Remote work and digital nomads are growing trends across the globe. Discover the rules and regulations on remote working as a foreign citizen living in Norway.
Advancements in internet speeds and communications technologies have enabled many people to work and make a living from anywhere in the world. But anyone doing so must be aware of immigration rules on working, especially in Norway.
We get questions all the time from people with online businesses, or regular jobs that allow homeworking, on whether they can move to Norway. It's a difficult grey area in immigration law.
Recently, Norway's Directorate of Immigration (UDI) have clarified their stance on remote work. It's not good news for people hoping to move to Norway and work for a foreign employer.
What is remote work?
Remote work can mean many things. Homeworking has boomed during the last few years, but that is only part of the definition. What we mean by remote work in the context of this article is working for a company in one country but living in another country.
Many people who work in a full-time home-office rightly wonder if they could move to Norway and work from here. Working from a cabin with a view of a mountain or fjord is a tempting prospect for many.
The concept of remote work also applies to self-employment. Some countries (notably in Asia) turn a blind eye to people working while they are living there, which has attracted hoards of ‘digital nomads' to move there for a period of time.
Typically these are people who run an online business and don't have a physical presence in any one country.
Remote work and immigration
Now UDI have issued a clarification that states in the eyes of immigration law, remote work is no different from other work.
“This implies that you cannot, for example, work for your employer in your home country while you are in Norway on a visit or holiday, regardless of whether you are on a visa-free stay or if you have a visitor visa,” stated UDI.
UDI also clarified that you may only work remotely from Norway if you hold a valid residence permit that gives you the right to work. There is no specific residence permit for remote work.
How to work remotely in Norway
EU/EEA citizens have the right to visit, seek work and work in Norway. They also have the right to register as a self-employed person.
Realistically speaking, this means that EU/EEA citizens can spend several weeks or months living in Norway and working remotely for a foreign employer or their own business without major issue. Just be aware of tax residency rules once you have stayed in Norway beyond a certain time.
Many non-EU/EEA citizens do come to Norway on a visitor visa or on a visa-free stay and do some work while they're here for a foreign employer or for their own online business. This is technically against immigration laws, although there is very little UDI can do in reality to stop this.
That being said, bear in mind that if you plan to stay in Norway for 90 days, you may be asked to prove your financial means to do so. If you will be relying on work income, this may prevent you getting the visitor visa.
What residence permits are available?
This isn't the place to outline all the different residence permits, but we'll cover the basics as they relate to remote work. First things first, there is no specific visa for remote work or digital nomads.
UDI states that “to work remotely during your stay, you must have a residence permit that entitles you to work remotely.”
These include a residence permit for family immigration (typically this is available to those moving to be with a spouse, for example), a permanent residence permit, or a residence permit for work where remote work is part of the job.
Assignments in Norway
There are work permits available for those going on assignment in Norway. This covers both people employed by a foreign company and self-employed persons. However, they apply to specific assignments for a Norwegian company.
You are not allowed to work remotely unless it is part of the job you have been granted a residence permit to do. You can also not take on other assignments (including working remotely for your foreign company) on this work permit.
Self-employment for remote workers
One option for remote workers is to start a business as a self-employed individual in Norway. If you are currently self-employed in your country, you would simply move your place of business in Norway–assuming you are granted a work permit of course.
It's also a potential solution for those with an existing LLC / Limited Company in another country. By registering as self-employed in Norway, you would then be able to bill your existing business or employer in order to provide an income in Norway.
There are many, many issues with this model related to immigration law, employment status, tax in both countries, and many more, so I am not recommending this model, but I know some people do it. I strongly advise you to consult with an accountant and business lawyer before going down this road.
Starting a Limited Company in Norway is an option for EU/EEA citizens, but it's very difficult for others who are not already living in Norway. To understand more about this complex area, I recommend you listen to a recent podcast episode on the Life in Norway Show.
In episode 64, we discuss a gap in Norway’s immigration rules which entrepreneurs can easily fall into and find themselves forced to leave Norway despite having built a life here.
Will this change in the future?
Maybe. Some countries are looking into the possibility of offering a working visa specifically for remote workers or digital nomads.
Trend-setters Estonia have already introduced a visa aimed specifically at this group of people. Malta and Croatia are among the other countries to have introduced similar visas, although they are all time-limited, typically one year.
There has been little talk in Norway about following this trend. However, with working from home now a much more common occurrence, it could be something that appears on the political agenda in the not-too-distant future.
But for now, UDI has been extremely clear on the issue. Let's wait and see.
Do you have questions? I am not an expert in immigration law, I am simply passing on information from UDI. I cannot answer personal questions. For more information, check the information on the various forms of residence and work permits at UDI.