Norway Immigration Guide

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Have you always wanted to move to Norway? Start your journey here 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.

Immigration to Norway flag

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.

Before you decide

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.

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:

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.

Lysefjord and Pulpit Rock in Norway

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.

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.

The Department of Immigration (UDI) and the Police are the two authorities responsible for managing the immigration process. While applications take place in person, the process of booking appointments is done online via UDI.

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

People from the other Nordic countries have an easier time with the immigration process. Citizens of Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland who come to work in Norway must go in person to a tax office to obtain a tax deduction card.

The flags of the Nordic nations

If you plan to stay for more than six months, you must also register with the Police. They 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. That's it!

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 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 and Sweden.

The flag of the EU

The EU 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.

The United Kingdom is no konger an EU member, so UK citizens must follow the same rules as all other non-European countries. For more information, check out our article on how Brits can move to Norway post-Brexit.

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.

International school children in Norway

You must normally have found a job first, although there is a residence permit 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. There are minimum salary requirements that depend on the education required for the job. They are updated annually in line with inflation.

At the time of writing, the salary must be at least NOK 428,200 pre-tax if the job requires a master’s degree. If the job requires a bachelor's degree, a salary of NOK 397,100 per year pre-tax is sufficient. There is an exception when a collective agreement applies.

Successful applications are usually able to bring their immediate family (partner and children) with them. There is a family immigration permit for this purpose.

Immigration to Norway from the rest of the world

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.

Are you American? Read our article on how Americans can move to Norway for more advice.

Asylum in Norway

This is a highly-charged political issue these days and the rules are changing regularly. However, if you are persecuted or fear inhumane treatment in your home country, it is possible to apply for protection and refugee status in Norway.

This is only possible to do if you are physically in Norway or at a Norwegian border, unless you are already in the system and are being resettled.

It is the Police that operates the initial registration system for asylum seekers. The Police will register you, then UDI interviews you about the reasons for your application. Asylum seekers are entitled to an interpreter during both parts of this process.

Asylum seekers in Norway

The initial interviews take place at the Østfold reception centre. Applicants will be tested for tuberculosis and then moved to an asylum reception centre. Some of these have recently been closed, but there are still several around the country.

At this point, there are several different processes for applications depending on where you are from. Typically, it can take a couple of months to receive an answer.

Read more: Asylum Applications Drop in Norway

One important point: If you have been in another European country before coming to Norway, you will be sent back there. That's because under the Dublin Regulation, the first country you arrived in is responsible for considering your case.

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.

Typically, you will have to have lived in Norway for several years with valid work permits. There are also formal language requirements for most people.

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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80 thoughts on “Norway Immigration Guide”

  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.

      • 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

      • 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.

        • 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.

          • 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?!!

          • I am a native Spanish speaker with advanced Spanish literacy skills and technical translation/interpretation experience, but I don’t have a Hispanic name. I have had my application ignored only to find out they hired a Mexican with far less Spanish language ability than me …. simply because of the name

            If you are in California, when it comes to jobs that require language and other sorts of proficiency tests Mexicans can’t compete because the vast majority are basically illiterate in Spanish.

            For other bilingual jobs they are hired simply because of tribalism. I also applied at Univision, a very racist organization and they basically refused my application and laughed at me. Simply because of my European surname

    • 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…

      • 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.

        • My oh my what a bleedin racist hate ball you are Chuck! Soooooo you were just ok with two hundred years of rapist mass murderers and slave owners as U.S presidents but let one person of colour became President then you find your hateful voice! And yes America did ramp up the war in Syria acting as the Proxy for Israel and Iraq and Libya Israel is the tail that wags the American dog

      • You are absolutely correct. The USA should say to hell with a world that has come to expect the U.S. will become the worlds’ police force and save their ass when these very same countries are unwilling to build up a military to defend themselves. My attitude is that we should have kept out of Europe completely in WW1 and WW2 and let you all be speaking German now. We lost over 400,000 lives in WW2, how many lives were lost in Norway? What was that, 10,000? Yeah, keep talking Chris Knudson!
        We would have defeated Japan years earlier and would have spent far less money if we had minded our own business. Oh the Marshall Plan? Forget that too, just think what that has cost the U.S.. I won’t even get into what NATO costs the U.S.. So Chris I completely agree that the U.S. should become isolationists and let all you Europeans fight it all out on your own. Looks like that has worked out really good for Europe in the past. There is benefits of course, I hear vodka is cheap everywhere Russia occupies!

        • You re right Tom, the world needs to acknowledge and apreciate in totality the impact of US and its contributions to humanity. If not let them pull out its contributions and let the world feel its absence, or are they thinking China has that spirit? I doubt. Im Nigerian and I support this self care policies of the US.

      • You are thinking of communism… communists have created those problems

        USA has opened trade with communist China and the result is the Chinese use genocide victim slave labor to manufacture cheaply, and invest their GDP in military expansion

        But you have already learned an oversimplified revisionist history and geopolitical narrative – from communist propaganda. You can always find defects and corruption anywhere you go. When you put USA in historical context and stop virtue signaling your own moral narcissism, then you can appreciate how peaceful and benevolent that system actually is

    • 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.

    • 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

    • 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.

    • hello David ,how are you? would you inform me how to immigrate to Norway ? i like Norway please help me in order to live my best country

  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?

    • 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.

    • Having one Norwegian grandparent, I only wish Norway were as liberal as Italy and Spain in its citizenship grants. My Argentine wife’s grandparents were Italian and Spanish, and she’s entitled to citizenship in both countries.

  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.

    • 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.


    • 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

    • 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?


  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???

  19. David…. Is there something, somewhere with more information about a “person with own funds?” As a retired person with three separate retirements, I far exceed the minimums requirement(s) – based on your earlier response. I frequently read the age of 67 is a typical retirement age for Norway…. true? Is retirement at 67 mandatory? Or is it the minimum age for qualifying for social benefits?

  20. I am retired with sufficient funds to support myself and family. Is there a category for such people under Norwegian immigration law?

    • Yes but if you’re in that position, there are many nations you could choose

      So long as you’re not going to be a burden on the local kommune, you’re fine but then again, what will you get for your contributions to folketrygden if you’re not allowed to be a burden? If you’re retired, you’re of an age where you will soon need care

  21. Hi, checking for immigration info. Which part of Norway is good for family migrant with kids and lots of work available for Information Technology? also, any info for the weather? Coldest and warmest temp? Thanks for your help.

  22. I married a Norwegian Citizen and we are currently trying to get him his I-130 approved, its been a year since we applied, how difficult would it be for me to move to Norway as his wife? I do not hold a degree or speak the language.

  23. Can’t say my ansestors were besserkas…so…from the UK having a computing engineering qualification, wants to work in Norway and help develop it. Wants to live there. That’s ok?

  24. Hi David,

    Are the immigration policies/laws applied according to the person’s citizenship or to the country they currently live in? What about people who have a double nationality, one from an EU country and one from a non-EU country?
    I am currently working on a plan to move to Norway with the help of a Norwegian friend. I hold both a Belgian passport (EU) and a Lebanese passport (Non-EU) and I currently live in Lebanon. Do you have any info that could clarify things for me?

    Thank you.

  25. Sorry to “resuscitate” this old subject but I would like your feedback on the residence permit in Norway for the job seeker.
    I am a versatile sailor (offshore / ship) and I would like to settle in Norway with a visit visa then apply for a residence permit.
    Is it possible to obtain a residence permit for job seekers for this trade?
    How do you find life in Norway and what city do you recommend?

    • Section 2-14 paragraph 4 of Folketrygdeloven makes your idea an extremely bad one

      Immediately you work outside of Norway or on a ship not flying the Norwegian flag, your compulsory membership of folketrygden ceases

  26. My mother immigrated from Norway to the USA. I was born here. I still have relatives in Christiansen.
    Would that make it easier to file for a residency permit?

  27. Hello sir, i am from Bhutan and I would like to know if I can get a job there. I have bachelor’s degree in English and History. I have been trained as a teacher here in my country. Will I be able to get a teacher job in Norway ?

  28. Hello, I do a remote job, that office located in Norway. will I can able to apply for relocation, My company totally remote-friendly! everyone works from home. In this case, what can I do? Please answer, please.

  29. Yes but if you’re in that position, there are many nations you could choose

    So long as you’re not going to be a burden on the local kommune, you’re fine but then again, what will you get for your contributions to folketrygden if you’re not allowed to be a burden? If you’re retired, you’re of an age where you will soon need care

  30. You are mistaken about Nordic citizens moving within the Nordic countries. One just goes to city hall, not the police, and present one’s papers. You have to be a citizen of one of the countries. Also, I would think it would be nigh impossible for someone from the US to come and start up a business. I have never heard of such a thing. For retired people, you must look into tax before moving. You will not have a right to much pension here, as you haven’t paid in to pension. If you come from outside the EU, I don’t think many living on a pension will get a recidency permit. If you are not used to winter, I think coming as an elderly person will be hard. There is a lot of snow and ice everywhere. You got to be born here to navigate it, and drive in it. It’s not easy.

  31. Dear Mr Nikel,
    After having lived in Switzerland for nearly 50 years, I would like to move back home to Norway.
    I still have a few years until retirement (is it 65 or 67? I’ve heard both). I tried to get some info from NAV about pensions and welfare, but was ping-pongued between three different departments and the result was not concluding… Would you happen to have any information about NAV’s requirements to obtain welfare, unemployment and pensions. About the latter, I suppose that my Swiss pension can be transferred to the Norwegian fund…
    Any feedback about this would be greatly appreciated.
    The only information I got was that everyone need a Bank-ID and that I would have to physically move to Norway before I can apply for any social benefits.

    JF Krafft

  32. I am a U.S. citizen with 93 % Norwegian Ancestry and 7% Swedish and Danish so I think that makes me a Nordic. My great Grandparents (paternal and maternal) immigrated to the U.S. during the 1800s. I visited Norway in 2007. Because of all my families’ traditions and customs I immediately loved Norway, especially visiting my ancestors’ former home towns. I would love to move to Norway, but unfortunately I am now retired and can’t meet the very strict requirements to move there. Meanwhile I live in Arizona only 8 miles from the southern border and it’s hard to believe that the U.S. just lets people walk across our border and disappear and never even try to assimilate.


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