Mona moves back home to Norway

A top 10 checklist and other important things you might not always think about

Mona Anita K. Olsen moving to Norway

Photo courtesy of Mona Anita K. Olsen
The author is at home in a house built by her grandparents in 1931, under full restoration through the Innovation Barn AS program.

Mona Anita K. Olsen, PhD
University of Stavanger

Planning a move to any new location comes with a range of feelings, emotions, and thoughts, from excitement to curiosity to anxiety and frustration. No matter where you move, the transition requires planning and a tolerance for change. 

In my case, a move to Norway from the United States had been on my radar for a while. As a strong planner, I felt that I had done a decent job gathering resources to be able to make the move. I spent much of my time in the past six years gathering pieces of the puzzle to make the move a reality, which happened this summer. 

Reflecting on the process of moving and starting a new job in Norway, I realize that I could write lessons for days from collecting missing puzzle pieces. But, looking back, two of the most intriguing processes to navigate on this move were the purchase of a car and importation of my dogs.

Getting a car

Mona Anita K. Olsen moving to Norway

Photo: Mona Anita K. Olsen
Welcome home, Mona!

Key takeaway: Time your car purchase after your UDI (Norwegian Directorate of Immigration) status has been updated, or make sure to visit an office of The Norwegian Public Roads Administration in person if you buy a car shortly after your move.

I opted to buy a used car from the website finn.no this summer. It was easy to set up an account, search for a car, and visit several sellers to look at the vehicles. 

In the end, I picked a vehicle that was located close to my home. The process of selling a car online is extremely easy in Norway, provided you have a Norwegian National Number. The Norwegian National Number opens many doors electronically to streamline processes in Norway. When you sign up for a bank account in Norway, you can sign-up to get a D-Number (which can take six to eight weeks). 

A D-Number can be used for some online systems processing, but the goal is to have it be turned into a Norwegian National Number if you stay in Norway for more than six months. Essentially, many administrative processes can be done completely online if you have a Norwegian National Number. If you turned in your U.S. driver’s license and took the steps to get a Norwegian driver’s license, Norway has an app that allows you to have a digital driver’s license on your phone. 

The learning lesson is that the updating of the Norwegian National Number—which is done by the Norwegian National Registry after an appointment with UDI when you arrive—takes a few weeks. With a non-updated Norwegian National Number, the electronic sales process cannot happen. You can avoid this potential challenge by doing the confirmation of the sale in an office of the Norwegian Public Roads Administration. 

Bringing your pet

Mona Olsen dogs

Photo: Mona Anita K. Olsen
For Olsen, properly transporting her two dogs,
Buddy Grunder and Rambo, was a top priority.

Key takeaway: Make an appointment with Mattilsynet (Norwegian Food Safety Authority) for a vet to meet you and your pets at the airport.

I was able to move my dogs (a rescue lab mix dog from West Virginia and an Alaskan husky from Sirdal) to Norway. This is the second time that I have brought my dogs back and forth between the United States and Norway. I was impressed that the system had become more efficient, and it ended up being one of the smoothest elements of my move but required the most planning. 

I opted to buy my plane tickets on Luft­hansa. I called in to purchase the tickets to ensure that the plane routes (Washington, D.C., to Frankfurt to Oslo) would have the space for two dog crates in the hold. 

On the phone, agents provide information on options that can best accommodate your top criteria including arrival time and number of stops. Given the time of year, temperatures outside for takeoff and landing had to be taken into consideration to minimize the animals’ stress on the tarmac. 

Once I confirmed flights that could accommodate both dogs on all legs of my itinerary, I opted to work with the Pender veterinary clinic in Virginia. Specifically, their division Pender Air focuses on international transportation of animals. 

The process includes a checkup for your pet with the vet, deworming (done with a specified timeline before your flight takes off), microchipping (if not done previously), and paperwork, including a certification process with the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). There is a full disclosure, which you could do yourself with adequate advance planning that includes a buffer close to your departure date. Pender Air facilitated this process for a service fee. Copies of the certified papers go on the dogs’ cages, in addition to any bagged food or water that you want the dogs to have when they fly. 

On the Norwegian side of the equation, an appointment needs to be made with a Norwegian vet to meet you at the entry point in Norway (in my case Oslo). To schedule this appointment, you need to contact Mattilsynet and confirm your flight information. 

When I arrived in Oslo, I picked up my two dogs (in their crates) in the oversized baggage area. The vet was waiting for us in the declaration area. She checked out the paperwork, my dogs, and certified the dogs for entry. There is no fee for this appointment. The dogs have their own Norwegian passports, a veterinarian to update their records, and a boarding facility when I travel. 

More info / key websites:

• UDI: www.udi.no/en

• FINN: www.finn.no

• D-Number: www.skatteetaten.no/en/person/foreign/norwegian-identification-number/d-number

• Norwegian National Number: www.skatteetaten.no/en/person/national-registry

Norwegian driver’s license: 

• Norwegian Public Roads Administration: www.vegvesen.no/om+statens+vegvesen/kontakt-oss/adresser

• PenderAIR: pendervet.com/pender-air

• APHIS: www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/pet-travel/take-pet-to-foreign-country

• Mattilsynet: www.mattilsynet.no/language/english/about_us/contact_us

• Sparebank1: www.sparebank1.no/nb/sr-bank/privat.html 

• VIPS: www.vipps.no

• Telenor: www.telenor.no/privat

• Duolingo: www.duolingo.com

• Norskprove: www.kompetansenorge.no/prover/norskprove/meld-deg-pa-proven

• NOKUT: www.nokut.no/en

Mona’s top 10 checklist for moving to Norway

√ Ensure your application with UDI goes in weeks before your arrival in Norway, so that you are able to sign up for an appointment that aligns with your move.

√ Open up a bank account and file for a D-Number as soon as you can. Build up your relationship with the bank. Look at a bank that offers English and Norwegian, so you can learn the banking terms in Norwegian as you use the website (SpareBank1 offers good services). You will need a bank to pay different invoices in Norway and for renting a place to live. Deposits are typically set up in separate bank accounts when the lease is signed. Sign up for mobile banking and authentication services that can be connected to your bank (used for many websites in Norway).

√ Determine your timeline for exchanging your U.S. driver’s license (including budgeting for the classes and fees).

√ Once you have a Norwegian National Identity number, sign up for Vipps so you can send and receive money from others.

√ If you opt to keep an international credit card, look for ones that charge 0% on foreign transaction fees.

√ Contact Telenor (or another mobile phone provider) and ensure you sign up to get a Norwegian number. It is much easier to get a number if you have a Norwegian National Number versus a D-Number. Download WhatsApp or Skype as alternatives for communication to keep costs low.

√ Apply for jobs early, update your CV or resume to reflect a Norwegian style (much more personal information than a U.S. version), and network over coffee. The process takes much longer in Norway than in the United States. There are many books and blogs on this topic but from my experience, plan for about three to six months of waiting time if you are applying to anything in the public sector.

√ Take language courses or use apps like Duolingo to learn Norwegian. While English is everywhere, even in many private sector jobs as a working language, Norwegian is still used in interviews and is handy in many different situations. Plan to take the Norskprove (Norwegian Language Competence Test) to document your language skills.

√ Months prior to your arrival, apply to have your education certified by NOKUT (Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education). This will save you time, money, and energy when you arrive. NOKUT certification is a reference for employers to evaluate the Norwegian equivalency of your education, training, and certifications from the United States (or other location).

√ Determine the locations of the nearest legevakt (emergency room), so you know where to go if you need medical assistance.

Mona Anita K. Olsen is an associate professor at the Norwegian Hotel School at the University of Stavanger in Norway. She is also the founder of Innovation Barn AS, leading the efforts to launch Yogibana in Norway. Yogibana is an artistic wellness concept fueled by the weaving of yoga and ikebana (Japanese style floral design) together in 12 steps.

This article originally appeared in the November 15, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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