New Norwegian driving licence regulations, which went into effect on 19 January 2013 in step with the third EU Driving Licence Directive, now apply to some expats. Here is some helpful information to help drivers wade through the myriad of Norwegian regulations.
Most of the changes from the previous edition of the regulations of 2001 affect citizens and resident expatriates holding Norwegian driving licences.
Nevertheless, some apply to expatriates holding driving licences issued in other countries. The crucial ones for car driving licences are summarised below.
If you are an expatriate in Norway holding a driving licence issued in another country, the validity of your licence depends on the length of your stay, on the country that issued it and on its class.
There are two categories of length of stay:
- Temporary stay (midlertidig opphold)
- Permanent residence (fast bopel).
Likewise, there are two groupings of countries:
- Within the European Economic Area (EEA) (EØS in Norwegian), consisting of the countries of the European Union (EU) and the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
- Outside the EEA.
The most common class of licence is B, for passenger cars and vans weighing up to 3,500 kg.
If your stay is temporary and your driving licence was first issued within the EEA, it is valid in Norway for the duration of your stay. However, it is valid for only three months if you obtained that licence by trading in a licence first issued outside the EEA. Likewise, a driving licence first issued outside the EEA is valid for only three months.
If you are a permanent resident and your driving licence was first issued within the EEA, it is valid in Norway until it expires. But, driving licences first issued outside the EEA or traded in for EEA licences are valid for only three months.
Likewise, the regulations for trading in a driving licence issued in another country depend on whether the issuing country is in or outside the EEA.
In general, a driving licence issued within the EEA may be traded in for a Norwegian one. The regulations for trading in a driving licence issued outside the EEA depend on the country of its issue.
A licence issued by Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Israel, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino, South Korea or the USA may be traded in for a Norwegian one of the same class against successfully taking a driving test for that class of vehicle. A car driving licence issued by Japan may be traded in for a Norwegian one without a driving test.
Driving licences issued by other countries outside the EEA may not be traded in. These are the basic regulations. Special regulations apply to licences first issued in Greenland and Switzerland as well as within some licence classes, such as heavy motorcycles.
Norway actually is ahead of the game in complying with the new driving licence regulations. Since 1998, Norwegian driving licences have been issued in the now standardised design and 85 x 54 mm plastic credit-card format.
Changes in Norwegian regulations valid from 19 January 2013 are available (in Norwegian only) on the Norwegian Public Roads Administration (Statens Vegvesen) website, www.vegvesen.no: click on ‘Førerkort’ and then on ‘Nye førerkortregler fra 19. januar 2013’.
Complete current Norwegian regulations: Forskrift om førerkort m.m. (‘Regulations on driving licences etc.’, in Norwegian only), available online from Lovdata, www.lovdata.no , key in either title or date and number: 2004-01-19 nr. 298.
European Commission Memo on the third Driving Licence Directive: ‘New European driving licence for more security, safety and free movement’, Brussels, 18 January 2013, Memo/13/10, http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-13-10_en.htm
Overview of older European driving licences useful in checking details: ‘Driving Licences in the European Union and in the European Economic Area’ (Luxembourg, 2005, Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 256 pages with gatefold covers, spiral bound, ISBN 92-894-8429-2).
This book comprises colour reproductions of the driving licences of all EU/EEA countries valid from the mid 1950s until it was published in 2005, along with uniform explanations of them in English.
It is the best single reference for comparing the familiar – a driving licence that you may hold – with the less familiar – a driving licence issued in Norway or in another country. It is available free on the Norwegian Public Roads Administration (Statens Vegvesen) website, www.vegvesen.no: click on ‘English’ then on the ‘Permission to drive and driver training in Norway’ link to bring up a list of downloadable PDF sections of the book.
For full details, contact the nearest Traffic Services Station (Trafikkstasjon) listed under Trafikkstasjoner on the Public Roads Administration (Statens Vegvesen) website.