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MONEY

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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For members

EUROPEAN UNION

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

Have you ever wondered what to do with your private pension plan when moving to another European country?

Pensions in the EU: What you need to know if you're moving country

This question will probably have caused some headaches. Fortunately a new private pension product meant to make things easier should soon become available under a new EU regulation that came into effect this week. 

The new pan-European personal pension product (PEPP) will allow savers to take their private pension with them if they move within the European Union.

EU rules so far allowed the aggregation of state pensions and the possibility to carry across borders occupational pensions, which are paid by employers. But the market of private pensions remained fragmented.

The new product is expected to benefit especially young people, who tend to move more frequently across borders, and the self-employed, who might not be covered by other pension schemes. 

According to a survey conducted in 16 countries by Insurance Europe, the organisation representing insurers in Brussels, 38 percent of Europeans do not save for retirement, with a proportion as high as 60 percent in Finland, 57 percent in Spain, 56 percent in France and 55 percent in Italy. 

The groups least likely to have a pension plan are women (42% versus 34% of men), unemployed people (67%), self-employed and part-time workers in the private sector (38%), divorced and singles (44% and 43% respectively), and 18-35 year olds (40%).

“As a complement to public pensions, PEPP caters for the needs of today’s younger generation and allows people to better plan and make provisions for the future,” EU Commissioner for Financial Services Mairead McGuinness said on March 22nd, when new EU rules came into effect. 

The scheme will also allow savers to sign up to a personal pension plan offered by a provider based in another EU country.

Who can sign up?

Under the EU regulation, anyone can sign up to a pan-European personal pension, regardless of their nationality or employment status. 

The scheme is open to people who are employed part-time or full-time, self-employed, in any form of “modern employment”, unemployed or in education. 

The condition is that they are resident in a country of the European Union, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein (the European Economic Area). The PEPP will not be available outside these countries, for instance in Switzerland. 

How does it work?

PEPP providers can offer a maximum of six investment options, including a basic one that is low-risk and safeguards the amount invested. The basic PEPP is the default option. Its fees are capped at 1 percent of the accumulated capital per year.

People who move to another EU country can continue to contribute to the same PEPP. Whenever a consumer changes the country of residence, the provider will open a new sub-account for that country. If the provider cannot offer such option, savers have the right to switch provider free of charge.  

As pension products are taxed differently in each state, the applicable taxation will be that of the country of residence and possible tax incentives will only apply to the relevant sub-account. 

Savers who move residence outside the EU cannot continue saving on their PEPP, but they can resume contributions if they return. They would also need to ask advice about the consequences of the move on the way their savings are taxed. 

Pensions can then be paid out in a different location from where the product was purchased. 

Where to start?

Pan-European personal pension products can be offered by authorised banks, insurance companies, pension funds and wealth management firms. 

They are regulated products that can be sold to consumers only after being approved by supervisory authorities. 

As the legislation came into effect this week, only now eligible providers can submit the application for the authorisation of their products. National authorities have then three months to make a decision. So it will still take some time before PEPPs become available on the market. 

When this will happen, the products and their features will be listed in the public register of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA). 

For more information:

https://www.eiopa.europa.eu/browse/regulation-and-policy/pan-european-personal-pension-product-pepp/consumer-oriented-faqs-pan_en 

https://www.eiopa.europa.eu/browse/regulation-and-policy/pan-european-personal-pension-product-pepp_en 

This 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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