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FEATURE

Why Brits in Norway are having trouble registering vaccines with the NHS

Some Brits who have been vaccinated in Norway are having trouble registering their jabs and accessing the NHS app. Here's why. 

Why Brits in Norway are having trouble registering vaccines with the NHS
Here's why Brits living in Norway are having trouble accessing the NHS app. Photo by Mat Napo on Unsplash

British citizens living in Norway have been unable to get an NHS Covid pass which is needed to attend certain events in the UK and, from September, may be required to enter bars and other venues. 

This is because British citizens living abroad have struggled to, or are unable to, get their coronavirus vaccines registered with the National Health Service in order to use the app.  

The app isn’t just used for vaccines. It’s also used as proof of testing negative for the coronavirus before events. 

In July, UK Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said that UK nationals vaccinated abroad would be able to ask GPs to verify their jabs taken abroad. 

In reality, this has still made it difficult for Brits living in Norway to get the NHS app. Brits living in Norway cannot access the NHS app because when they move abroad, they will no longer be automatically registered with a GP. Being registered with a GP is a requirement for accessing the NHS app.

Those who aren’t registered are therefore currently unable to either have their doses registered or access the app, which visitors may need when visiting bars and restaurants from September, according to reports

In some cases, Brits returning to the UK can re-register if they use a temporary address such as a friend or family’s house. 

This, in theory, offers an opportunity for Brits visiting the UK to get their jabs taken in Norway recognised. In practice, this may not be worth it for many taking short trips to the UK, though. 

A spokesperson for the UK Government told newspaper The Guardian on Sunday that it was working at speed to make sure that UK residents who have received jabs abroad would have access to the NHS. 

“We are urgently working to access the data for UK residents who have received their vaccinations abroad to ensure eligible individuals can demonstrate their vaccination status via the NHS Covid pass,” the spokesperson said. 

They didn’t add anything about British citizens living in other countries full-time, however. 

What if I want to register a vaccine taken in the UK in Norway 

This is something many Brits in Norway have done and can be a relatively straightforward process. 

Due to the UK’s progress with its vaccine programme, there are drop-in appointments for both the first and second jabs available.  

For example, if you received your first jab in Norway but are visiting England soon, you could get your second jab in England and be classed as fully vaccinated on your return, exempting yourself from quarantine. 

READ ALSO: How you can use Norway’s Covid-19 certificate at the border?

Norway allows people who have a Norwegian national identity number or D-number to register their doses with the Norwegian Immunisation Registry SYSVAK. 

This can be done before or after your return to Norway. However, if you wish to register your vaccine before you return to Norway, you must book a private video consultation with either your local GP or a private health provider in Norway. A private consultation can cost up to 1,300 kroner, but prices vary depending on the provider. 

You will show this to your doctor, who will decide whether the documentation can be approved before registering the jabs. Norway is only registering European Medicines Agency approved jabs. These are the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. 

A few days later, the jab will be registered with Norway’s digital health portal Helsenorge and appear on your Norwegian Covid certificate

If you wish to register your jab after returning to Norway, then the process will be the same, but instead, you will be able to do the consultation in person. 

You can read about the rules for registering a foreign vaccine in Norway here.

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TRAVEL

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

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