Banking in Norway

The most important thing you need to know about Norway’s banking system is that to open a bank account, you will have to have a Norwegian national identity number or a D-number, depending on your residency status.

Illustrasjonsbilde/FOTO

If you are non-Norwegian, it is possible that the bank will also want to see your passport when you open your account.

All salary payments are typically deposited directly in your bank account, so that if you have to wait any length of time to get an ID number, you will have to make certain you have enough cash on hand to pay your bills until the magic ID number arrives.

Bill paying with giros
Norway’s banking system will be familiar to Europeans who are used to the giro system of payment, where a bill (called faktura in Norwegian) is sent to the person who owes the money. Unlike in North America, banks do not generally use checks.

The bottom third of a bill contains the giro, often (but less and less frequently) marked with yellow. The giro contains all the information you need to pay your bill by bank transfer, including the bank account number of the person or company who is owed the money, the due date (on the upper right hand side, called the “frist”), and a unique number, called a KID (which translates as the customer identification number), which can be as long as 20 digits, but that identifies your payment as uniquely yours. The person who owes the money uses the giro to send a bank transfer of money to the person who is to be paid the money. The American Women’s Club of Oslo has a more complete description of using giros to pay bills on their website.

The brave new world of Internet banking
As is true the world over, more and more banking in Norway is moving online. And because online banking saves banks and businesses money, there are strong financial incentives, such as reduced banking fees, to encourage you to pay all your bills online. This can be somewhat challenging (perhaps terrifying is a more accurate description) if you don’t speak Norwegian, since banks typically don’t have English-language versions of the protected areas of their websites, and the last thing you want to do is to accidentally send your bill payment to some third party who might not know why he or she is suddenly being sent money by a stranger. Possibly the best thing to do if you need help is to find a Norwegian who can help walk you through the process until you’re comfortable doing it on your own.