Norway is a tempting prospect for relocation, but the immigration process can be daunting.


Norway, along with the rest of the Nordic region, is frequently hailed as one of the happiest places to live in the world, boasting one of the highest standards of living. If you’ve ever visited the fjords and fallen in love with the natural beauty, you’ve likely wondered what it would be like to live in Norway.

A robust economy, a short working week and employment legislation that heavily favors employees, a comprehensive welfare system, and a societal focus on children are all factors that make Norway a tempting prospect for relocation.

However, the difficulty in finding a job, the high cost of living, and the work permit requirements for non-Europeans deter many people. Yet, with 15.8% of Norway’s 5.5 million population having a foreign background, relocation is certainly possible.

Deciding To Move To Norway

Before deciding on a relocation, it’s a good idea to spend a significant amount of time in Norway. What you see and experience on a vacation bears little relation to everyday life.

Before committing, why not spend a few weeks living in a small apartment in a Norwegian city? Renting one on AirBnB is a good bet to experience life in a local neighborhood, shopping for groceries, using public transit, and other aspects of everyday life in Norway.

This is particularly important if your only experience of Norway was on a fjords cruise or other organized tour. Also, rather than the summer, try visiting in the wetter months of October and November, or the colder months of January to March.

It’s important to experience Norway during the winter before deciding to move.

David Nikel

If you then decide that the Scandinavian way of life works for you, here’s how the immigration process works.

Immigration To Norway

If you’re considering a move to Norway, it’s important to become familiar with the processes as soon as possible. The overall immigration process is managed by the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI), but the Police accept and process a lot of the paperwork needed for individual applications.

Appointments with the Police are managed online. In larger cities, you’ll find a service center for foreign workers known as an SUA, which brings together all the relevant authorities under one roof.

There are many different categories of residence permits, so it’s important to do your research before you begin the process.

Relocation For European Citizens

Although there are many different residence permits, the overall process splits into two categories: Citizens of EU/EEA countries, and everyone else.

Citizens of EU/EEA countries have an automatic right to live and work in Norway. So if you’re a passport holder of Germany, Spain, France, and so on, all that’s required is a relatively simple registration process with the Norwegian Police.

You will need a valid reason to stay beyond six months, such as job income or joining a full-time course of study, but there are few barriers to getting started with relocation.

Residence Permits For Everyone Else

For everyone else, much stricter rules apply. That includes citizens of the U.S. and Canada, and, since Brexit, the United Kingdom.

For this group, an application process for a work permit is the most common route in. To succeed, you’ll generally need a job offer that requires a degree or professional qualifications with a minimum salary of at least $44,000. It’s also possible to apply for a permit to stay in Norway for six months as a job seeker, but you’ll need professional qualifications and enough money to support yourself.

Study permits are also available for full-time students with a confirmed offer from a Norwegian institution. Such permits entitle the student to work part-time while in Norway.

Family immigration permits are available for partners and children of foreigners awarded a residence permit. They are also available for foreigners with a Norwegian partner who wish to live in Norway together. Marriage isn’t required, but partners have to prove a relationship with cohabitation of at least two years.

There are many conditions for these permits, and many others permits available in niche categories such as seafarers, offshore workers, and athletes. Use the application wizard at UDI to see all the options available for your specific circumstances.

Finding A Job In Norway

Obtaining a job offer is a crucial part of the relocation process for most people. While it is possible to apply for a job from overseas and get an offer, in-person networking plays a major role in the recruitment process in Norway.

Building a network of people in your industry on LinkedIn is a good first step, as is attending an industry conference in person. That will be a big investment, but if you’re serious about relocation, it will be money well spent.

Learning Norwegian

Proving your competence in the Norwegian language isn’t required for a first-time residence permit. But if you’re interested in obtaining permanent residence or, eventually, citizenship, then it’s worth starting your language learning journey as soon as possible.

As a Germanic language with a relatively small vocabulary compared to English, Norwegian may be less technically challenging for some learners. However, the vast diversity of regional dialects in Norway makes mastering oral comprehension from native speakers the biggest challenge.

Trondheim-based university NTNU offers a free online course to get to grips with the basics, while apps such as Duolingo help to create a daily language learning habit.

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