How to Register a Birth in Norway

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Living in a foreign country means having to deal with the local bureaucracy. The birth of a child is a happy event, but it comes with a string of formalities that can’t be avoided.

When living in a country you’re less familiar with, these formalities can often seem quite daunting. But don’t despair! This article will explain everything.

Baby sculptures in Oslo's Vigeland Park. Photo: Maykova Galina / Shutterstock.com.
Vigeland Sculpture Park, Oslo. Photo: Maykova Galina / Shutterstock.com.

In itself, registering a child birth is nothing out of the ordinary, but the Norwegian system has a few peculiarities that may come as a surprise to you.

Read on to find out exactly what you have to do if you have a child in Norway, as well as the pitfalls to avoid.

Folkeregisteret: the National Population Register

To understand how to register the birth of a child in Norway, you must first learn about the Norwegian Folkeregister (in English: the National Population Register).

This Register is managed by the Tax Authority and contains basic information about everyone living in Norway.

The information contained in the Register includes name (with information about any name changes that have occured), marital status, address, citizenship, etc. It is used by the tax authorities, the electoral authorities, banks, insurance companies, government departments, Statistics Norway and others.

Growing population concept image.

The concept of a population register may seem quite foreign if you come from a country such as the US, the UK or Canada where such a register does not exist. But the system does have its advantages – it simplifies the process of changing addresses quite significantly, for instance.

When a child is born, the birth must be recorded in the Registry. We will now explain the steps this involves.

Registering a child birth in Norway: first step

The first step is the easiest because it happens by itself. When a child is born at a hospital, or in the presence of a midwife, the Tax Authorities are automatically notified of the birth.

If the child should be born outside of a hospital and without the presence of a midwife, this step is a bit more complicated. First, the child’s mother must notify the Tax Authority herself, within one month of the birth.

Read more: Norway Birth Rate Hits Record Low in 2020

Then, the child’s mother must book an appointment at her local tax office, and bring with her valid ID and documentation of her relation to the child (maternity record).

Newborn baby in Norway.

Finally, she will complete and sign a notification of birth form provided to her by the staff of the tax office.

Marital status when registering a child birth

The second step when registering a child birth in Norway is a little bit simpler when the two parents are married or in a registered partnership. They are both assumed by the system to be the child’s parents.

As such, they assume shared parental responsibility towards the child. If the couple is unmarried (or not in a registered partnership) an extra step has to be performed at this stage to inform the authorities of the identity of the father.

The step in question is for the father to officially declare his paternity. If the child was born in Norway, and if both parents are over 18 and have a Norwegian national identity number, this can be done online on the NAV (Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration) website.

This step can also be done in person at a tax office, a NAV office, or during a prenatal checkup at a midwife or doctor’s office. Valid ID must be provided.

Parental responsibility when the mother lives alone

Rules surrounding parental responsibility for single mothers have changed on January 1st, 2020. Until that date, the mother got sole parental responsibility when the parents lived at different addresses.

Mother and child in Norway mountains.

For children born after January 1st, 2020, both parents generally share parental responsibility. Parents who do not live together may, within one year after the paternity has been declared, notify the National Population Register that the mother claims sole parental responsibility.

If the father still wishes to retain joint parental responsibility against the wishes of the mother, he may take the case to court. The court will perform a specific and individual assessment to conclude what’s best for the child.

Parental responsibility for lesbian couples

If both parents are women, the woman who did not give birth can apply for joint maternity to the Tax Authority. This is possible only in the case of a pregnancy initiated through in vitro fertilisation.

Read more: LGBT Rights in Norway

Both mothers must sign the forms, and various documents must be included. The documents include a consent to in vitro fertilisation (by the mother not carrying the child); documentation showing that in vitro fertilisation took place; and documentation guaranteeing that the child will be able to find out the identity of their biological father when they reach the age of majority.

Child birth in Norway: the baby gets an ID number

The next step in the process is for the baby to get a Norwegian national identity number. This normally happens around 2 to 10 working days after the Tax Authority is notified of the birth.

Benefits for parents of newborn children in Norway

The national identity number consists of 11 digits and is used as personal identification. In daily life in Norway, it is used in a varied array of situations, such as doing your taxes, logging on to your bank, registering as an employee at a new job, receiving health care services, applying for a loan or credit card, etc.

Naming a child in Norway

When the child receives their national identity number, the Tax Authority will request the parents to choose a name for the child. Reporting to the authorities the name of the child has to be done no later than six months after the birth.

If the parental responsibility for the child is shared between both parents, they must naturally both agree on the name. They can log on to the Tax Authority’s website to officially register the name within the deadline.

If the form is approved automatically, the child’s name will be registered immediately. If the form has to be processed manually, the case processing time will be longer.

Banned names in Norway

A reason for the processing time to be longer could be that the parents choose a name that is banned by the authorities. This can be done deliberately or by accident.

Viking family and children

Swear words, titles such as King or Princess, names of medicines or diseases or surnames used as first names (or vice-versa) are not allowed. These situations often arise when an innocent foreign name has an offensive meaning in Norwegian.

Read more: The Population of Norway

Generally, parents are grateful for the authorities to point out such potential misunderstandings, and willingly pick a different name.

Naming a child after the deadline

If the child’s name has not been reported to the National Population Register by the time the child turns six months, the child is registered without a first name and with the mother’s surname at birth. To correct this situation, the parents with parental responsibility must report the child’s name using the form sent to them by mail.

Registering a birth in Norway: final step

After the baby's name is registered and confirmed by the authorities, the parents receive a confirmation via Altinn, an official government portal. The child is automatically registered as residing at the same address as the birth mother.

About Daniel Albert

Daniel was living a perfectly normal life as a journalist in Canada until he was swept off his feet by a Norwegian. He now lives in Trondheim where he still works in communications.

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