Norway Immigration Guide

Norway immigration guide

Start your journey with our ultimate guide to Norway's immigration rules and regulations.

To move to Norway with the intent to live, work, or study, you will need a residence permit unless you are a Norwegian citizen. How you get one of these is determined by a complicated set of rules and regulations.

How to get a residence permit

Broadly speaking, the award of a residence permit depends on two things: your country of citizenship and your ability to financially sustain yourself and any dependents.

This generally means you need a job offer, or you must prove financial sustainability if you are coming to Norway to study or for some other reason.

Work-Work is a coworking office and gaming bar in downtown Trondheim

It is possible for some people to move to Norway as a job seeker, but this is only allowed for a relatively short period of time.

If you don't manage to find employment during that time, you will have to leave the country, and there is a waiting period before you will be able to return.

Before you decide

Even if you've always dreamed of moving to Norway, it's wise to take a moment and do some research before committing to the idea.

On this website, we've done our best to balance the upsides of living in Norway with the downsides, and it's vital to get the full picture before committing you and your family to a new life.

Lysefjord and Pulpit Rock in Norway

Take some time to look around the site, in particular at the sections on finding jobs and daily life. The three must-read articles for anyone thinking about starting the Norway immigration process are:

Why you should visit first

If you've never even visited Norway before, the best thing you can do is to plan a trip. You could of course tour the fjords at the height of summer, but that will only give you a false impression of Norwegian lifestyle.

Instead, spend some time in your chosen city during the darkness and low temperatures of the winter. You'll be living like this for months every year, so it's a great idea to give this time of the year a “test run” before you decide to move.

Guarding the Oslofjord

Cost of living

Although Norway has some of the highest salaries in the world, they do come with a vastly increased cost of living. Because of those same high wages, goods and services are more expensive than in almost any other country.

It's essential to understand the cost of living in your chosen part of the country, and the relationship between your expected salary and everyday expenses.

If after thorough research you're still keen on a move to Norway, then the next steps depend on your country of citizenship.

Broadly speaking, the rules are split into three overarching categories, with an increasing level of difficulty as you move down the list:

  • Nordic citizens
  • EU/EEA citizens
  • The rest of the world

Now let's take a look at each one of these immigration categories in turn.

Nordic citizens

The flags of the Nordic nations

People from the other Nordic countries (Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland) who come to work in Norway must go in person to a tax office to obtain a tax deduction card.

If you plan to stay for more than six months, you must register with the Police who will check your ID and update the National Population Register.

To register, Nordic citizens just need to show a passport or national ID card with a photo and confirmation of your citizenship and gender.

Alternatively, a valid driving licence together with an extract from the National Population Register of your home country from within the last three months is also acceptable.

Norway immigration from the EU

Citizens of EU/EEA member states have an easier time moving to Norway because the country is a member of the EEA.

This means that Norway abides by the same freedom of movement regulations as European Union countries.

The flag of the EU

The current EU members are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

The United Kingdom remains an EU member at the time of writing, so UK citizens still follow the same rules until their post-Brexit arrangements are announced. In addition, these rules also apply to citizens of Switzerland as the country is an EEA member despite being outside the EU. Citizens of Iceland follow the rules for Nordic citizens, above.

What this means is that anyone holding citizenship of one of the above countries is permitted to come to Norway for up to six months to look for a job.

To stay beyond that period, a job is required. Read our full guide to moving to Norway from Europe for more information.

Immigration for everyone else

As a general rule, citizens of other countries will need a permanent job offer in order to be granted a residence permit.

Immigration to Norway from the rest of the world

You must normally have found a job first, although there is a permit available for job seekers, with restrictions. What residence permit you should apply for depends on your competence and the type of work you will be doing in Norway.

The most common permit is available to skilled workers. This is for people with higher education who will be using those qualifications in the job.

The salary must be at least NOK 410,500 pre-tax if the job requires a master’s degree, or at least 381,000 per year pre-tax if the job requires a bachelor’s degree, unless a collective agreement applies.

View of the fjord from Geiranger village

Successful applications are usually able to bring their immediate family (partner and children) with them.

Read our full guide to immigration from outside Europe for more information on who qualifies as a skilled worker, plus all the categories of work permit available including for ethnic cooks, au pairs, and offshore workers.

Practical matters

Relocating to a new country is not a straightforward task. Before you make the move, take some time to begin your Norwegian language education. There are lots of free resources out there to get you started.

The biggest hurdle you’ll face without a good grip on the language is finding a job. While there are jobs out there that require English speakers, most Norwegians speak English fluently anyway, so you have no real advantage.

Street food cafe at Vippetangen on the Oslo waterfront.

Learning the language will also be of great help with everyday living such as finding somewhere to live and shopping for goods and services. Don’t forget, most people applying for permanent residence will need to prove their language abilities.

Staying in Norway permanently

At the time of writing, there is no time limit on how long European citizens can stay in Norway once you have registered.

Your entitlement to welfare benefits and the state pension depends on how long you’ve lived in Norway and your employment status.

If you’ve been living in Norway for several years with a residence permit, you could consider making your stay more concrete with a permanent residence permit, or even citizenship.

The rules for both of these are quite complex and depend on your own personal circumstances.

How to Move to Scandinavia: A Norway Immigration Guide.

Norway Weekly Email Newsletter

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About the Author: 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 freelance writer for technology companies in Scandinavia.

45 Comments

  1. Thanks for your informative immigration guide. With all the talk about Trump denying open immigration to the USA for people from non-EU countries, it is refreshing to learn that despite all the Norwegians making jokes about Trump, it appears that Norway’s immigration laws are far more strict than those of the USA, including the fact that people wishing to immigrate to Norway need to have a job and they need to learn to speak Norwegian. I guess that’s the Norwegians exercising their right of hypocrisy.

      1. Hey David how you doing? Am Tseyi and I have the intention of relocating to Norway to search for a Job and a better life for myself, any advise or tips how I may successfully go about it? By the way am a citizen of Nigeria

      1. Since When has that been enforced? What rock have you been living under? When is the last time you called a automated phone number? When is the last time you have been in a public school? Southern States you can’t get a job that requires dealing with the public unless you speak Spanish.

        1. Cory B that is just false. I lived in the South for 23 years and never once have I been expected to speak Spanish to get a job. I’ve worked in sales, restaurants, education and more and got by just fine with only English. If you can’t get a job the problem might be your qualifications.

          1. THAT is NOT entirely correct. What we have in the USA is the absurb tolerance for providing translation services, either in paper or by human translator, in many departments. It is so easy to get around, particularly for those from south of the border, as most of them work for a partially literate “foreman” and they work cash only jobs. These people hide out that way and get a wealth of benefits. I think the point Cory was making, was that schools, hospital, government offices all make it exceedingly easy NOT to have to learn the native tongue. And tolerance, by people such as YOU only subverts this further. My parents had to learn English, why the hell not all other immigrants?!!

    1. How many immigrants and refugees is Norway responsible for creating as compared to the millions created by US policies, actions, insane trade laws, wars based on lies, invasions, death squads, assassinations, support of brutal right-wing regimes etc? When you burn down a persons home and make it impossible for them to support their family, probably shouldn’t be too surprised to find them sleeping under your porch when it is raining…

      1. We started the civil war in Syria?
        If I remember correctly, Hostile immigrant terrorists came into the U.S. through porous borders and crashed planes into buildings and our Pentagon. We need to protect ourselves and we have every right to. When I hear of politicians like Bill Clinton selling secrets to China so they can build better ICBM’s, Hillary selling uranium to the Russians and of course Obamma giving a green light to the largest supporter of terrorism on the planet to develop nukes, it scares the sht out of me. I would re- think my opinion of the U.S. if I were you. The U.S. is the only power on earth standing in the way of those looking to totally control it. When the U.S. finally collapses it will be the end of freedom everywhere. The U.S. footed the bill for the U.N and paid to keep troops in Europe when the now renamed Soviet Union, would have taken it all the way to the Atlantic.

    2. I think it’s only sensible to get to know the language. The article is right when it suggested knowing the language to obtain employment and accommodations. It’s a shame Trump has ruined the whole immigration laws as I am Canadian so I am not for certain if it effects me. I also appreciate the advice on taking time to visit Norway in the winter months as the climate is very cold and the day light hours are going to be something to get used to. So I feel over all this article to be very helpful. Especially the fact that the cost of living is pretty expensive too. That could change things for me as the Canadian dollar isn’t doing well in the economy bracket.

    3. hey can you help me please to know how to get job as Magistrate of pharmacy in Norway for citizen which is not EU/EEA/EFTA ?? or if possible to continue phd study in Norway and after that to work ?
      Thank you so much

    4. Mitchell, you must be joking. Looks like you don’t have any idea about your country’s visa restriction. I have 4 visa denials just to visit the USA for a week! And in the same time US nationals can come to my country for 90+90 days!! In order to stay to work in the USA, one also need to have a job (a very good one) and need to learn to speak English! USA’s immigration laws are far far more strict than those not only of Norway but of any country on this planet! For one of my visas I had a 1 hour phone job interview with a hotel in US which I passed more than successfully in both English and Spanish and was sent a pre-contract, and still I was denied an H2B visa! My future boss couldn’t believe it! He liked me very much and was impatient for me to go there and start working… but ended up very disappointed and mad to the authorities himself (American). SO, if Norway requires a work visa for Americans it is only because USA requires the same for Norwegians. It’s called reciprocity. Something my country Bulgaria, obviously doesn’t have the power and the right to do.

  2. Of course some random Trumper had to come on here and criticize other countries for no apparent reason. Moving to Norway doesn’t seem to be easy, but anyone who thinks that the U.S. makes it easy for immigrants is mistaken. Highly educated, skilled candidates who are fluent in English are routinely denied positions here just on a count of them being foreign and companies not wanting to deal with visa sponsorship. Just wanted to make that clear (I live in the southern U.S.)

    David, thank you for this information. I’m not sure if my heart is set on Norway just yet, but I plan to visit this summer, and in the long-term I am definitely looking for a place to settle that has things figured out a bit better than we do here in America. There seems to be many foreign expats in Trondheim. Is there a particular reason for this? And how are you able to maintain visa status with a freelance career?

    1. Trondheim has one of Norway’s biggest and most important universities, plus it’s a hotbed of research and ICT, which naturally attracts international talent. With regards to your final question, I don’t need a visa as I am in Norway under the EU/EEA immigration agreement. You can apply for a self-employed visa as a non-EU/EEA citizen but this has to be in your area of professional expertise, typically the topic you did a degree in.

      1. Great! Trondheim will be my final destination and point of departure during my trip this summer. Maybe we’ll bump into each other 🙂 Thanks again.

      2. Cool. And if I am independently wealthy I just have to get a back ground check? Sort of puzzled as to what my options are?

  3. Old cynic Brit. Just completing “Viking Economics” Author George Lakey. He paints a picture close to Utopia. Interested in your view on that reality? Amused to hear that even the more Conservative parties argue that the Social democrats are not doing enough to reduce “relative poverty”.

    Just another Pilgrim on the Pennine Way

  4. Hi David!

    My sister’s boyfriend has a travel agency in Svarbard. And he is planning to get me as one of his employee. By the way I am a Filipina from the Philippines. Do you think I won’t have a hard time getting a permit? Since I came from the Philippines? Thank you and I hope you can help me with this thing.

    1. Hi, if you mean Svalbard, the conditions for working there are entirely separate from Norway. Anyone can move there as long as they have a job. But this doesn’t give you any rights to live or work in Norway itself. I hope that makes sense.

  5. Hi David
    I am deciding to come to Norway with my wife to live in this country.
    My age is nearing 50 years old and my question is … can I hope to be a resident and have Norwegian passport after 7 years living there?

  6. Hi,

    I’m probably mad but I’m thinking about retiring in Norway! German citizen and currently 55 so have another 10 years to go – earlier retirement is not an option.

    I will have pensions (from the UK, where I worked for 11 years, and Germany) plus some investments that provide an additional regular income. How much do you need to live on in reasonable comfort? My favourite city so far is Tromso.

    Will they let me in at all since I won’t be working??

    Also, is there any information out there on the provisions for senior citizens in Norway – especially interested in (old age) health and social care.

    Thanks!

    1. Hi, there is a category of immigration for EU/EEA citizens called “Person with own funds”. To apply in this category, you “must normally have at least NOK 186,968 per year before tax” if you are a single person, according to UDI. It is allowed for that to come from a pension.

  7. Hi David,
    My grandfather was from Bødo, and I was wondering if having Norse ancestry and relatives there would help to obtain a residence permit and work for a year?
    I am 46 and work full time as a housekeeper.
    Thanks, Tara

    1. Hi, thanks for the question. Having an ancestor from Norway makes no difference to immigration – you need to have a job to gain a work permit if you are from outside the EU/EEA – it’s all explained above.

  8. Hi, I´m from Peru and I have sent a letter to a high school in Norway and if they accept me how high is the probability that the state I think is the UDI accept my request of residence for studies, Thanks

  9. Hi! I am from India, 44 years of age, and done master of social work and m.phil. -research in csr. I am unmarried. I want to settle in Norway based on my research as PH.D. student or we permanent resident.

  10. Hllo,im a filipina and rediding in Philippines. My husband and i plan to move in norway to start a new beautiful life together my two kids im a midwife and my husband presently residing and work in ksa Jeddah Airport as a Ramp duty officer. Can we apply an immigrant or can we live permanently in norway? What do we need ti to accept us or or to qualify for residency please help us?

  11. Hi David,

    This is a great article, I got a job with Norwegian company as a IT Business consultant in Oslo and I have offered to start by 1of November. When reading articles I realized getting register in immigration and open a bank account is a challenging thing. Will you be able to provide a guideline to me on what should I do before I move to Norway and just after I moved in order to get the things done faster. my employer provides me accommodation for two weeks in a hotel and I am expected to find my own after that. So I am affraid I would not be able to find my own place to live after two weeks. Apriciate your help with this

  12. My maternal Grandfather Odd Solbakken immigrated to the US from Norway in 1937. Does that give me any advantages should I choose to emigrate to Norway?

  13. Thank you for this wealth of information. I am a 2nd generation American, born to American parents, with Grand Parents being Norwegian-American immigrants, who btw, came to the States the legal and correct way. If something is worth having, it is worth the time and effort involved.

    I had the perfect opportunity to visit Norway back in 1988-1992, while I was stationed at Ramstein AB, Germany, while serving in the US Air Force. But time constraints due to my job in Security, as well as finishing my education, hindered that. I still hold out hopes to visit Norway sometime soon, but after reading your information, I am not quite sure that I could even ‘qualify’ as a permanent resident. I am semi retired, and I only work at my passions, of training and handling search dogs, as well as supervising sporting events. But great information, nonetheless!

  14. Hi, can u give me some information about how to get Norway citizenship via investment visa. I mean all term and conditions that makes eligible a person for investment in Norway. If you have some links that direct me to exact information about it, please let me know

  15. Hi,
    First of all I want to thank you for the person who creates this informative website. I have some questions. I have been living in Poland for 2 years and have temporary residency due to my eu spouse. My wife has been accepted a job in Norway and we are planning to move out to Norway. I think, I have to apply for residency in Norway one more time. Approximately how long will I wait for the decision after I apply for it? Will government give me work permit beside of residency?

  16. Hi David,
    I have a daughter who is a Nurse from the Philippines. She already has an authorization to practice as a healthcare professional and passed the B2 Norwegian language proficiency back in 2014. She was forced to go back home after expiry of her jobseeker’s visa because the offer she got was only 80% working hours and for a working permit you need 100%.

    Can she still apply for a jobseeker’s visa and go back to Norway to find a job?

    Thanks,
    Lou

  17. Hi,my husband and I are considering moving to Norway with our two kids. He’s an Engineer,I’m a teacher. What do you think we should do?

  18. So a person that is retired in the US, probably has NO chance of being able to move to Norway and become a citizen. Would this be mostly correct???

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