How to drive in Norway

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Updated 2018-05-14 14:39

Welcome to Norway: here’s an electric car for you to drive! Granted it doesn’t work exactly like that, but this is indeed the country with the biggest number of electric cars (mostly Teslas) per capita in the whole world. You will encounter them a lot in the cities, where charging them is free and you are exempt from tolls if you drive one. However, when driving in Norway’s vast countryside, the first thing you need to consider is if your vehicle is prepared for extreme weather conditions (and the odd moose on the road). To that end, taking some practical driving lessons may not be a bad idea.

Driver's licence converting in Norway

In Norway, the rules on whether your driving licence needs to be converted or not depends on where you're coming from. Norway has an obligation through the EEA Agreement to implement EU regulations relating to driving licences. So if you're coming from an EU-EEA country, your licence will be valid in Norway and you are not required to exchange it. Once it expires, you can exchange it for a Norwegian driving licence without having to sit through any driving tests.

Good to know:

Once exchanged for a Norwegian licence, your old foreign licence will be returned to the country where it was issued. Your Norwegian licence will be valid in all EU/EEA countries.

If you're coming from a non-EU/EEA country, you can use your driver's licence in Norway for up to three months. After that, depending on which specific country you're coming from, the process is different. If your driver's licence was issued in Switzerland or Japan, you will be able to exchange it for a Norwegian one without further testing, but you need to do so within 12 months from the moment you moved. If your driver's licence was issued in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, South Korea, Israel, Monaco or San Marino, you will be able to exchange it for a Norwegian one, but you'll have to pass a practical driving test within 12 months from the moment you moved. If your driver's licence was issued in any other country, you'll have to study and take both a theory and practical driving test from scratch to be able to obtain a Norwegian driver's licence.

Driving tests in Norway

For a passenger car (driving licence type B), you'll need to complete something called Basic Traffic Course (Norwegians are usually taking this class in lower secondary school), before you can even take driving lessons or practice driving. During the course's 17 hours, you'll be taught about traffic awareness, how to interact with pedestrians and react to an accident, and what you need to know regarding night driving. Once you have completed the course, you will then be issued a learner's permit that will allow you to take actual driving lessons.

The first thing that comes next is basic training, where you will learn your responsibilities as a driver, as well as how to drive in an environmentally friendly manner. This is the part where you will have to specify what kind of car you wish to learn to drive (automatic or manual transmission) so that you can be tested accordingly. You can take the basic training at a driving school, with a lay (non-professional) instructor, or both. The number of lessons you need will depend on your level and how much you practise with a lay instructor.

After basic training, the next stage is proficiency in traffic, which you can also do at a driving school or with a lay instructor. Once you complete that, comes the mandatory, 13-hour safety course on the road. Afterwards, you will be ready to take your theory test at any trafikkstasjon (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Office). You can find some sample theory driving tests online. The last stage, provided you passed your theory test, is, of course, the practical driving test. The test consists of several tasks during a 55-60 minute drive on a pre-selected route.

Good to know:

You don't need to book an appointment with a trafikkstasjon in advance in order to do your theory test, but you will have to apply for your driver's licence before taking it. For the practical driving test, you can book an appointment at a time that is convenient for you.

Useful links:

Norwegian Driving & Vehicles Administration
Norwegian theory driving tests online

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