COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Norway is a highly developed, stable democracy with a modern economy. The cost of living in Norway is high; tourist facilities are well-developed and widely available. Read the Department of State Fact Sheet on Norway for additional information on the U.S.-Norway relationship.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit Norway, please take the time to tell us about your trip. If you enroll, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. It will also help us get in touch with your friends and family in an emergency. Here’s the link to the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
Local embassy information is available below and at the Department of State list of embassies and consulates.
U.S. Embassy Oslo
Henrik Ibsensgate 48
Telephone: (47) 2244-8550 (24 hours)
Fax: (47) 2256-2751
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: Norway is a party to the Schengen Agreement. As a U.S. citizen, you may enter Norway for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa. Your passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of stay. For further details about travel into and within Schengen countries, please see our Schengen fact sheet.
For the most current visa information, contact the Royal Norwegian Embassy at 2720 34th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008-2714, Tel: 202-333-6000, or the nearest Norwegian Consulate. Consulates are located in Houston, Minneapolis, New York City, and San Francisco. Information can also be obtained from the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration website.
We are unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Norway.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: In July 2011, Norway suffered two sequential terrorist attacks by a right-wing extremist against government buildings in Oslo and a youth camp, leaving 77 dead. In a separate case in September 2012, Norwegian courts upheld the convictions of two men resident in Norway suspected of planning attacks and having links to al-Qaida. Like other countries in the Schengen area, Norway's open borders with its Western European neighbors also allow the possibility of terrorists entering/exiting the country with anonymity. Be vigilant with regard to your personal security.
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CRIME: Norway has a relatively low level of crime in comparison to the United States and Western European countries with large populations. The most likely forms of crime, especially in the Oslo metropolitan area, include residential and office burglaries and petty thefts. In Oslo and the other major urban areas, crime has been centered in the inner city and high transit areas. As in any other location, especially in urban areas, you should exercise basic security awareness. Although rare, violent and weapons-related crimes are growing in frequency and receive intense media coverage. These crimes usually occur in areas known to have drug trafficking and gang problems, such as certain parts of eastern Oslo. Reports have shown an increase in rape in Norway, mainly in downtown Oslo, with areas such as Grünerlokka being an area of particular concern. You should be aware that instances of pick-pocketing and petty theft are common in major tourist areas, hotel lobbies, train and transit stations, and surrounding areas. The Oslo Central train station is an especially popular area for pick-pockets and bag snatchers.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal to bring back into the United States, if you purchase them, you may also be breaking local law.
If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips on the Women Travelers page.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. We can:
Norway has a program to provide financial compensation to victims who suffer serious criminal injuries. Claimants can obtain application forms from the Norwegian Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. Please contact the U.S. Embassy in Oslo for further information.
The national emergency telephone numbers in Norway, equivalent to the “911” emergency line, are: Police 112; Fire 110; and Ambulance 113.
Please see our information for victims of crime, including possible compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Norway, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own, and criminal penalties will vary from country to country. This can be especially true in countries such as Norway which may seem similar to the United States, yet travelers may not be aware of subtle legal and cultural differences. Norwegian family law, for example, can be very different from that in the United States, so visitors and long-term residents are encouraged to familiarize themselves with this law to avoid potential problems. There are also some things that might be legal in Norway, but are illegal in the United States. For example, you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods in Norway. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. While you are overseas, you may be subject to both U.S. and local laws. If you do something illegal in Norway, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not at your destination.
While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in a foreign country, that might not always be the case. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: We are not aware of any special currency or customs circumstances for Norway.
SVALBARD: The Svalbard archipelago consists of nine main islands located midway between mainland Norway and the North Pole. Svalbard’s largest island, Spitsbergen, is also home to its largest settlement and administrative center, Longyearbyen. As a territory of Norway, Svalbard is administered by the Polar Department of the Ministry of Justice through a governor (Sysselmann) residing in Longyearbyen. Unlike Norway’s mainland, Svalbard is not party to the Schengen Agreement and air travelers to Svalbard from Norway will depart the Schengen Zone prior to boarding.
In recent years, Svalbard has become increasingly accessible to tourist travel, with air and ocean transportation options available from the Norwegian mainland. Travelers to Svalbard, however, face unique hazards given the extreme weather conditions and limited transport infrastructure. Although road systems exist within the three largest towns, Longyearbyen, Barentsburg, and Ny-Alesund, they do not connect with each other, making sea, snowmobile, or limited air service the only options for traveling throughout Svalbard. Further, tourism to Ny-Alesund is restricted due to its status as a research facility and the danger of polar bear attacks. There have been several reported instances of death or injury to tourists in the Svalbard archipelago due to animal attacks and boating incidents, often involving unpredictable weather or ocean conditions. In cases of illness or injury, a clinic in Longyearbyen can provide limited emergency care until medical evacuation to Tromsoe is available.
You should consult the Sysselmann’s Office and the Svalbard Tourist Board for the latest travel conditions and information before you go. It is very important to verify that you have adequate travel and medical insurance to cover the potential costs of medical treatment or repatriation before you travel to Svalbard. The U.S. Embassy has no direct representation on Svalbard, limiting its ability to provide emergency consular services.
LGBT RIGHTS: There are no known safety or security issues of concern for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals in Norway. The LGBT community is protected by anti-discrimination laws, and there are no legal or governmental impediments to the organization of LGBT events. For further information on LGBT travel, please read our Information for LGBT Travelers page.
ACCESSIBILITY: While in Norway, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from the United States. Oslo Gardermoen International Airport is accessible to wheelchair users and the staff is very helpful with accessibility issues. The Oslo subway/light-rail system (T-Banen) has above-average wheelchair accessibility. Taxi drivers are generally helpful in assisting wheelchair users. It is possible to order taxis with wheelchair lifts. From December to March it is impossible for wheelchair users to navigate Oslo’s streets without assistance due to snow and ice.
Shopping malls are generally accessible to wheelchair users. However, individual shops with street entrances are not. Shopping malls, hotels, public buildings, and most modern structures will have handicap accessible toilets. Less than half of the restaurants in Norway are wheelchair accessible and many have restrooms located up or down a flight of stairs. Many modern public structures, such as shopping centers, substitute inclined moving walkways/ramps for elevators, which are difficult for wheelchair users to use safely. The website of Norway’s Tourist Board offers accessibility information specifically for ferries.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Medical facilities are widely available and of high quality, but may be limited outside the larger urban areas. The remote and sparse populations in northern Norway and the dependency on ferries to cross fjords of western Norway may affect transportation and ready access to medical facilities. The U.S. Embassy in Oslo maintains a list of emergency medical and dental clinics in major cities.
You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website, which also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: You can’t assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It’s very important to find out BEFORE you leave. You need to ask your insurance company two questions:
In many places, doctors and hospitals still expect payment in cash at the time of service. Your regular U.S. health insurance may not cover doctors’ and hospital visits in other countries. If your policy doesn’t go with you when you travel, it’s a very good idea to take out another one for your trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.
Healthcare in Norway is very expensive and healthcare providers sometimes require payment at time of service.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Norway, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. Public transportation in Norway is generally safe, and the maintenance and condition of urban roads is generally good. Rural road conditions are fair and the availability of roadside assistance is limited. Most roadways beyond the city limits of Oslo and other major cities tend to be simple two-lane roads. In mountainous areas of Norway, the roads tend to be narrow and winding, and have many tunnels. The northerly latitude can cause road conditions to vary greatly, depending on weather and time of year. Many mountain roads are closed due to snow from late fall to late spring. The use of winter tires is mandatory on all motor vehicles from November to April.
Norwegian law requires that drivers always use headlights when driving. Norwegian law also requires drivers to yield to vehicles coming from the right. In some, but not all, instances, major roads with “right of way” are marked. Seatbelts are mandatory for drivers and passengers. It is illegal to use a hand-held cell phone while driving; violators risk a fine of 1,300 kroner (approximately $215).
Norway has some of Europe’s strictest laws on driving under the influence of alcohol; they prescribe heavy penalties for drivers convicted of having very low blood-alcohol levels. Frequent road checks with mandatory breathalyzer tests and the promise of stiff jail sentences encourage alcohol-free driving. The maximum legal blood alcohol content level for driving a car in Norway is .02 per cent.
Automatic cameras placed by the police along roadways help to maintain speed limits, which are often lower than in other European countries. Fines – and sometimes even jail time – are imposed for violations.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. For specific information concerning Norwegian driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Norwegian Tourist Board office at P.O. Box 4649, Grand Central Station, New York, New York 10163-4649, tel.: 212-885-9700; fax: 212-885-9710.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Norway’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Norway’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA's safety assessment page.
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This replaces the Country Specific Information for Norway dated June 11, 2012, adding information on travel to Svalbard and LGBT travel in Norway.