Norway is slowly but surely lifting its strict travel rules. Here's what applies to residents of the USA at the moment.
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic in Norway, the country has had some of Europe's strictest entry restrictions in place. While they are in the process of being relaxed, travel restrictions still apply for many Americans.
As the biggest proportion of Life in Norway readers are actually American, I thought I would address the number one question I get from readers: When can I travel to Norway?
But a word of warning before we start. If you're expecting me to give you a precise date when you can travel, you're going to be disappointed!
The travel restrictions are of course subject of change. What I write here is correct at the time of writing. However, things can change quickly! I am unlikely to keep this article up to date, so you should also refer to our Norway Entry Restrictions page that is regularly updated and contains links to all the official sources of information.
I also get a lot of angry emails and comments on articles like this. Please understand that I am not setting the rules here. I have no insider knowledge on government plans, so all I can do is report on already announced information. Please consider these facts before sending negativity my way. Thanks!
American travel advice
First things first, American citizens should consider the advice of their own government. At the time of writing, the CDC has issued a Level 3 Travel Health Notice for Norway, urging Americans to “reconsider” travel to Norway.
Those who do choose to travel should check their booking conditions for flights and accommodation in the event of short-notice cancellations. Also, check your travel insurance coverage.
Norway's entry restrictions and quarantine obligation
Norway draws a distinction between people who are allowed to enter the country, and if that person has a quarantine obligation. You must check both when considering travel.
Read more: Denmark Opens Border To Vaccinated Americans
The quarantine period is ten days. For some countries, this period must begin in a quarantine hotel until a PCR test with a negative result can be produced, after a minimum of three days.
Most people who have a quarantine obligation must also present a negative test certificate upon arrival taken no more than 24 hours before entry. Advance registration is required for entry.
Rules for US residents
At the time of writing, Norwegian citizens and residents of Norway may enter the country. Those travelling from the USA must serve the quarantine period.
While the country has begun to relax travel restrictions for residents of EU countries, an entry ban remains in place for non-EU countries, including the US. This means that US residents cannot enter Norway for the purpose of tourism, regardless of vaccination status.
Exemptions include people who are visiting a close family member who is a resident of Norway. This includes a spouse, long-term cohabitant, children or stepchildren under 18, or parents/stepparents if you are over 18.
As of July 5, this also includes boyfriends/girlfriends, but there is an advance application process for this group. Even though you are exempt from the entry ban, you must still serve a quarantine period. UPDATE July 9: This exception will no longer apply from July 12.
Some occupational groups are exempted, including journalists, sailors, transportation and military personnel.
What might change–and when?
Although we don't have a fixed date for when Americans will be able to visit, we can draw some conclusions.
Norway's reopening plan
Prime minister Erna Solberg recently announced that Norway is entering stage three of its reopening plan. This has changed a lot of rules within the country, allowing for bigger events and a staged return to office-based work.
The initial plan for stage four–the next stage–was for Norway to be almost back to normal. Whether this applies to open borders was not clear, but given the major changes made at stage three, it seems likely that at least some border concessions will be made at stage four.
There is no precise date for when stage four will be introduced, but it will be no earlier than mid-July, according to the government's original plan. But both the timing and the contents of stage four could change.
Norway and the EU
Norway's travel restrictions are gradually falling into line with the EU-wide rules. The European Council has recently recommended adding the United States to the list of exempted countries.
However, as Norway is not an EU member, this doesn't mean Norway will be forced to accept travellers from the US at the same time. Norway has previously said it will consider these EU ‘third countries' on a case-by-case basis.
Given what we have seen up until now, it seems likely that certain groups will be permitted to enter first, rather than a blanket lift of the restrictions.
Family and partners
I know there are a lot of lovesick Americans out there desperate to reconnect with their girlfriends or boyfriends in Norway. There's been some movement on this issue too.
Read more: A First-Time Travel Guide to Norway
EU residents can now apply to come to Norway to visit a Norwegian resident close family member or partner. It is possible that these will be priority groups when restrictions begin to get lifted for non-EU residents–but this is just a guess at present. UPDATE: This has now been done – details here.
I'm fully vaccinated–why can't I come?
The million dollar question! Norway is behind the US on vaccinations. As such, the authorities are being cautious about exposing its population to potential new sources of infection.
But a positive sign is that fully vaccinated EU travellers will soon be able to enter Norway using the EU-wide vaccination certificate.
The difficulty in rolling that out to American travellers is the lack of any nationwide certification system in the US.
This makes it very difficult for American travellers to prove vaccination using a method that meets the EU framework. If the EU vaccine certificate allows for the processing of non-EU residents, then that could be a way through.
But at the moment, there is no indication of this happening. So, it may be that the travel restrictions are lifted first and you would just have to provide a negative test result, but this is just me speculating.
As I've said before, I do not have any insider information–so please don't expect me to know the answer to your specific situation. There are many exemptions, conditions etc and they change frequently, so please do double check with the official sources before booking any travel.
Those official sources are as follows:
Regjeringen.no: The official government webpages on the pandemic
FHI: The Norwegian Institute of Public Health maintains the colour-coded map of country-based restrictions. It's also home to the official statistics.
UDI: The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration details the specific entry requirements and exceptions in full.