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'It's not easy to live in Norway without one': The verdict on electronic IDs

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
'It's not easy to live in Norway without one': The verdict on electronic IDs
Norway's electronic ID system has some issues, according to our readers. Pictured is a person using a phone. Photo by on Unsplash

A lot of everyday life in Norway revolves around using electronic IDs, and The Local's readers generally agreed that while obtaining one was hard work, the system works well once you're in it.


Electronic IDs were first launched in Norway around 20 years ago as a means of proving your identity when using online services. 

Since then, the system has evolved significantly, and now digital IDs make up a big part of everyday life. 

Electronic IDs are used in Norway for everything from signing up for the mobile payment service Vipps to verifying your identity when signing contracts, ordering prescriptions, and filing taxes. 

The overwhelming majority of people who responded to our survey said the system was either "good"  or "really good", with only around 10 percent saying it was either "okay" or "really bad."

"Once you have it, it's great, and you have to wonder how every country doesn't have the same," Adam, who lives in Bodø, said.

'Impossible to participate in society without it' 

However, many also shared how it was "impossible" to participate in everyday life in Norway without one. 

"It's perfect once you have it, but when you don't, you really feel excluded from society," Guillaume said. 

"When I first moved here, I kept saying you do not exist in Norway with BankID, which I still feel is true. You really cannot do anything in this country without it," Holly, who lives in Oslo, wrote in response to our survey. 

"Once you have it, it's really easy and simple to use. But if you don't have it, it's almost impossible to participate in Norwegian society," Hazael, who lives in Grimstad, said. 


While there are several different options for electronic IDs in Norway, most survey respondents referred to BankID. 

This is because it is the most widely used, integrated and adopted electronic ID in Norway, has a higher security clearance than the state-issued MindID, and doesn't cost money. 

'It's certainly not setup to help foreigners' 

BankID is the best integrated electronic ID and, with an app solution, the easiest to use. However, readers' experiences of obtaining a BankID varied. 

Some found it straightforward, and others found things much harder. 

"Challenging - it's certainly not setup to help foreigners," Adam in Bodø, wrote when asked to describe the process of getting an electronic ID. 

READ ALSO: The issues with Norway’s electronic ID system

One of the reasons foreigners can have issues is that the regulations on what is required for a foreigner to obtain a BankID isn't necessarily clear for consumers, or for banks. 

"It was difficult to obtain the information I needed to get BankID, but I eventually found out through trial and error how I could get it. I was lucky, as I already knew someone in Norway. That helped me speed up the process," Hazael said. 

Meanwhile, Holly shared how she felt that banks decided the rules on the spot when dealing with foreigners. She said she found getting a BankID without a job offer impossible. 

 "I remember going with my spouse and the relocation expert that was helping him get a bank account, we actually went to a bank and met a banker in person. When I asked the banker if I, too, could get an account set up with BankID, he and a group of bankers basically formed a huddle and whispered back and forth for a while before replying, 'Maybe,' and that the job had to be longer than a six-month contract. They just made it up on the spot," Holly wrote. 


Even though Holly has switched banks, she has kept her old account open because the new bank cannot grant her BankID unless she travels hundreds of kilometres for an in-person appointment. 

However, some people had a much easier time of things. 

"Straightforward for me because we had a good bank manager. Opened bank account quickly and got BankID within a few weeks," Sam, who lives in Oslo, said about their journey to obtain a BankID a few years ago.

Many others said the process was as straightforward as just showing up at the bank. 


Typically, having a Norwegian birth number issued by the Norwegian Tax Administration and other paperwork made the process of getting a BankID much more straightforward. 

Norway has two forms of national identity numbers, D-numbers and birth numbers issued to those expected to reside in Norway for a long time. 

"After receiving our Norwegian birth number, it was possible to obtain a bank account. After that, it was easy to obtain a BankID," Hannelore, in Trondheim, wrote. 

"Long, bureaucratic and frustrating. Only once having a fødselnummer (Norwegian birth number) it was easy," Arjen in Jessheim shared. 

Even then, some readers were asked for everything from payslips to rental contracts to obtain a BankID. 

Another reader had issues obtaining BankID after the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration sent their documentation to the wrong address. 

"Most banks realised their process was difficult but lacked interest or compassion to help. I ended up using a bank that had good reviews within the international community," Sam, who lives in Ålesund, wrote.



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