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HOLIDAYS

Traffic jams and ferry queues as Norway holidays at home

Norway's Prime Minister has encouraged everyone to holiday at home this year. But as well as bringing much-needed spending to tourist areas across the country, it has also brought traffic.

Traffic jams and ferry queues as Norway holidays at home
There is heavy traffic on many roads. Photo: Knut Opeide/SVV
There are queues of more than six hours for some popular car ferries, and many roads are congested. 
 
According to the Norwegian Public Roads Administration more than 1,000 more cars a day are currently driving along parts of the coasts of Helgelund and Nordland than in the same period last year. The E39 near Ålesund is seeing close to 2,000 additional cars per day. 
 
“My conclusion is very clear. We are seeing greater traffic than what is normal for this part of the year, Arnmod Bjørnstad, the section head of the administrations road traffic control centres in northern Norway. 
 
 
'Norway is a beautiful country', Prime Minister Erna Solberg told Norwegians back in May, as they were planning their holidays. “I would recommend people to plan for a Norwegian holiday this summer.” 
 
But Magnar Nilsen and Tove Nygård Nilsen from Moss, one couple who heeded her advice, had to sleep in their car after waiting six and a half hours for a ferry from Forvik to Tjøtta. They estimate they have spent 15 hours so far in ferry queues on their journey up the coast to Lofoten. 
 
“When the government encouraged everyone to have a holiday in Norway, they should have made sure that there were enough ferries to handle all the tourists,” the couple told Norway's state broadcaster NRK
 
Torhild Haugann, the mayor of Vevelstad, said that the arrival of tourists had also been a nightmare for local residents, who now felt trapped on their islands, unable to visit locals towns to go shopping. 
 
“It is actually so bad that many farmers do not dare to leave home, because you do not know if and when you can get back,” he said. “Taking a risk and travelling might involve an overnight stay.” 
 
The Norwegian Public Roads Administration has started increasing the number of departures on some ferry routes to reduce the congestion. 
 

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TRAFFIC

Driving in Norway: How to exchange your licence for a Norwegian one

Foreign residents in Norway may need to exchange their driving licence for a Norwegian one to be able to drive on the country's roads.

Driving in Norway: How to exchange your licence for a Norwegian one
Here's what you need to know about exchanging your driving licence in Norway. Pictured is somebody on a road trip. Photo by Alexandr Bormotin on Unsplash
EU/EEA citizens

If your driving licence was issued in an EU/EEA country, exchanging it for a Norwegian one is a fairly straightforward process and you don’t need to undertake any driving tests, practical or theory.

You do not need to exchange it in order to legally drive and can continue driving on the licence issued in your country, but it may be more convenient for renewal and identification purposes if you do exchange. 

Obviously your current licence needs to be valid.

As stated by Norway’s public road authority Statens vegvesen, you can do this either in person, or through the post.

If done in person, you can make an appointment at your nearest Driver and Vehicle Licensing Office (trafikkstasjon) to submit your application. 

Here is a link to the application form that needs to be filled out for the exchange. 

If you apply for a temporary driving permit while you wait, then you must apply in person. 

Remember to bring your passport to the registration office as a valid form of photo identity, as your foreign driving licence will not be accepted as one. You will also need to give your Norwegian social security number and proof of residence. Here is where you can order a valid residence certificate. After applying, it takes an average of seven days for your new licence to be delivered in the post. 

Depending on how you answered the health questions on the application, you may be required to submit a health certificate from your doctor to complete the process. Below is a list of health-related questions that will be necessary to fill out.

 

There is no charge for exchanging your license if you are from an EU/EEA country. 

Countries outside the EU/EEA 

For licences from non-EU/EEA countries the rules are stricter.

Whilst you can drive using the licence issued in your home country for the first three months (preferably with an international driver’s licence) in Norway, to continue driving after that period you must either exchange the licence for a Norwegian one or obtain one in the same way as first-time applicants from Norway.

Although for those with a residence permit beyond three months and a valid employment contract, you can drive in Norway with a driving licence from another country for up to six months.

The process for getting a Norwegian licence basically depends on what country you are from.

Norway has an agreement with a number of countries that allows for the exchange of a driving licence.

These countries are: Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Israel, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino, South Korea, United Kingdom, all states in the USA ,Switzerland, Greenland, and Japan. 

If you are not from a country on this list then unfortunately you have to obtain your Norwegian driving licence in the same manner as first-time appliers from Norway.Only those residents from Switzerland and Japan can do a straightforward exchange, while residents from the other countries listed must still take a practical test.

One major difference to EU/EEA exchanges is that the fee for exchange of a non-EU/EEA national drivers licence is 400 kroner.

You will need to fill out the same application as those from EU/EEA countries do. You also need to have a valid form of identification, your Norwegian social security number, and a residence certificate. 

It’s important to note that you have one year (starting from the date you took up residency in Norway) to exchange your licence.

If you exchange after the one year deadline, then you are required to take all necessary driving courses and tests that Norwegians have to take to obtain a licence. 

The exchange must be completed within two years otherwise you lose the right to exchange and must start the process of getting licence in the same way Norwegian first-time appliers do.

Note that if you have any restrictions on your drivers licence from your home country you won’t be able to exchange it for a Norwegian one.

For example, a “Provisional Driving Licence”, which is issued in many American states, with restrictions that had not expired by the time you left the issuing country, cannot be exchanged for a Norwegian driving licence.

You must present a valid ID with your name, Norwegian national ID number (11 digits) and a photo in order to take the theory test and the practical driving test. 

Before taking the required tests, the driving school, or the training instructor must report to the Norwegian Public Roads Administration that you have completed the mandatory driving hours. 

Here is the price list for the necessary steps and courses needed to receive a Norwegian driving licence. Note that you can save a lot of money if you choose to pay beforehand and not at the licence and registration office.

If you are from a non- EU/EEA country that is not listed above, then you cannot exchange your licence and are required to take all necessary driving courses and tests Norwegians also take to obtain your licence.

What about Brexit?

The most recent government announcement on December 11th, 2020 gives the updated information pertaining to driving licences and Brexit from the first of January of this year. 

The most important news is that Brits can still use their British driving licences in Norway in 2021 and they can be exchanged for Norwegian ones on the same terms as EU/EEA countries.

Authorities say: “For (British) nationals who have permanent residence in Norway, including those who move to Norway after January 1st 2021 British driving licenses will continue to be valid for driving in Norway and for exchange for a Norwegian driving licence.”

“There will be no requirements for training or tests to be able to complete an exchange for a Norwegian driver’s licence.”

Norwegian authorities will not require an additional international driving licence along with a British one for British tourists who are visiting the country. 

A Norwegian driving licence will still be fully valid for driving (or exchanging) for a British one in the United Kingdom following the withdrawal from the EU.

Brits who are living in Norway and have exchanged their British driving licence to a Norwegian one already have full driving rights under the current rules. 

For commercial transport by truck, arrangements are in place to ensure that freight transport on the road between Norway and the United Kingdom can continue.

Helpful facts and vocabulary

Before you begin the process, Statens vegvesen has a requirement that only a valid driving licence is eligible for exchange. If your licence has expired, you will need to receive confirmation from the issuing country affirming that you still have a valid driving entitlement in that country.

Driving is considered to be a privilege here in Norway and the residents here treat it as such. Low speed limits, intensive training, and mostly law-abiding citizens have contributed to Norway being crowned the safest country to drive in 2019, according to Forbes.

Fartsbot – speeding ticket

Førerkort – drivers license 

Bil – car

E 18 – This abbreviation stands for Europavei 18 or European road 18.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about driving in Norway

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