Family

Living in Europe | Day care, schooling & family related issues | Norway

Many mobile researchers bring along a spouse or partner who needs to find a job or gain admission to higher education.
Some also bring their children or plan to have a child while in Norway. Norway is considered to be a family-friendly country. Relatively generous child and parental benefits and childcare provision make it easier to combine career and children.

Work-life balance and welfare in Norway

A person's and a family's main goal when moving to Norway is usually to remain happy and healthy and to continue their life as usual. How can it be ensured and what can you expect when moving to Norway?

In Norway public benefits are universal and offered to all and are essential for the well-functioning of society. But it's important to be aware that the citizens also have duties and that a crucial prerequisite for the welfare society to function is trust. There's no free ride, it's expected that you contribute to society as well.

Examples of benefits you can receive in Norway are child benefit, parental benefit, unemployment benefits, sickness benefits and disability benefits.

For more information see:

Norway is well known for its work-life balance. Employers and colleagues normally understand when you have to leave work early to pick up your child or when you have to stay at home with a sick child. There's a common understanding of the necessity of flexibility to be able to maintain a good family life and at the same time work efficiently. Many employers also give you the opportunity to work out within regulars working hours, based on the fact that regular exercise is important for your health and efficiency at work.

Most Norwegian parents are on leave the first year when their baby is born. You can receive parental benefits if you have been occupationally active at least six of the last ten months.

Parents receive 100 percent of their income parental benefits for a period of 49 weeks or 80 percent of their income for a period of 59 weeks.

Municipal health service centres organise parental groups for parents with newborns, so parents get to know other parents in their neighbourhood with children at the same age. Parental group members meet at cafés; go for a walk with their babies and do other activities.

See Norge.no, the Gateway to digital public services

Day care and schooling

If you have children and you're moving to Norway, this is what you need to know.

Pre-school day-care centres are for children between the age of one and five. The Norwegian Government aims to provide full kindergarten coverage of high quality and at a low price. Kindergartens are to provide children with good opportunities for development and activities in close cooperation with the children’s homes.

Public kindergartens are owned and run by the municipality or local government. The admission application deadline is 1 March for the following autumn and spring terms. There is a high demand for kindergartens and you may have to wait for an opening for your child to become available. Children born between January 1st and August 31st have first priority.

Norwegian kindergartens tend to focus on interplay and the development of social competencies among the children. Children spend some time outdoors every day, even during winter. Your child must bring appropriate clothing for outdoor activities. Some kindergartens serve lunch, while others require your child to bring a packed lunch.

There are also many private kindergartens. Normally the same application form as for the public kindergartens is used to apply to these as well. Rates and admission requirements vary.

Research institutions may also have kindergartens for their students and employers, so it is a good idea to start with your host institution (set link to relevant internal page).

For more information see Norge.no, the Gateway to digital public services

Primary and lower secondary education (grunnskole) in Norway is based on the principle of an equal education for all, in inclusive co-educational schools where tuition is based on a single national curriculum that can be tailored to needs of individual pupils. School is compulsory for children aged 6-15. There is no tuition fee at state schools.

The national curriculum includes core subjects, curricula for individual subjects and principles and guidelines for primary and lower secondary education. Ask your local municipality which school has openings available for your child.

Schools expect parents to play an active role in their children’s learning. Teachers maintain a close dialogue with the children’s homes through regular parent-teacher meetings. There are also parent conferences twice a year where you are able to discuss your child’s development and progress at school.

The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training is responsible for the development of primary and secondary education and is the executive agency for the Ministry of Education and Research. You can find useful information on training and schools on their website.

Contact the individual school your child is going to attend in order to discuss potential special needs and entry into the Norwegian school system.

For more information see Norge.no, the Gateway to digital public services

School Day Care (SFO) is a public and voluntary offer to all children from grades 1-4, who needs day care after school hours. Children with special needs are offered school day care from 1st through 7th grade. SFO offers assistance with homework, play and educational activities after school until you are able to leave work and pick up your child.

The application deadline is usually 1. april. However, it is also possible to enrol at other times. Ask your child’s school for more information. For more information see Norge.no, the Gateway to digital public services (Choose: Schools and education ⇒ Compulsory education and filter by Family and children or search for your municipality.

From the age of 16 three years of upper secondary school is voluntary. There is no tuition fee, but you will have to cover equipment costs. You may apply for up to three different programmes and will be given admission to one of them. There are vocational programmes and programmes that qualify pupils to enter higher education. Pupils who have completed vocational training courses can take supplementary courses to gain higher education entrance qualifications.

Upper secondary school sets requirements to learning outcome and curricula. Pupils who have started upper secondary school abroad should document their learning outcomes and curricula. The County Council in each region decides upon entry into Norwegian upper secondary school for each individual pupil.

To find out what the possibilities are for higher education in Norway, please see the Study in Norway web site

Postal services and digital mailbox

Even though postal services in Norway are similar to everywhere else, the government is working towards more digital communication between the citizens and the public sector. If you move to Norway you will most probably be using a digital mailbox and therefore, need to know what it is.

A digital mailbox is a secure solution for receiving and storing important mail digitally. Letters with decisions, health information and other sensitive information can't be sent using regular e-mail because it isn't sufficiently secure. Two providers are available and public agencies can send letters in encrypted format to be stored securely so that you are the only one with access to your own mail. Even though you can opt out and get all your official post by paper, digital access will give you more flexibility. Read more about the digital mailbox on Norge.no, the Gateway to digital public services

Drivers licence and cars

For all the question you might have regarding driver licences or cars, there are a few resources you need to know about:

Regarding whether you can use your foreign registered car in Norway, if you have to pay import taxes when moving your car to Norway or if you have to pay a motor vehicle tax in Norway , the answers can be found on The Norwegian tax administration's web site
Regarding any question related to driving licences and if you can use your home country driving licence in Norway , the answers can be found on the Norwegian Public Roads Administration's web site
Payments for passing through toll stations in Norway are collected automatically through the AutoPASS system, meaning you can pass through AutoPASS toll stations without stopping. You will be invoiced tolls only and no fines. For more information see:Toll roads and how to pay

Bringing your pet to Norway

In most cases, it is possible to bring your pet to Norway. However, the costs and procedure vary depending on which country your pet comes from.

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority (NFSA) issues regulations for importing and exporting pets.

Questions related to pet passports adn so forth are answered at NFSA's web site regarding travelling with pets
Norway has achieved a diseases-free status for certain diseases and has also been granted additional guarantees for specific diseases, which means that Norway can set additional requirements in relation to a number of diseases in connection with imports. More information regarding this can be found at NFSA's web site regarding import of animals to Norway