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DRIVING

The hidden costs of owning a car in Norway

Getting behind the wheel and hitting the open road may give you a sense of freedom, but trust us, that feeling doesn't come cheap. The Local has gathered a list of hidden costs for you to be aware of before you start up the engine.

The Atlantic Road in Norway.
There are a number of costs you should be aware of when getting a car in Norway. Pictured is the Atlantic Road in Norway. Photo by Leonardo Venturoli on Unsplash

It starts with your førerkort

Prepare to reach deep in your pockets if you’re getting your førerkort or “driving licence” in Norway. If you are from the EU/EEA, your licence from your home country is valid and can be exchanged for a Norwegian driving licence without taking any test.

However, if you are from a non-EU/EEA country, getting a Norwegian driving licence can be more challenging. And this is costly on both your time and wallet. If an exchange isn’t an option, expect to pay around 30,000 kroner to get your licence. 

Breaking it down -you’ll need to pay approximately 12,000 kroner for the required driving courses, another 12,000 on driving lessons with an instructor and 5,000 for taking both the theory and driving exam.

The car itself

Buying a vehicle is a significant investment for most of us. Especially in Norway, as the VAT (value-added tax) makes the cost of purchasing a car even more jaw-droppingly expensive. Moreover, many are surprised by having to pay a registration tax and a one-off registration fee before driving off the lot in their new wheels. 

In addition to the high tax, the depreciation of your investment will start to occur almost right away. Smartepenger reports an average 20 percent decline of value within the first year of owning a car in Norway. And approximately 10 percent decrease in value for every year after. The rapid depreciation in value is actually the highest cost of buying a car. It may save you time and increase your quality of life, but buying a car in this country is hardly ever viewed as a wise financial investment.  

Mandatory EU control

An automobile’s upkeep is usually one of the most expensive parts of car ownership. From major repairs to general maintenance, it would be wise to set aside money for these costs as they often come unexpectedly. Smartepenger states that more extensive services or repairs cost, on average, around 8000 kroner. 

By law, every two years, a car owner must take their car in for a mandatory EU control check. This is done to ensure the safety and overall roadworthiness of all vehicles. It’s excellent in principle and increases both drivers’ and passengers’ sense of security while on the road. But it comes at a price.

The base cost for an EU control will cost a vehicle owner around 1,000 kroner. Although it is very likely the mandatory check will cost you way more if they find something wrong with your car. It’s a societal norm to compare the surprisingly high bills one is charged with when they bring their car in for an EU control. 

The necessary switch

Å skifte dekk, or “to change tyres”, is another mandatory maintenance cost that many overlook when factoring in the yearly costs of car ownership. This expectation for the car owner is yet another aspect that contributes to the overall road safety for drivers. Winter tyres are expected to be on your automobile from November 1st up until the Sunday after Easter Sunday.

On average, it costs around 2,800 kroner to change the tires. It’s an additional 2,800 kroner if you want the automobile shop to store your winter or summer tyres for you. If your car tyres need to be rotated, expect to have them through another 400 kroner to the final cost. 

The tolls 

If you commute to work, don’t buy a car until you find out how much the tolls are on the roads you use daily. There are around 200 toll roads in Norway, each of them has its own specific price. (Newer roads typically cost the most to drive on). Pengenytt reports that drivers who drive an average of 25,000 kilometres a year can expect to pay 4,250 kroner per year in toll fees. Keep in mind this is just the average. You should expect to pay a much higher sum if you are commuting on multiple toll roads – like the many going in and out of Oslo, for example. 

Besides not paying for fuel, Electric cars have become a popular vehicle choice in Norway for many as they receive a deeply discounted price on toll roads. 

Petrol

Whatever you’re expecting to pay yearly for petrol in Norway, double that figure, and you’ll likely be more accurate. Norway has some of the highest fuel prices in Europe. The at-times sky-high prices are mainly due to taxes on fuel imposed by the government and the usual international market factors.

Of course, electric cars can be excluded from this extra cost. But if you’re debating on buying an automobile that uses fuel, you need to factor in how much of your paycheck will be going to this necessity. Finance says on average, a person will spend 16,759.5 kroner per year on petrol and 11,344.5 kroner per year on diesel.  

Strict penalties

Breaking Norway’s traffic laws can be costly. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you don’t test your luck and obey the traffic rules at all times. If not for a clean licence, then for your wallet. 

In addition to police patrols, many Norwegian roads use speed cameras. As noted on the Norwegian Police website, Norway has many road traffic laws and regulations.

Here are some of the surprising costs that can be incurred for breaking traffic laws.

  • Failure to stop at a red light can result in a fine of 6,800 kroner, while not giving way when required can also set you back that amount. You can also be fined 5,500 kroner for driving unlawfully in a public transport lane.
  • Talking on a mobile phone without using the hands-free technology costs 1,700 kroner in fines for a first time offender. This will also be marked as an offence on your permanent traffic record.
  • Driving without a licence has been reported to be punishable with a fine of up to a whopping 10,000 kroner.

 To sum it up

It’s very easy to be unaware of how much it really costs to own a vehicle in Norway. The more obvious costs, such as a car loan and car insurance, are just two of the many additional hidden costs that one should consider when finding out how much owning a 

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DRIVING

COMPARE: Which countries in Europe have the strictest drink-drive limits?

Certain countries around Europe have stricter policies than others regarding drinking and driving and harsher punishments for those caught exceeding legal limits. Here's what you need to know.

COMPARE: Which countries in Europe have the strictest drink-drive limits?

European countries set their own driving laws and speed limits and it’s no different when it comes to legal drink-drive limits.

While the safest thing to do of course, is to drink no alcohol at all before driving it is useful to know what the limit is in the country you are driving in whether as a tourist or as someone who frequently crosses European borders by car for work.

While some countries, such as the Czech Republic, have zero tolerance for drinking and driving, in others people are allowed to have a certain amount of alcohol in their blood while driving.

However, not only can the rules be different between countries, they are usually stricter for commercial (or bus) drivers and novice drivers as well. Besides that, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is extremely difficult to estimate, so the old “one beer is ok” standards no longer safely apply.

In the end, the only way to be safe is to avoid consuming alcohol before driving. Any amount will slow reflexes while giving you dangerous higher confidence. According to the UK’s National Health Service, there is no ‘safe’ drinking level.

How is blood alcohol level measured?

European countries mostly measure blood alcohol concentration (BAC), which is the amount, in grams, of alcohol in one litre of blood.

After alcohol is consumed, it will be absorbed fast from the stomach and intestine to the bloodstream. There, it is broken down by a liver-produced enzyme.

Each person will absorb alcohol at their own speed, and the enzyme will also work differently in each one.

The BAC will depend on these metabolic particularities as well as body weight, gender, how fast and how much the person drank, their age and whether or not (and how much) they have eaten, and even stress levels at the time.

In other words there are many things that may influence the alcohol concentration.

The only way to effectively measure BAC is by taking a blood test – even a breathalyser test could show different results. Still, this is the measuring unit used by many EU countries when deciding on drinking limits and penalties for drivers.

Here are the latest rules and limits.

Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Greece, Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, and Croatia

In most EU countries, the limit is just under 0.5g/l for standard drivers (stricter rules could be in place for novice or professional drivers).

This could be exceeded by a man with average weight who consumed one pint of beer (containing 4.2% alcohol) and two glasses of red wine (13% alcohol) while having dinner.

If a person is caught driving with more than 0.8g/l of blood alcohol content in Austria, they can pay fines of up to € 5,900 and to have their license taken for one year in some cases.

In France, if BAC exceeds 0.8g/l, they could end up with a 2-year jail sentence and a € 4,500 fine. In Germany, penalties start at a € 500 fine and a one-month license suspension. In Greece, drunk drivers could face up to years of imprisonment.

In Denmark, first time offenders are likely to have their licences suspended and could be required to go on self-paid alcohol and traffic courses if BAC levels are low. Italy has penalties that vary depending on whether or not the driver has caused an accident and could lead to car apprehension, fines and prison sentences.

In Spain, going over a 1.2g/l limit is a criminal offence that could lead to imprisonment sentences and hefty fines. 

Norway, Sweden, and Poland

In Norway, Sweden, and Poland, the limit for standard drivers is 0.2g/l. It could take a woman with average weight one standard drink, or one can of beer, to reach that level.

Penalties in Norway can start at a one month salary fine and a criminal record. In Poland, fines are expected if you surpass the limit, and you could also have your license revoked and receive a prison sentence.

Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia

The Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia have one of the strictest rules in the European Union. There is no allowed limit of alcohol in the blood for drivers.

In the Czech Republic, fines start at € 100 to € 800, and a driving ban of up to one year can be instituted for those driving with a 0.3 BAC level. However, the harshest penalties come if the BAC level surpasses 1 g/l, fines can be up to € 2,000, and drivers could be banned from driving for 10 years and imprisoned for up to three years.

This is intended to be a general guide and reference. Check the current and specific rules in the country you plan to travel to. The easiest and best way to be safe and protect yourself and others is to refrain from drinking alcohol and driving.

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