Norway Explained For Members

What happens when a foreigner in Norway dies?

Robin-Ivan Capar
Robin-Ivan Capar - [email protected]
What happens when a foreigner in Norway dies?
Dealing with death and inheritance matters can be complex, especially for foreigners. Photo by Mike Labrum on Unsplash

Thinking about death is never fun, but estate planning is an essential part of life - especially for international residents dealing with, at times, complex foreign inheritance laws and tax regulations.


A person's passing in Norway triggers a number of administrative processes – regardless of whether the person in question is an international citizen living in the country or a local.

Therefore, it's important to familiarise yourself with navigating the intricate matters of death, inheritance, and estate planning in the country, especially if you've moved to Norway and decided to spend the rest of your days there.

The administrative side of things: What happens when you die in Norway?

After a person dies in Norway, a doctor or hospital authority typically issues a death certificate.

Subsequently, the heirs of the person who passed away become responsible for deciding how the deceased's estate, including property, money, and possessions, should be managed.

When the death certificate is provided in paper format, it must be reported to the district court. Funeral directors, professionals specialising in managing and coordinating funerals and memorial services usually assist in this notification process.

However, in the case of electronic issuance of the death certificate, the notification is automatically sent to the National Population Register (Folkeregister) and the Norwegian Cause of Death Registry (Dødsårsaksregisteret).

Consequently, the district court no longer necessitates a paper copy but can verify the death by consulting the National Population Register.

Furthermore, in Norway, you're entitled to a free burial plot. Burials typically occur within ten working days following a person's passing.

You can usually get all the information related to funerals, cremation, and burial procedures in Norway from the parish council in your municipality.


The will and how inheritance is divided

The departed usually leaves behind a will that outlines instructions for the distribution of their inheritance. In some cases, they also leave instructions for their funeral arrangements.

There are various methods for dividing a deceased person's estate in Norway, but the fundamental rules governing estate division remain largely consistent, regardless of the chosen approach.

The most common method involves the inheritors themselves deciding who receives what from the estate, and it's called a private division. To initiate a private division, the district court usually issues a certificate of probate, granting the inheritors complete control over the deceased's assets.

In cases where inheritors are unwilling or unable to manage the division of the estate, they can request a district court to oversee a public division. The court then appoints a trustee to administer the estate on its behalf.

Surviving spouses or cohabitants who had children with the deceased can retain undivided possession of the estate, thereby delaying the inheritance of their children until their own passing.


What if the death occurred abroad?

When a person living in Norway (or any Norwegian citizen, for that matter) passes away in another country, specific procedures are in place to ensure proper documentation and notification.

In cases where the deceased was a foreign citizen living in Norway, the authorities in the country where the death occurred do not automatically notify Norwegian authorities, as - the website of official Nordic co-operation - explains.

Survivors, next of kin, or others must report the death to the National Population Register in Norway.

This can be done by submitting the original death certificate with an official stamp or legalisation via post to the Norwegian Tax Administration (Norwegian foreign missions can also verify these certificates).

Expenses associated with a death abroad (storage, the transport of the coffin or urn back home, and other related costs) are typically be covered by the deceased's insurance, the estate, or relatives.


And what about inheritance taxes?

As of 2014, inheritance tax has been abolished in Norway. This means there is no need to submit an inheritance or gift notification for any inheritance or gift received during or after 2014.

Dealing with death and inheritance matters can be complex, especially for foreigners. So, if you have any questions or need guidance on estate division and inheritance issues, it is always advisable to contact the competent district court.

Alternatively, you can also seek guidance from professionals, such as lawyers or estate planners.

You can find valuable information about death reports and inheritance on the Courts of Norway's website, as well as information regarding benefits for survivors on the webpage of the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV).


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