Transport and Driving in Norway
The public transport system in Norway is efficient and comprehensive, with most of the country being covered by trains, bus services and ferry lines. As such, expats will find getting around in Norway to be easy and hassle-free.
Since so much of Norway is located on the coast, ferries are sometimes the fastest form of transport. The Hurtigruten follows the entire coastline from north to south, and is good for a touristic and leisurely look at the country. From Oslo, regular ferries take passengers to Denmark, Sweden and Germany. There are also ferry lines from the south of Norway to the UK.
Public transport in Norway
Cities such as Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim have excellent public transport systems. There are reliable bus, metro and tram routes that run regularly and take commuters wherever they need to go in the larger cities. Buses and trams depart every five, 10 or 15 minutes, depending on the time of day and route. Outside of normal hours, they leave every 20 or 30 minutes within the city limits.
Longer-distance trains and buses have their own schedules, which are easy to find online for each city, and all train information can be accessed online at the Norwegian State Railway's (NSB) website. Public transport is costly but there are cost-effective options for long-term use that cover several forms of transportation.
The country's main train station is the Oslo Central Station (Oslo Sentralstasjon) which is the central point for rail travel within the country. NSB offers domestic services around the country, while international trains travel to Gothenburg, Stockholm (via Karlstad), northern Sweden and down to Malmö.
Oslo's central station is also located next to the main bus station, where all express and international buses depart and arrive, and the city can be reached by bus from most of Europe. The country's respective counties are responsible for administrating their own public bus services, while a number of private local and international companies run long-distance bus services.
Driving in Norway
While some expats buy cars in Norway, it’s important to understand driving in the country's winter conditions before taking to the roads.
Major roads in Norway are good, but once one leaves the south, sparsely populated areas and rough, mountainous terrain means that major roads are few and often only consist of two lanes.
On weekends and holidays, these roads back up with traffic for hours, so it’s good to plan for delays. Norwegians drive on the right-hand side of the road.
Depending on where their driving licence was issued, an expat can use their home country licence in Norway, but may have to eventually exchange it for a Norwegian licence. When exchanging their foreign driving licence, it must be sent in to the Department of Motor Vehicles (Vegvesen), with an application for exchange. Foreigners may also be required to take a driving test, which requires substantial fees. European Economic Area (EEA) residents can use their home country driver's licence provided it is valid.
Expats thinking of getting their driver’s licence in Norway should consider avoiding the hassle. With the excellent public transportation options in the country, there is no real need for an expatriate to own or drive a car unless they have children.
Those who are still intent on doing it should expect to spend a lot of time and money. Besides learning basic skills, drivers must also learn to drive on ice and to handle snowy conditions. It is not unusual to pay thousands of krone for driving lessons before finally taking the driving test, which also entails costly fees.
Regulations on cars and driving are very strict. Fines are based on the offender's salary (the state has this information); so, the richer the driver is, the sorrier they will be for speeding. Norway has a zero-tolerance policy for drinking and driving, with exorbitant fines and prison sentences for offenders.
Norway uses a points system (prikkbelastning) to handle traffic offenders. Two points are issued for most violations, except in the smallest speeding cases.
If eight points or more are issued during a three-year period, the driving licence is temporarily revoked, usually for six months.
Each point is deleted when three years have passed since the violation took place. When driving privileges are restored after the six-month ban, the points which caused the suspension are deleted.
Domestic flights in Norway
Regular flights service Norway and its surrounding areas. There are a number of local airlines in Norway, including Scandinavian Airlines, Norwegian Air and Wideroe, along with several other charter companies. Many international airlines fly into Norway as well.