You will need a Norwegian bank account if you plan to stay in Norway for more than a few months, because a Norwegian bank account will be required for you to pay rent, get a Norwegian bank card, get a salary or anything related to finance.
To open a bank account in Norway, simply walk to an open bank with your passport, national ID number (personnummer or D number), a contract for your apartment and your employment contract (if you have one) and let the banking account know that you want to set up a Norwegian bank account. There’s no need to book an appointment, so just walk in to your preferred bank.
It’s actually pretty easy if you bring the documents you need, and you pretty much just need to fill out a few forms to get it set up. You need to prove that you do indeed live in Norway before you are allowed to open a bank account, so bring a copy of your rental contract when going to the bank to be on the safe side.
If you are a student, you should bring a proof of studying at the university.
When setting up your bank account, be aware that you will be asked many weird questions. These might feel random, but they are all grounded in the anti-laundering laws that requires the bank to ask you these types of questions.
Most Norwegian bank accounts are free, but you usually have to pay 200 – 300 NOK to get a banking card that is connected to your bank account. You will probably want this if you are going to be living in Norway for a little while.
You cannot set up your first bank account online in Norway
There are some websites that claim that you can set up your first bank account in Norway completely online, but that is not the case. Before the bank account can be activated, you will need to physically visit a branch of the bank to identify yourself, and include a proof of you actually living in Norway (typically a contract for renting a place to live).
That said, after you have set up your first bank account, you can then open new bank accounts online, because at this point you can use BankID to verify your identity online. But you will absolutely need to physically visit a bank when opening your very first Norwegian bank account.
Which bank to choose?
Most banks in Norway are completely safe, so you are pretty much free to choose which ones you want as long as you intend to use the bank mostly for small money transfers and personal finance (like most people).
The biggest and most well-known banks in Norway are:
There are also lots of smaller banks that operate within a city or town, and these are also usually good enough, so don’t shy away from these.
If it comes to choosing between the three major banks, any of them are fine. A lot of foreigners prefer DNB, which is ironic since this is probably the bank with the worst reputation of the three (mostly due to terrible customer service). That said, it’s used by a lot of people, so it can’t be all that bad.
If you just want to make the choice easy, stop by the bank that has a physical location closest to you. You probably won’t need to visit it very often, but it’s convenient to have it close by if you ever need it.
Make sure to get your BankID set up when opening a Norwegian bank account!
BankID is a system that allows you to verify your identity online, and it’s required to log into a digital bank interface (to check your account and balance), or to verify your identity to log into government services online. It’s very nice to get BankID if you plan on staying in Norway for a little while, and this can be set up at the same time you open a bank account.
To set up BankID, just ask the bank accountants when you are opening your bank account, and they will help you with it. This only takes a short while, but it’s well worth the extra wait.
After you set up your BankID and bank account, you can use BankID to log in to most public services such as NAV, UDI og the tax office’s websites. This will make your life in Norway a bit easier in the future.
Some foreigners have problem getting their BankID set up, but don’t give up. You really do need BankID if you want to live in Norway!
When should you get a Norwegian bank account?
If you plan on staying in Norway a little while, setting up a bank account should be a priority. Most renters require you to have a bank account to sign a contact to rent an apartment, so you will probably want to get it as soon as possible. This is actually a bit ironic since banks require you to have a lease to prove you live in Norway. However, letting the renter know that you plan on getting a Norwegian bank account in the next few days will usually work out.
The only thing that might prevent you from getting your Norwegian bank account right away is that you will need a personnummer or D number before you can set up a bank account, and it can take a little while to get these ID numbers.
You will probably also want to get a Norwegian bank card when you open your bank account. Anyone can get a regular debit card, but you need to have lived in Norway for at least one year before you are eligible to get a credit card.
A final reason is that you need your bank account to get BankID, which again is needed to log in to public services in the future.
How long does it take to get a Norwegian bank account?
While it it pretty easy to open a bank account in Norway, it does take some time. After the appointment in the bank, expect to wait between 2 and 8 weeks before the bank account is actually open and ready to be used.
I have no idea why it takes so long, but it really does. So be prepared for a long wait to get your bank account ready.
Some expats recommend choosing Sparebank 1 if you want to get it done as fast as possible. They often tend to be on the 2 week side of the spectrum, while other banks like DNB often tend to be closer to 8 weeks.