Friday, March 13, 2009

Practical guide

It will always be a challenge arriving in a new country to live and study. There are many practicalities to take care of. Fortunately, Norway is a transparent and well organised society. Also, the Norwegian institutions will do their best to ease the transition for you to become a student in Norway.

Student welfare organisations
All institutions have a student welfare organisation. You normally become a member upon payment of the compulsory semester fee (usually between NOK 300-600), which is also required in order to register for exams. Depending on the size of the institution they offer a wide variety of services. Among other things they organise nursery schools, counselling, a mental health service, canteens, student accommodation and sports facilities/activities.

Before arriving in Norway you may need the services of the student welfare organisation at the institution to which you are applying when transferring money to Norway for the first time. If you don't have a bank account in a Norwegian bank you can transfer money to special accounts established for foreign students. In turn, they will send you an official statement confirming the amount transferred, and you can use this as documentation when applying for a student residence permit. This is generally done free of charge. When you come to Norway and have opened your private bank account, you can transfer the money to this account.

Norwegian identity number
If you are going to stay in Norway for more than six months you should register with the National Registry so that you can be awarded an 11 digit identity number (your date of birth plus a 5 digit personal number). This is done at the local tax assessment office ("Likningskontor"). The number is required for opening a bank account, obtaining a student card, and applying for a loan from the Norwegian State Educational Loan Fund.

Students from the Nordic countries, and students who are going to stay in Norway for less than six months, may apply for a D-number ( dummy number). This number may be used to open a bank account. To apply for this number, contact your local tax assessment office, or the Office of the National Registrar in Oslo if you are located abroad.

Money and banking
In order to open a bank account in a Norwegian bank you will need a Norwegian identity number. You can choose between local or regional banks, or banks with branches all over Norway. Some banks are also pure online banks, with no physical branches. Norwegian banks have advanced solutions for online banking so you can administrate your accounts, pay bills and transfer money online.

Foreign credit cards are widely accepted in Norway and cash machines are easily available. However, please note that most grocery stores and supermarkets do not accept foreign credit cards.

Travel to Norway
Many students will come to Norway by plane. Several cities in Norway have direct flights to European destinations. Both the major European national carriers and the new low cost carriers are serving destinations in many corners of Norway. The major hub for international flights to and from Norway is Oslo Airport Gardermoen.

You can also reach Norway by car ferries from Denmark and England, and by train via Sweden. If you decide to travel to Norway by car you can come from Russia and Finland in the north, and through Sweden further south.

The Visit Norway website can provide you with detailed information about how to plan your travel arrangements to Norway.


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