Norway is known to have one of the best parental leave systems in the world, with a paid parental leave for 1 year after giving birth or adopting a child.
The first year of the child is considered to be very important to the development of the child, so paid parental leave in Norway is a method of prioritizing the well-being of all new children, by allowing the parents to be at home with the child.
But how long is the parental leave in Norway, and how much money do you get paid when staying at home with your new child? Let’s take a closer look at this, all answer all the questions you might have about parental leave in Norway!
Who are entitled to parental leave in Norway?
Paid parental leave in Norway is for Norwegians and people who are living in Norway, and the short summary is that you need to be a working individual who who part of the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme.
In other words, you typically have to be paying taxes to Norway to receive paid parental leave.
Here’s a guide to becoming a member of the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme.
To officially quality to get paid parental leave in Norway, you need to meet the following criteria:
- Be a member of the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme (folketrygden).
- Have been working, or gotten a benefit like sick leave benefit, unemployment benefit in Norway or a EU/EEA country. Any benefit from NAV is generally OK.
- Have had pensionable income in at least 6 of the last 10 months before the start of the parental leave period.
How much do you get paid in paid parental leave?
You can get paid paternal leave in Norway, which is called foreldrepenger (literally translates to “parent’s money”). This is a 100 % pay if you choose a 49 week paternal leave, or 80 % of your regular pay if you choose a 59 week paternal leave.
In other words, you should get exactly as much money as when you were working.
You yourself get paid by your employer, who is then reimbursed by NAV. So you yourself should not really notice any changes in the payslips you get when you are on paternal leave in Norway.
There’s an upper limit to how much you get in paid paternal leave in Norway, and it’s at 6G, which equals 668,862 NOK as of 2022.
It’s also important to keep in mind that you need the mother to be eligible for paid paternal leave to get any paternal leave at all. So if they mother does not qualify, none of the parents get any benefit (even if the father or co-mother is eligible by themselves).
Need work? Make sure to read our guide to finding job vacancies in Norway!
PS. there are some more exceptions and special cases for getting paid paternal leave in Norway, so make sure to contact NAV if you have any questions.
Lump-money grants for non-working parents
If you have not been working prior to having a child, you might be eligible for a one-time grant, called engangsstøknad in Norwegian.
This requires you to be a member of the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme and live in Norway, as well as having been paid less than 50,000 NOK in the last 6 months of getting a child.
Per 2022 the sum of the lump-money grant is 90,300 NOK, which is around $9,000 USD.
While this might seem like a nice sum of money, keep in mind that this is the only money you get from the government until you get a job, so you won’t be getting any additional benefits.
The length of parental leave in Norway
The total length of the parental leave is set at either 49 weeks with 100 % pay, or 59 weeks with 80 % pay.
The mother can choose to use up to 12 weeks of the parental leave before the childbirth, which is often done if they want to rest more the last weeks before giving birth.
Both parents have their own quota for parental leave, with a joint period where you decide who shall use it.
With the exception of the first 6 weeks after the birth, the parents are free to choose exactly when and how to split their quotas.
You can choose to let the mother take maternal leave for all her time consecutively, do every other week, or even divide it so that the mother is home with the child some days a week, and the father or co-mother other days.
Let’s look closer at the different quotas below.
The maternal leave at 100 % pay is 15 weeks. The mother is required to take the leave for the first 6 weeks after giving birth, but after this point you are free to chose which leave to use. The maternal leave is reserved for the biological mother of the child who gives birth to it.
If you decide to take a 80 % pay leave, the mother gets up to 19 weeks leave for her own quota.
Paternal leave for the father and co-mothers
The paternal leave for the father or co-mother of the child is also at 15 weeks with a 100 % pay, or 19 weeks at 80 % pay. There are no requirements to when it should be done, other than not in the first 6 weeks.
The joint period is the final type of paternal leave, and is set at 16 weeks of 100 % pay or 18 weeks at 80 % pay.
You are free to choose which parent should take the joint period, and you are free to divide it up as you see fit.
Quotas for single parents
If you are having a child all by yourself, you get the entire paternal leave to yourself. In other words, the single parent get 49 weeks of parental leave at 100 % pay or 59 weeks of parental leave at 80 % pay.
In addition, there are often other types of grants and benefits you can apply for as a single parent.
How most Norwegian parents uses the parental leave quotas
It’s pretty common for regular Norwegian families to let the mother stay home with the child for the first 15 weeks of her own quota, then for another 16 with the joint quota. Then finally, the father or co-mother stays home for the final 15 weeks.
This is currently most common, but as said, everyone is free to choose their own solution by themselves.
Parental leave for adopting a child
If you are adopting a child in Norway, you are entitled to paid parental leave just like if you were to have a biological child. However, there are a few key differences.
The parents are treated as two “co-parents” in cases of adoption, not as a mother, father or co-mother.
This leads to both of you having the same rights as mentioned in the section about fathers / co-mothers above. You both get 15 weeks of your own paternal leave quota, as well as the regular 16 week joint quota.
So in reality, the big difference is that you do not have a mother who is required to take the first 6 weeks of parental leave.
There are also two exceptions to when you are allowed to take parental leave for adopting a child:
- If the child is the biological child of your partner (making you a stepmother or stepfather).
- If the child is over 15 years of age.
In these cases, you do not have the right to a paid paternal leave. You can however apply to get an unpaid leave, but it’s up to your place of work to choose if they want to accept it or not.
The employer generally need a good reason to deny you unpaid parental leave.
How parental leave in Norway works for same-sex parents
You can typically get the same parental leave if you get a child with a partner of the same sex, but the exact rules will depend on whether you adopt the child, use assisted reproductive technology or use surrogacy.
Let’s take a closer look at how parental leave in Norway works for same-sex parents!
Adopting a child as same-sex parents
Many same-sex partners choose to adopt children, and get the same rights as other people who adopt children. Read the section on parental leave for adopting a child above for more info.
Partners of the same sex have equal rights to adopt children in Norway as regular couples of different sexes.
Assisted reproductive technology
Female partners who are using assisted reproductive technology to get pregnant can sign a form to let the partner become a co-mother. The co-mother typically get the same legal rights as a regular father does.
The person who is pregnant becomes to main mother, and has more legal rights than the co-mother does, and is treated as the mother when it comes to maternal leave.
Females with a same-sex partner has equal rights to use assisted reproductive technology as women with partners of the same sex.
Surrogacy is technically not legal in Norway, but many women go to other countries like Denmark to perform it. However, since the Norwegian law does not recognize it, surrogacy is considered another form of adoption.
So you get the same rights as other types of adoption if you use surrogacy. This makes both parents equal in the eyes of the law, and you each get 15 weeks of personal parental leave and a shared 16 week period.
How and where to apply to parental leave in Norway
You have the right to get parental leave in Norway, but you still need to apply for it.
To apply for parental leave, send a written request for parental leave to your place of work, at least 4 weeks before you want to start the leave. You must also apply to NAV to get paid parental leave.
Note that I’ve written at least 4 weeks. You should consider doing it much earlier to allow your employer to find time to find a replacement. It’s common to give the notice around 12 to 16 weeks before the parental leave date.
The application to your employer can be very basic, but should include the start date of the parental leave, the end date of the parental leave, the reason for the leave (having a child), your name and the date.
You can theoretically also apply orally by telling your boss, but it’s considered courtesy to write a written application.
The employer is not really allowed to not accept the application, but there’s a board that handles all twists and disagreements about parental leaves. So contact them if you run into problems with your boss. Luckily this very rarely happens.
Extending your parental leave
You have the right to ask for another 12 months of leave from your work after the main paid paternal leave has ended, and each parent can choose this option.
This means that you and your partner can stay at home with the child for up to 3 years after giving birth or adopting it (1 year of regular parental leave, and 1 year each for each parent).
The only problem is that you do not get the paid paternal leave after the 49 or 59 weeks, so the additional year or years are unpaid.
However, there are some other benefits you can apply to get when you have a child in Norway.
Kontantstøtte / cash-for-care
If you do decide to stay at home with the child for another year, you can get cash-for-care, or what is called kontantstøtte in Norwegian.
This is given to children that are between the age of 1 and 2, and that are not attending kindergarten.
The cash-for-care sum is 7,500 NOK per month, so it’s likely a big reduction compared to the regular parental leave money.
The only requirement is that your child is not attending kindergarten at this time.
The cash-fore-care system is not liable to tax.
And if you don’t want to stay home during this time, remember to apply to kindergarten well in advance! You generally need to apply before March 1 the year before the child begins.
All parents are eligible to get child benefit (“barnetrygd“) in Norway, and this is a sum of money meant to make it a bit cheaper to have a child.
Per 2022, the child benefit for children under the age of 6 is 1,676 NOK per month, and 1,054 NOK per month for children between 6 and 18 years.
This is another benefit given to all parents, no matter if they are working, on parental leave in Norway or are stay-at-home parents.
You can choose which of the parent should get the benefit, or if both parents should share it equally. Single parents gets a bigger child benefit than mentioned here.
Frequently asked questions about parental leave in Norway
Below are some of the most common questions we get about parental leave in Norway. Let me know in the comments if you got any additional questions!
PS. in addition to the answers below, make sure to check out NAV’s own website about parental leave in Norway.
How long is the parental leave in Norway?
Parental leave in Norway is either 49 weeks with 100 % pay, or 59 weeks with 80 % pay. It’s shared between the parents.
Do same-sex parents receive the same paid parental leave?
Yes, same-sex parents get the same paid parental leave in Norway as different-sex partners, and how the parental leave is decided depends on if you adopt (same rules as regular adoption) or if you use assisted reproductive technology (which gives a “primary mother” and “co-mother” in the eyes of the Norwegian law).
Is there a limit to how much you can get in paid paternal leave?
Yes, there is an upper limit to how much you can get paid in paid paternal leave in Norway. The limit is at 6G, which equals 668,862 NOK as of 2022. So if you make more than this amount per year, you only get the equivalent of a yearly salary of 668,862 when you take paid paternal leave.
Can foreigners get paternal leave in Norway?
You generally need to be part of the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme to get the right to paid paternal leave, but anyone can apply to their workplace to get an unpaid paternal leave even if they are not a member of it. But all members of the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme (even foreigners) get regular paid paternal leave in Norway.
What is the parental leave in Norway like for single parents?
Single parents get a full paternal leave in Norway, meaning that the entire paternal leave is added to their own time. In other words, they get to stay home with the child for the full 49 weeks with full pay.
Where do you apply for parental leave in Norway?
You apply for the parental leave to your employer, but apply for the money for paid paternal leave at NAV.
Nicklas is the owner and editor of The Norway Guide, and is responsible for most of the content on the website.
He lives in Skien, Norway with his wife and two children. Nicklas is specialized in Norwegian ecology (including Norway’s geology, wildlife and flora) from his degree in Ecology And Nature Management at University of South-Eastern Norway, but has a particular interest in tourism and content creation.
His biggest hobbies are fishkeeping, going on hikes with his dog, and rooting for the local football team.