5 Ways Americans Can Move to Norway in 2023

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Looking for a fresh start? Discover the most common ways that American citizens move from the USA to Norway.

With frustrations growing on both sides of the political divide, many Americans are considering their future plans. I know this from the volume of email I receive, literally on a daily basis.

The flags of the USA and Norway

Whether it's the draw of a “cuddly capitalism” economic model or the high standard of living, Norway seems to be an attractive option for many. But as I've written about many times before, moving to Norway as a non-European isn't straightforward.

How to move from the US to Norway

Although not an EU member, Norway is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA). As such, it's bound by the EEA freedom of movement regulations for both people and goods. This is what gives European citizens a relatively easy path to living in Norway.

For American citizens, the process is more difficult, but it's not impossible.

Norway live webcam at a fjord

First and foremost, let's cover how Americans cannot move to Noway. There is a huge misconception among Norwegian American communities that anyone with a Norwegian grandparent can move to Norway. Just as with almost every other country, this is not the case.

Also, there is no retirement permit available to Americans. You cannot buy your way into Norwegian residence as you can in some other countries popular with American retirees.

Norway Relocation Resources: Getting a job offer is key to moving to or staying in Norway. Grab our book, How to Find a Job in Norway. Another vital component is the language. Get started learning Norwegian today. And of course, don't forget comprehensive travel insurance.

In this article I outline five of the most common ways I see Americans move to Norway right now.

1. Find a job

Perhaps the most straightforward way to move to Norway is to get a work permit. However, actually doing so by finding a job is often anything but straightforward!

That's because a Norwegian employer has a substantial pool of qualified candidates to consider before thinking about hiring a foreigner. The work permit process is frustrating for the employee, but it's just as frustrating for the employer.

Barcode building in Oslo

And I'm not just talking about a pool of candidates in Norway. Citizens of any EU country do not need a work permit to work in Norway. This means a Norwegian employer can easily hire more than 400 million people.

There will always be exceptions, of course. But realistically, to get a job offer as a non-EU citizen, most people will need to be working in an industry suffering a workforce shortage in Norway, or have a significant skills and/or a substantial profile in your industry.

Also, remember that speaking English natively is not necessarily an advantage. There is little demand for teaching English in Norway, as most Norwegians are fluent by the time they leave school.

It sounds impossible, but there is hope! In fact, there are thousands of Americans working in Norway. For inspiration, read this story of one American citizen who found a job in Trondheim.

2. Get a transfer

Many American companies have a presence in the country, offering a short-cut into the labour market.

Flag of Norway ripped American flag

Most will offer job rotations or advertise vacancies internally first, so if you work for one of these companies in the US, you're going to be at the head of the queue.

The advantage in looking for jobs with American companies is that many do not require Norwegian language ability. You're likely going to have to learn Norwegian over time, but the lack of expectation upon initial hiring is a big benefit.

However, the head of the American-Norway Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) suggested this might not be the best way for Americans to get hired in Norway. You can hear his reasoning and a lot more useful information in this podcast interview.

For more information on US businesses in Norway, check out AmCham. The organisation is focused on event facilitation, member-to-member business assistance, and advocacy initiatives for doing business in Norway and the USA.

3. Start a business

Given the high number of self-employed people in the US, I can imagine this being a very attractive option for many. However, it's not so easy.

European citizens are able to register as self-employed in order to move to Norway. However, non-EU citizens, including Americans, need to apply for a work permit and the requirements are strict.

Working in a Norwegian startup

Firstly, you must have bachelor's level or equivalent vocational education in the field of your proposed business. You must also be able to prove likely business income of at least NOK 246,246 per year. That's about $27,500 at the time of writing.

I know that doesn't sound a lot, but be warned. You need to be able to make that amount of money in the first year, because self-employed work permits must be renewed on an annual basis.

Without a network of existing clients or customers, it may take months to start generating contracts and income. Read this story of one self-employed American who failed to hit that target in year one and had to leave the country on relatively short notice.

Finally, the Directorate of Immigration consults the county you intend to move to when deciding whether the income level is achievable and if the skills are needed in that county.

I've heard from many people going through this process that getting a permit in a rural area such as northern Norway is much easier than if you're applying in Oslo or Bergen.

4. Study in Norway

Studying for a master's degree is a popular choice among American citizens. Because there are no tuition fees, competition for places at Norwegian universities is fierce. But if your grades are good and you have a genuine passion for your chosen field, why not give it a go?

Of course, it helps if you study one of the areas that Norway specialises in. There are numerous energy-related science and engineering degrees, for example.

The NTNU campus dominates Trondheim
The NTNU campus dominates Trondheim, Norway

But there's also remarkably niche topics including Ibsen Studies at the University of Oslo and many Arctic-related degrees at the Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø.

A study permit doesn't guarantee you long-term residence in Norway. However, it does entitle you to work during your studies.

This means there is plenty of opportunity to build up a network and obtain a job offer in order to gain a work permit when your study permit expires.

An interesting option that's not a university is to attend one of Norway's folk high schools, known in Norwegian as a folkehøyskole. These institutions offer one-year educational programs to (typically) young adults.

The experience does not result in an academic qualification, and tends to focus on themes such as outdoor education, music and other creative pursuits, and even the Norwegian language.

This means it's an attractive option for foreigners! If this sounds interesting, read the experience of one American who attended a folkehøyskole.

5. Marry a Norwegian!

This one might come across as a little tongue-in-cheek, but I meet many Americans who are in Norway because they fell in love with a Norwegian. If you're in this position, there is a family immigration permit available for those who plan to get married in Norway.

Scandinavian couple in love

Both must be at least 24 years old, with plans to get married within six months and live together in Norway.

The Norwegian must have an income of at least NOK 264,264 per year and cannot have received any financial assistance from NAV (the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration) in the previous 12 months.

Family immigration is also available to the non-Norwegian person in couples who already married. The category also covers situations such as marrying a non-Norwegian resident of Norway.

Family immigration is a complex area though, and it's one that Norwegian authorities monitor closely. So, consult the detailed rules at UDI to understand how they apply to your specific circumstances.

As I already mentioned, family immigration is a somewhat confusing title and it is intended for immediate family only. It absolutely does not cover anyone who once had a distant Norwegian relative!

The next steps

So there you have it, five ways Americans can move to Norway. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but they are the most common ways. As with any immigration process there are many ifs and buts.

Norway Relocation Resources: Getting a job offer is key to moving to or staying in Norway. Grab our book, How to Find a Job in Norway. Another vital component is the language. Get started learning Norwegian today. And of course, don't forget comprehensive travel insurance.

So, if you're serious about a relocation, be sure to check out the full rules and regulations that apply specifically to you by checking out the website of the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration, UDI. Simply click “want to apply” to get started.

I hope this article has helped! If so, why not share it on Pinterest? Just hit that Pinterest sharing button for an ideal pin.

About David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

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31 thoughts on “5 Ways Americans Can Move to Norway in 2023”

  1. Well thank you for this article. It really articulates what I know about Norway. Most hopefully it will help them to understand where to start from.
    I still appreciate the Norwegian government and the Norwegians at large for the support in terms of education, love , and other related life support that was offered to me in 2015-2017. I will never fail to say that Norway is the best country to live in happily. I wish I can get a chance to come back for my PhD or even to work or stay there.
    Thank you so much.

    Edgar Muhangi
    Masters degree in public administration
    University of Bergen

  2. David, Your article is aimed at folks with jobs. What about the retired folks on fixed US incomes?
    Thanks for your wonderful articles. I enjoy them very much!

  3. What if I can document an investment portfolio that would guarantee my income at a level much higher than the minimum for a self-employed person?

  4. Hi. What if you are married to a German Citizen and your children are also dual US and German citizens. Would it then be possible to live there? If an attorney who already has a legal practice and plans to continue practicing law as a US attorney – doing work in the US, could all of that be done legally.

    • German citizens can move to Norway through the EU/EEA system, although they would still need a basis for relocation, e.g. a job. Anyone who is not a German citizen would then need to apply for family immigration in order to join them.

    • I don’t really understand the question? If you were born in the USA then you are by definition not Norwegian! Unless you mean you obtained Norwegian citizenship later in life, in which case you can move back without any hassle.

      • Yes, if you were born in United States and one of your parents is a Norwegian citizen, than you are Norwegian too, even if you were born in United States, cause Norwegians born anywhere in the world with one Norwegian parent gets by Norwegian law their parents citizenship!

  5. Hi David,
    A great read with a lot of information for those wanting to move to Norway.
    I am an American who married a Norwegian whom became an American citizen 18 years ago, with family still in Norway. What steps are needed for us to move to Norway?

  6. How about an 86 yo person born in Norway who was naturalized USA at age 30 due to job considerations to federal employment? Retired, highly technical PHD. Parents returned to USA with me a 3mo old to all live with grandparents in Brooklyn (huge NO population, churches) for 2yrs and exclusively learned NO at that time. All grandparents born NO, father NO, mother born USA to one grandparent couple. Still remember quite a bit of “kitchen” NO.

    • You can still get your Norwegian citizenship if you were born in Norway and have a Norwegian parent but foreigners that have children in Norway do not get Norwegian citizenship if their parents are not a Norwegian citizen. If both are American citizen and their child is born in Norway than The child will be an American citizen!

      • Hello there what if your Great grandparents were from Norway and you have documentation to prove they came from Norway can descendants have an opportunity to get over there to live through something like this ??

    • I’m sure it would help in terms of getting used to the lifestyle, having someone to ask questions of, etc. I had two friends in Oslo when I first moved here and that helped enormously.

  7. Anywhere just to get out of here! American dream my foot! This place is a nightmare! I want out! My ancestors were forced to come here! I deserve reparations for the slavery and kidnapping of my ancestors, so that I can leave here!

  8. I am 75 years old and have a long history of Norwegian history. I want to move to Norway and live off my social security and military disability. What can I do?

  9. It’s really unfortunate that Norway doesn’t allow a retiree with sufficient income to be self supporting to move there. Many countries do.

    • Why would Norway want a bunch of rich, entitled Americans who don’t speak Norwegian moving to their country? There is quite literally not one single reason for Norway to allow that…

    • It’s the same in the US. As a norwegian i cannot just move to the US even though i have money enough to support myself economically.

  10. Just wondering…I am married to a Norwegian citizen. I worked in Norway for two years. I receive a small pension from Norway. It is easy for me to return and work again. But, how difficult would it be to get dual citizenship? To obtain a Norwegian passport?

  11. I’m curious. If I work for company in the United States that would allow me to work anywhere (telework), how does that fit in with these categories? I have a job with a very good income and can work in Norway as long as I have an internet connection. That doesn’t seem to fit into the categories mentioned.

  12. My mother was born in Norway but immigrated to the US. Would I still need to live there before applying for dual citizenship?

  13. David,
    I just finished reading the article which I found quite interesting and then I read all of the commentary which amused me greatly and I’m fairly certain you must be having so many regrets now for having written it . People are hilarious! 🙂


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