|Preface Last Updated: 3/22/2004
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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:
American Embassy Oslo
0244 Oslo Norway
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
• 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
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
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
There is a small Embassy Employee Association (EEA) store located
in the Embassy that carries a limited supply of American food and
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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:
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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:
POV: All employees must be in country and registered at the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to have their POV customs
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
BRINGING A PET TO NORWAY:
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
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
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.
GETTING A PET WHILE IN NORWAY
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
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
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
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
The Norwegian mountain Association (DNT) has a lot of useful
information about Norwegian nature:
The Norwegian Association of Hunters and Anglers (NJFF) has an
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
General Reference Guides
Tomkinson, Michael. Alf Bjercke’s Norway 1999.
Facts about Norway. [contributors: Hugo Pedersen...et al.]; maps,
diagrams and drawings: 24th ed. Oslo : Schibsted, ©1996 (new edition
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
Derry, T.K. A History of Modern Norway, 1814–1972. Oxford: Clarendon
Jerman, Gunnar. New Norway: a country of change. Index
Libæk, Ivar and Øivind Stenersen. A History of Norway. Grøndahl
Midgaard, John. A Brief History of Norway. Tano Press, 1989.
Riiste, Olav and Berit Nokleby. Norway 1940–1945. Oslo: Tanum
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.
Skard, Sigmund. Transatlantica. Univer-sitetsforlaget, 1978.
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
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
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
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