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The differences between being married and a cohabitant in Norway

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
The differences between being married and a cohabitant in Norway
There are a number of differences between being married and a long-term partner in Norway. Pictured is a couple stood on a rock overlooking the mountains in Norway. Photo by Johannes Andersson on Unsplash

Depending on whether you are married or just in a long-term relationship with someone in Norway, rules dictating everything from your immigration rights to your tax rules can be different.


During the first chapters of a Norwegian course book or the first lessons of a Norwegian language course, the different types of relationships will be covered. 

Then you will learn the differences between a samboer (live-in partner) and a kjæreste (boyfriend/girlfriend) and what it means to be gift (married), forlovet (engaged) and singel

These differences are much more important than simply being able to describe your relationship status. Instead, they will also shape your rights in Norway. 

When it comes to relationship statuses that can affect your life in Norway, the two most important things to focus on are if you have a samboer (cohabitant, live-in partner) or a husband or wife. 

Can you be registered as a partner? 

When it comes to having a cohabitant, there is no formal way of registering as one in Norway. If you need confirmation you live with someone, you can order a residence certificate from the Norwegian Tax Administration

Compared to marriage, cohabitation isn’t regulated the same way as marriage is. For this reason, many cohabitants choose to write a cohabitation contract. These contracts dictate who owns what, this is in the event of a breakup. 

When you get married, the National Population Register is updated to reflect this status. Gay and Lesbian couples are allowed to marry in Norway. 


Two people of the same sex can also register their partnership. This gives same-sex couples the same legal rights as those who are married. 

Why are cohabitation contracts used?

This is because cohabitants typically have no rights to inheritance unless they have children together or if they have lived together for more than five years. Inheritance is usually capped unless overwise stipulated in a will

The contract is also essential to ensure each party retains its assets, property and debt in case of a breakup. 

Many legal services in Norway offer cohabitation contracts that dictate what happens to shared assets, savings and debts in the event of a breakup. 

If you are married, the separation of assets and debts in case of a breakup is much more defined.


There are separate tax rules for married couples compared to those who are just cohabitants. Cohabitants are treated as two separate individuals for tax purposes, even when a cohabitation contract is in place. 

Couples who marry are also treated as two separate individuals, but a married couple can distribute income and deductions between them. They also have double the wealth tax threshold. 


Interest on debt can also be transferred for tax purposes, but this must be done with a contract in place. 

When married, you can buy into your partner’s home without paying stamp duty. 

READ ALSO: Five ways to legally lower your tax bill in Norway


The rules for moving to Norway to be with a spouse are slightly looser than if you are moving to be with a partner. 

Non-EU nationals can move to Norway to be with a spouse or registered same-sex partner if they are both over 24 and the marriage is legitimate. The person who the applicant is moving to be with must have an income of at least 320,274 kroner per year.

There are a number of other rules and regulations that you are required to meet, and they are listed on the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) website. 

When moving to be with a cohabitant, you must be over the age of 24. You must have lived together for two years, and neither party can be married to someone else. The only exception to this rule is if you are having a child together and you are both unmarried or divorced


Having a long-term partner or spouse in Norway can help you obtain citizenship. If you have a long-term partner or Norwegian spouse, you can apply for citizenship after five years of living in the country. Usually, the residency requirements are between six to eight years.

In total, you will need to have a combined residency and marriage period of seven years. For example, if you were married for two years while living abroad, you only need to live in Norway for five to meet the residency requirements for citizenship. 



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