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EXPLAINED: How does Norway’s compulsory national service work?

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: How does Norway’s compulsory national service work?
Will dual citizens in Norway be required to do national service? File photo: A soldier from the Norwegian Armed Forces participates in the international military exercise Cold Response 22, at Setermoen, north Norway. Photo by Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP

Citizens of Norway can be called up for national service, but how does this work, and what are the rules for dual nationals?

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Norway has compulsory military service ingrained into its constitution, which outlines that every subject of the state "is equally bound to serve in defence of their country for a specific period of time". 

This applies to all Norwegian citizens fit for service in the army from the year they turn 19. The requirement applies to both men and women equally. However, women born before 1997 are exempt. 

Foreign nationals who reside in Norway and have a permanent connection to the country may also be required to carry out military service unless an agreement with their country prohibits this. 

READ ALSO: Are the children of foreigners in Norway subject to compulsory military service?

When it comes to dual citizens, they are also subject to military service provided they are a resident of the country, and there is no agreement with the other country they are a citizen of that prevents such a service. 

Furthermore, Norwegian citizens who are also – or have been – citizens of a country with which Norway is at war are exempt from service in the Norwegian Armed Forces.

Those aged up to 44 can be conscripted for national military service. For those who have been in the military after being conscripted or to officer school, the age limit is 55. 

However, despite seeming pretty nailed on that you will need to do military service, it works slightly differently in reality. 

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So, how does it work in reality? 

If you gain citizenship after turning 19, the chances of being called up for national service during peacetime are pretty low. 

This is because, at 19, all men and women in Norway are required to meet the military for a muster.

At the muster, you will undergo health checks and be required to answer questions about joining the military. Essentially, they will try to gauge your interest. When it comes to military service, mutual interest is essential

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In most cases, if you aren't interested in the army, they won't be too interested in you. This is because the armed forces can typically conscript enough interested recruits. 

Only around 15 per cent of 19-year-olds are actually called up for military service after the muster. Even then, some are sent home or later deemed unfit. Still, some candidates are called up against their wishes and are required to undertake national service. 

If you are drafted, you can expect to serve between 12 to 18 months of unpaid military service. If you are conscripted from the muster for  those aged 18 and 19, this is typically referred to as førstegangstjeneste or first-time service. 

You are far less likely to be called up for military service if you haven't attended the muster for all 18-and-19 year-olds. 

While rare, you can also be called up for first-time service if you missed the muster for 18- and 19-year-olds. This is because, technically, the military can draft people up to the age of 28 for first-time service. Those who are older and have special expertise can also be called up. 

Although, in most cases, it is unlikely the military will call up someone who has not attended the national muster and has no interest in joining the military. 

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