Patriotism is not my best asset. My nearests and dearests will know that I still get the British National Anthem confused with Rule, Britannia! and that I was embarassed to be seen with the new Firefly beverage in Oslo: choosing between the tantalising taste of Bramley Apple & Ginger and parading the Union Jack was a genuine predicament for me. Subsequently, it came as a surprise when I felt my ego deflate alongside with the vision of swanning into Norway and being given a job on behalf of my British accent and encyclopedic knowledge of tea. Of course, I hadn’t realised how reliant I was on my nationality to easily be granted access to Norway until I was at the Oslo tax office, waiting in a long queue of…and that’s when it dawned on me: “I’m an immigrant.” After years of being stuck in the British mindset of associating immigrants with Eastern Europeans, the neon flashing word of ‘arrogance’ came to give me a well-deserved slap.
Both England and Norway are members of the Economic Trading Area (EEA) which makes the process of moving between the two a tad smoother but there are still hurdles to jump over. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough warning signs about this on either the British or Norwegian Embassy websites and so I’d like to provide information on the obstacles I’ve had to overcome…
Step 1) Register with the police. Head to your local police station with your passport and register yourself as a job-seeker. This only buys you three months to find a permanent job, which if you don’t manage means you will have to leave the country and come back again.
Step 2) Find a job, whether temporary or permanent. You will need to get a work contract that states either:
- Works at least 10 hours per week, seasonal (temporary)
- Works at least 10 hours per week, doesn’t state a finish date (permanent)
A little tip: If your work is part-time but not seasonal, ask your employer to slightly reword the contract so that it at least doesn’t have an end date, as this will qualify as a permanent type. It is important to note that a temporary job only gives you a D-number whereas a permanent one gives you a social security number (fødselsnummer). This matters because…
Step 3) You need a tax card. If you don’t hand a tax card in to your new employer before pay day, you’ll be taxed 50%. Take your passport and original work contract to the tax office, aka skattekontoret. With a temporary contract, you can gain a ‘D-number’ which allows you that three months to find a permanent job. With a permanent contract, you can get the fødselsnummer which allows you to get a bank account and a residency without a time limit. Don’t have a permanent contract? You’ve gone as far as you can but try finn.no and nav.no for new job vacancies.
Step 4) Take your permanent contract and fødselsnummber to the police. You can now gain a residency without time restraint. Congratulations!
Luckily, my subconscious but very arrogant attitude to this process disappeared in time and I’m now a proud owner of a part-time job and D number. I still sound like a gorilla when I practice æ, ø and å and I’m yet to see a real moose but I am settling here and I’ve decided Norwegian Autumns are much lovelier than British ones. I’m still aiming to find a full-time position within communications and marketing and will update you on the process when I do. In the meantime, let me know your experience of being an expat in Norway, or if you’re thinking of making the move and need some advice. Oh, and the Firefly drink was worth it