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WHAT CHANGES IN NORWAY

UPDATE: What changes about life in Norway in March

Norway’s biggest counties being dissolved and loans and mortgages becoming more expensive are among the changes you need to know about in March.

Gjerstad, southern Norway.
Interest rates are set to increase and some of Norway's largest counties are set to dissolve. Pictured is Gjerstad, Norway. Photo by Kenneth Mark on Unsplash

Deadlines for counties to apply to be dissolved

March 1st marks the deadline for local authorities to apply to the government to dissolve their counties.

Several counties have already decided to disband into smaller, historic counties.

Viken County, Norway’s largest, and Vestfold og Telemark are two counties that will be applying to the government to be broken up. Troms og Finnmark has also voted to split up.

Innlandet, however, has voted against dissolving. The counties were only merged a few years ago. The government hopes that by dissolving counties, services for people in these areas can be decentralised.

The government will be covering the cost of dissolving the counties.

Spring wage negotiations 

In March, the wage settlement negotiations will begin between various employer organisations and unions.

Fellesforbundet, the largest private-sector union, will present its demands on March 9th.

Unions this year are saying they will be asking for strong wage growth in the face of rising inflation and cost of living costs.

READ ALSO: What foreign residents in Norway should know about workers’ unions

Employer organisations have said the exact costs impacting workers spending powers are also hitting businesses hard.

If agreements cannot be reached between the two, then it could lead to workers being taken out on strike.

Fines for being caught using your mobile while driving go up

The cost of a fine for being caught using your mobile has been increased from 5,000 kroner to 7,450 kroner and three points on your licence.

The penalty rate for being caught on your phone has now been increased for the second time in just over a year. At the beginning of 2021, the fine was increased from 1,700 to 5,000 kroner plus three points.

If you accumulate more than eight points in three years, your licence will be taken away for six months.

World Cup and World Championships come to Norway

No, not that world cup. However, for many Norwegians, this will be the world cup they will be following the closest this year.

Norway will host downhill and super-g events at Kvitfjell and the Ski Jumping World Championships at Vikersund.

Norwegian crowds should be in festive spirits, given the country’s dominant displays at the recent winter Olympics.

Interest rates will be raised

Norway’s central bank, Norges Bank, will likely raise the key interest rate in March. The rate will be increased to around 0.75 percent.

The bank will be aiming to raise rates to 1.75 percent by 2024, following record lows of 0 percent due to the pandemic.

Banks will likely increase their rates on the back of the announcement, making loans and mortgages more expensive to repay.

Higher education deadlines

There are several deadlines those looking to study in Norway should be aware of in March.

Applications for the Norwegian Police Academy and aviation at the Norwegian Arctic University close on March 1st. March 15th will make the deadline for student loans and scholarships for those beginning education in the spring semester.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about studying in Norway

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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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