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RESIDENCY PERMITS

The essential documents you need to have in Norway 

Norway may be best known for its breathtaking fjords and Viking tales. But if you live here, you might say it is most notorious for a society built on bureaucracy. Here is all the essential paperwork you'll need to have.

Getting used to the paperwork and bureaucracy is a big part of getting used to life in Norway
Getting used to the paperwork and bureaucracy is a big part of getting used to life in Norway. Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

 Passport/ proof of identity

Yes, having a passport may be an obvious essential document to have. After all, you likely needed it to get into the country. However, we mainly want to remind you to keep it safe and keep track of the expiration date. Renewing a passport while in Norway will require booking an appointment with their embassy that often has long waiting times. Depending on where you live, you may have to use many hours to travel to be at the renewal appointment in person. So don’t wait until the last minute.

You may also want to consider having a Norwegian identity card in addition to your passport. A national ID card is a card with photo identification that you can use to identify yourself. In some cases, it can also come with a “right to travel” permit. 

If you want to apply for a national ID, look here

The correct working visa/permit

A big part of settling down roots in Norway is finding a job. One of the first steps is applying for a work permit. Norway does a lot digitally, and applying for a work or residence permit will likely be one of the first realistic impressions you get over how this country operates. Once you’ve decided what type of work permit you wish to apply for, you can start the process here, at the application portal within UDI’s website. 

If you are one of the lucky foreigners who have received a job contract with a company that takes care of the work permit application process for you, that definitely takes a load off your back. But you’re not entirely off the hook. Discuss your application with your Norwegian employer, or international employer based in Norway, to follow the application process and be aware of any documents and information you may need to contribute at a moment’s notice. It would also be wise to ask for a copy of your work permit acceptance in case you need it for events such as travel or buying real estate in the future.

Your birth certificate

Having your birth certificate is essential to applying for a work permit. And in some cases, you will need to show up to apply with the original document and not just a copy. Birth certificates are also necessary when applying for a new passport and residence visa as well.

A marriage certificate

A vigelselsattest, or a “marriage certificate”, is granted automatically after you are legally married in Norway. You will receive the certification digitally in your Altinn inbox shortly after the marriage. If you don’t have an Altinn inbox, the certificate will be sent to you via post, typically three days after the ceremony. 

If you were married outside of Norway, it is up to you to contact the vigsler directly to register your marriage. 

To order a copy of your marriage certificate, look here.

A job contract

Having a copy of your job contract is necessary when applying for a loan, for specific work visas, and for you as an employee. A job contract is proof of what type of position you hold. In addition, the written contract often has details about your rights as an employee that you might have been unaware of. Even if you feel like your position is secure at your company, have a paper copy of your contract for safekeeping at home. It is always convenient to have copy handy when negotiating future positions. 

Payslips 

Norway has modernised many of its societal systems, which means many of these essential documents you need can be found or kept digitally. The same goes for payslips. You can choose to receive a copy of your payslip via post. However, many prefer to keep track of their income with digital records. 

Payslips are, of course, great for having proof of payment. They are also necessary to have when applying for a loan from the bank or renting an apartment. However, take the time you need to carefully read through your payslips. Often, they come with a breakdown of important information such as the amount of tax you were charged, holiday pay withdrawal, and smaller retractions.

Language level verification

If you are learning Norwegian, keep track of your advancement. This means saving receipts from Norwegian classes and test certificates from Norwegian tests. For many employers, it’s not enough to see your level of Norwegian stated on your CV. They want proof. Your language level verification is also necessary to have if you’re going to apply for Norwegian citizenship. 

Vaccination pass/ health certificates

With the pandemic continuing to be a part of our lives, a Covid-19 certificate may be necessary for you to have both for matters within Norway and while travelling. If you are vaccinated, your Covid-19 certificate was automatically registered digitally and updated after taking the jabs. 

To access your digital pass, you need to have a national ID number or D-number. You can access your digital COVID-19 certificate by logging in to helsenorge.no. You can use BankID, BankID on mobile, Buypass ID on smart card, Buypass ID on mobile or Commfides e-ID.

Other vaccinations in Norway are registered in the digital SYSVAK system. You can keep an overview of your vaccinations by logging into helsenorge.no. Your GP also has access to this information. 

Vaccines given to children in Norway after 1995 have also been registered in the SYSVAK system and can be monitored by their legal parent or guardian. 

A drivers licence 

If you want to drive in Norway, you need a licence, and it needs to be valid. There is no need to stand in line at your local Statens vegvesen, or “traffic services office” to apply for and receive your driving licence. Norway now accepts the digital version that can be downloaded directly to your phone. However, be aware that the digital version of your driving licence is only valid in Norway. So you must have a physical licence if you plan on driving outside of the country. 

To exchange your foreign driving licence for a Norwegian one, there is the option to wait in line at your local traffic service office. But you can also send it in by mail. Just remember to include all necessary documents as well as the application form

Vehicle registration 

If you own a car in Norway. It must be registered. Both the seller and the buyer of a vehicle must always submit a Notification of Sale. Luckily as of February 20th of this year, this can now be done online and pay the required registration fee.

You should keep your vehicle registration card in a safe place within your car in case you get pulled over or are involved in an accident. If you have misplaced and can’t find your current registration, you can order a new one here

Politi attest

Many positions in Norway require a background check which includes a politi attest or “police certificate”. Often, a job will write that it is a requirement in the job announcement. Usually, your employer will conduct the politi attest for you. But you can apply for one on your own, here

If you are interested in what is included in your politi attest, look here.

Proof of address

A residence certificate is necessary to have for tax purposes. You are eligible for one after you have received a residence permit. A residence certificate documents where you live and how long you have lived there. In addition, the certificate documents how long you have lived in Norway and the current municipality. If you plan on moving, you will need to send a change of address notification no later than eight days after moving. 

To order a residence certificate, look here

A D-number/personummer

Not having a personummer in Norway is like not having flour when you want to bake a cake. It’s a necessary ingredient to your integration into this country. The personummer, or “national identity number”, is assigned to those who want to stay in Norway longer than six months.

A D-number is the same as a national identity number, but it is only temporary. It is assigned to those who stay in Norway for less than six months. And to those who do not meet the criteria of receiving a national identity number.

A personummer is issued for everyone who wants to stay or settle in Norway for longer than six months. You need this number to legally work in Norway, open a bank account, and buy property. 

It is the Norwegian Tax Administration that decides if you qualify for a D-number or a personnummer. The decision is made after you receive a residence permit, and it takes around six weeks to receive your number in the mail. 

An electronic ID

Technically not an essential document. But having one can clear you of non-essential stress. 

Many of Norway’s public services require digital identification. And you must have an electronic ID that verifies your identity. 

There are five different forms of electronic ID in Norway you can use to log into digital services from Norwegian public services. These are MinID, BankID, BankID on mobile, Buypass and Commfides. 

Look here for more information about the different forms of electronic ID.

Useful vocabulary

bostedsattest – residence certificate

førerkort – driver’s licence

språk niva – language level 

vaksinasjonspass – vaccination pass

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For members

EUROPEAN UNION

How Europe plans to ease long-term residence rules for non-EU nationals

Non-EU citizens living in the European Union are eligible for a special residence status that allows them to move to another country in the bloc. Getting the permit is not simple but may get easier, explains Claudia Delpero.

How Europe plans to ease long-term residence rules for non-EU nationals

The European Commission proposed this week to simplify residence rules for non-EU nationals who live on a long-term basis in the European Union.

The intention is to ease procedures in three areas: acquiring EU long-term residence status, moving to other EU countries and improving the rights of family members. 

But the new measures will have to be approved by the European Parliament and the EU Council, which is made of national ministers. Will EU governments support them?

What is EU long-term residence?

Non-EU citizens who live in EU countries on a long-term basis are eligible for long-term residence status, nationally and at the EU level. 

This EU status can be acquired if the person has lived ‘legally’ in an EU country for at least five years, has not been away for more than 6 consecutive months and 10 months over the entire period, and can prove to have “stable and regular economic resources” and health insurance. Applicants can also be required to meet “integration conditions”, such as passing a test on the national language or culture knowledge. 

The EU long-term residence permit is valid for at least five years and is automatically renewable. But the status can be lost if the holder leaves the EU for more than one year (the EU Court of Justice recently clarified that being physically in the EU for a few days in a 12-month period is enough to maintain the status).

READ ALSO: IN NUMBERS: How many non-EU citizens live in European Union countries?

Long-term residence status grants equal treatment to EU nationals in areas such as employment and self-employment or education. In addition, EU long-term residence grants the possibility to move to other EU countries under certain conditions. 

What does the European Commission want to change?

The European Commission has proposed to make it easier to acquire EU long-term residence status and to strengthen the rights associated with it. 

Under new measures, non-EU citizens should be able to cumulate residence periods in different EU countries to reach the 5-year requirement, instead of resetting the clock at each move. 

This, however, will not apply to individuals who used a ‘residence by investment’ scheme to gain rights in the EU, as the Commission wants to “limit the attractiveness” of these routes and not all EU states offer such schemes. 

All periods of legal residence should be fully counted towards the 5 years, including those spent as students, beneficiaries of temporary protection or on temporary grounds. Stays under a short-term visa do not count.

Children who are born or adopted in the EU country having issued the EU long-term residence permit to their parents should acquire EU long-term resident status in that country automatically, without residence requirement, the Commission added.

READ ALSO: Why it may get easier for non-EU citizens to move to another European Union country

EU countries should also avoid imposing a minimum income level for the resources condition but consider the applicant’s individual circumstances, the Commission suggests.

Integration tests should not be too burdensome or expensive, nor should they be requested for long-term residents’ family reunifications. 

The Commission also proposed to extend from 12 to 24 months the possibility to leave the EU without losing status, with facilitated procedures (no integration test) for the re-acquisition of status after longer absences.

A person who has already acquired EU long-term residence status in one EU country should only need three years to acquire the same status in another EU member state. But the second country could decide whether to wait the completion of the five years before granting social benefits. 

The proposal also clarifies that EU long-term residents should have the same right as EU nationals with regard to the acquisition of private housing and the export of pensions, when moving to a third country. 

Why make these changes?

Although EU long-term residence exists since 2006, few people have benefited. “The long-term residents directive is under-used by the member states and does not provide for an effective right to mobility within the EU,” the Commission says. 

Around 3.1 million third-country nationals held long-term residence permits for the EU in 2017, compared to 7.1 million holding a national one. “we would like to make the EU long-term residence permit more attractive,” said European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson.

The problems are the conditions to acquire the status, too difficult to meet, the barriers faced when moving in the EU, the lack of consistency in the rights of long-term residents and their family members and the lack of information about the scheme.

Most EU member states continue to issue “almost exclusively” national permits unless the applicant explicitly asks for the EU one, an evaluation of the directive has shown.

READ ALSO: Pensions in the EU: What you need to know if you’re moving country

This proposal is part of a package to “improve the EU’s overall attractiveness to foreign talent”, address skill shortages and facilitate integration in the EU labour market of people fleeing Ukraine. 

On 1 January 2021, 23.7 million non-EU nationals were residing in the EU, representing 5.3% of the total population. Between 2.25 to 3 million non-EU citizens move to the EU every year. More than 5 million people have left Ukraine for neighbouring states since the beginning of the war in February. 

Will these measures also apply to British citizens?

These measures also apply to British citizens, whether they moved to an EU country before or after Brexit. 

The European Commission has recently clarified that Britons living in the EU under the Withdrawal Agreement can apply for a long-term residence too.

As Britons covered by the Withdrawal Agreement have their residence rights secured only in the country where they lived before Brexit, the British in Europe coalition recommended those who need mobility rights to seek EU long-term residence status. 

These provisions do not apply in Denmark and Ireland, which opted out of the directive.

What happens next?

The Commission proposals will have to be discussed and agreed upon by the European Parliament and Council. This is made of national ministers, who decide by qualified majority. During the process, the proposals can be amended or even scrapped. 

In 2021, the European Parliament voted through a resolution saying that third-country nationals who are long-term residents in the EU should have the right to reside permanently in other EU countries, like EU citizens. The Parliament also called for the reduction of the residency requirement to acquire EU long-term residence from five to three years.

READ ALSO: COMPARE: Which EU countries grant citizenship to the most people?

EU governments will be harder to convince. However, presenting the package, Commission Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said proposals are likely to be supported because “they fit in a broader framework”, which represents the “construction” of the “EU migration policy”. 

National governments are also likely to agree because large and small employers face skill shortages, “especially in areas that are key to our competitiveness, like agri-food, digital, tourism, healthcare… we need people,” Schinas said.

The article is published in cooperation with Europe Street News, a news outlet about citizens’ rights in the EU and the UK.

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