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REVEALED: What are the best banks for foreigners in Norway?

We asked our readers in Norway to share their recommendations on the country's best banks for foreigner residents so you can make a more informed decision on where to open an account.

Deciding on where to open a bank account in a new country takes some consideration. We asked our readers in Norway for their thoughts.
Deciding on where to open a bank account in a new country takes some consideration. We asked our readers in Norway for their thoughts. Photo by Blake Wisz on Unsplash

Opening a bank account is one of the first things you’ll need to do when arriving in Norway. Your existing foreign account will likely suffice for a while, but it will be much easier to pay bills, transfer money, and apply for a mortgage or loan once you have a Norwegian account. 

Finding a bank in your new country is a big step, though, and while the digitised process of getting a bank account is fairly easy in Norway if you have the right paperwork, you should consider a few things first before you stash your cash.

We asked our readers in Norway to share their experiences and tips from opening accounts in the Nordic nation.

Which Norwegian bank came out on top?

Two banks were ranked very highly by our readers, the most popular choice being DNB.

DNB is Norway’s oldest private bank. It is also the largest bank in the country, with 2.1 million personal customers and 183,000 corporate customers.

Diego, a two-year resident in Norway currently living in Agder says of DNB, “It’s the only bank that provides BankID to non-EU/EEA immigrants with old passports.”

Joseph Sotto recommends DNB because it “has overseas connections.”

“They are easy, quick and it was no problem to open an account with the D-nummer [temporary personal identification number, ed.]. The debit card works for online shopping as well,” says Anna, a three-year resident of Oslo.

There were also multiple responses praising the bank’s English services, both within the bank and on the DNB app. 

Almost as popular as DNB amongst the readers who contacted us was Sparebank1.

SpareBank1 has over 350,000 customers and is the second largest financial group in Norway. 

Balasiddaiah Anangi, a resident of Norway for six years, was one of the readers to recommend the bank.

“I think as a foreign resident it is easy to get house loan thank other banks. Their customer care is far better than other banks,” he says. 

One “can open a bank account faster and easier,” says Vlatko, an Oslo resident who has lived in Norway for six years. 

The “English online banking is a good one,” adds Oslo resident Alireza.

What other banks do readers recommend?

Sbanken rounded out the top three Norwegian bank recommendations with our readers. In contrast to the top two, Sbanken, part of the Skandia group, has zero brick and mortar locations.

“It’s a bank that’s 100 percent online/digital (like N26 in Germany), so it’s very easy to deal with. Also, it has almost no fees for anything – like cash withdrawals etc,” says Elisabeth Rygg, a native Norwegian.

“You can apply for a mortgage online, and get an instant reply on how much you’re approved to borrow. Then you can just print a legally binding confirmation of this, to show at viewings. Everything is easy, cheap and convenient!,” she added.

Chandresh Joshi is also a fan of Sbanken. “Quick process for account creation. Low cost,” he says. 

Sparebanken Vest came with lukewarm reviews. Jakobus Vosser, who has lived in Norway for three years and is currently moving to Oslo, praised the bank’s customer service.

“I won’t say that they are the best… I have had some troubles with (electronic identification system) BankID and they offered me a poor interest rate on a vehicle. However they do offer good help when you contact them,” he said.

What banks should perhaps be avoided? 

You may want to support one of the smaller banks in Norway. But many do not offer an English version of their website and are reluctant to switch to English when you visit their branch. This can be an issue if you are not yet fluent in Norwegian.

In addition, it may be more difficult for a local bank to offer you the lowest interest rates you can find on a home mortgage or car loan. 

However, as there are differences between local and larger banks alike, there’s no harm in approaching as many as you like to ask what’s on offer.

Member comments

  1. I arrived in Norway at the end of August 2021 as an EU citizen from and I opened a current account with DNB as many people had recommended them. It took 8 weeks for the bank account to be open, so very slow. When i went into the branch to show my ID as part of the ID process I was told it usually takes 4-6 weeks to open an account.

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Exchange rate: What are your options if you live in Norway but have income in pound sterling?

The value of the British pound has fallen steeply against the dollar in recent days but also against the Euro – and the krone. So what should you do if you live in Norway but have income – such as a pension, rental income or a salary – in pound sterling?

Exchange rate: What are your options if you live in Norway but have income in pound sterling?

Exchange rates might sound like a spectacularly dull topic, but if you live in Norway (where, naturally, your day-to-day living expenses are paid in kroner) but have income from the UK in pounds, then the movement of the international currency markets will have a major impact on the money that ends up in your pocket.

This is not an uncommon situation – Norway-based Brits may work remotely as freelancers from British companies and be paid for invoices in pounds, while retired Brits might be receiving a British pension.

Others might have income from rental properties or investments.

So a big loss in the value of the pound against the euro – and by extension, the krone – can have a major impact on Brits in Norway.

The most recent fall in the value of the pound was sparked by the UK government’s new mini budget and has already seen a relative recovery. 

But while this one-time fall is spectacular, it’s also part of a longer-term trend in the fall of the value of the pound, especially since Brexit, that has seen people such as foreign-based pensioners lose a big chunk of their income.

So if you have income in pounds, what are your options?

Income in kroner – obviously, this isn’t an option for everyone, especially pensioners, but the best way to protect against currency exchange shocks is to make sure that you’re paid in the same currency that you spend in.

While the krone is traditionally weak against the pound, it is known as a safe and stable currency as Norway has no net debt, and the Norwegian krone isn’t pegged to another currency. 

Alternatively, income in euros: the advantage of the euro is that for those being paid from abroad, billing in euros means you could work in any EU country – including the anglophone ones like Ireland – and get your salary in euros.

Depending on your employer, it might also be possible for you to ask to bill in euros. 

Work in Norway – if you’re currently not working or want to switch to local currency income, then an obvious option is to take up some work in Norway.

Depending on your work and residency status, as well as the field you work, the practicality of this option ranges wildly from one person to the next.

READ ALSO: What is Norway’s job market like for foreigners at the moment?

Exchange rate – if your income can only be paid in pounds, it’s crucial to ensure that you get the best exchange rate possible and that you don’t waste money on international transfer fees.

The best options here are online banks or money transfer services, which compete on the rates that they offer, so usually have the most advantageous rate.

Some online banks also have the option to set up accounts in both pounds and kroner, so that you can receive money in pounds and spend it in kroner without having to make bank transfers, which can attract fees.

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