Safety and security
Crime levels are low, but there’s a risk of petty theft, particularly in airports and railway stations in and around Oslo. The British Embassy is often asked to help British nationals who have had their valuables stolen just after arriving in the country. Take sensible precautions to protect your belongings, particularly your passport, money and credit cards.
Assaults and muggings have been on the increase. Remain alert when walking home alone at night, and stick to main roads and well lit areas. Avoid shortcuts and quiet roads with no other pedestrians.
Visitors can drive using a valid UK or other EU/EEA driving licence. There is no need for an International Driving Permit. Make sure you have the correct vehicle insurance cover before you arrive.
In 2016 there were 135 road deaths in Norway (source: Department for Transport). This equates to 2.6 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 2.8 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2016.
Distances are great and driving takes longer than you might think. Narrow and winding roads may be hazardous and impassable, especially in winter.
Car drivers must use winter tyres if there is snow or ice covering the roads. When winter tyres are used, they must be fitted on all wheels and must have a minimum tread depth of 3mm. You may also need to use studded tyres or snow chains for extra grip in icy conditions when permitted. You can find more information on the use of tyres and snow chains on the State Highways website.
Keep headlights on at all times. Fines for exceeding the speed limit are high. On roads which are not marked with a priority sign (a yellow diamond), drivers must give way to traffic coming from the right.
Alcohol limits for drivers are far stricter than UK levels. There are frequent roadside checks for alcohol. Penalties for driving under the influence are severe and can lead to a prison sentence.
Winter tyres are mandatory for heavy goods vehicles over 3.5 tonnes from 15 November to 31 Match, except on lift axles. These vehicles must also be equipped with tyres with a tread depth of at least 5mm and a sufficient number of snow chains. A truckers’ guide in English issued by the Norwegian Public Roads Administration can be found at Donna Diesel.
You’ll need your passport with you to enter Svalbard.
Follow the advice of the Governor of Svalbard, including on how to protect yourself from a possible polar bear attack, the risks of glaciers, avalanches and other dangers outside the main town of Longyearbyen.
Extreme weather and crises
Extreme weather, floods and landslides can occur. The Norwegian government’s website provides information and advice to the public before during and after a crisis.
Visiting in summer
Mosquitoes and midges can be a problem in forest, lake and mountainous regions. Bans on campfires are strictly enforced in many areas during the summer months. If you plan to go off the beaten track or out to sea, seek local advice about weather conditions and have suitable specialist equipment. The weather can change rapidly, producing Arctic conditions even in summer on exposed mountain tops.
Visiting in winter
The winter is long (it can last well into April) and temperatures can drop to -25°C and below. There is also a high wind chill factor, particularly in unsheltered areas and mountain ranges. Weather conditions can worsen quickly.
Bring warm clothes and practical footwear to cope with icy roads and pavements. You can buy special clamp-on grips (brodder) to give extra security in icy conditions locally. If you are taking part in skiing, hiking or other off road activities use the correct equipment. You can get advice at local information centres, which in smaller places tend to be connected with skiing equipment rental shops. You can also find safety advice for outdoor activities, including skiing, on the Visit Norway website.
Off-piste skiing is highly dangerous. You should follow all safety instructions carefully given the danger of avalanches in some areas and in particular in times of heavy snow. Always check with the local tourist offices on current snow and weather conditions on arrival. You can get information about the risk of an avalanche by visiting the websites of the Norwegian Avalanche Warning Service or the European Avalanche Warning Service.
Read more about how to Ski Safe.