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WHAT CHANGES IN NORWAY

What changes about life in Norway in December 2021

December will see a key Brexit deadline for Brits living in Norway in addition to loans and mortgages becoming more expensive, and of course, Christmas.

Pictured are reindeer in Tromsø.
Here is what you need to know about December in Norway. Pictured are reindeer in Tromsø, northern Norway. Photo by Febiyan on Unsplash

Post-Brexit residence deadline 

All UK citizens who were legal residents of Norway before December 31st 2020, will need to apply for residence under the Separation Agreement before the end of the year to continue living, working and studying in the country as they did before Brexit. 

Even residents who have yet to get all their documentation in place have been encouraged to apply before the deadline.

For British citizens who apply after this deadline, the rules for immigration from outside the EU/EEA will apply, making it harder to secure residence. 

READ MORE: How Brits can get a residence permit in Norway post-Brexit 

State budget finalised 

December could finally see the country’s fiscal plan for next year set in stone. The government presented its amended budget for 2022 in November after the previous government set out its proposed plan in October. 

READ MORE: The changes to Norway’s 2022 budget that could impact you

The current agreed a budget with the Socialist Left Party ahead of a vote in early December. 

Christmas holidays 

Schools will close their doors for the festive season on Friday, December 17th, and reopen around Monday, January 3rd. 

As a rule of thumb, schools close around the 20th of each year, with a new term commencing on the first working day of the new year. 

Interest rate rises

It is likely that Norway’s central bank, Norges Bank, will raise the key interest rate in December. The news will come as a bit of a blow to households as it means that loans and mortgages will become more expensive in the months after Christmas. 

The rate will be raised by 0.25 percent as part of a larger plan to raise rates to 1.75 by 2024. 

The bank has said that it would continue to raise rates as long as the country’s economy continues to recover from the pandemic. 

While 0.25 percent may seem like a marginal rise on the surface, it could have a more significant impact on your wallet than you think.

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For example, if you have a loan or mortgage of around four million kroner, you will pay approximately 8,000 kroner per year more in repayments after the rise.

UK tightens travel restrictions on arrivals from abroad

The UK announced on Saturday that PCR tests and self-isolation for UK arrivals would be reintroduced amid concerns of the new Omicron variant that was first identified in South Africa and has now been found in several people in mainland Europe and the UK.

The new requirements are set to come into force at 4am on Tuesday, November 30th, and are therefore likely to affect travel from Norway throughout much if not all of December. This means that if you’re arriving in the UK after 4am on Tuesday, November 30th, you’ll need to book and take PCR tests instead of lateral flow tests, which will no longer be accepted.

You’ll need to take a PCR test by the end of the second day after arriving in the UK and self-isolate until you get a negative test result.

READ ALSO: What travellers from Europe need to know about new Covid entry rules in UK

Santa Lucia day 

December 13th will see Norwegian children up and down the country dressed in all white, wearing candles on their heads, and singing songs. These kids will then visit retirement homes, hospitals and nursing homes. 

Historically, December 13th was called Lussinatten, and no work was to be done. From that night until Christmas, it was believed that spirits, gnomes and trolls roamed the earth, and Lussi, a feared sorceress, punished anyone who dared work. 

Despite any potential fears of Lussi enchanting you, you will still be expected to go to work as it isn’t a national holiday. 

However, you can enjoy a Lucia bun made with saffron. 

Christmas market season enters full swing 

Julemarkeder (Christmas markets) around the country will begin popping up in December, although some such as Jul i Vinterland in Oslo have already opened. 

The markets are a great chance to get in the Christmas spirit, pick up a handcrafted gift for a loved one, or purchase local speciality foods from small-batch local producers. 

If none of that takes your fancy, then you could try Christmas classics such as pepperkakke (gingerbread cookies), krumkake (traditional Christmas cookie), kakemann (cookie men popular in the south), and gløgg (Scandinavia’s take on mulled wine). 

READ MORE: Norway’s best Christmas markets for 2021

Deadline for Christmas deliveries 

Christmas will soon be upon us, and there’s bad news for those who like to leave things until the last minute. Advance planning is needed to ensure gifts sent to and from Norway arrive on time.

The deadlines for sending letters to various destinations are listed below.

  • Sweden and Denmark: December 14th
  • Rest of Nordic countries: December 10th
  • Germany: December 13th
  • Rest of Europe: December 8th
  • USA and Canada: December 6th
  • Rest of the world: December 1st

Deadlines for sending gifts from Norway vary considerably depending on where they are shipped from. Deadlines for some countries has already passed, while the cut-off point for the Nordics is December 15th. 

READ MORE: How to send parcels to and from Norway this Christmas

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For members

WHAT CHANGES IN NORWAY

Everything that changes about life in Norway in July 2022

Free ferries, a potential pilot strike, more expensive food and a change in the voting rules are among the biggest changes happening in Norway during July.

Everything that changes about life in Norway in July 2022

Potential pilot strike

This one isn’t fully set in stone but could spell travel chaos if it goes ahead. Up to 900 pilots from SAS could be taken out on strike from July 2nd if an agreement isn’t reached between the airline and pilots’ representatives. 

After weeks of intensive negotiations over a new agreement between SAS leadership and 1,000 of the airline’s pilots, both sides were willing to continue discussions, pushing back the original deadline. 

Pilots are unhappy that SAS is hiring new pilots on cheaper contracts in their two subsidiaries, SAS Link and SAS Connect. If the two parties cannot agree, up to 30,000 SAS passengers could be affected per day, the airline said on June 27th.

You can check the likelihood of your flight being affected here

Food prices are likely to go up

July will also see the cost of grocery shopping in Norway go up significantly. This is because the price farmers will be able to charge for milk, grain, potatoes, vegetables and fruit in Norway will rise. 

Food prices in Norway are adjusted twice a year by supermarkets. The next change is set to happen in July, with prices expected to go up due to increasing costs from suppliers and producers. 

Ferries to become free

Ferry connections with less than 100,000 annual passengers will be completely free from the beginning of July. 

The government pledged to make all ferry connections with less than 100,000 passengers free of charge when it was formed last October to try and make transport easier for rural and coastal communities and boost tourism. 

Free tickets will apply to both residents, tourists and commercial passengers. 

READ MORE: Norwegian islands lose quarter of voters as foreigners frozen out of local elections

Fellesferie begins

Fellesferie is the collective leave period or general staff holiday period that many Norwegian companies have adopted, which takes place during July. 

The origins of fellesferie date back to the interwar years, when employers and employees in the Norwegian metal smelting industry agreed on a collective holiday period of three weeks. 

If you’ve not experienced the holiday period in Norway yet, it’ll feel like everything is coming to a grinding halt.

Many companies will shut down entirely or operate vastly reduced opening hours. As a result, big cities such as Oslo can feel practically deserted as everyone flocks to the beaches, fjords and mountains – often staying in their country retreats or hyttes If they aren’t travelling abroad.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about Norway’s collective holiday period

Air passenger tax returns

Air travel will become slightly more expensive at the beginning of July as the passenger tax for travellers will be reintroduced. 

The low rate of 80 kroner per passenger will be applied to journeys where the final destination is within Europe. 

Those travelling outside of Europe will have to pay a tax of 214 kroner. 

Rates apply to Europe as a whole, rather than the EU, so passengers heading to the UK will pay the lower rate. 

A new grid rent model implemented 

The beginning of July also sees a new grid rent system introduced. 

Grid rent is the charge consumers pay for receiving electricity into their homes. Under the current model, grid rent is typically anywhere between 20 to 50 øre per kilowatt-hour. Those in rural areas usually pay more, while those in cities pay less.

The new model will have a lower fixed proportion of the fee with a higher part of the charge linked to total consumption, meaning homes that use more power will pay higher grid rent, while those that consume less will have lower bills. 

READ MORE: What Norway’s new grid rent model means for you

A transition period of two years will be introduced, and the new consumption charge will only be allowed to account for 50 percent of grid companies’ revenues. The energy ministry will then assess the new model at the end of the transition period. 

Svalbard residents lose their voting rights

The Arctic archipelago of Svalbard is to lose over a quarter of its voting base for local elections under new rules preventing foreign nationals from participating.

Under new rules, non-Norwegian citizens will be required to have lived in a Norwegian municipality for three years in order to be eligible to vote in local elections and run for office on the remote Arctic archipelago.

Over 700 of the 2,500 people who live on Svalbard could be affected by the decision, broadcaster NRK reports.

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