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Six things foreign residents should never do in Norway

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
Six things foreign residents should never do in Norway
Here are some of the key mistakes foreign residents in Norway should avoid making. Pictured is the stunning scenery in Lofoten. Photo by Seth kane on Unsplash

If you have been living in Norway for a while, you'll have picked up that there are a lot of important rules and regulations (written and unwritten) that you should never break. 


Moving to a new country is full of small (or large) culture shocks, with plenty of written and unwritten rules for foreigners to get to grips with. 

Even after some time in Norway, it can still feel as if you are "learning on the job" when it comes to understanding what you should and shouldn't do as a foreign resident, even if Norwegians are an open and welcoming bunch. 

The Nordic country has a distinct cultural identity and manner of doing things, which means there are a few rules you should never break- whether you fully agree with them or not. 

Travel without a residence card and not having your paperwork in order

As most foreign residents reading this will be aware, there is quite a lot of (and not always efficient bureaucracy) in Norway. 


Missing or trying to obtain critical pieces of paperwork can either be smooth and seamless or send you around in what can feel like a very long circle. 

There are many key pieces of paperwork that you should always try and keep handy, but chief among these is your residence card if you are required to have one to legally live and work in Norway. 

Should you make the mistake of travelling without it, you'll find that border officials will be extremely unlikely to accept any other proof that you live in the country. 

READ MORE: Can you travel in and out of Norway if you lose your residence card?

Fail to dress for the weather

In Norway there’s the famous saying “Det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlige klær” meaning that there is no bad weather, only bad clothes. 

Readers have previously noted in a survey that Norwegians were more likely to be decked out in functional, sporty or weather-appropriate clothing than in fashion-conscious outfits.

Temperatures can range from the mid-to-high 20s (Celsius) in the summers down to minus 25 in the winters, meaning there is plenty of good reason to pay attention to the forecasts when picking out an outfit. 

After enough time, picking clothes with good wind and rain protection and plenty of wool over what might look trendier will become second nature.  

Assuming you'll be able to get by with just English in the long-term

One of the things that makes Norway an attractive country is how easy it is to get by without learning the local language at first. 

Plenty of international companies with English as the primary working language and exceptionally high English language skills among the locals can make things relatively easy for foreigners moving to the country. 


However, as time passes, failing to learn the language could harm your chances of feeling settled and happy in the long term. 

Norwegian citizenship and permanent residence come with (relatively attainable) language requirements. Additionally, not learning the language could hinder your career options in the medium-to-long term, too, according to employment experts The Local has previously spoken to. 

Being too intrusive

Most Norwegians are welcoming to foreign residents and enjoy the opportunity to share their food, language and cultures with others. 

However, they are very big on personal space and privacy. To some, this may make Norwegians seem somewhat cold and detached as it can take them some time to warm up to others, and they don't always enjoy talking to strangers in great detail. 

For the most part, striking up conversations with strangers can be a no-no. Additionally, sitting next to people on public transport when other seats are available will attract odd looks. Being too forward with questions can also be seen as rude, depending on who you talk to. 

Other ways to try and respect Norwegians' space and privacy are to not talk too loud in public, don't stand too close to others in queues or when talking to them, take your shoes off when entering their home and try not to make any loud noise on Sundays or after 11pm. 


Assuming Norwegians are the same as Swedes and Danes 

Scandinavian countries share a lot in common, whether it's the high quality of life, work-life balance, strong economies or polite residents. However, this does not mean that they are the same. 

Making too many comparisons between Swedes, Norwegians and Danes, the countries they all hail from or equating them to one and the same is a mistake that should be avoided. 

The locals in Norway have a deep sense of national pride and national identity. If you ever need proof, be sure to spend May 17th in one of the big cities or take a moment to remember that one of the reasons that Nynorsk was created was to make the language "more Norwegian" and differentiate it more from Danish.

Failing to pay proper respect to nature

The country is well-known and much loved for its stunning nature and scenery. However, failing to respect nature can result in breaking several written and unwritten rules. 

The public right of access allows people to camp and forage for food pretty much wherever they want. But this comes with the condition they do their best not to disrupt or ruin the natural landscape. The country also has a few laws and regulations written around failing to respect nature. For example, having your dog off-lead during periods when wildlife mates can result in a fine or telling off.

Disregarding one's surroundings can lead to more severe consequences when out in nature. Avalanches, steep terrain and rapidly changing weather all present a risk to life and health.


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