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Business Life in Norway

Norway offers lots of business opportunities, particularly in the fields of oil and gas production. The competition from within the country is fierce, but our guide is full of useful advice for expats set on working in Norway. Read on for information regarding expat employment opportunities, social security, and more.
The gas and oil industry is the strongest sector in Norway with lots of employment opportunities.

Finding a Job in Norway

The job search is not always easy for those who wish to work abroad. However, the government provides resources to help expats to work and settle down in Norway. The NAV (Norwegian Labor and Welfare Administration) holds the largest Norwegian vacancy database, with English-speaking positions to be found by simply searching ‘English’. The NAV-produced Work in Norway Official Guide offers step-by-step support with the process of finding work and settling down, as well as information about employment contracts, pay, and hours.

Alternatively, the EURES (European Employment Services),, and Jobs in Norway are other useful job databases. You may also be able to find open positions in Norway’s biggest national newspaper for job listings: Aftenposten. The NAV has a list of private recruitment agencies that cover several industries and offer help with the competitive Norwegian job market.

Personal Networking

Personal contacts and recommendations play a vital role in the job search as many positions in Norway are not advertised. It is sometimes worth getting creative and contacting companies directly after having researched your industry.

Of course, it is invaluable to have personal connections in Norway, who may be able to recommend or introduce you to certain people. If you are a brand-new expat, you may also want to use the first weeks of your stay to do casual work, learn Norwegian, and build a business network.

Language Skills

The main hurdle for expats is that most work requires you to be fluent or have some proficiency in Norwegian. Without language skills your options will be rather limited. To work in Norway, it is not compulsory to learn Norwegian, though, unless you wish to apply for a permanent residence, and are not from an EU or EEA member state or another Nordic country.

If you would like to get started on your own, check out Norwegian on the Web. This online course, originally created for international students by the University of Trondheim, offers ten free language lessons for beginners.

Getting Started

Some of the top industries in Norway include oil and gas operations, as well as fishing and banking services. The technology sector also has a large growth rate. Companies with the highest turnovers in Norway are, for example, Statoil, Norsk Hydro, Telenor, Yara International, and DNB — covering the oil and gas, construction, telecommunications, and banking sectors.

If your job search approach is to contact major companies directly, you can look in the Norwegian company directory refer to the Norwegian Yellow Pages, or contact the Norwegian Chamber of Commerce in your home country.

Be Modest and Casual

When doing business in Norway, remember that egalitarianism is one of the cornerstones of Norwegian culture. Thus, it is important that you don’t come off as overconfident or even arrogant. Try to remain modest and do not flaunt your wealth or education.

Although doing business is a rather casual endeavor in Norway, you should still make sure to remain on a surname basis with your business partners and greet one another with a firm handshake. Most importantly, ensure to never be late to a meeting, both in business and social settings — punctuality is of high importance to Norwegians.

At the same time, however, communication styles are quite easy-going and informal, such as in business meetings. It goes without saying, of course, that it is still important to remain professional, polite, and respectful. Norwegians are true straight-shooters who don’t beat around the bush during business negotiations. Don’t be put off by that!

Social Security in Norway

While working in Norway, you are usually covered under the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme from your first day of work, providing that you contribute to the scheme. As a result, you are eligible to receive health services and contribute to Norway’s pension scheme, among other services and benefits (e.g. unemployment benefits or parental leave). If you are exempt from the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme, you need to provide proof that you belong to a similar social security scheme in your home country.

Not all expats are covered, however, as different rules apply to EU or EEA nationals, non-EEA nationals, and expats from countries with a bilateral social security agreement. Citizens from a country outside of the EU or EEA should check if Norway has a social security agreement with their country.

EU or EEA citizens are automatically members of the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme unless they have been posted from their home country as a short-term employee. If that is the case, you are not entitled to NAV health benefits, but you can claim health services for your home country’s account.

For specific social security enquiries, the NAV offer English-speaking telephone helplines.

Agreements about Social Security

Expats who are not citizens of the EU or EEA but live in a country with a social security agreement with Norway should refer to the specific agreement. In general, you should be covered under the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme, but different rules may apply in some cases. If you have been posted abroad as an employee, you are usually exempted from the pensions section, but are covered under the health services section.

Non-EEA countries that have a reciprocal social security agreement with Norway include:

  • Australia
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Israel
  • Montenegro
  • Serbia
  • Turkey
  • USA

Are you a national from a non-EEA country without a social security agreement? You are automatically covered under the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme. Your membership entitles you to claim health benefits and earn pension rights among other benefits.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

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