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Preface Last Updated: 3/22/2004 3:29 AM

The U.S.-Norwegian relationship is deep and enduring: it is based on common values and interests, symbolized by President Clinton's historic visit in November 1999. Embassy activities reflect this busy, productive relationship.

There are plenty of issues to keep the 70 Americans at this post more than fully occupied. Norway, which has a border with Russia, guards NATO's northern flank and important sea routes. The U.S. and Norway are heavily engaged in a series of projects under the Enhanced Partnership in Northern Europe (EPINE), particularly nuclear clean up in northwest Russia. In addition, Norwegians actively engage in a wide panoply of defense and environmental matters ranging from the five Presidential/Prime Ministerial initiatives to joint exercises, pre-positioning matters, exchange programs, mediation and peacekeeping through the UN and NATO in Kosovo, the Baltics, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Sudan, Haiti, the Middle East, and other international peacekeeping efforts.

Norway's landscape includes spectacular fjords and mountain ranges, tranquil lakes and forests, bustling cities, and quaint towns. For the lover of natural beauty and outdoor life, Norway is a virtual paradise.

Norway enjoys one of the highest standards of living in the world. A sound industrial economy and a powerful boost from North Sea oil give the country a firm financial base. The Government runs a comprehensive social welfare program that includes socialized education, health care, pensions, and workers' compensation. A combination of high taxes and an especially high tax on the oil revenues (Norway is the world's third largest oil exporter) allows the Government to maintain this level of service while running a budget surplus.

While Norway is an active member of NATO and international organizations, the populace has twice (1972 and 1994) narrowly rejected EU membership reflecting an independent streak. At the same time, as a member of the European Economic Area, Norway is part of the EU's single market in virtually all sectors except agriculture and fisheries.

The U.S. and Norway share bonds of culture, interests, and values. Over four million Americans (especially in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest) are of Norwegian descent; American movies, clothing styles, music, food, books, and magazines are available on every street corner in Norway.

Still, Norway has a distinct national character that both delights and surprises. The Norwegians are a proud and determined people with a rich and unique history, and they are not afraid to stand alone and challenge others opinions over issues they care deeply about. Recent discussions of EU membership, whaling, and capital punishment call this facet of the Norwegian spirit to mind.

A tour in Norway offers substantial rewards. Employees of the Embassy are in a unique position of being part of the ongoing effort to keep the excellent cooperation between Norway and the U.S. on track. All sections and agencies at the Embassy enjoy strong and supportive relationships with their Norwegian colleagues, often at the highest levels, making work at the Embassy a pleasant and enriching experience. The Country Team plays an essential coordinating role and all sections and agencies are full members of the Embassy family.

In the coming years, important and interesting issues will occupy Embassy personnel including changes in NATO and the resultant effect on U.S.-Norwegian relations, promotion of trade for U.S. firms in this lucrative market, cooperation with Russia and Norway to clean up nuclear waste in northwest Russia and protect the fragile Arctic region, and the facilitation and reporting of Norway's international peacekeeping activities.

The Host Country

Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 3/22/2004 3:30 AM

Located in northwestern Europe on the Scandinavian Peninsula, Norway is a picturesque country bounded on the west by the North Atlantic and the North Sea and on the east by Sweden, Finland, and Russia. Norway covers 150,000 square miles, including Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands, with landscape ranging from farms and fields to forests, lakes, plateaus, glaciers, and the highest peak in northern Europe. The jagged coastline stretches 1,625 miles when measured in a straight line—and a staggering 13,125 miles including the ins and outs of the fjords. Although small in population, Norway is one of the largest European countries in area.

Many people expect Norway's climate to be bitterly cold. The latitude of the country certainly suggests this would be true. The Arctic Circle cuts through Norway about halfway up the length of the country. Oslo lies in the southern part of the country but is at the same latitude as Anchorage, Alaska. Hammerfest, on the northern tip of the Norwegian mainland, is the world's most northerly town. Still, the climate of cities along the Norwegian coast is much milder than might be expected at such northerly latitudes, even during midwinter, because of the warming effect of the Gulf Stream. Winter in Oslo is typically warmer than winter in New England or Minnesota, though there is often a lot of snow.

Summer in the southern part of the country can last from early May to late August or, in a bad year, for only a week in late June. There are about 20 hours of daylight during June and July in Oslo. (Note: In northern Norway, the midnight sun shines for nearly 2 months during this period!) Summer days rarely get warmer than 80°F and can be quite cool—in the 50s and 60s.

Winter brings only about 6 hours of daylight in Oslo and none in areas north of the Arctic Circle. Snow brightens the landscape considerably, even during the shortest days. However, some people find the darkness oppressive. Norwegians seem to have found numerous ways to combat the depression of winter such as utilizing the many (often lit) cross-country trails and downhill slopes within the Oslo city limits or keeping things cozy and bright inside, using lots of candlelight for cheer and warmth.

Population Last Updated: 3/3/2004 3:45 AM

Norway's population is about 4.5 million. Since the area of the country is so vast, Norway has the second lowest population density, but one of the highest birth rates in Europe; only Iceland has fewer inhabitants per square mile or a higher birth rate. Sixty-five percent of Norwegians live in the southern part of the country and along the coast. Norway's largest cities are Oslo (pop. 508,000), Bergen (230,000), Trondheim (150,000), and Stavanger (109,000).

Norway has one official language—Norwegian. However, there are two distinct forms of the language, which officially have equal status. One form, Bokmaal, strongly resembles written, but not spoken, Danish. The other, Nynorsk (translated, this word means "New Norwegian"), hearkens back to Old Norwegian dialects. The forms are very closely related, and Norwegians understand both. Still, they are taught in Norwegian schools as separate subjects. In addition to the division between Bokmaal and Nynorsk, Norwegian encompasses many and varied local dialects. Some Norwegians spend a great deal of time discussing their language and trying to place each other's dialects. Their language is for them a point of national and cultural pride. It should also be noted that in parts of Northern Norway, especially Finnmark and parts of Troms, the Sami population prefer their own Sami language.

Most people speak English, especially in the larger cities, and many speak it very well. Nevertheless, Norwegians truly appreciate any effort made by foreigners to learn their language. Knowledge of Norwegian can be essential for social and business contacts in the country's more remote areas.

Public Institutions Last Updated: 3/22/2004 3:32 AM

Our knowledge of Norwegian history dates back to 9000 B.C.E., when the ice that had covered northern Europe receded and pre-historic peoples began to settle the Scandinavian area. The Viking age, from C.E. 800 to C.E. 1030, was a period of expansion, exploration, and conquest. The Viking inhabitants of Norway expanded south into England and France, and even across the Atlantic to the New World. During the latter part of the Viking age, two major events took place that still have an impact upon Norway today—the unification of the country into a single kingdom and the introduction of Christianity. Although Norway became the fully independent nation of today only in 1905, throughout the past thousand years, Norway has preserved a sense of national identity and unity that traces back to the Viking age.

After the prominence of the Viking period, Norway was severely affected by the plague (ca. 1350). Gradually Norway lost much of its national stature and independence. In 1530, Norway became part of Denmark, and was governed by the Danish monarch until 1814. In 1814, Denmark ceded Norway to Sweden as a result of the Napoleonic wars. However, the Norwegians rose in protest against this agreement and demanded their national right to self-determination.

The major turning point in modern Norwegian history occurred on May 17, 1814, when an assembly of delegates from all over the country met in Eidsvoll, a small town just north of Oslo, and adopted a Constitution for a free, independent, and democratically governed Norway. This Constitution, which is still in force, is based on the U.S. Constitution and provides for three separate branches of government.

The Swedes refused to recognize Norwegian independence and after a short war forced Norway into a union with Sweden under the rule of the Swedish King. From 1814 until 1905, Norway remained in union with Sweden, but the Constitution of Eidsvoll was in force and ensured Norway a democratic form of government with its own parliament and two prime Ministers - one in Stockholm and one in Oslo. The union between Sweden and Norway was dissolved peacefully in 1905, and Norway entered the ranks of independent states.

When Norway gained its independence from Sweden, it decided by popular referendum to retain the limited monarchy as adopted in the Constitution of 1814. The Norwegian Government offered the throne of Norway to Danish Prince Carl, who took the name of Haakon VII, in tribute to previous kings of Norway. Haakon VII became a symbol of unity during the construction of independent, modern Norway. He especially symbolized Norway's fight against the German occupation during World War II. His radio broadcasts to Norway from his exile in London encouraged his countrymen and underscored Norway's determination to regain independence.

Haakon VII reigned until his death in 1957 and was succeeded by his son, Olav V, who was also well loved by the Norwegian people. Olav V died in 1991 and was succeeded by his son Harald, who became King Harald V. King Harald and Queen Sonja have two children, Crown Prince Haakon and Princess Martha Louise. In 2001 Crown Prince Haakon married a commoner, Mette-Marit Tjessem Hoiby, who then became Crown Princess Mette-Marit. In early 2004 they had a daughter Ingrid Alexandra who is second in line of succession to the throne. Princess Martha Louise married the author Ari Behn in 2002. They had a daughter, Maud Angelica, born in 2003 who is number four in line of succession to the throne. Because Norway is a constitutional monarchy, the functions of the King (Chief of State) are mainly ceremonial, but his influence is felt as the symbol of national unity. The King's speech on TV New Years Eve is considered more important than that of the Prime Minister on New Years day.

Norway's Parliament, the Storting, is a modified unicameral parliamentary structure with 165 members elected from 19 counties. The affairs of the country are run by the cabinet led by the Prime Minister. The current cabinet has 19 members, but the number is not fixed. In each county ("fylke"), a governor exercises a limited authority on behalf of the national government. The city of Oslo constitutes a separate 19th jurisdiction but shares a governor with Akerhus Fylke.

The Norwegian Labor Movement used to be a strong force in modern Norwegian political and socioeconomic life. Successive Labor Party governments created a social democratic state with extensive public welfare benefits, universal and comprehensive health insurance, and state funded pension coverage. Non-socialist governments have also supported the evolving system, resulting in an egalitarian and generally prosperous society. Taxation is accordingly high, to pay for these programs.

During the last decade support for the Arbeiderpartiet (the Labor Party) has gradually diminished. At the same time the more leftist SV (Socialist Left Party) has gained support. A similar development has occurred among the non-socialist parties, were the Progress Party (Frp) has gained support at the expense of the old conservative Hoyre. The current Parliament 2001 - 2005 is made up of representatives from six different parties in addition to one independent member.

The current cabinet is made up of three parties and must seek support from other parties in the Storting in order to govern. This is nothing new, as Norway has been governed by various minority governments since 1986. At the same time the number of people voting has dropped.

One of the most important issues in Norwegian politics is the relationship with the rest of Europe - the EU. In a referendum in 1972 Norway voted against membership. In a second referendum in 1994 the majority of Norwegians again voted against being a part of the European Union. As the EU continues to evolve, Norway may have to reassess its position vis-a-vis the EU. Still, the Norwegians are not afraid to stand alone, and they perceive that they have a traditional lifestyle and culture to preserve and protect. Norway is a proudly independent nation, not surprising when one thinks back to the Viking roots of their society.

North Sea oil, which was discovered off Norway's coast in the early 1970s, helps pay for the country's social welfare state. Today, Norway is Western Europe's leading oil producer, pumping nearly 2.9 million barrels (2003) per day and 72 billion cubic meters of nature gas annually. Norway's oil and gas supply puts it in a unique position among European countries in terms of both domestic and foreign policies.

Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 3/3/2004 3:54 AM

Norway has made impressive contributions to Western culture. Norway's unique wooden "stave" churches have survived nearly 900 years. Edvard Grieg, Henrik Ibsen, Gustav Vigeland, and Edvard Munch have enriched music, art, and literature. The sculpture garden of Gustav Vigeland in Oslo's Frogner Park offers an afternoon of wonder as you contemplate Vigeland's powerful and compassionate work. An essential part of expressionist painting, Munch's varied and striking works are displayed in Oslo's National Gallery and the Munch Museum. Ibsen's plays are well loved and are performed all over the world.

In addition to the collections exhibited in the major museums, Oslo offers a number of art galleries such as Kunstnernes Hus, the Henie Onstad Art Center, the Museum for Samtidskunst (Contemporary Art) and the Astrup Fearnley Museum for Modern Art that organize exhibitions of works by American and European artists. Norway is also known for its love of the performing arts. The Bergen International Music Festival sponsors a 2-week cultural extravaganza of classical and contemporary music, dance, and theater each year. A number of jazz festivals are held throughout Norway, and internationally known singers perform frequently.

Education in Norway is free through college and compulsory through age 19. The literacy rate is almost 100%. Over 41,000 students attend Norway's four universities or other institutes of higher learning. English is mandatory in the Norwegian school system from the 4th through 9th grades. Most Norwegians speak English and can often understand French and German in addition to the other Scandinavian languages. The level of scientific and technical education is high in Norway. Norwegians have made significant contributions to many fields of study. Thor Heyerdahl of Kon Tiki fame has followed in the footsteps of the famous Norwegian Arctic explorers Fridtjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen, and Helge Ingstad found evidence that the Vikings settled in North America around 1000 AD. And, of course, Norway is home to the Nobel Institute, a world famous research institution that awards the Nobel Peace Prize in December of each year.

Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 3/22/2004 3:33 AM

Offshore petroleum exploration and exploitation, shipping, metals, pulp and paper products, chemicals, fishing, and forestry are Norway's major industries. The Norwegian-owned merchant fleet is the third largest in the world. Large offshore oil and gas reserves will continue to play a crucial role for Norway in the 21st century.

The Norwegian economy is essentially stable and harbors few surprises. Growth in gross domestic product (GDP), inflation, consumption, and other basic factors strongly resembles those of other developed and prosperous European countries. Over the past 20 years, the Norwegian economy has grown steadily without heavy-handed government intervention.

Norway is a very small country, with a population of 4.5 million and a GDP of just over $188 billion. The economy includes a solid and growing industrial base, but the star of the Norwegian economy since the early 1970s has been petroleum. Growth in oil production and oil price shifts have both had significant effects on the Norwegian economy in the past 20 years, mostly positive. The Norwegian Government maintains control of oil production via the partly privatized company Statoil, of which the Norwegian state is the majority shareholder. A portion of oil-generated revenue supports Norway's federal budget, but the majority is inverted in the National Petroleum fund -- a long-term equity-investment fund that will allow Norway to continue funding pensions and social welfare programs after oil revenues dry up. Fishery and fish farming are the second largest export industry.

Norway's total export of goods and services, including shipping, equals approximately 30% of its GDP, with oil accounting for the lion's share. The economy is heavily influenced by world trade levels, oil prices, and currency exchange rates.

The U.S. exported approximately $1.4 billion in goods to Norway in 2002 and approximately $1.5 billion in services. Norway produces over 3.3 million barrels a day of crude oil and exports 85% of its production making it the third largest oil exporter in the world. The U.S. is Norway's largest foreign investor with $6.6 billion in foreign direct investment at book value (half of which is in the oil and gas sector). Norway has accumulated over $120 billion in the National Petroleum Fund with 20 to 40 percent invested in U.S. stocks and bonds. U.S. firms are competing for significant defense equipment acquisitions which Norway will undertake in the next few years. This Embassy vigorously supports American firms in their fierce competition against European companies.

The U.S. ranked fifth among Norway's trading partners in 2002. Total annual two-way trade is about $7.3 billion. The U.S. supplies primarily transportation equipment, oil and gas services and equipment, machinery, data processing and office equipment, chemicals, aircraft and defense-related items, and soybeans. U.S. imports from Norway are led by crude oil, nonferrous metals, fish, transport equipment, and pulp and paper.

Norway has now voted twice against membership in the EU, in 1972 and again in 1994. As in 1972, the November 1994 referendum was very close—a matter of 2 to 3 percentage points. Since Norway is still a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the European Economic Area, Norway enjoys duty-free trade in manufactured products with the EU.


Automobiles Last Updated: 3/22/2004 3:35 AM

Most Embassy personnel bring a vehicle to post. Norway is a beautiful country that begs to be explored, and it is possible and even desirable to drive to most places in the country or in neighboring countries. Since Norwegian roads are narrow and winter conditions can be extremely difficult, large American cars are less than ideal. Many people choose to bring 4-wheel-drive vehicles because they handle best in slippery winter conditions, especially in the mountains. Others choose front-wheel-drive vehicles for similar reasons.

Despite Norway's low crime rate, vehicle break-ins have occurred within the Embassy community. High-end vehicles, including American sport utility vehicles, seem to be a preferred target. If you plan on bringing a High-end vehicle, including American sport utility vehicles, to post, you may wish to consider taking steps to protect your vehicle, such as installing an alarm. Personnel with diplomatic privileges may import or purchase automobiles in Norway duty free as long as the following rules are followed.

Personnel are limited to one automobile for every family member over the age of 21. Automobiles may be sent unboxed. Non-diplomatic personnel may only own one car during their entire tour and cannot, therefore, trade or upgrade their automobile.

Oslo has been granted an exception to the restriction preventing personnel from shipping foreign made, foreign purchased personally owned vehicles at Government expense (6 FAM 165.9–2). However, the vehicle must meet U.S. EPA standards if the employee purchases a foreign made automobile and plans to ship it to the U.S. after a tour of duty in Norway.

If you hope to bring a car to Norway and sell it before you leave, bear in mind that the Norwegian Government carefully controls auto sales. Check the current regulations before you selling your car in Norway to determine if you will have to pay taxes and duties (which can be very high). Taxes and duties you must pay vary with the age and size of the vehicle. Consult www.toll.no2

A vehicle can be registered in Norway with little or no problem as long as it has been registered in the owner's name at least 24 hours prior to importation. Minor adjustments may have to be made to vehicles upon arrival, at owner's expense along with a mandatory technical inspection, unless the vehicle is a European car with European specifications. American specification cars with catalytic converters do not require removal of the converter, since unleaded fuel is readily available. The authorities inspect cars carefully for rust. Your car may not pass if excessive rust, especially on the frame, is found during inspection. Rust free cars can be undercoated after arrival in Norway. The General Services Office (GSO) will arrange for the required changes to be made and assist with the registration.

All personnel assigned to the Embassy can get duty-free gasoline credit cards through the Embassy for use at pumps equipped to accept the cards. These pumps work much like automatic banking machines in the U.S., but gasoline is dispensed instead of money. The tax charges will automatically be removed from the monthly statement before the charges are billed, bringing the actual cost of gasoline down to about U.S. prices. Full price, including taxes, must be paid at the pump if a gasoline credit card is not used.

Norwegian law requires drivers in Norway to purchase a minimum third- party liability insurance package, and Norwegian companies offer the full range of insurance services as in the U.S. All auto insurance is the personal responsibility of the vehicle owner. For those eligible, it is possible to obtain shipping and liability/collision coverage and the required Norwegian liability insurance through USAA, Clements & Co. and other U.S.-based insurers. Certification of accident-free driving can reduce your car insurance from 10% up to 70% per year. This certification takes the form of a letter (or letters) from the insurance company (or companies) with whom you have done business prior to your arrival in Oslo. The letter(s) should state the number of years of accident-free driving to your credit.

Snow tires are a necessity during Norway's long winter. The law requires that cars are safeguarded against sliding, and if a car involved in an accident is found not to have had appropriate tires for the driving conditions, the driver of that vehicle can be held fully responsible for the accident, regardless of whether he/she is at fault. You may use snow tires with or without studs and/or chains, but studded snow tires face some restrictions within the Oslo city limits. The law states that the car must have the same type of tire on each axle. Although the majority of Norwegians have traditionally used studded winter tires out of habit; that is changing, and good winter tires are just as effective in most conditions. Studded snow tires are not permitted at all in Oslo between mid-April and 1st of November, except when the weather remains bad.

Snow tires of all shapes and sizes, studded or nonstudded, are readily available in Oslo at fairly reasonable prices. The only exception might be snow tires for unusual, old, or very large American brand cars. Some people choose to have their snow tires mounted on an extra set of rims for quicker and easier changes. You can bring snow tires with you or buy them in Norway, but you will definitely need them.

Local Transportation Last Updated: 2/25/2004 7:21 AM

Oslo's municipal transportation system works well and includes electric trains, streetcars, buses, subways, and suburban commuter trains. Although reliable and extensive, public transportation in Oslo is quite expensive. A single trip in 2004 cost about $4.00 within the Oslo city limits. The use of monthly commuter passes or punch cards reduces the rates.

Taxis ("drosjer") operate 24 hours a day. However, they rarely stop when hailed and must be obtained by going to a "taxi stand" or by calling and requesting one. Taxis are usually plentiful, but you may have to wait during bad weather or rush hour. All taxis have meters that begin calculating your fare from the point where the taxi starts its travel to answer your call. The meter continues to run until you reach your destination. Hence, if the taxi is coming to you from far away, the charges may already be quite high before you begin your ride. Taxi drivers do not expect a tip, but a small one is always appreciated.

Traffic is relatively heavy during rush hours. Narrow roads and construction can cause some congestion. Many people, including Embassy employees, use public transportation to commute to and from work. Public transportation is quick, clean, safe, and convenient and eliminates the need to find a place to park. Parking spaces in downtown Oslo can be very difficult to find. Many parking lots use automated meters that can be confusing for the uninitiated to use. Parking near the Embassy is very limited.

Public transportation (buses and streetcars) has the right of way over private automobiles. Many traffic lanes in cities and on some sections of the highways are reserved for public transportation. These lanes are clearly marked, and private cars should not drive in them. Cars must stop for pedestrians approaching and using crosswalks. Official vehicles (such as fire and police) are marked with the same colors as in the U.S. Norwegian law requires yielding access to emergency vehicles.

At regular intersections, traffic entering from the right always has the right of way in Norway, except on major roads marked by yellow diamond-shaped road signs. All drivers must keep a watchful eye, especially in residential areas, for traffic entering from the right. Uphill traffic always has the right of way. There are also numerous traffic circles in and around Oslo. The rule for these circles is that once in the circle, a car has the right of way over cars entering the circle. In this instance, the right hand rule does not apply.

Finally, drivers should be aware that drunk driving laws in Norway are extremely strict and heavily enforced, with possible jail time as a penalty for even the first offense. Drinking anything over the equivalent of one beer will almost certainly put a person over the allowable blood alcohol level.

Regional Transportation Last Updated: 3/22/2004 3:36 AM

Oslo is connected to all major European centers by rail and air. Continental Airlines is expected to offer non-stop service between Newark and Oslo starting in late June 2004.

The Oslo central train station is 10 minutes from the Embassy by car. Oslo's Gardermoen Airport opened in October 1998 and is located about 40 minutes from downtown Oslo. Various ferries are available from Oslo to Denmark and Germany and from Kristiansand to Denmark and Holland. Well organized, sun-oriented charter flights provide excellent vacation opportunities at moderate cost, especially during winter months. Group skiing tours to the European Alps are also available.

Transportation within Norway is by bus, train, ferry, and internal airline flights. Car travel is possible in summer, but certain areas are closed by snow in winter. Road conditions vary. Mountainous areas have many narrow, winding sections of road.


Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 3/25/2004 3:17 AM

Telephone and telegraph facilities are provided by the partly privatized national telephone company, Telenor, as well as several other telephone companies. Direct dial service is available to most areas of the world, including the U.S. AT&T, MCI, and Sprint cards are available for making calls to the U.S. Use of one of these cards can result in significant savings, although Norwegian direct dial long distance rates are some of the lowest in Europe, especially during off peak hours. Applications for these cards are available from the Community Liaison Office (CLO) on arrival, or before leaving the U.S. Basic telephone charges are high. There is a metered charge by the minute for each local call. Rates for local calls are cheapest after 5 p.m. and on weekends. Many people purchase phone cards from local grocery stores that are very affordable. Current offers now allow 550 minutes of phone time for just under $20.

Norwegians use cell phones a lot (the newspaper of record Aftenposten has abolished regular phones and issued all journalist with cell phones instead), and they are as prevalent here, or possibly even more so, as they are in the U.S.

Employees will be expected to pay the phone bills for their residences and for any personal calls made from the Embassy. Telephone bills are received quarterly. If you wish an itemized breakdown of charges per call for calls made from your home, it must be requested when your service is initiated or before the bill is sent, and an NOK 100 charge per billing cycle is assessed for this service. The national telephone company has announced plans to provide itemized lists of phone calls as a public service and will phase this in during the coming years.

Internet Last Updated: 3/3/2004 4:17 AM

Dial-up Internet service is available at homes throughout the city, and costs about 100 NOK (about $14) per month. However, the phone company charges for local calls while connected so this adds to the cost. The local phone charges are about $1.80 per hour during the day, and $1.20 per hour in the evening. Most embassy homes have standard analog phone service and normal modems can be used for up to 56K dial-up service. However, some homes have ISDN phone service, which requires the purchase of locally available ISDN cards (around $50) to be installed in your PC in order to connect to the internet. ISDN dial-up service will run at 64K, which is the same cost as 56K analog service, or at 128K, which will double the cost.

Broadband (ADSL or cable) internet service is available in most, but not all, areas of the city. The cost depends on the speed desired, and ranges from 350 NOK to 750 NOK (about $50 to $107) per month. For the moment, broadband companies do not object to residential users purchasing small routers (around $75) and using the same internet service for more then one networked home computer, a great advantage for families. With broadband, the price is fixed and there are no local call charges added to your phone bill.

Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 3/22/2004 3:38 AM

Personnel regularly use both APO and international mail facilities. International mail will be delivered directly to your local address (or post office, for packages), and the Norwegian postal service is reliable and fast, although somewhat expensive by U.S. standards. APO mail service from the U.S. is generally reliable and takes 5 to 14 days from the U.S. to Oslo. Service to the U.S. takes about the same time. APO parcels generally travel by air (Space Available Mail [SAM] or priority mail). SAM parcels should be no more than 70 pounds in weight and measure no more than 100 inches in combined length and girth. International airmail from the U.S. usually takes 4 to 7 days, but return mail can be slower. Surface shipments by international mail take 4 to 6 weeks from the U.S. and are subject to Norwegian customs.

Communication information for the Embassy is as follows:

Street Address:
American Embassy Oslo
Drammensveien 18
0244 Oslo Norway

APO Address:

Amembassy Oslo
PSC 69, Box 1000
APO AE 09707

Telephone: (47) 22 44 85 50

Fax: (47) 22 43 07 77

Note: Insured or certified mail (or packages addressed to individuals) may be sent by APO but may not be sent via Department of State pouch. Registered mail may not be sent to or from the Embassy APO.

Radio and TV Last Updated: 2/25/2004 7:58 AM

American FM radios are compatible with the Norwegian radio broadcasting system but will have to run through transformers or on batteries (assuming 110v).

The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) is an independent institution responsible for general public broadcasting in Norway. Commercial radio and TV is relatively new to Norway. Until 1984, there was only a single radio channel. In 1993 NRK widened its radio activities to three parallel broadcasts: P1, which chiefly provides major news programs, regional programs, light music, documentaries and reports, as well as classical music and jazz programs; P2, which features cultural and in-depth coverage, and some sports programs; and P3, which caters mainly to younger listeners, leaning heavily toward entertainment, pop, rock music, and sports. In the Oslo area NRK also offers a 24/7 classical radio as well as a 24/7 news service.

A nationwide private radio corporation—P4—began broadcasting in late 1993. Radio programs are in Norwegian and are geared toward Norwegian interests. Shortwave broadcasts in English, particularly from the BBC, offer a good source of news, but reception can be difficult to get. VOA reception is often weak. A growing number of local commercial radio stations throughout Norway offer a variety of programming formats, including Top 40, rock, and adult contemporary music in English. Note: Use of radio transmission equipment, including CB's, is not allowed in Norway without a license.

Norway has two national television networks. NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting) broadcasts more than 60 hours a week, featuring sports, news, drama, children's programs (which are dubbed to Norwegian), educational programs, music, and entertainment. About half of NRK's programs are original NRK productions. There are also several private television stations in Oslo. Cable TV and satellite TV are both available.

Much of the programming is produced locally, but there are a fair number of foreign programs also shown, including popular British and American series. All foreign language programs are subtitled in Norwegian except children's programs, which are dubbed. Oslo area homes equipped with cable TV have better reception of the local channels as well as the option to receive a wide variety of channels, including Sky Channel, Cartoon Channel, FilmNet, CNN, Eurosport, BBC, MTV, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, and two Swedish channels.

Norwegian television uses the European PAL standard. It is not generally financially practical to modify U.S. sets to European specifications. To receive Norwegian broadcasting as well as cable broadcasts, one must have either a multisystem TV or a European PAL TV. (Note: American VCRs will not record PAL signals, nor can they play PAL tapes. Again, a multisystem VCR is required for these purposes. Since PAL tapes of American movies are available for rent locally on just about every corner, a multisystem or PAL TV and VCR are desirable.) DVD players and American DVDs are set for Region 1 and Norway is in Region 2. A multi-region, multi-system DVD player is also required to view Norwegian DVDs on a multi-system TV.

U.S. sets designed to operate at 110v, 60 cycles can be adapted to 220v with transformers and used to play U.S. standard (NTSC) VCR tapes. The Embassy has a small library of NTSC videos for community use and also receives Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) movies for circulation among the community.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated: 3/3/2004 4:20 AM

Popular American and British magazines are readily available at the newspaper stands (kiosks) particularly at Narvesen, which can be found all over Oslo as well as in other major cities. British newspapers, the International Herald Tribune, and USA Today are also available locally.

The cost of magazines is higher than in the U.S. Subscriptions through the APO should be considered. Many Embassy employees have subscriptions through the APO for monthly magazines but buy weekly news magazines locally. Home delivery is only available for Norwegian newspapers. Most Norwegian libraries have an English book section that often contains current children's books and adult fiction and nonfiction. Many bookstores in Oslo carry American and British books, but prices are considerably higher than in the country of origin.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities Last Updated: 3/3/2004 7:16 AM

The Embassy's Health Unit was opened in June 2003. The office is manned by a locally hired Registered Nurse, who works 3 days a week.

Norwegian public health and medical care facilities are extensive, reasonably priced, and of excellent quality. In an emergency, the patient will be evaluated by the ambulance service/emergency center and taken to the proper facility. Most Norwegian health care specialists speak English.

Norwegian ophthalmologists and optometrists are comparable to their American counterparts in skill, but the prices for these services are much higher in Norway than in the U.S. Opticians fill prescriptions efficiently and promptly. Most types of glasses and contact lenses are available.

Norwegian dentists vary greatly in ability and price. Orthodontic work is good and usually costs less then in the U.S. The dental school offers routine and specialized care for both adults and children through the use of licensed professionals and dental students. Oslo also has emergency dental clinics ("tannlegevakt").

As an alternative to the public health system, Embassy personnel may utilize privately owned medical centers. The one that is frequently used, is called Volvat Medisinske Senter (Volvat). Volvat has a large staff of general practitioners and specialists in many fields. American staff and their families have access to all services. Volvat prices are generally quite reasonable (especially by U.S. standards), and Volvat provides receipts in English for submission to U.S. insurance carriers upon request.

Drugstores are open form 9 am to 5 pm on weekdays and until early afternoon on Saturdays. One pharmacy is also open 24 hours a day, including week-ends. Most medicines require prescriptions, although headache remedies, vitamins, cold remedies and other patent medicines do not. Note, however, that even aspirin can be bought in only small quantities (one pack of 20 tablets at a time). If you have a favorite pain relief and cold medicines, you may want to bring a supply with you. Drug quality is well controlled and therefore excellent, and prices are reasonable. Only Celsius thermometers are available locally, so we recommend bringing an extra Fahrenheit thermometer form the U.S. Note, that the doctor will want to know the temperature of your fever in Celsius. Given that, it may be worth acquiring a Celsius thermometer too.

Community Health Last Updated: 3/2/2004 5:37 AM

Sanitary conditions in Norway are among the best in the world. Strict laws govern commercial processing, cooking, handling, and serving of foods. The state-run water supply system is excellent and drinkable without filtering throughout the country. Oslo is in general much cleaner then most U.S. cities of comparable size.

Norway has not had any serious epidemics in years, although the flu season can be severe. Flu's, colds and sore throat infections may be aggravated by the lack of sunshine during the winter months. The cold winter weather and the low humidity in heated homes and buildings can also contribute to discomfort during illness.

The risk of contagious disease is the same as in the U.S. Seasonal episodes of mumps and chicken pox break out each year. Large-scale outbreaks of measles, mumps, and rubella (German measles) are rare because so many children have been vaccinated.

Preventive Measures Last Updated: 3/2/2004 5:38 AM

No particular vaccinations are required.

Norway's climate is generally healthy. Upper respiratory infections occur more frequently during fall, winter, and spring. Norwegians consider vitamin pills and cod liver oil (available locally) essential to compensate for winter's lack of sunshine and vitamin D. The water is not fluoridated. However, fluoride tablets for children can be obtained at drugstores without prescription or at the Embassy's Health Unit. Fluoride rinses are also available.

Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 3/25/2004 3:18 AM

As of November 2003, the Embassy employed 11 family members in a variety of positions: two positions (one consular associate and one consular clerk) in the Consular Section, two administrative assistants in the Management Section, the Community Liaison Office Coordinator, a secretary in the Regional Security Office, an office assistant in the Office of Defense Cooperation, and four temporary positions with work schedules when actually employed (WAE), working in a variety of offices. In addition, the Rockefeller Amendment makes all locally employed staff (LES) positions open to qualified dependent applicants with priority consideration given. As of 2003, post has 13 Locally Resident U.S. citizens (Rockefellers).

The Norwegian Foreign Ministry guarantees that Embassy dependents will be issued work permits for Norway if they are able to find a job. (Note: The process of obtaining a work permit and tax card takes approximately 2-3 months. and the new employee technically cannot receive a salary until this process is completed.) If employed on the economy, one must pay the high Norwegian income tax.

American Embassy - Oslo

Post City Last Updated: 3/2/2004 6:03 AM

Oslo, with a population of about a half-million people, is Norway's capital and its largest city. In addition to being the seat of government, Oslo is also the business and cultural capital of the nation.

Oslo lies in the shape of a horseshoe at the head of the Oslo Fjord. The city covers an area of 167 square miles between the shoreline and surrounding hills. The horseshoe opens out onto the fjord, which stretches about 60 miles between forested hills and farmlands down to the open sea. The city is spectacular during spring and summer when flowers blossom in parks, around public buildings, and on almost every window ledge. Winter's landscape brings a crystalline beauty of its own.

Oslo is home to many Americans. The Consular Section has 18,000 Americans registered, and there could be as many as 25,000 Americans in Norway. There are approximately 75 Americans working in the Embassy.

Security Last Updated: 3/22/2004 3:41 AM

Norway is a relatively safe country by any standard. The threat of trans-national terrorism exists at all posts throughout the world and Norway is no exception. In May 2003 Aymen Zawahiri, an al-Qa'ida spokesperson, mentioned Norway in a list of four countries which should be attacked. Currently there are no known threats against the Embassy and its personnel. The American Embassy in Oslo is situated with major streets on two of its three sides, and unfortunately, offers limited setback. Post has as extensive Perimeter Security Upgrade project approved, and construction will begin in the near term to improve the Chancery's security footprint.

Crime: Norway continues to experience a relatively low level of crime in comparison to the United States and other western European countries with a comparable population. Residential burglaries and petty theft continue to be recorded as the most prevalent crimes. Police attribute criminal youth gangs and the significant immigrant population, to include criminals from the former Soviet Union, as the main perpetrators. High value cars (European and American) have become a particular target of professional car thieves looking to ship cars to Eastern Europe at a high profit. Owners of expensive vehicles may wish to take appropriate precautions, such as installing an alarm, before bringing the car to post. It may also be wise to permanently mark high-value items being brought to post with some type of identification number.

In Oslo, and the other major urban areas, crime has predictably been centered in the inner city and high transit areas. As in any other western country, especially in urban areas, the exercise of basic security awareness is prudent and called for. The majority of the criminal cases reported to the police continue to be theft related incidents. Although rare, violent and weapons related crimes do occur. Newly arrived personnel and visitors should be aware that instances of pick-pocketing and petty theft are predictably common in the major tourist areas, hotel lobbies, in the train and transit stations and in those surrounding areas.

Political Violence: The threat facing Americans from political violence is low. Anti-American sentiments can best be characterized as small, planned, usually peaceful demonstrations against a particular U.S. policy. Protests are generally staged at the American Embassy or in the central areas of Oslo. Protests have been against a specific official U.S. Government position and have not targeted U.S. citizens as a whole. Norwegians are basically law-abiding citizens who pride themselves on being in a well-ordered, peaceful society. Norwegian police are assigned to all legal demonstrations and have special units on-call, twenty-four hours a day to respond should they be needed. There is no threat from war and/or civil unrest in Norway.

Norwegian Police: Travel in all areas of Norway is considered safe and the Norwegian Police can be counted on to provide good services to foreigners during their stay in the country. The Norwegian Police are generally responsive, professional and cooperative. Official corruption is rare, and punishable under Norwegian law. Law enforcement personnel in Norway are well trained and almost all of them speak fluent English. Their emergency response time is good, and their equipment is excellent. Uniformed police patrol by foot, motorcycle, bicycle, horse and car. Personnel detained by the Norwegian Police cannot be held for more then four hours without being formally charged with a crime. Police traditionally do not come to the scene of a routine non-violent crime such as non-injury vehicle accident. Persons involved in an accident involving an injury must call the police and those involved should not move the vehicles before police arrive.

Drinking and Driving: Norway has perhaps the most restrictive laws regarding driving while under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. Norwegian law prescribes heavy penalties for even a low blood alcohol level (.2 per thousand). Police checkpoints inspecting for drivers under the influence of alcohol are routine.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 3/22/2004 3:42 AM

The Embassy in Oslo is a small-to medium-sized post, employing 75 Americans and 129 local employees. All of the offices that comprise the Embassy are housed within the Chancery, located in central Oslo at Drammensveien 18. The Mission is made up of representatives from the Department of State and the Departments of Defense, Commerce, and Agriculture. The Defense Department's representation includes the Defense Attache's Office (DAO) and the Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC). State and Defense personnel make up the lion's share of American positions.

The Chancery is a striking triangular shaped building that was completed in 1959. It was designed by the famous Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen. Offices line the three walls of the triangular building and look out onto a wide-open, diamond-shaped atrium that reaches from ground level to the roof of the building. The atrium creates a sense of openness and friendliness in the building—an employee walking on the fourth floor can easily hail a colleague crossing the ground level of the building.

The Embassy is well situated in Oslo, near the Royal Palace and just a few minutes walking distance from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a number of other government offices. A 5-minute walk brings one to the heart of Oslo: Karl Johann's Gate, a pedestrian street lined with shops, cafes, restaurants, and other cultural centers.

Embassy office hours are from 8:30 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday. The Consular Section is open daily to the public from 9 am to noon, but visa applicants must have appointments. The Embassy closes on American and Norwegian holidays. (See Local Holidays.)

The Embassy offers a number of services to its personnel. A local catering company operates a cafeteria that serves breakfast and lunch daily on weekdays. The Embassy Employee Association (EEA) runs a small but growing convenience store that stocks a selection of food, liquor and beer, and toiletries. The store also sells snacks to employees during hours when the cafeteria is not operating. The APO operates out of the Embassy and receives mail daily.

Housing Last Updated: 8/11/2004 6:21 AM

Government-owned, -furnished housing is provided to the Ambassador and DCM. Exterior and interior color photographs
of these residences are on file in the Overseas Buildings Office in the
Department of State. The Chief of the ODC has leased, unfurnished quarters. The NCOIC of the Embassy Marine Guards has a leased, furnished residence. All other housing of Embassy personnel
at present is in leased, unfurnished residences. Acquisition, leasing, and management of the Mission’s housing pool is the responsibility of the management officer with the assistance of the general services

Housing assignments are made by the Embassy via the interagency Housing Board. Housing assignments are made for personnel in advance of their arrival from the pool of houses the
Embassy leases. The Embassy solicits input from incoming personnel in the form of a Housing Questionnaire sent out with the post Welcome Packet or by e-mail. The Housing Board makes every effort to accommodate employee preferences.

Newly arrived personnel will be moved directly into their permanent housing if at all possible. If the housing is not ready for occupation, the family may have to spend a short time in a hotel. The Embassy provides basic furniture and Welcome Kits on loan until the employee’s household effects (HHE) arrive. In general, housing for Embassy personnel in Oslo is excellent. The post housing pool contains a wide variety of apartments, town houses, and houses. In spite of the diversity, a number of generalizations about how Oslo housing differs from typical American housing can be made:
• It is not unusual for even a large apartment to have only one bathroom, especially in older buildings.
• Norwegian bedrooms tend to be very small (generally around 10 feet x 10 feet), which means that large American bedroom sets may not fit.
• There tends to be very little closet space by American standards, especially for clothes. Storage space is generally ample but often in the basement or attic.
• Kitchens tend to be small and rarely have room to accommodate a table and chairs.

Furnishings Last Updated: 10/31/2000 6:00 PM

Since Oslo is an unfurnished post, a full shipment of HHE is authorized for most personnel. Post recommends that you bring the maximum usable amount of furniture and household furnishings. Although everything you might need to furnish your house is available locally, prices are exceedingly high. You should plan on furnishing a completely empty house except for basic appliances and a minimum of lighting. In many locations, this will include curtains, rugs, and lamps. Bring as many lamps as you can! (Remember that American lamps can be used with 220v current as long as the bulbs are 220v.)

All other American electrical appliances and equipment, unless made to run on 220v as well as 110v, will have to be plugged into a transformer. American 110v stereos, PC's, TV's and VCR's will function well if plugged into a transformer.

However, the U.S. system for TV's and VCR's differs from the Norwegian. The U.S. system will function for showing U.S. standard NTSC videos but will not receive local TV or cable signals. Nor will the VCR be able to play locally rented videos. For these purposes, you will need a PAL-system TV and VCR. (Most multi-system TV's and VCR's will include European PAL as well as American NTSC.)

Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 8/11/2004 6:21 AM

All quarters will be supplied with major appliances including a clothes washer and dryer, stove with oven, refrigerator with freezer unit. These are usually supplied by the landlord and will generally be of European manufacture (smaller than American models and often with longer operating cycles.) Incoming employees are strongly discouraged from using their own appliances. Local household wiring may not support the cureent requirements of American appliances.

Each USG-owned and leased residential unit will have Embassy-provided fire extinguishers, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Food Last Updated: 3/2/2004 6:56 AM

In general, food availability and variety in Norway are excellent. The economy offers a wide range of food shopping options, from small bakeries and gourmet coffee boutiques to large American-style supermarkets. Almost everything in the standard American diet is readily available, although it is likely to cost a lot more.

Fresh fruit and vegetables are largely imported and of very good quality. They are available year round, but the selection can become more limited during the winter months. Local dairy products are always available, and their quality is consistently excellent. In addition, you can easily find a large assortment of imported cheeses. Fresh, first quality meat and fish are always available, but the cuts and selection differ from what one would find in the U.S. You can buy a variety of wonderful newly baked breads, rolls, and cakes in the ubiquitous bakeries.

A limited assortment of canned and bottled baby food is available, but it is almost exclusively mixed dinners or blended fruit. The quality is similar to that of American baby food, and, as with everything else, the price is much higher. Infant formula is available in the local economy in powdered form only and is the type meant for newborns. There appears to be no market in Norway for the graduated formulas, with and without iron, etc. that Americans use.

Paper products, diapers, cleaning supplies, and personal care items are all readily available and of similar quality to American products. However, given the durable nature of these products, you may want to consider including bulk shipment of them with your HHE as a cost saving measure. (Note: Disposable diapers in Norway are fairly reasonable in price.) The same is true for nonperishable food items.

There is a small Embassy Employee Association (EEA) store located in the Embassy that carries a limited supply of American food and other items.

Clothing Last Updated: 10/31/2000 6:00 PM

The quality of clothing available in Oslo is excellent. Prices are 30%–50% higher than in the U.S. for comparable "top of the line" items. Very few bargains are available in children's clothing items. Sales occur in July and August and again in the spring. You should bring a good selection of clothing from the U.S. for all members of your family. Clothing can also be ordered through catalogs from the U.S. via the APO. Shoes are often very expensive and tend to come only in wide widths. A varied selection of sturdy winter boots is available, again only in the wider widths.

Downhill and cross-country ski wear and equipment are available locally. The quality is excellent, and frequent sales do appear for these items. Prices for ski wear and equipment are often less for European brands than in the U.S. Used sports (bikes, skates, and ski) equipment, and some clothing (especially for children) are available in Oslo at some stores and at various flea markets ("loppemarkeds"). These are much more reasonable than new equipment and clothing. Down jackets and coats are very expensive locally. You should plan to buy these in the U.S. or order them through catalogs after arrival in Oslo.

Dry cleaning is extremely expensive by U.S. standards. Plan to bring clothing that is machine washable and easy to iron.

Men Last Updated: 3/2/2004 7:00 AM

Men should bring wool suits, sweaters, scarves, gloves, heavy overcoats, and insulated lined or other boots. Good rubber boots are available locally, but overshoes should be purchased in the U.S. Dress shirts are expensive. The local selection of ties is excellent, and prices compare with those in the U.S. A raincoat (preferably washable) with a zip-out liner is invaluable. Bring some lightweight apparel for warm summer days.

Diplomatic life is fairly informal. A dark suit is acceptable for most informal evening functions. Jackets and ties are generally worn to the office. Navy blue blazers and gray slacks are often worn to the office and for casual occasions. Black tie is used occasionally among senior diplomats. Junior staff members may find a tuxedo useful, but not necessary. Tuxedos are used at formal diplomatic gatherings. White tie is almost never worn. Tuxedos can be rented locally, but sizes vary, and the cost is high.

Women Last Updated: 3/2/2004 7:02 AM

Women in Norway dress informally during the day but more formally for evening events than in the U.S. Winter clothes should include woolens, warm suits, sweaters, scarves, gloves, heavy overcoats, and insulated or other boots. Slacks and pantsuits are often worn, but jeans are worn for very informal occasions. Some summer days and evenings can be cool, but you should bring light clothing for the short summer season. Women will find a raincoat with a hood (preferably washable) and a zip-out lining invaluable.

Norwegians dress simply, and diplomatic life is usually informal. Women dress for informal dinners as they would in the U.S. Long formal dress is required infrequently. The Ambassador and DCM may need formal daytime dress when meeting the King at the Palace or in the Storting. Black dresses are generally not worn to diplomatic functions at the Palace. Women's hats are becoming very fashionable but are expensive locally.

Lingerie can be purchased in Norway, but prices are much higher than in the U.S. Panty hose and stockings are fairly priced, but sizes and colors may be different than in the U.S. Newcomers are advised to stock up before they leave the U.S.

Children Last Updated: 3/22/2004 3:44 AM

Locally available infants' and children's clothing vary in quality and are also extremely expensive. You should bring several sizes of clothes and shoes to allow for growth. Many families order clothing for their children through catalogs after arrival in Oslo. (Remember to allow for at least a 6-week delivery time through the APO, although it is common to get delivery in 7 to 14 days.) Norwegian winter clothing seems sturdier and warmer than U.S. brands. Children's shoes and boots are wider than in the U.S. and can cost $50–$80 per pair. Sneakers and running shoes are available but cost more than in the U.S.

Office Attire Last Updated: 3/2/2004 7:05 AM

Military: Military officers generally wear civilian clothes at the office and for informal social occasions. The DAO recommends a tuxedo and a mess dress for attachés. A mess dress may suffice for other members of the military. A full range of uniforms is needed but may be worn only on a limited number of official occasions. Officers serving as Army, Navy, or Air attachés need both service and dress aiguillettes. Warrant officers and enlisted personnel wear civilian clothing daily. Uniforms are worn infrequently. Both groups should have at least one Class A winter uniform.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 3/16/2004 3:18 AM

You can get pretty much everything you need, whether it's supplies or services, on the local economy. Still, the following may be of interest in helping you plan and save money.

The EEA operates a small duty-free store at the embassy where all American may purchase many American food items (frozen and dry goods), alcoholic beverages, cleaning supplies, snacks, soft drinks, and some over-the-counter pharmaceuticals that are ordered from Ramstein Air Base in Germany. A wide range of duty-free items can also be ordered through the EEA, or directly through Peter Justesen, located in Denmark. Deliveries generally take 1-2 weeks from Germany, and only a few days from Peter Justesen.

You should bring a 3-month supply of prescription medicines because it may take that much time to make arrangements at a local pharmacy for a continued supply, or you may receive prescriptions through your insurance company's suggested mail-order pharmacy. You may also want to bring a small supply of special or favorite cosmetics.

Plan to include in your airfreight shipment basic cleaning and laundry aids and appliances such as a broom, mop, iron and ironing board, and vacuum cleaner. Although the post does provide Welcome Kits on loan, post cannot allow personnel to keep these kits for the length of their tours.

Basic Services Last Updated: 3/2/2004 7:17 AM

Most standard services are available on the economy but expensive and sometimes slow. Beauty/barbershops are plentiful. Most haircuts cost between 180 - 400 NOK or 22 - 45 dollars. Shoe and radio repair shops are available. Local drycleaning takes 4–7 days, is expensive, and can fall below U.S. standards for delicate items like silk and leather. Fur cleaning and storage can be arranged at fur stores. Laundries provide satisfactory but expensive work. Fast service increases the price. A few Laundromats can be found, but the prices ($6–$8 a wash load) are exorbitant. Hardware, electrical, and plumbing supplies for "do-it-yourself" repairs are readily available.

Domestic Help Last Updated: 3/2/2004 7:19 AM

In Norway, good live-in domestic help can be difficult to find and is expensive. Many families at the Embassy employ domestic help from among the expatriate community living in Norway. It is also possible in Norway for a diplomat to sponsor a visa for a domestic employee, either live in or not, and many families take this route as well. Norwegian law requires that non-Norwegian domestic employees be registered through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and that the employer guarantee payment into the Norwegian social insurance system on the employee's behalf. Although expensive, this payment gives the domestic employee complete access to the national health system at virtually no cost.

If a family needs only occasional or part-time help, it is available locally. For catering parties, local help is likely to cost $15–$20 per hour. For cleaning, prices range from $8–$12 per hour. Babysitting costs are similar to the U.S., $7–$13 an hour.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 3/2/2004 7:28 AM

Norway's state religion is Lutheranism, and virtually all Norwegian citizens adhere to this faith at least nominally, although regular church attendance is low.

There are a number of houses of worship in Oslo offering services in English, including Lutheran, Catholic, Latter-day Saints, Baptist, Christian Science, Quaker, Pentecostal, Anglican, and Jewish. The CLO's office will have a list of these.


Dependent Education

At Post Last Updated: 3/22/2004 3:46 AM
Schools: Parents should note that tuition and bus transportation for students beginning at age 5 is paid for by Post or DOD.

The Oslo International School (OIS). OIS is the only English-language school available to dependents of Mission employees. It is an International Baccalaureate (IB) world school and is accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS) and New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). The school offers co-educational international education for students from ages 3 to 18. The majority of dependent children are enrolled in OIS. The Department of State has designated an away-from-post school allowance for kindergarten through grade 12.

General School Information. Located in Bekkestua, a suburb of Oslo, the school is a 20-minute drive from the Embassy. Enrollment is open to children of all nationalities who are interested in English language instruction.

Learning is the central purpose of everything connected with the OIS curriculum, Facilitating students to learn and develop academically, socially and emotionally is at the core of OIS.

For administrative purposes, OIS is organized as two units: the Primary School and the Secondary School. All students are placed in grades according to their age as of 1 September.

The Primary School and the Secondary School share the same campus. The main building is a purpose-built single story building housing shared specialist facilities such as the Library and Media (L/M) centre, the Learning Support (L/S) centre, International Communication Technology (ICT) labs, science and physical education (PE) facilities. In addition, regular classrooms are located in the main building. Temporary classrooms house the Kindergarten, Reception and other parts of the Primary School.

On the OIS campus there are playing areas, play equipment and a soccer area. Free public car parking facilities are available nearby. Within a short walking distance of the OIS campus is Nadderudhallen Sports Complex and local authority soccer fields and track.

The school year begins in late August and ends in the third week of June. There is no school uniform, but weather dictates that student swear clothing appropriate for outdoor play throughout the school year. Students have outside recess twice each day. Students will need rain boots, raincoats, and rain pants during the fall and spring. Winter jackets, snow pants, snow boots, gloves and hats are required in the winter. It is only in extreme conditions, e.g., very strong winds causing high wind-chill factors, very heavy rainfall, or severe ice conditions, that outside recess is cancelled. OIS has never closed school during the 40 years of its existence because of weather conditions.

OIS does not have a cafeteria. Students are required to bring a packed lunch, drink and snack. Students are required to have a pair of indoor (soft-soled) shoes at the school. There are school buses that are used by most embassy dependents.

The OIS has a Learning Support (L/S) department that helps facilitate the work carried out in the normal curriculum by providing re-teaching, reinforcement, improving reading skills, and supporting study skills.

Outside of this program OIS has no program for children with special needs.

The Primary School. The first 4 years of the Primary School is similar to the U.S. education program: 2 years of pre-school, a year of Kindergarten and the 1st grade.

Kindergarten 3-4 years of age
Reception 4-5 years of age
Year 1 5-6 years of age
Year 2 6-7 years of age
Year 3 7-8 years of age
Year 4 8-9 years of age
Year 5 9-10 years of age
Year 6 10-11 years of age
From the early years section (excluding kindergarten) and up to year 6, students follow the International Primary Curriculum (IPC). Students in Years 7 to 11 follow courses leading to the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) and in Years 12 and 13 follow the prestigious International Baccalaureate Diploma Course.

OIS Kindergarten program is designed to help children mix and work happily with other children, help children to gain control over actions and movements, and stimulate an interest in learning. The time is divided into story, music, rhythmics, and free play both outdoors and indoors. Instruction is provided in handwork, painting, modeling, and physical education.

Learning from reception to Year 6 is divided into individual stand-alone subjects and the IPC. These stand-alone subjects include literacy, mathematics, ICT, drama, music and PE.

The IPC Program has been designed to help children develop an international mindset, alongside an awareness of their own nationality. Children are also encouraged to develop the skills needed to take an active part in the world around them, both now and in the future. IPC takes into account up-to-date research into how children learn and how they can be encouraged to become life-long learners.

Geography, world history, science and art are taught in integral units. These units will also include some ICT, PE and music. In addition, some units may include aspects of Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) and/or comparative religious studies.

Each unit covered by IPC has clearly defined goals for knowledge, skills and understanding that children are expected to meet. Goals differ according to the age of the student. There are three sets of goals for each unit; Subject goals, personal goals, and International goals.

The Secondary School. This school consists of seven years of education. Secondary school education at OIS starts in Year 7 and is completed in Year 13.

Year 7 11-12 years of age
Year 8 12-13 years of age
Year 9 13-14 years of age
Year 10 14-15 years of age
Year 11 15-16 years of age
Year 12 (IB1) 16-17 years of age
Year 13 (IB2) 17-18 years of age
From years 7-9 compulsory curriculum subjects include: English, Mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, world history, geography, art, design technology, food, drama, music, physical education, ICT and modern languages including Norwegian, French, Spanish and German. Spanish and German are only available from Year 9. In years 10 to 11, students choose optional subjects, and follow a 2 year curriculum leading to the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) examination. Schools in over 90 countries use IGCSE.

In Years 12 and 13 students follow the IB Diploma Program, an international pre-university curriculum. The IB was created to provide international schools with both an appropriate common curriculum at the Upper Secondary School level and a matriculation examination with wide acceptability. IB programs have now also been adopted by many national school systems.

The IB program requires two years of continuous instruction. Dependents transferring to OIS in their senior year of high school should have already completed one year of IB program instruction. Every effort is made to accommodate students wishing to enter OIS with only one remaining year before high school graduation. IB students in the past have used their diploma or groups of IGCSE subjects to gain credit, with Advanced Placement tests. Many leading universities grant up to 1 year's credit on this basis. The Office of Overseas Schools should be consulted concerning dependents in their high school years to determine if the OIS program will fit with the student's previous education.

U.S. History. Note that OIS teaches world history and not U.S. history. Although the Mission is continuing to help facilitate U.S. history courses at the embassy, this may not be enough U.S. history for students when returning to the U.S. to continue schooling. Parents who are concerned about their children learning U.S. history should bring U.S. history books for home study.

English as an Additional Language (EAL). The aim of EAL teaching is to enable students who do not have English as their mother tongue, and do not have a level of English to allow them to function comfortably in the regular classroom, to participate effectively and satisfactorily at OIS.

You are encouraged to visit the OIS website at:

Other Schools:

There are French- and German-language schools located in downtown Oslo. They are both considered excellent (French, 6–18 years; German, 6–15 years). Local Norwegian schools are also available. Embassy dependent children have attended all the above schools over the past years and have been fully satisfied with their education.

Preschool and Day Care.

Frogner International Preschool. This is an English language preschool that is located in the American Lutheran Church in downtown Oslo. The school is open to children ages 3 to 7. Classes are held from 9am to 3pm, with a before and after school program at an additional cost. They have an excellent preschool program which includes reading in the 5 year old class.

The International Montessori Preschool. The Montessori school has an excellent preschool program.

Note that there may be a waiting list for admittance to these schools, so parents wishing to enroll a child should contact the CLO at post before arrival.

Norwegian Preschool Programs. There are two types of Norwegian preschool programs: the "barnehage" and "barnepark." The barnehage is an indoor nursery school for children aged 1 to 6 with hours from 7:30 am to 5 pm on weekdays. A barnehage is either privately owned or operated by a commune. The barnepark is similar but is outdoors, for children aged 1 to 4, and usually open from 10 am to 2 pm. It is quite difficult for Embassy dependents to enter a barnehage; preference is given to Norwegian children, and there is always a long waiting list. Parents should apply well in advance to reserve a space. It is less difficult to find space in a barnepark. Tuition for the barnehage and barnepark are reasonable in comparison to American day care facilities.

Day Care. There is no day care center available at post. Some employees have relied on au pairs brought to post.

Moms and Tot's Programs. There are informal Moms and Tots groups within the English-speaking community in Oslo, which are open to Embassy employees and their dependents.

Special Needs Education Last Updated: 3/15/2004 4:46 AM

The OIS has a Learning Support (L/S) department that helps facilitate the work carried out in the normal curriculum by providing re-teaching, reinforcement, improving reading skills, and supporting study skills.

Outside of this program OIS has no program for children with special needs.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 3/10/2004 3:45 AM

Norway offers excellent and varied opportunities for recreation. Sports and outdoor activities can be found to fit almost any pursuit or interest. Practically all types of equipment are available in Oslo, but except for used items (skates, skis, bikes), it is fairly expensive. You should plan to bring equipment from the U.S. for all sports except skiing and skating, or you can order through catalogs.

Cross-country ("langrenn") skiing is the country's major winter sport. It is also a way of life. Alpine ("slalom") skiing and snow boarding are very popular. The number of ski resorts with good lifts increases every year. Ski resorts like Geilo, Hemsedal, Trysil and Hafjell are packed during the Christmas and Easter holidays. All around Oslo you can find lighted cross-country ski trails, which make for a wonderful evening outing. Lessons, taught in English or Norwegian, are available for all ages and levels, including those who have no previous experience in skiing. Skis, boots, and poles are readily available on the economy and are one of the few true bargains in Norway. Many comfortable hotels, cabins, and lodges in the mountains cater to winter sports enthusiasts.

Hiking and camping are very popular in Norway. Hiking trails are marked on most 1:50000 maps. Norwegians love to take extended hiking trips with nightly stops in tents or cabins during the summer months. Good camping areas are available throughout the country during the warmer weather, but Norwegian camping areas (like many European camping spots) are often quite crowded by American standards.

Norway offers superb areas for riding mountain bikes on dirt and gravel roads. If you like to ride, purchase a bicycle prior to arriving, as bicycles in Norway can be extremely expensive.

Fishing is also a very popular summer sport. Many good streams can be found close to the Oslo area. Deep-sea fishing in the Oslo Fjord or on the west coast of Norway is free and does not require a license. Good equipment is available in Oslo. The national fishing license costs little, but you may encounter additional expenses since hotels or landowners control many of the best streams and may charge high fees for fishing rights. First class trout and salmon fishing is at least a full day's travel from Oslo and very expensive.

To be able to hunt in Norway you have to pass a huntsman test and pay an annual hunting tax. Hunters meeting the requirements for hunting in the U.S. and providing documentation of this do not have to pass the test in Norway. September and October are the months for hunting game birds such as grouse, duck, and mountain grouse (ptarmigan). September is also the time for hunting moose, deer, and reindeer. Many hunting areas are controlled, and access can be expensive.

Sailing, rowing, and boardsailing are popular summer sports. The Oslo Fjord is white with sails by 4 p.m. on summer afternoons. Boat rentals, sailing lessons, and sailboard rentals and lessons are available. Canoeing and kayaking are also popular. The most challenging golf course, 20 minutes from downtown Oslo, charges a membership fee. Greens fees apply to nonmembers. Nonmembers wishing to play on weekends must be members of some other golf club and have a valid membership card. An American golf club membership can be obtained at reduced rates. There are several golf courses within driving distance of Oslo.

Summer is usually warm enough for swimming in the fjords and nearby lakes. Indoor pools are available during all seasons. A heated outdoor pool at Frogner Park in Oslo is open from May to mid- September. Swimming instruction for children is offered throughout the year.

Oslo has good indoor and outdoor tennis courts and badminton courts. Squash and racquetball courts are growing in number. A tennis club located in Frogner Park has memberships available on a seasonal basis for members of the Diplomatic Corps.

Oslo has several locations for bowling. Several curling clubs encourage enthusiasts. Two stables are available. The cost is high, and you should bring riding clothes from the U.S. Many bicycle paths are open for Oslo's numerous cyclists. Bicycle rental is available at Aker Brygge, near the Embassy.

Children arriving at post will find local Norwegian sports clubs that sponsor soccer, basketball, ice hockey, and ice bandy teams. The Embassy has a men's softball team that competes with other teams in the Norwegian Baseball and Softball Federation. Spectator sports include soccer, track and field competitions, figure and speed skating competitions, horse racing, and the internationally famous ski jumping competitions at Holmenkollen.

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 3/22/2004 3:47 AM

Norway offers outstanding opportunities for the tourist and nature lover. The beautiful western fjord country can be reached by daily trains that connect Oslo with Trondheim and Bergen. Both routes traverse high mountain ranges and narrow valleys. Coastal steamers sail round trip from Bergen to the northern tip of the country at Kirkenes, next to the Russian border. This relatively expensive round trip takes about 2 weeks. The ship stops at many points along the coast, permitting many shorter side trips. The North Cape and Finnmark, Norway’s northernmost areas (the land of the midnight sun and northern lights), are also accessible by air. Main roads are kept open for auto traffic in winter except over the high mountains, where snow blocks the roads from October to June.

The Oslo area is full of parks and museums, ancient rock carvings, old stave churches, and lovely views of the countryside. Popular seaside towns along the outer fjord’s west coast (Sorlandet) are only a few hours by rail or automobile from Oslo. A 3 to 7 hour train ride takes you to the highest mountain ranges for fishing, hiking, and mountain climbing in summer or skiing in winter. Regularly scheduled buses and fjord ferries supplement train services to many towns and popular ski centers. Every Norwegian dreams of owning at least one cabin ("hytte") in the mountains and one by the sea. Norwegians love to enjoy nature in both winter and summer. Some Embassy members rent such cabins for vacations. These cabins cost fairly little and provide a rather primitive but charming way to experience the Norwegian countryside.

Norway has some 1100 hotels with more than 20 beds, in addition to a large number of small hotels, private log cabins, and camping sites available for those who do not have a hytte. Hotels are quite expensive. Several Embassy members have enjoyed touring in trailers or campers. The Norwegian Mountain Touring Association operates more then 200 inexpensive lodges in all the principal mountain ranges for hikers. The lodges, situated a day’s walk apart along well-marked trails, offer meals and overnight accommodations. Almost 50 of these lodges are manned with staff during high season (Easter and summer). The remaining mountain cabins are available with a universal key that can be had after a small deposit is paid.

Entertainment Last Updated: 3/10/2004 3:42 AM

Oslo is a pleasant family town. Most Norwegians spend their weekends skiing, boating, hiking, or relaxing with their families at home or at their cabins. This makes it difficult to entertain Norwegians on weekends. American families in Norway tend to follow the same pattern. Yet Oslo also offers a range of things to do and see for those less interested in the out of doors.

Sightseeing attractions include the striking Viking ships, Thor Heyerdahl’s raft Kon Tiki, Nansen’s vessel Fram, the Holmenkollen ski jump and museum, and the outdoor Folk Museum. The Vigeland and Munch Museums are excellent tributes to these world famous Norwegian artists. Many other museums offer art and scientific attractions. Art exhibits in the traditional and contemporary styles can be found in several galleries. The Henie Onstad Art Center in nearby Sandvika presents concerts, films, and art exhibits.

Winter musical events include the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra’s regular concerts, which often feature internationally known performers. The Norwegian Opera presents a series of opera and ballet performances each season and features guest performers. The Concert Hall schedules many internationally recognized artists. Musical highlights outside Oslo include the annual Bergen International Music Festival and annual festivals in Molde and Kongsberg for jazz lovers.

Some 20 movie theaters present American, English, and other foreign language films. Films are screened with original soundtracks and Norwegian subtitles. Norwegian children under 7 are rarely admitted to movie theaters because they cannot read. Some neighborhood theaters will admit American children regardless of their ages when accompanied by their parents. Children's films are dubbed into Norwegian; some theaters show the film in its original language the first weekend it's showing.

Four theaters produce modern and classical Norwegian dramas. Plays are occasionally in English. Two English-language drama groups perform several times a year. Puppet theaters for children are popular. These programs are usually in Norwegian, but most young children can follow the story.

Oslo has an ever-growing restaurant population. Restaurants tend to be very expensive by U.S. standards. An average meal for one without beer or wine will cost about NOK 150 ($25), while a full meal without drinks at a first-rate restaurant will average NOK 800 ($120). Nevertheless, an increasing number of moderately priced restaurants are opening in the Oslo area. Some of these restaurants stay open until midnight. Oslo has several McDonald’s (with typically high Oslo prices), Burger King's, and a Pizza Hut. Several other similar fast food restaurants sell hamburgers, pizzas, and ribs. Typical Norwegian cuisine includes reindeer meat, pickled fish specialties, and codfish or salmon dishes.

Oslo has a variety of nightclubs with dance floors. Beware, though: a single beer costs between $5 and $7.50! Most clubs are open until 3 am, and many do a thriving business.

The University of Oslo offers English-language courses on Norwegian history and culture, and several local clubs sponsor more specialized courses. Many schools and local communities provide excellent Norwegian-language courses and have classes in arts and crafts or sewing taught in English. The International Forum has a broad range of activities for women in the Oslo area, including lectures, concerts, courses, and tours to places of interest.

Social Activities

Among Americans Last Updated: 3/22/2004 3:48 AM
There are a few American social clubs in Oslo. AWC was founded in 1934 as a social and philanthropic organization for American women living in Norway. AWC has approximately 300 members. The American Coordinating Council of Norway (ACCN) is a nonprofit council of American organizations founded in 1985. The Fourth of July celebration in Frogner Park is the main activity of ACCN. The American Club of Oslo is a 36-year-old club comprised of 300 members and structured to promote American business interests in Norway.

The Embassy has its own social club for American and Norwegian employees. The EEA/Recreation Committee assists with some sponsorship of events for the Embassy community throughout the year.

An annual Halloween party is a popular event for families and individuals. Other events have been organized such as hail and farewell parties, a winter holiday party, a fjord cruise, a bowling tournament, indoor soccer club, ski outings and the annual "Loppemarked," or "rummage-sale" is held in the spring at the International School.

Official Functions

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 3/15/2004 3:28 AM

Formal diplomatic functions in Oslo are infrequent, and invitations are generally limited to post’s senior officers. Most of the official functions are smaller gatherings for lunch or dinner in officers’ homes. These events are usually structured as a means of maintaining contact with key officials and business leaders in an unofficial setting. Often more junior officers will be asked to attend these functions as well.

Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 10/31/2000 6:00 PM

Formal calls and cards are not usually exchanged with officers of other missions except at the Ambassador and DCM level. Officers may want to bring some calling cards with their diplomatic title but may find regular business cards (available locally) more useful. Local printing costs are higher than those in the U.S.

When greeting each other, Norwegians typically offer a very firm handshake and look each other directly in the eye. It is possible that they will misinterpret your signal if you do not allow their natural timing of this greeting to govern. In other words, stay with the handshake and return the direct look for a longer moment than will feel comfortable by American standards.

Notes For Travelers

Getting to the Post Last Updated: 3/8/2004 3:55 AM

For official travel many Government employees will utilize the flights to Oslo, which are acceptable as a "City Pair" fare. Certain U.S. carriers have code sharing arrangements with European companies to make connecting flights into Oslo. All travelers should consult with the Transportation Office at the State Department or with their own agency to ensure that their routing is in compliance with the Fly America Act and City Pair regulations. Other transportation to Norway includes overnight car ferries from Denmark and Germany to Oslo, Amsterdam to Kristiansand, and Newcastle to Stavanger and Bergen, and rail links from Sweden and Copenhagen.

Persons driving cars to Norway should have proper international insurance coverage (a green card), a valid drivers license (a U.S. license is fine), and valid license plates.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Customs and Duties Last Updated: 3/8/2004 3:56 AM

Airfreight shipments typically take 3-4 weeks (and sometimes more) in transit. Surface shipments from the U.S. come in containers and take about 6-8 weeks for delivery to Oslo.

Diplomatic personnel are granted free entry at all times for importation of personal and household effects. Non-diplomatic personnel may import personal and household effects up to three months after their first arrival. Accompanied baggage of arriving personnel is not usually subjected to customs examination. Non-diplomatic personnel must pay customs duties on parcel post shipments sent through the Norwegian postal system.

Shipment of HHE, UAB and POV should be consigned as follows:

American Embassy

(Employee's name)

Drammensveien 18

0244 Oslo


POV: All employees must be in country and registered at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to have their POV customs cleared.

Passage Last Updated: 10/31/2000 6:00 PM

American diplomats and personnel assigned to Norway do not need visas to enter the country. A valid American passport (tourist or diplomatic) is sufficient to cross the border into Norway.

Pets Last Updated: 1/31/2005 8:30 AM


The Norwegian Food Safety Authority or "Mattilsynet" is a governmental body that controls the import of animals into Norway . The Norwegian rules are based on Commission Regulation (EC) No 998/2003 and concern only pets which are accompanied by their owner or a person responsible for them on behalf of the owner and which are not intended to be sold or transferred. If the number of animals imported is more than five, the conditions of so-called commercial imports apply. There are separate rules for each condition listed below:

Import of dogs, cats and ferrets from Sweden
Import of dogs, cats and ferrets from EU countries (except Sweden)
Import of dogs, cats and ferrets from listed third countries (most other first-world countries)
Listed Third Countries Document
Import of dogs, cats and ferrets from not listed third countries (will require quarantine!)
Upon arrival your papers will be inspected by the border veterinarian. Many people find it helpful to check with them a day or so before arrival to ensure everything is in order. Their details are:

Border Veterinarian Gardermoen (Oslo)
Telephone: (+ 47) 64 82 04 00
Telefax: (+ 47) 64 82 04 01

If you plan to bring a pet please ensure you contact the CLO and GSO so we can ensure proper arrangements are made in housing and temporary accomodation (if required). It is very important to note that you are bringing pets when you complete your housing survey. Although Norway is generally a pet-friendly country there are many units where the landlord does not allow pets.


Many brands of American pet food are available on the economy such as Iams. Pet stores are plentiful but you'll find items such as collars, leashes, shampoos, etc...quite expensive compared to the American market. Many people order from online retailers to meet their pet supply needs.


Veterninary care in Norway is along the same price range as you'd find in the states. Yearly vaccinations are recommended and and entire range of medical services can be provided for your pet. You will be reimbursed for the VAT charged for these services.

There are various options for boarding your pet and they will normally cost you around 190kr ($30 USD) per animal per night. Most kennels offer a discount for multiple animals. The kennels are of good quality and can even provide grooming and veterniary care during the stay if requested.


If you do not come with a pet but hope to get one while in Norway be prepared, it is not an easy or inexpensive process. Most Americans find that the local shelters will not give them an animal since they are only in Norway for a short period of time. Most people who have obtained animals have either gotten one with great perseverance from someone they know, a reputable breeder, or a newspaper article. The Norwegian Kennel Club (link is in Norwegian) can put you in touch with breeders if you are looking for a specific breed. If you plan to buy an animal be prepared to pay between 6,000-10,000kr.

If you are interested in small animals such as fish, rodents or birds, they are plentiful and easy to find at most pet stores with a wide range of tanks, cagess and accessories to accompany them. Many people order their supplies or cages online before getting a small animal as pet supplies are quite costly.

Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 3/3/2004 6:22 AM

Under Norwegian law, a private individual must have prior written authorization from the Norwegian Government to purchase or possess firearms or ammunition in Norway and will be required to pay a registration fee upon registering the firearms. All American Embassy personnel requesting to bring firearms and ammunition to post must first receive written approval from the Chief of Mission through the Regional Security Office. Personnel who have firearms must store them in a locked container that must be approved by the RSO. Additionally, ammunition may not be stored in the same container as the firearm(s). The privilege to possess a firearm while at Post may be revoked for security and safety reasons by the Ambassador, Deputy Chief of Mission or Regional Security Officer.

Automatic weapons are not permitted in Norway. Also, Norwegian law has other restrictions that pertain to types and quantities of weapons permissible in Norway. If you wish to bring firearms to post, you must specify in your written request the make, model, serial number and type of weapon you wish to bring to Post.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated: 3/3/2004 6:25 AM

Norway’s basic unit of currency is the crown (krone). A crown today is worth about 14 cents (7 crowns = $1). Technically, each crown is broken down into 100 ore, although only the 50 ore coins are in circulation.

Local banking and exchange facilities throughout Norway are as numerous as ATM’s. Norway has no regular American banks. All currencies and travelers checks are exchangeable, and full international banking services are available. No limit exists on the purchase of dollars or other foreign exchange. Personnel may have both savings and checking accounts. Banks located at airports and other terminals provide service on weekends and evenings. Normal banking hours are 8:15 am to 3:45 pm, Monday through Friday, but banks close at 3 pm in summer.

Norway uses the metric system of weights and measures, but there is one exception: one Norwegian "mile" is equivalent to 10 kilometers. American miles are not used here. If you hear a Norwegian discussing miles, he or she probably means the 10-kilometer Norwegian kind.

Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 3/5/2004 4:13 AM

Norwegian drivers licenses are not required for Embassy personnel and family members with valid drivers licenses. Car registration is free, but there is a small fee for diplomatic license plates.

Hunting and fishing licenses are required and can be obtained on payment of the proper fee to local authorities.

U.S. Embassy personnel are exempt from TV license fees and Norwegian income tax (except in the case of a spouse employed in the local economy).

Gasoline tax is refunded to all Embassy personnel, and the refund happens automatically if personnel make use of gas credit cards available through the Embassy. The price of gas without tax is virtually the same as in the U.S.

The value-added tax (known in Norwegian as "VAT") is broken down into 3 categories. 6% on transportation costs (bus, taxi, ferries etc.), 12 % on food items (groceries) and 24% for goods and services, including food eaten in restaurants, home items and clothing. This tax is usually included in the marked price of the item(s) at all retail stores. Diplomatic personnel may make application for refund of value added taxes by saving their receipts and filing for a refund via the Embassy on a quarterly basis.

The Embassy imposes no import restrictions on personal property, as Norwegian regulations are sufficiently restrictive. The market for used goods, particularly for large appliances or American automobiles, is limited.

Recommended Reading Last Updated: 3/3/2004 6:40 AM

Useful Internet sites:

The newspaper of record Aftenposten also has some coverage in English:

The Norwegian mountain Association (DNT) has a lot of useful information about Norwegian nature:

The Norwegian Association of Hunters and Anglers (NJFF) has an English service:

The American Women's Club of Oslo has helpful information about living in Oslo and importing pets:

These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published about Norway. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

General Reference Guides
Tomkinson, Michael. Alf Bjercke’s Norway 1999.

Facts about Norway. [contributors: Hugo al.]; maps, diagrams and drawings: 24th ed. Oslo : Schibsted, ©1996 (new edition expected 2000).

Living in Norway, a practical guide: Patricia Crinion Bjaaland’s classic guide for new residents. 3rd edition by Michael Brady and Belinda Drabble. Palamedes Press, 1999.

Swaney, Dena. Norway. ISBN: 0864426542, Lonely Planet Publications, 1999.

Derry, T.K. A History of Modern Norway, 1814–1972. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Jerman, Gunnar. New Norway: a country of change. Index Publishing, 1999.

Libæk, Ivar and Øivind Stenersen. A History of Norway. Grøndahl 1999.

Midgaard, John. A Brief History of Norway. Tano Press, 1989.

Riiste, Olav and Berit Nokleby. Norway 1940–1945. Oslo: Tanum Forlag, 1970.

Norwegian-American Relations
Cole, Wayne. Norway and the U.S. 1905–1955: Two Democracies in Peace and War. Iowa State, 1989.

Skard, Sigmund. The United States in Norwegian History. Universitetsfor-laget, 1976.

Skard, Sigmund. Transatlantica. Univer-sitetsforlaget, 1978.

Norwegian Society
Gullestad, Marianne. The Art of Social Relations: Essays on Culture, Social Action and Everyday Life in Modern Norway. NYP, 1992.

Guy Peters, B. and Tom Christensen. Structure, Culture and Governance: a comparison of Norway and the United States. Rowman and Littlefield, 1999.

Hylland Eriksen. Thomas Being Norwegian in a shrinking world: Reflections on Norwegian identity. In Anne Cohen Kiel, ed., Continuity and Change: Aspects of Modern Norway, Scandinavian University Press 1993. (this article is available on the internet at

U.S.-Norwegian Relationship
Ramsøy, Natalie Rogoff, ed. Norwegian Society. Oslo: Gyldendal Norsk Forlag, 1968. (Reprinted—Oslo: Universitets forlaget, 1974.)

Su-Dale, Elizabeth. Culture Shock Norway: a guide to customs and etiquette. Graphics Arts Center Publishing, Portland 1995.

Asbjoernsen and Moe. Norwegian Folktales (Pat Shaw’s translation).

Hamsun, Knut. Growth of the Soil

Gaarder, Jostein. The Solitaire Mystery

Hoel, Sigurd. Meeting at the Milestone

Ibsen, Henrik. Peer Gynt

Sandel, Cora. Alberte and Jacob

Ullmann, Linn. Before you Sleep (contemporary)

Undset, Sigrid. Kristin Lavansdatter

Vesaas, Tarjei. The Birds

Local Holidays Last Updated: 3/10/2004 3:45 AM

The Embassy observes all U.S. federal holidays and joins in the public observance of local holidays. Stores and banks are closed. Hotels, theaters, and restaurants are open but usually have reduced staff and limited services (particularly during the Christmas and Easter holidays and summertime). Stores normally close at 3 pm on Saturday.

New Year’s Day January 1
Martin Luther King Jr. Day 3rd Monday in January
Presidents Day 3rd Monday in February
Holy Thursday March or April (date varies)
Good Friday (date varies)
Easter Monday (date varies)
Norwegian Labor Day May 1
Norwegian Constitution Day May 17
Memorial Day 4th Monday in May
Ascension Thursday May (date varies)
Whit Monday May or June
American Independence Day July 4
American Labor Day 1st Monday in September
Columbus Day 2nd Monday in October
Veterans Day November 11
Thanksgiving Day 4th Thursday in November
Christmas Day December 25
Second Christmas Day December 26

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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