Here are the rule changes in 2021 that might impact those living in Norway.
A new year brings with it a new set of rules and regulations for those of us living in Norway. Here are the highlights.
Restrictions to tighten as vaccinations begin
Unfortunately, the global health crisis continues as we enter 2021. While Norway’s numbers are much lower than many other countries, there are concerns that the second wave of infections have continued to grow since mid-December.
The previous restrictions include limits on public and private events, a ban on late-night alcohol sales, travel restrictions and a quarantine upon arrival.
But on January 3, prime minister Erna Solberg announced a “social life pause” including a total ban on alcohol serving and a recommendation to not have any house guests for two weeks.
Norway has also begun a localised vaccination program, which will be rolled out nationwide in the weeks to come. According to the plan, about 70% of Norway’s 1.3 million residents in a risk group should have been vaccinated by Easter.
Changes for British citizens
The biggest changes in 2021 are for British citizens living in or travelling to Norway.
On January 1, the UK’s transition agreement with the European Union came to an end. As an EEA member, Norway’s freedom of movement obligations with the UK no longer apply,
This means that British citizens lose their automatic right of residence in Norway. Brits already living in Norway under the terms of the EEA agreement will not lose their rights.
However, they must apply for a new residence card to prove their entitlement. The application process opens on January 4.
For Brits not yet living in Norway but planning to move, the process is now more difficult. The UK is now classed as a “rest of the world” country when it comes to immigration, meaning you’ll need to apply for a work permit on the same terms as people from the USA, Australia and many other countries.
It also impacts travel for British citizens. Brits hoping to visit Norway for a holiday will not need a visa, but you will need to join the (longer) “rest of the world” queue at airports. Your visit to Norway (and the whole Schengen area) will also be limited to 90 days.
Permanent residency requirements
This applies to refugees with temporary residence permits and their families. All other categories of immigration remain unaffected.
A new government
Norwegian citizens go to the polls in September to elect its 169 parliamentary representatives, from which a new government will be formed.
Polls indicate that minor parties will not get enough support to keep prime minister Erna Solberg in her post. Leading candidates include the Labour party’s Jonas Gahr Støre and the Centre party’s Trygve Slagsvold Vedum.
Pensions in Norway can be difficult to understand, especially if you have or have had multiple jobs. A new program aims to change that.
An EPK (own pension account) will gather together an individual’s various defined contribution pension plans into one single account. This will follow you through your working life, making it easier to get an overview and manage your pension funds.
You should have already received information from your employer about the process. An employee has the right to opt-out of this, but this must be done within three months of being notified of the change.
Changes to taxes
Previously, alternative treatment and cosmetic surgery were exempt from MVA, Norway’s VAT tax levied on most goods and services. But they will now be subject to the 25% tax rate if the treatments are not medically required,
“The state should not be involved in favouring cosmetic treatments for healthy people. Cosmetic procedures and treatments contribute, among other things, to increased body pressure, especially among young people,” said Høyre MP Mari Holm Lønseth.
A number of small tax breaks will be introduced on cross-border goods, including beer, wine, non-alcoholic beverages, snus, chocolate and confectionery.
Tighter rules on fishing
Designed to benefit municipalities along the Norwegian coastline, tourist fishing rules will be tightened.
Previously up to 10kg of fish could be taken out of the country that were not caught with registered tourist fishing companies. This allowance is now removed, and the total amount that can be taken out of Norway drops from 20 to 18kg.
Read more: Fishing in Norway
In addition, foreigners can only take fish out of the country twice a year.
Charging right for electric cars
If you are one of the many people who own an electric car and live in a borettslag, this one is for you.
Previously, a majority of the borettslag would need to vote in favour for charging infrastructure to be installed. Now, access to charging infrastructure becomes a statutory right.
Delayed unemployment benefits
If you are responsible for unemployment (e.g. you quit a job), the waiting period to receive unemployment benefit increases from 12 to 18 weeks. This delay also applies if you turn down a job while on unemployment benefit without a good reason.
Registration of drones
Registration with the Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority is required for all drone users, with a fee of NOK 180. This also applies to those flying drones recreationally.