My move to Norway
I decided to write this article because there is little information on the Internet about moving to Norway. People basically describe life, the job search process and the like. Below I have tried to talk about the preparation of documents, registration in the country, opening a bank account, renting an apartment, etc. Hope this is helpful.
My name is Vitaly, I am 30 years old. I work as a senior programmer at The Qt Company, the main language is C ++. I recently moved to Oslo, where our company’s Norwegian office is located.
In fact, I chose the project, not the country. At the time of the decision, I had several job offers from different European countries. Therefore, I chose an interesting direction for me and agreed to move to Norway.
Norway will definitely suit you if you like nature, winter sports, hiking, rafting and the like. It is a small, quiet country with a high standard of living and excellent ecology. It is ideal for family people or those who are planning to have children - because of the huge number of social benefits. About this a lot of material on the Internet.
In my opinion, Norway may not be suitable for some people. First of all, those who are accustomed to earning a lot of money, working not on managerial positions in the IT sphere. It doesn't work like this: in order to earn really a lot, you need to go into management and it is advisable to learn Norwegian. Programmers here are far from the top of the salary rating.
The country will not suit those who are accustomed to work a lot and get an appropriate return - I would say, people with an American type of thinking. They don’t like to work very much here, preferring to spend more time with family and in nature. If you are frustrated that you have an excellent education and you are working on cool things in IT, but you are not getting much more than an electric train driver, then you should not move to Norway. I confess that I still do not like it.
It was probably the fastest interview in my life with the fastest feedback. I submitted an application through the company's website on Saturday, on Monday I was already answered, and on Tuesday I interviewed on Skype. Then I was invited to Oslo for an onsight interview. It so happened that I flew to Norway only a month later, as I planned other interviews.
I arrived in Oslo the day before the interview in order to get a good sleep and see the city for a while. By the way, I advise everyone to do so, to have the opportunity to relax. In no case should not arrive on the day of the interview.
The interview itself was interesting and consisted of several parts:
- Conversation with the manager and HR.
- Dialogue with two developers on technical topics and solving simple problems for warming up. In addition, we disassembled a fragment of my code that was in the public domain, which in itself is wonderful.
- Lunch with the team.
- Continuing technical interview. This time it was necessary to solve a more complex task. What I ended up with, in two different ways.
- Conversation with the manager and HR on the results of the interview and a tour of the office.
All tasks had to be solved on a whiteboard, talking aloud and communicating with the interviewers. The correct decision is not as important as the process of thinking and the approach to solving problems.
A positive review came to me in the evening of the same day, when I was already getting on the local aeroexpress. Additionally, HR asked for contacts of a couple of people I worked with: one of the managerial staff and one fellow developer.
I relayed the contacts the next day, after which HR phoned people and asked for their opinion about me. And I was offered a job at the end of the week.
The company paid all the expenses associated with the relocation: plane tickets, transportation of things, translation and forwarding of documents, visa costs, and so on. In my experience, this is a common practice in Europe.
The company also paid for a temporary apartment for the first month. If in a month you do not have time to find permanent housing, the rent can be extended. It should be borne in mind that such a bonus is taxed here (at least in our company): you will have to pay about 40% of the rental price, but, as I understand it, not immediately, but at the end of the tax year. In principle, this is pretty good, because short-term rentals are on average 50-60% more expensive than long-term.
Preparation in Russia
After a job offer, you must obtain permission to officially live and work in Norway.
To obtain a work permit, you need to translate and apostil some documents. Translation and apostille can be ordered at almost any translation agency. It is important to remember that in this case you can make a translation and an apostille of a notarized copy of the documents - not necessarily the originals. For Norway, it works (at the time of this writing).
Just in case, I translated and apostilled a diploma of higher education and a diploma of candidate of technical sciences. But this is not necessary: if you have several formations, you can provide a document on the highest degree or the most relevant work performed.
If you are planning to move with your wife / husband, you must also transfer the marriage certificate and her / his birth certificate. In case of a positive decision, your partner will receive a residence and work permit. In order for him not to be allowed into the country, he probably must be on the international wanted list or something like that.
I also need a passport with a validity of at least three months. It is good if at the time of application the passport is valid for at least another three years, because the first work permit is issued for just three years. If the passport ends earlier, then a work permit will be issued for a shorter period.
The application process is described in detail on the website of the Norwegian Immigration Department (UDI) www.udi.no. You can fill out all the forms and submit your own documents, but it will be much faster and easier if the company completes and submits them on your behalf in the country. I chose the second option.
HR sent us several questionnaires, then filled out all the necessary documents and sent us by courier mail for signature. In the reply letter, we sent signed documents, passport photographs, copies of important passport pages, and copies of all translated and apostilled documents. By the way, we did not need the originals.
After receiving the documents, the company applied for a work permit the next day. He was considered four weeks, while the HR company called UDI to find out how things were going. I believe that this played a significant role in the fact that the process accelerated sharply. Officially, the review period is from four to six weeks.
After submitting the application, an email arrives to confirm that all documents have been submitted and your application has been assigned an identification number. After approval of the application, you will receive another letter stating that you have been approved a temporary residence permit.
Next you need to enter the territory of Norway, register with the police and the tax and get a residence permit.
If you do not need a visa or you have any entry visa (Schengen is suitable), then you can just come to the country and get the necessary documents. If there is no visa, then you can apply for a visa of a special type D - this is a single entry visa for which you do not have to pay a consular fee. You will still apply through the visa center (if you are not from Moscow), so you will have to pay for the visa center services.
An important point. Visa center staff often do not know what to do if a question goes beyond the scope of a regular Schengen visa. Therefore, if an employee suddenly invites you to call the consulate of Norway in Moscow or fill out documents online and wait for something, then culturally ask him to call someone who understands the process of applying for such a visa.
In fact, you need to fill out a regular form, similar to a Schengen application form, and attach a printout of the email that you were given a residence permit. No more documents are needed.
At the time of the move, my wife's usual Schengen visa ended, I had to apply for a single entry visa. Because of the staff at the visa center, we wasted about a week. The visa itself eventually came in four days.
After obtaining a visa, you must book a date for visiting the tax and police. This can be done online by yourself or by asking a company. I chose the second option.
We chose a temporary apartment remotely, and the company paid. In principle, you can settle in any part of Oslo, since the city is small and the road to the office does not take much time.
We entrusted the transportation of things to one of the many shipping companies in St. Petersburg. Additionally ordered the service deferred delivery. This means that the company will keep your things in stock, and then send it when you say - quite convenient if you do not want things to come to a temporary apartment. All our things, including equipment, arrived safe and sound, although three weeks later than we expected.
When I arrived, I went to the company's office and received a SIM-card. This is quite convenient, because without a local identification number, a SIM card can only be activated in the salons of a large provider on the passport. Those two are Telia and Telenor. Small providers can only sell you a card, but not activate.
Paying without a local bank account is also not very convenient, but you can always pay for several months at once.
Further, within nine days, you must register in the country and obtain a residence permit. I had to go to the local tax office (Skatteetaten), where the Foreign Workers Service Center (SUA) is located, at Schweigaards gate 17. There I was photographed, fingerprinted, made a copy of the employment contract and temporary apartment contract. I also filled out two forms. The questionnaires themselves are in Russian, English, Norwegian and several other languages. Filled everything in Latin.
About a week later I received the following documents in the mail:
- Temporary residence permit for a period of three years. This is such a plastic card with a photo and biometric data, where in addition to the back of your position is indicated. The card does not replace a passport, but it plays the role of a Schengen visa and confirms that you legally live and work in Norway. Read more here: www.udi.no/en/word-definitions/temporary-residence-permit .
- Norwegian ID. A very important 11-digit number, without which you cannot take a step when signing various documents. Do you want to open a bank account, sign a contract for renting an apartment, activate a SIM card - you need this number. Read more here: www.skatteetaten.no/en/person/foreign/norwegian-identification-number/what-is-an-identification-number
- Letter about the appointment of the doctor.
My wife checked in at the local police station (building next door: Schweigaards gate 15B). She received a temporary residence permit for a period of one year - this is normal, after a year you just need to come back to the police and renew it. We did not have a long-term rental contract yet, and she did not have an employment contract, so she wasn’t immediately given a Norwegian ID.
Later she came to the tax office with a contract, filled out a questionnaire, and a week later the ID came in the mail. Book this visit here: www.skatteetaten.no/person . You could probably try to get it with a temporary residence contract, but I'm not sure.
The next adventure was opening a bank account. The main problem is the low level of service in the banking sector, as in other areas of services. This is due to the fact that people here do not want to work too much, but at the same time they want to live with dignity (which is quite possible under local socialism). Of course, such an approach negatively affects the level of services. It turns out pretty funny combination: expensive, long and mediocre quality. Here I do not claim objectivity. This is my personal opinion, which may change over time.
Learn more about how to open an account. You fill out a questionnaire on the bank's website and the presentation begins. You receive a letter that your appeal will be processed 2-4-8-10 weeks, because they have many other cases and you are not very interested in them. Further, you may be asked to come with documents to the bank branch, make copies there, after which ... they will be asked to send copies of the same documents by letter to the address of the central branch! Good thing not pigeon mail. In general, draw conclusions about the level of service yourself.
Everything that I described in this paragraph concerns large banks. The situation with small online banks may be different.
My colleagues say that five or six years ago everything was easier: you could come to the bank branch with a passport and just open an account. As I understand it, the current situation is connected with the reduction of bank branches and staff.
Anyway, I managed to open a bank account in a month together with a deposit account for renting an apartment. I suspect that the process has accelerated only due to the opening of a deposit account. In the same bank, there was an account with a landlord, so a deposit account for renting an apartment also had to be opened here.
You can’t use the newly opened account right away (but you can tell the company’s account number so that you can transfer money transfers) - you have to wait until you receive a bank card, BankID and instructions on how to first activate / configure all of this. It takes about a week. Everything comes in different letters at intervals of about a day. The bank explained to me that this is done for security purposes.
BankID is your digital signature, which greatly simplifies life in the country and all routine operations. In fact, this is a small plastic device with a keyboard that generates one-time digital passwords for authorization in various services on the Internet. Your Norwegian ID is used as a login for the services.
Of course, it is inconvenient to constantly use regular BankID, so you can use BankID on your mobile. Its creation takes several minutes and is carried out online in the personal account of the bank. When you have BankID on your mobile, all you need to do is to enter your PIN on your mobile and press OK, which is quite convenient. As a login to various public services, banks, etc. your Norwegian ID can be used or a combination of date of birth and phone number.
Everything is pretty good. There are offers on the market, prices are about the same throughout Oslo - it does not matter whether you will rent an apartment within walking distance from the office or 30 minutes by public transport. A one-bedroom apartment of 45 m 2 costs an average of about 13,000 NOK per month (at the time of this writing, one Norwegian krone is about eight Russian rubles).
You can search on the website www.finn.no in the section on real estate. You need to look at what is included in the rental price: somewhere hot water and heating are included in the price, somewhere there is none. If there is no central heating, in winter there is still about 500-1000 NOK per month for electricity.
Basic Internet is most often included in the price of housing. The base is about 10 Mbit / s, so you may have to purchase an extended package. My tariff from the provider “Lunette” is 250 Mbit / s for 399 NOK per month (paid by the company).
The apartment usually has a kitchen, a refrigerator, a stove and a dishwasher, but the washing machine is far from a fact. Most of the furniture is only cabinets, and the bed, the tables and everything else will have to be bought by yourself.The bathroom almost never has a bath, only a shower stall.
Get ready for the fact that the first time to find an apartment will be almost impossible. For any good option a few applicants, and it will take a couple of days. It is likely that the landlord will invite ten people at once for an inspection. Donating is usually preferred to Norwegians or other Scandinavians. If among your competitors there is a Norwegian / Swedish / Danish couple, then, with a high probability, you can forget about this apartment.
It helps a letter from the company that you have a long-term contract, you really work here and get paid. As a rule, landlords ask for it, they can even call the company in addition to clarify details.
Another unpleasant moment when renting an apartment is a deposit. It can be up to four monthly payments - that's about 50,000 NOK. Less is, but rare. To make a deposit, a separate bank account is created, which is opened by the tenant. During the term of the contract, neither the tenant nor the lessor is entitled to withdraw funds from the account.
Food prices are slightly higher than in St. Petersburg. For bread and meat - much higher. In principle, the information on www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/in/Oslo is relevant. A month for two people can leave an average of 5000-10000 NOK - depends on how you used to eat.
The range of products, of course, is not the same as in the European Union, but there are still plenty to choose from. On the positive side, I can mention good inexpensive cheeses and some types of fish.
Prices for furniture, dishes, textiles, etc. in Ikea are higher by 5-15%. Household appliances and electronics are like in Russia, something even cheaper.
All the information below is about the company where I currently work. Other places may be different.
You can start and finish the working day at any time, the recommended working day is 7.5 hours. Mode of operation, I would say, relaxed. No one is in a great hurry anywhere, people prefer to come to work early and leave at 3-4 o'clock in the afternoon.
The main working language is English: an international and multicultural company. You do not need to know Norwegian, although the company pays for the first Norwegian course.
Another company pays for Internet, mobile communications and additional medical insurance. As I understand it, additional medical insurance allows you to quickly get an appointment with the right specialist, but I myself have not used it yet.
Lunches at the local canteen are also paid by the company. The food is good quality and varied. In a month, some ridiculous amount is deducted from the salary for which you don’t even eat at a cafe a couple of times. In the office itself, of course, there is a kitchen with coffee and other drinks, cookies, snacks, fruit, etc.
The company orders all the necessary equipment and furniture of your choice. Every three years it can be fully updated. If you need to purchase something or upgrade earlier, you need to coordinate it with the manager.
If an employee does not have funds for a deposit to rent an apartment, the company gives a loan in installments for a year. Under the same scheme, she can pay the first rent.
As long as the employee does not have a local bank account, the company can transfer money to an account at any other bank and withdraw some cash. I didn’t take advantage of this myself, as the cards of Russian banks work perfectly well in Norway, including those linked to foreign currency accounts. By the way, there are grocery stores where you can pay in dollars or euros from a currency account without loss of funds for conversion.
My first impressions are mostly positive. The country has a very calm atmosphere and friendly people. Excellent ecology, clean air, water can be drunk from the tap. Of course, amazing nature.
Public transport works like a clock. A single ticket is valid for the metro, trolley bus, tram and river transport. You can buy a card like plantain or triple or use the application on your mobile. The application works only with a local bank card.
In the subway there are no frames and turnstiles, as in all European countries where I was. Trains run quietly, in the carriages you can talk normally while the train is moving. However, there are problems with navigation at some central stations, you can get lost with the habit. In addition, in the subway there is no delimitation of human flows, even banal signs like “keep the right / left side”. On the one hand, this is not very necessary, as there are few people, but sometimes it is uncomfortable.
I would also like to note that Oslo is not the best city for those who position themselves as city dwellers, love various events, clubs, restaurants and the like. After living in Moscow or even St. Petersburg, Oslo seems like a village. At least these are my impressions. But I personally like Oslo.
Everyone speaks excellent English, so some immigrants do not learn Norwegian. In principle, it is not very necessary if you are not going to stay here, study or work in a purely Norwegian company.
Thank you for reading to the end! I will be glad to your comments, questions and clarifications. Since I live in the country for a relatively short time, then the advice of those who settled here for a long time.