Moving your family

Moving your family to Norway is a big adventure, but also poses logistical questions. Will you bring a pet or try to import your car? Will your spouse or partner try to find work? Below we have tried to provide the basic information that should enable you to get started with the process of making the move.

Finding work
Finding work will involve two steps: the first is determining whether or not you can work in your field without learning Norwegian, and the second is getting Norwegian recognition for your professional training, if applicable.

Learning Norwegian
Norwegian classes are offered through NTNU and locally, if the NTNU classes are full. You can also begin to learn Norwegian before you come to Norway, via NTNU's new online beginner Norwegian offering, called NoW (Norwegian on the Web). You'll find audio files, videos, written texts and grammar practice designed to help you get started learning Norwegian. Try it!

If you and your family plan to stay in Norway for more than 5 years and hope to obtain a permanent residence permit, you will have to complete 300 hours of language training in order to apply. The EURAXESS website contains a good overview of language requirements. The site also lists online resources that provide an introduction to the Norwegian language and information on the different language examinations that are available to document that you meet the minimum language requirements to live permanently in Norway.

Educational and professional certification
If your educational degrees or professional certificates are from another country, you will have to go through the process of gaining certification from the Norwegian authorities.

The Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education (nokut.no) is in charge of reviewing applications for general recognition of foreign higher education. There is also a newly created information service called INVIA which is designed to help newcomers navigate the process.

Norway regulates roughly 170 different professions, from accountants to vascular surgeons. Different professions are governed by different licensing agencies, and decisions about whether or not your training qualifies you to practice in Norway are made on a case-by-case basis by the applicable licensing authority. The INVIA website lists all regulated professions along with a list of contact information for the applicable regulatory agencies that will decide your fate.

Studying in Norway
If your spouse or significant other wants to pursue an advanced degree in Norway, his or her previous education will have to be evaluated and awarded subject specific recognition. This decision is generally made by the specific academic institution to which the application is made. INVIA has more information about this process, including a number of alternative options.

Finding work
Most jobs, whether professional or service-related, are posted in different job listings hosted by NAV, the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration. Newspapers are also a source of job listings, but these will almost certainly all be listed in Norwegian and will require Norwegian language skills.

Other practicalities: Pets and Automobile imports
From the outset it should be said that it is not easy to import either pets or automobiles to Norway.  It is possible, however. What follows are links and information to help you decide how you want to proceed.

Pets
The import of animals to Norway is overseen by Mattilsynet, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, which maintains a website in English explaining import requirements. Importing dogs and/or cats or other mammals to Norway is challenging because the country is free of rabies -- in fact there used to be a mandatory 4-month quarantine for animals coming from countries that have rabies.

These days, however, you can avoid that by documenting with a certified blood test that your animal has been vaccinated against rabies.

The importation process takes months
While the process of importing different animals to Norway is too detailed to describe here, it's important to note that it takes a number of months to meet all of the rabies requirements, so you should plan accordingly.

With dogs, for example, your animal will have to have a rabies vaccination or booster, after which you must wait 120 days and then the animal must be tested by a certified laboratory. Ideally, this test should be conducted 3 months before you enter Norway -- so that is a minimum of 7 months that you will need to complete the required vaccination and tests.

But a word to the wise: that testing schedule does not include the wait time that you will certainly encounter with certified laboratories. In the United States, for example, there is effectively only 1 laboratory that does the kind of blood test that will be accepted by Norwegian authorities.  In the spring of 2011, this lab had a 5-week turnaround time. You will find a link to list of EU-certified laboratories on the Mattilsynet webpage.

Pet tansport can be challenging, too
Other possible challenges involve the actual physical transport of your pet to Norway. Trondheim is Norway's third largest city, and its airport is served by a number of different international carriers, but if your dog is in an extra large crate, the crate may not fit in the belly of some of the smaller planes that some airlines fly into Værnes, Trondheim's airport. Be certain to ask about this when you book your ticket, and double check. Do not assume that the person who books the transport for your animal will know this -- ask them to double check. Another possible difficulty is that some airlines will not ship pets during the summer because of heat stress, so double check before you book your ticket.

Automobile import
It used to be that foreign workers could import an automobile to Norway duty free if they could prove that they had owned the car for the two years previous to the import date, but those days are long gone. Importing a vehicle from your home country is a very expensive proposition, even if it is an older car.

The import duty generally runs around 100 per cent or more of the value of the car, plus you must pay an additional 25 per cent VAT on the purchase price of the car plus the transport fees. A description of the process, along with links to a tax calculator, can be found at the Norwegian Customs and Excise website.

Because of the costs involved with importing automobiles, many new non-Norwegian NTNU employees decide not to bring their cars. The good news is that Trondheim is very bicycle-friendly, has a good bus system, and also has a Car Collective. This last is a membership cooperative, where people purchase a share and pay an annual fee, which enables them to reserve a car from the cooperative's fleet of vehicles. Members pay to use the cars, but at a rate that is lower than a regular car rental.

Quick links -- moving your family

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