Living in Norway as a foreign spouse or cohabitant1
This information is based on the Norwegian legislation in force at the time of writing
(February 2011). You should always check with the Directorate of Immigration to find
out whether there have been any changes.
Do you need a residence permit to live in Norway?
As a general rule, you must apply for a residence permit to stay in Norway for more
than 90 days. You should also be aware that the total length of your stay in the
Schengen area as a tourist must not exceed 90 days within a period of 180 days.
Which rules apply?
Different rules apply to different categories of foreign nationals staying in Norway, so
that it is not always easy to know which basis you should use for your application. If
you are a national of a country in the European Economic Area, or EEA (EU
countries, Iceland and Liechtenstein, in addition to Norway), you should particularly
note that you may be able to choose between two different options. The different
ways of formalising a stay in Norway are briefly presented below. However, the
information provided below is not exhaustive. For further advice on which option you
should choose, contact the Directorate of Immigration.
1. Nationals of other Nordic countries
If you are a citizen of another Nordic country, you do not need to apply for a
residence permit to live in Norway, but must remember to register with the Population
2. Nationals of EEA countries
Under the EEA Agreement, nationals of all EEA countries are entitled to work in
Norway. If you are a national of one of these countries and already have an offer of
employment in Norway, you can register online at https://selfservice.udi.no/ as the
A cohabitant means someone you have been living with for more than two years. If you can document that
you have been living together permanently for more than two years, the relationship is considered to be
equivalent to a marriage for immigration purposes. In this document, “spouse” means spouse or cohabitant.
first step towards formalising your stay. After this, you must go to your nearest police
station to receive a registration certificate. You must also register with the Population
If you do not have an offer of employment, you must apply for a residence permit
under the ordinary family immigration scheme.
3. Nationals of other countries
Nationals of all other countries must apply for a residence permit under the ordinary
family immigration scheme.
Temporary and permanent residence permits
The first time you apply for a residence permit under the family immigration scheme,
you will be issued with a temporary residence permit. Residence permits also entitle
you to work in Norway. The temporary residence permit may last for a full three years
or for one year at a time. If a permit is issued for one year at a time, you must apply
to have it renewed at the latest one month before it expires. After you have held a
temporary residence for three years, you can apply for a permanent residence
The greatest advantage of a permanent residence permit is that it does not need to
be renewed each year provided that you are actually resident in Norway. As a
general rule, the residence permit lapses if you stay outside Norway for a period of
more than two years. However, in some cases it is possible to apply to retain the
permanent residence permit if you are planning to live outside Norway for a longer
period than two years. This is an important point for foreign spouses who are
accompanying Foreign Service employees when they are posted abroad. You can
find out more here [UD-intra navn og link til nettsiden her]
Applying for a residence permit
This used to be called a settlement permit (Norwegian abbreviation BOS).
If you are outside Norway, you must apply for a residence permit through the nearest
Norwegian embassy or consulate. If you are in Norway, you submit the application to
the police where you live. As a general rule, you must be issued with your first
residence permit before you travel to Norway. However, if you do not need a visa to
visit Norway, you can travel to Norway before applying for a residence permit and
deliver an application at the local police office. You can find a list of countries with
which Norway has visa exemption agreements here: http://www.udi.no/Norwegian-
If you are required to have a visa to enter Norway, you must as a general rule apply
for a residence permit from your home country or from another country where you
have been staying legally for the past six months, and must not travel to Norway
before the Directorate of Immigration has granted a residence permit. However, it is
possible to apply for an entry visa (type D) if you wish to submit the application in
Norway or travel to Norway while your application is being processed. The rules for
this are explained in the Directorate’s circular RS 2010-003e. This type of visa can
only be issued if you are married or a registered partner. You should also note that as
a general rule, you cannot submit an application in Norway if you have entered the
country on an ordinary visitor’s visa (Schengen visa). If you do so, there is a risk that
the Directorate will reject the application on formal grounds. For further information
on who can apply for a residence permit from Norway, contact the Directorate’s
You must pay a fee when you submit an application for a residence permit. The fee
for processing a first-time application for a residence permit on the grounds of family
immigration is NOK 3 000. The fee for an application for renewal of a permit is NOK
1100. (These rates were correct in September 2010, but you should check for any
Residence permits for other family members
If you have children from a previous relationship, they can also apply for family
immigration. In such cases, the other parent must give written consent for the child to
take up residence in Norway, or you must have sole responsibility for the child. If you
have a single parent over the age of 60 who does not have any relatives in direct line
of ascent or descent in their home country, he or she can apply for family immigration
on the grounds that you are living in Norway. For further information on other family
members who can apply for family immigration, see www.udi.no.
To become a Norwegian citizen, you must as a general rule have lived in Norway for
seven of the last ten years. For foreign nationals who are married to or cohabiting
with Norwegian nationals, the required period of residence in Norway is shorter (see
section 12 of the Norwegian Nationality Act). If the period of residence in Norway and
the period of marriage to a Norwegian national (you must also have been sharing a
home) add up to a total of at least seven years, you can be granted Norwegian
citizenship. If the period of residence in Norway and the period during which you are
living with a Norwegian spouse coincide, this means that in practice it takes four
years to be eligible for Norwegian citizenship.
Under certain conditions, your children under the age of 18 can acquire Norwegian
citizenship as ”secondary persons”. (See section 17 of the Norwegian Nationality
If you accompany your spouse or cohabitant on a posting abroad, the time you spend
there counts towards the period of residence in Norway needed for citizenship,
provided that you are not a national of the country in which you are living and that
you are registered in the Norwegian population register. The same may apply to
close relatives accompanying you. (See section 8-2 of the Norwegian Nationality
Contact the Directorate of Immigration for further information.
If you are aged between 18 and 55, you must have completed 300 hours of approved
Norwegian language training or be able to document adequate knowledge of
Norwegian in some other way before you can be granted citizenship. As a general
rule, you must also renounce any other citizenship to become a Norwegian citizen.
Norwegian law does not accept dual nationality if you acquire the second nationality
by application rather than by birth or adoption. However, exceptions may be made for
applicants who cannot be released from their original nationality.
For further information see www.udi.no [or www.udiregelverk.no] The Norwegian
immigration and nationality legislation has been translated and is available through