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UPDATE: When will I be able to travel to and from Norway again?

Norway currently advises against all non-essential travel, and current restrictions limit entry to a very small group outside of Norwegian residents and citizens. So, when will these restrictions be eased? Here’s everything we know so far.

UPDATE: When will I be able to travel to and from Norway again?
Oslo airport. Photo by Jarl-Erik Storesund.

Current restrictions

There currently isn’t a ban on foreign travel out of Norway, however the country advises against all non-essential foreign travel.

Essentially, only permanent residents and Norwegian citizens may enter Norway. The exceptions are close family such as a spouse or children of a resident of Norway; foreign residents who commute daily between Norway and Sweden; and children who commute from Sweden or Finland for school.

These entry requirements will last until May 24th.

“Even though we see that infection levels are declining in Norway, the serious infection situation in the world around us means that we still need strict entry restrictions from the time being. We are extending them until May 24th,” Minister for Justice Monica Mæland said in a statement.

“The Norwegian government is paying close situation in the world and will always ensure that the entry restrictions are adapted to the current situation. No one wants strict entry requirements longer than necessary,” she said.

READ MORE:‘Inhumane and discriminatory: How Norway’s covid border has left lives on hold

Mæland also said that the restrictions would be lifted in line with the government’s reopening plan.

The entry quarantine period in Norway is 10 days. Anyone returning to Norway on trips deemed unnecessary will have to enter a quarantine hotel for between 7 and 10 days.

Only Norwegian residents, a child of or somebody who shares parental responsibilities with a permanent resident of Norway, will be able to leave the quarantine hotel after 7 days, provided they return a negative PCR test. But they will still have to spend the remaining three days in quarantine at their home.

Everyone arriving in Norway must also register before their arrival, in addition to providing a negative PCR test taken within 24 hours of their departure flight. They are also obliged to take a rapid test and remain at the test centre until their result is delivered.

What is a ‘necessary’ trip?

You are exempt from quarantine if your trip abroad is deemed necessary. Necessary trips include those taken to visit or be visited by your children, returning from a funeral or to visit a relative or close relation with a serious or terminal illness, as well as strictly necessary maintenance on a holiday home.

Visiting a partner or family outside of these circumstances is not deemed necessary.

When will measures be eased?

The measures could be eased after the May 24th as part of the governments four-step plan for reopening society.

READ ALSO: Norway unveils four-step plan for lifting Covid-19 restrictions

The rules for travel abroad will remain the same. However, the number of regions and countries moved from the ‘red’ to ‘yellow’ list may increase. The list is reviewed every two weeks. Countries on the ‘yellow’ list do not initiate the mandatory quarantine requirement on return to Norway.

As such, if more countries are moved to the yellow list, you will be able to visit those areas without the obligation to enter quarantine.

The second phase of reopening could potentially allow entry for family visits from abroad. The Directorate of Immigration (UDI) will consider entry for partners and extended family such as grandparents. Business travel may also resume.

If Norway manages to keep infections down, then step three should resume by the beginning of the summer.

Step three would mean that travel will be allowed for people working in Norway. In addition to this the government expects travel abroad to resume with requirements for quarantine and testing. The government will also look into how ‘corona certificates’ documenting immunity or a recent test would be used in relation with travel.

The final step, step 4, is described as ‘almost normal’ although there may be requirements to quarantine if travelling to and from areas with low vaccination or high infection numbers.

Corona certificates

Europe is developing a universal coronavirus passport and some countries, like Denmark, have already introduced them. Norway has been invited to join the EU’s universal passport plan and has accepted the invitation.

Norway has said that it will use ‘coronavirus certificates’ as part of its plan to reopen. This will be available for anybody who has received a vaccine or has an immunity to coronavirus due to antibodies.

Norway has also said that it will potentially exempt people from quarantine if they have a Covid-19 certificate. The full version will be launched in June with the hopes of integrating it within the EU’s vaccine passport. 

READ MORE: ‘Covid certificates’: Norway reveals plans to give people more freedoms

Several countries have already said that those with proof of vaccination won’t have to quarantine or take rapid tests upon arrival.

Iceland, Romania, Estonia and Poland are among the countries in Europe that will implement this policy.

What to do I need to do when I travel?

National health portal provides a link to Re-open EU, where you can check updated travel advice for all countries in Europe. You can also check the rules for the country you plan to travel to and from to ascertain whether you need to quarantine, get tested or provide a test on either one or both legs of your trip.

It should be noted that if the government is advising against all travel or travel to certain countries, insurers are unlikely to pay out in the event of an accident or cancellation.

It’s also worth noting that you should book tickets that can be changed or refunded when cancelled, if guidelines or restrictions relating to your desired destination change. Paying by credit card is also advisable as you can get the money back from your bank if the travel operator goes bankrupt.

Foreign residents taking a trip are advised to make sure they are in the population register and have a fødselsnummer as some foreign residents with D-numbers have been turned away at the border upon reentry. 

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Could Oslo-Copenhagen overnight train be set for return?

A direct overnight rail service between the Norwegian and Danish capitals has not operated since 2001, but authorities in Oslo are considering its return.

Norway’s transport minister Knut Arild Hareide has asked the country’s railway authority Jernbanedirektoratet to investigate the options for opening a night rail connection between Oslo and Copenhagen.

An answer is expected by November 1st, after which the Norwegian government will decide whether to go forward with the proposal to directly link the two Nordic capitals by rail.

Jernbanedirektoratet is expected to assess a timeline for introducing the service along with costs, market and potential conflicts with other commercial services covering the route.

“I hope we’ll secure a deal. Cross-border trains are exciting, including taking a train to Malmö, Copenhagen and onwards to Europe,” Hareide told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

The minister said he envisaged either a state-funded project or a competition awarding a contract for the route’s operation to the best bidder.

A future Oslo-Copenhagen night train rests on the forthcoming Jernbanedirektoratet report and its chances of becoming a reality are therefore unclear. But the Norwegian rail authority earlier this year published a separate report on ways in which passenger train service options from Norway to Denmark via Sweden can be improved.

“We see an increasing interest in travelling out of Norway by train,” Jernbanedirektoratet project manager  Hanne Juul said in a statement when the report was published in January.

“A customer study confirmed this impression and we therefore wish to make it simpler to take the train to destinations abroad,” Juul added.

Participants in the study said that lower prices, fewer connections and better information were among the factors that would encourage them to choose the train for a journey abroad.

Norway’s rail authority also concluded that better international cooperation would optimise cross-border rail journeys, for example by making journey and departure times fit together more efficiently.

The Femahrn connection between Denmark and Germany, currently under construction, was cited as a factor which could also boost the potential for an overland rail connection from Norway to mainland Europe.

Night trains connected Oslo to Europe via Copenhagen with several departures daily as recently as the late 1990s, but the last such night train between the two cities ran in 2001 amid dwindling demand.

That trend has begun to reverse in recent years due in part to an increasing desire among travellers to select a greener option for their journey than flying.

Earlier this summer, a new overnight train from Stockholm to Berlin began operating. That service can be boarded by Danish passengers at Høje Taastrup near Copenhagen.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about the new night train from Copenhagen to Germany