If you are moving to Norway with a young child, then you will probably want a spot in a kindergarten. This is voluntary, but most Norwegian children attend kindergarten before they start school. This is partly because it is common for both parents to work, but also to let the child learn social skills and get ready for school.
Kindergarten is open for any child between the age 1 and 5, and the child is entitled to a kindergarten spot in the municipality it lives in as long as it is considered living in Norway. But how do you apply for kindergarten in Norway?
If you want to apply for a spot in kindergarten for your child, head to the municipality’s website and click on the tab called “Barnehage”. Here you will need to fill out an electronic application before 1st of March the same year you want to begin. Wait for the answer, and accept the kindergarten spot.
It might be tricky to apply for kindergarten if you don’t speak Norwegian
Unfortunately most municipalities only have the online application available in Norwegian, so you will need to be able to either read basic Norwegian or get help from Google Translate. To make matters worse, all municipalities have their own application, so we can’t really help you with any fine details since the application will vary a lot depending on where you live.
There are a few exceptions, such as in Oslo, where they have the online application available in English as well as Norwegian.
You can also apply later than March 1st, but you are not guaranteed a spot, and will be placed at the last place on the wait list. Also keep in mind that March 1st is the application deadline for 90 % of all municipalities, but some have chosen a different date. But it is usually either on March 1st or very close to it.
When you apply before March 1st, you are entitled to a spot in a kindergarten at the next “kindergarten year”, which are like school years and begins in August. You are entitled to a spot in the same municipality you live in, but you might not get a spot in the kindergarten you prefer.
Get help from the municipality if you have problems with applying for a spot in kindergarten
Most municipalities will be more than willing to help you out if you don’t really understand the process of applying to kindergarten because of the language barrier. Just contact the municipality directly by finding a telephone number or e-mail address on their website, and they will get you in touch with the right person.
If you are moving to Norway on short notice and need to apply outside of the regular deadlines, then you should also consider getting in contact with the municipality you are moving to in order to get help, find out which kindergartens has free spots (if any), or how you can apply before you get a Norwegian address.
If you’re lucky, you might get a kindergarten spot on short notice, but many municipalities have fewer spots than children, so you might actually have to wait until the next kindergarten year before you get a spot.
Kindergartens can be either owned by the municipality, or privately
Most smaller municipalities will only have a a single or a few publicly owned kindergartens, while bigger municipalities likely also will have some kindergartens that are privately owned.
The application process is the same for both types, and you will need to apply for private kindergarten using the same system as for the public kindergartens.
It’s also worth noting that there is not that much of a difference between privately owned and publicly owned kindergartens in Norway. The cost is the same since there is a max cap to kindergarten prices, but privately owned ones can have a “theme” so to speak, such as being based on a religion, being an outdoor kindergarten, a combined small farm with a kindergarten, being a montessori kindergarten etc.
That said, most public kindergartens are regarded as just as good as privately owned kindergartens in Norway.
Who can apply for a kindergarten spot for their children?
You will need a D number or personnummer (for permanent residents) to be able to apply for a spot in the Norwegian kindergartens. Anyone who moves to Norway will be able to get a D number after they arrive.
Both one parent at the child itself need this D number or a personnummer. You do not strictly need an address in the municipality you are applying for kindergarten in, but you will be required to have an address in that municipality before the first day of kindergarten.
This allows you to apply for kindergarten in other municipalities when you are planning to move to it, but you should aim at having moved there before the start date.
Other than that, all you need is a telephone number and an e-mail-address where the municipality and kindergarten can get in touch with you.