Buying a Car in Norway
Norway has good public transport and low-cost flights between cities. You will find that within cities, the cost of owning a car might be more trouble than it’s worth, while it is usually easier to fly between cities in Norway. Nevertheless, owning a car in Norway can be useful, especially if you want to be able to make trips to the surrounding countryside and the fjords.
If you choose to buy a car in Norway, prepare for a big shock. Cars are expensive, but more so are the taxes put on vehicles. You may have to pay 100 per cent of the cost of the car on additional taxes and other costs. Cars are taxed according to the weight of the car and the size of the engine – the larger and more powerful the car, the higher the fees. You can purchase cars at local dealers, or import them from other countries.
Note that you need to have a Norwegian identity number to register a car in Norway.
Getting a Norwegian driver’s licence
If you are from an EEA country, you can convert your driver’s licence to a Norwegian one. The process can be arduous but will mean you won’t need to take Norwegian driving tests.
If you are from outside the EEA, you can legally drive in Norway for up to three months before you have to apply for a Norwegian driver’s licence, and your foreign licence will only be recognised for a year. It’s a good idea to start this process early, because if you apply within that year, you will only need to take the driver’s test and not the full package including the theory tests and driving lessons – which can become very expensive. The waiting list for a driver’s test can be up to a few months’ long.
Either way, if you are transferring your licence, it can take months to complete the process and receive your valid Norwegian licence. You will be expected to hand in your old licence and will be issued with a temporary one. Note that this temporary licence is not valid outside Norway.
Choosing a car
You can find adverts for used cars in online classifieds such as Finn.no or in the classified sections of local newspapers. There are also several new car dealerships in the cities.
There is increasing pressure to outlaw diesel cars in some parts of the cities in a bid to lower emissions, so be aware of this when you are trying to decide between vehicles.
Registering a car
Once you have purchased a car, you will need to register it with the Norwegian Public Roads Administration (vegvesen.no).
You will need:
- proof of sale (such as a receipt)
- valid identification (incl. a Norwegian identity number)
- a notification of sale/change of ownership form
- AMV tax and registration fees
- proof of roadworthiness, if necessary
- a declaration from an insurance company that liability insurance is in place
If the car is a used car, a change of ownership (notification of sale) form must be submitted to within three days after you have bought it. Both you and the old owner must sign the same form, and the previous owner must also submit a separate notification of sale to the Administration. You will then be give a temporary registration certificate and a new (full) registration certificate will be posted to you. Part of this documentation must be kept in the car and the other half somewhere else.
You will need to pay both the re-registration fee and the annual vehicle tax (årsavgift) at the same time, as soon as the paperwork is complete (after the old owner submits his or her forms).
The roadworthiness check is done at approved roadworthy stations and must be done every other year on cars older than four years (for light cars) or every year (for cars over 35,000kg).
Importing a car
If you choose to bring your car to Norway or to import one, you have to register it with Norwegian plates. To register, you will have to pay both VAT and an import fee. Imported (used) cars will need to be cleared by customs, then taken to a roadworthy testing centre in Norway for approval. There is a one-off motor vehicle tax payable to the Norwegian Customs Service. You can then go to the Norwegian Public Roads Administration with the customs documentation, roadworthy check, AMV tax and registration fees, and valid identification to complete the registration process.
You can get more information at Tollvesenet (toll.no).
Car insurance in Norway
By law, all car owners in Norway must take out liability insurance to cover all possible damages to other people and property in an accident. You can take out additional policies that cover damage to yourself or your own car at your own discretion. You can compare packages at the website Finansportalen.no.
Renting a car in Norway
Some expats prefer to negotiate for long-term leases with their employers rather than buying a car. Because of the high costs of buying a car in Norway, many established companies are prepared to rent cars to their new expat employees. Renting a car from your employer may also be your only option if you would need to get a loan to buy a car, as your Norwegian credit history will not yet be long enough to justify the loan.
If you do negotiate to lease a car from your employer, be sure to check the fine print carefully, as you will still be required to pay some costs such as petrol, insurance, annual road tax and even yearly service costs, in addition to the monthly rent.
Cost of owning a car in Norway
Owning and maintaining a car in Norway is surprisingly expensive. Just because Norway produces oil doesn’t mean they give it away. Petrol is expensive, as is all maintenance. Cars must be inspected each year, and you will receive a date and time to show up for your inspection. Don’t miss your appointment! Also, remember that Norwegian winters involve snow, ice, salty roads and below freezing temperatures. You must have the right oil and proper tyres in the winter. The date to put on winter tyres is set (usually early November to late April), and you will be penalised if you miss the date and are caught. If you choose to use studded tires, you will pay extra taxes per day within city limits.