind the wheel in an unfamiliar setting is scary, but once you learn the rules and get to know the area, driving will be a piece of cake. You will notice that the routes are well maintained, and traffic is light most of the time. Also, drivers can enjoy the beautiful natural scenery of the area when driving along the western coast and passing by the magnificent fjords.
Speaking Norwegian Can Only Benefit You
“A different language is a different vision of life,” the famous Italian actor Federico Fellini once said. And speaking of different visions, did you know that 95% of the population uses Norwegian as a first language? Even though almost 90% of them speak English as a second language, you could still make an effort and learn theirs.
Knowing how to say things such as thank you, please, and good morning is just the starting point in the process of adaptation to a foreign culture. Even before you start packing up your house in the US, you can check out sites like Duolingo and Babbel and start learning. When you settle down, it will be easier to find a tutor or enroll in some classes.
When learning a language abroad, it is way easier to get into it than when you are sitting in your comfy chair at home. Here you will be surrounded by native speakers, making it easy to not only pick up common phrases but slang as well. You will get to learn about different dialects – they are mutually intelligible but differ when it comes to accent, vocabulary, syntax, and grammar. There are five groups of dialects, and if you choose to live in Oslo, you will hear a lot of Vikvær Norwegian. Besides, once you master Norwegian, you’ll be able to understand Danish and Swedish with no issues, since those three languages are mutually intelligible.
Also, one of the tips for learning is – watch TV, listen to music, and try reading books as much as possible. Breaking the language barrier will help you with understanding the Norwegians, as well as becoming one of them.
There Are so Many Ways to Have a Good Time
No matter where in the Land of the Midnight Sun you choose to build a life, you will find things that will entertain you and tickle your imagination. If you want to become a true local, remember that Norwegians are very passionate about sport, especially winter sports. After a while, you will get excited about cross-country skiing, speed skating, and ski jumping like any other Norwegian.
To get to know the area, you should check out everything that makes this land of Vikings what it is. Bask in the glory of many natural wonders such as fjords, green surfaces, lakes, and islands. Since you will be staying here for a long time, you will be able to see the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) and the Midnight Sun, two of the most amazing natural phenomena on Earth.
Remember that Norway is a parliamentary monarchy ruled by the House of Glücksburg, and the current king, Harald V. Members of the royal family frequently use public transportation and domestic flights and maintain a high level of approval among their people. You can follow their public appearances on TV or online while having a cup of coffee in the morning or waiting for public transportation.
This is the country that can leave you speechless with so many different things. From the generous welfare state with universal and free healthcare and education to breathtaking nature and welcoming people – every day spent in Norway will be a reminder that you made the right decision by making this incredible nation your new home.