Utmark: What It Is, And What It Isn’t

When you read up on the laws and regulations about the freedom to roam in Norway, you will come across the word utmark quite often. This is often translated to “unfenced land”, but this is not really a very fitting word for it.

So, what exactly is utmark? Let’s get to know the ins and outs of innmark and utmark in Norway!

Utmark refers to any land that is not used, is cultivated, or have an active purpose. Most of all forest, lakes, mountains, beaches, bogs etc. is counted as utmark in Norway. You are legally allowed to hike and use the nature and wilderness in utmark without seeking permission first.

Wild camping tent
Photo published with permission.

The technical definition for utmark is “any area that is not innmark“, which is why we will also be looking closer at the term innmark in the rest of the article. Innmark and utmark are obviously closely tied together.

Why it’s important to be aware of the difference between innmark and utmark

If you’re going on camping in the wild, plan on harvesting mushrooms, berries or plants, or want to explore Norway without pissing off anyone, then you will want to make sure that you stay in utmark.

The freedom to roam principle is very strong in Norway, allowing you to travel around most of the country with few restrictions. However, the freedom to roam principle only applies to utmark. The same is true for harvesting wild edibles or setting up a wild camp.

This means that you must be absolutely sure that you are in utmark if you plan on setting up a tent, or just want to light a campfire and enjoy the nature for a few hours.

A campfire in the forest
A campfire in the forest. Photo published with permission.

Pretty much all of the wilderness in Norway is considered utmark. As long as there are no buildings, cultivated fields or type of establishment nearby, then the area is most likely utmark. Remember that you need to be at least 150 – 200 meters away from any building if you are setting up a tent, even when you are in utmark.

It’s not legal to hike or hang out in areas that are considered innmark without getting the consent from the owner of the property. You might come across certain hike trails where the trail crosses a cultivated field, and it’s OK to pass over in these cases, as long as it’s obvious that the trail is actually crossing the innmark. But you should not be setting up your tent in these areas.

A tent on Femundsmarka
A tent on Femundsmarka. Photo published with permission.

Some areas that are considered innmark

Innmark refers to any area that is used actively, such as:

  • Gardens and backyards in private properties.
  • Industrial areas.
  • Any areas with buildings or constructions.
  • Cultivated land, such as animal pens or farmer’s fields.
  • Areas that are part of a farm property.

Many people translate innmark to “fenced area”, which is fine if you are talking about a historical translation. When it comes to the legal terms of use, innmark can absolutely include areas that are not fenced off. For example, most cultivated fields do not have physical fences in Norway, but are still considered innmark.

That said, all areas that are within fences are considered innmark. If you’re unsure if you are on innmark or utmark, it’s best to play it safe and assume that it’s innmark, and move away from the area.

Utmark near Birkedalsbreen. Photo published with permission.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that animals like cows and sheep grazes in utmark in Norway, so you might come across farm animals even when you are hiking in utmark.

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