How to Open a Bank Account in Norway

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One of the most important things to do as a new expat is open a bank account. In Norway this isn't always as easy as it should be. Here's what you need to know.

If there's one thing that seems to frustrate new arrivals more than anything else, it's getting their finances sorted.

1,000 Norwegian kroner banknote with the flag of Norway.

International money laundering regulations mean that opening a new bank account when you're new to a country is much more complicated than it used to be.

Opening a bank account as a foreigner in Norway is possible, but it takes some planning, some paperwork, and most importantly, time.

DNB says it can take “4-6 weeks” for someone new to Norway to become a customer. So, be sure you retain full access to foreign accounts when you first move to Norway.

Why is it Hard to Open a Bank Account in Norway?

Opening a bank account as a foreigner in any country is a major challenge because of ‘Know Your Customer' regulations.

Banks are required to verify the identity of their customers and of course manage risk. This means that without a fixed address, a full national identity number, and a verified source of regular income, you will face difficulties.

To make matters worse, banks have different policies, and not all staff seem to be aware of them. I've also seen many accusations of racism from non-EU citizens on various expat Facebook groups.

Danske Bank building in Oslo, Norway. Photo: Danske Bank.
Danske Bank building in Oslo, Norway. Photo: Danske Bank.

So I've got in touch with various Norwegian banks to learn what their official policies are when a foreigner wants to open an account.

Norwegian Banks to Consider

This article isn’t about recommending a specific bank, as there are so many factors to consider. What’s best for one person isn’t best for everyone. Most foreigners use one of the following banks when they first move to Norway.

DNB: Part of Norway’s largest financial services group, DNB Bank offers a full range of services for personal, business, corporate and private customers. A comprehensive online banking system is available in the browser and in a range of apps, with a good English translation.

Nordea: Originally launched in Denmark, Nordea Bank is now one of the largest banks in Northern Europe. It offers a full range of services and products for personal customers, including current and savings accounts.

SpareBank 1: A group of regional savings banks in Norway. Some individual SpareBank 1 banks offer current accounts, including SpareBank 1 Østlandet, which covers Oslo and Eastern Norway.

General Requirements for Norwegian Bank Accounts

The first essential requirement in order to open a bank account is to have a valid passport for identification. This is mandatory. Becoming a bank customer without a valid passport is only possible for asylum seekers and refugees.

Norwegian kroner banknotes in hand.

In addition to a valid passports, bank customer applicants will need a valid residence permit. If the applicant doesn’t have a national identity number, a D-number (temporary ID number) is also required.

Typically, applications begin online. If you turn up at a bank branch, you're unlikely to be able to start your application there. Not that there are that many bank breaches left in Norway, these days!

Once the online application is processed, applicants are required to meet in person at a bank branch in order to present their passport, prove identity, and progress the application. You'll likely need to make an appointment for this.

Once you become a banking customer in Norway, you’re able to open a current account and savings account. You'll also be able to apply for BankID, a must-have digital identity solution for anyone living in Norway.

International Banking Services

The world of banking and financial services has changed enormously in recent years. Many online tools and services exist to make life easier for those of us who live and work across multiple countries.

If you sign-up to Wise or CurrencyFair using the links below, Life in Norway may receive a small commission, but this comes at no cost to you.

Wise: I am a huge fan of Wise, formerly known as TransferWise. Much of my business income is earned in US Dollars or Euro, so I use Wise to convert the money to Norwegian kroner at far cheaper rates than any bank offers. It's super simple.

CurrencyFair: One of several services that allows you to transfer between currencies and accounts cheaper than your bank, CurrencyFair can save you a lot of money when you first move to Norway.

Revolut: Millions of people use Revolut, an online-only international bank that has revolutionised multi-currency banking. Physical cards, savings accounts, international transfers, and online investments are among the features today.

Credit Cards & Loans in Norway

You will not be able to get a credit card as a new arrival in Norway. All banks require applicants to have been living in Norway for at least one year. Actually it's based on having one full tax return, which can mean you need to have lived here for up to two years before applying.

If you have a full year's tax return on record, are over 18 and in full-time employment, you should be good to go. Learn more about the credit card application process and some of your options here.

It's a similar story with personal loans, although the period of proof of your “Norwegian financial life” is even longer. It's best not to apply for a personal loan unless you've lived in Norway for at least 3-5 years.

Have you signed up for a bank account in Norway recently? I'd love to hear your experiences and tips down in the comments.

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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