Banking in Norway is fairly straightforward, although new arrivals will have questions about money matters and paying taxes. Given the country’s high level of technological advancement, most transactions take place online and with cards.
Expats moving to the country must get a national ID number, which makes it possible to open accounts and carry out transactions.
Money in Norway
The official Norwegian currency is the Norwegian Krone (kroner in plural), or NOK, which is divided into 100 øre – however, øre only exist digitally. It has become one of the world’s most stable and powerful currencies.
The Krone is available in the following denominations:
Notes: NOK 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1,000
Coins: NOK 1, 5, 10, and 20
New arrivals who want to get hold of local cash can exchange foreign currency at the airport and hotels, but rates are likely more favourable in banks. Note that most exchanges are done by card, and having cash is not a necessity.
Norway has limits on how much currency can be brought into or taken out of the country, and travellers should be aware of this.
Banking in Norway
Norway hosts a handful of large commercial banks, while regional and savings banks are also available. Among the main banks are Bank Norwegian, DNB ASA and Handelsbanken.
Banking hours in Norway are generally 9am to 3pm. People often find that once they have their Norwegian bank card, they very rarely need to set foot inside a bank branch. Online banking is common and is used for just about any transaction. Mobile banking is also commonplace, but it can take some time for expats to master, especially as the systems are mostly in Norwegian.
Opening a bank account
Expats need to open a local bank account if they plan to live and work in Norway. To do so, they need to get an 11-digit identity number. This national ID number, which every resident and citizen must have, is necessary to get paid, pay taxes, open a business and receive social benefits such as healthcare services, unemployment compensation and parental leave.
Norway's identity numbers are either a D number or a national identity number. Expats staying in Norway for less than six months but are liable to pay tax should obtain a D number, which can be provided by various organisations, such as banks and the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV).
Expats moving to Norway for more than six months will obtain a national identity number. The process of getting an identity number is normally done alongside visa and residence applications. Norwegian embassies abroad and the Norwegian Tax Administration provide further details.
It can take some time for the national ID number to come through, so expats should begin this process as soon as possible. But once obtained, opening a bank account is straightforward. Expats will need this identity number and their passport, and different banks may require additional documents such as an employment contract.
Expats will most likely open a current account, though they can open various other types of accounts too.
ATMs and credit cards
Most financial transactions in Norway are conducted with a debit card issued by a local bank. ATMs are easily accessible, but cash is becoming rare in this highly technological society. Cheques are rarely used and are considered archaic.
Credit cards are accepted, and getting a credit card is easy for anyone with a local bank account, but Norwegians don’t use them often unless they have major purchases. Most Norwegians use their normal bank card instead. However, local and foreign credit cards are accepted almost everywhere. Eurocard, Mastercard, Visa, American Express and Diners Club International are the most common.
Taxes in Norway
While it’s true that taxes are exceptionally high in Norway, expats can rest assured that this money goes towards public services and free (or subsidised) healthcare, education and pension and employee benefits.
All citizens and expats working in Norway are liable to pay taxes. Foreigners who have stayed less than 183 days over 12 months are considered non-residents, but must pay income tax on certain types of income earned in the country. Resident taxpayers – those who have been in the country for over 183 days – are taxed on their worldwide income.
Expats should also note that there are double taxation agreements with member states of the European Economic Area, Australia, Canada, the UK and the US, among other countries. We recommend expats obtain more information from their local tax office (ligningskontor).
Norwegian employers deduct tax from employees before they are paid. Once a person has found employment in Norway, they are responsible for obtaining a tax card from the local tax office. An expat’s employer and local tax office can help with this process, providing all necessary information on how to apply and what must be enclosed with the application.
Declaring personal taxes is an organised, systematic and simple process. Once an expat is listed in the Norwegian system, they will receive a tax declaration or tax return with the tax authority’s details and estimates of their income, assets and debt. As tax regulations are subject to change and these processes may seem complicated at first, we recommend the services of a tax consultant.