Work Permits for Norway
Depending on an expat’s country of origin, a work permit may be required before taking up employment in Norway, and should be applied for at the Norwegian embassy in their home country.
There are also a number of agencies that can help facilitate the process of getting a visa or work permit for Norway from within the country.
Applying for a work permit in Norway
Generally speaking, citizens of the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) countries (including the UK) do not need a work permit or need to apply for a residence permit in Norway for a short time. Information about work permits and regulations for both (EEA) and non-EEA citizens are available directly from the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) website. The Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV) also gives information on work permits for individual countries. NAV handles all work-related issues and is a good resource when looking for a job.
Different categories of work permits have their own requirements, however, the basic requirements for a Norwegian work permit include:
- An application fee
- A concrete job offer from a specific employer in Norway must have been received
- The job must be full time
- The job must require the qualifications the applicant has
- The pay and working conditions must be less than what is normal in Norway
Work permits for EU citizens
EEA nationals with a valid identity card or passport can legally reside and work in Norway without a visa for three months. The same applies to members of their family who are also EEA nationals. Family members who are not EEA nationals must have a valid passport, and be able to document that they are members of the primary applicant’s household, or that the applicant supports them. Skilled workers are exempt for six months.
Work permits for non-EU citizens
Expats from countries outside of the EU and EEA will have different processes to go through depending on the kind of work they want to do. Officially, expats applying for a work permit must already have found a job.
Skilled workers in Norway
Skilled workers are required to have either completed vocational training or a university degree depending on their profession. There has to be a corresponding qualification in Norway. Permits are only granted based on experience in exceptional circumstances.
Certain skilled workers will also have to have their qualification approved by a state organisation such as, for example, the Norwegian Registration Authority for Health Personnel (SAFH) for doctors and nurses.
Successful applicants can get a permit that is valid for one to three years at a time. After three years, a skilled worker can apply for a permanent residence permit in Norway. It is usually possible for family to apply to live with the main permit holder.
It is possible to change jobs if working for a Norwegian employer, however, the same type of work must be performed.
Business permits for Norway
Due to an organised public sector and an interest in foreign investment, starting up a company in Norway is relatively easy and inexpensive for expats.
Having said that, being an entrepreneur or running a business in Norway can be daunting. The support structure that is in place for employees is not in place for business owners and self-employed persons.
There is a lot of paperwork and many rules required to legally do business in Norway, and it can get confusing. However, there are several companies that offer services to guide foreigners through the process of starting up and running a business, such as Etablere and the Agency for Business Development Service, run by the City of Oslo. The Oslo Chamber of Commerce may also be helpful.
One golden rule is that the company must be registered with the Brønnøysund Register Centre. The registration fee varies depending on the kind of business being registered. A firm with up to 50 employees may only need a minimum starting capital of 30,000 NOK, while some companies may need as much as 100,000 NOK. Fees are renewed annually, and an invoice is sent through the mail.
Depending on the kind of company being started, an expat entrepreneur in Norway may need an auditor, a general manager, and a board. They will also need a lawyer and an accountant.
Altinn is an online state resource which deals with taxation and is a great resource for information and documents needed for starting a business in Norway.