How To See A Doctor In Norway: Detailed Guide

Unfortunately some tourists who visit Norway has to go see a doctor during their trip, but getting an appointment with a GP in Norway can actually be a bit more tricky than you might imagine. This has to do with the fact that Norway uses a primary doctor system (fastlege), which prevents doctor’s from being free to accept visits from people who are not on their patient list.

This does not mean that you cannot see a doctor in Norway, but you might have some trouble getting a doctor’s appointment very fast. So, what should you do if you need to see a GP while staying in Norway as part of a vacation?

To see a doctor (GP) when visiting Norway, start by calling the local doctor’s office in the municipality you stay in. Ask if they have a doctor that is free for non-patient consultation. If they say no, your next stop is the emergency room (legevakt) in your municipality. Call before going there (116 117), and meet at the agreed time slot.

Rikshospitalet in Oslo. You will be able to see a doctor in Norway here.
Rikshospitalet is the main hospital in Oslo. Photo by J. P. Fagerback.

Despite what you might think, the Norwegian ER (legevakt) is not strictly used for emergencies. It is also the main doctor for anyone who does not have a primary doctor (fastlege) for whatever reason, so it’s not uncommon to go to the ER to get some basic health care like a prescription for antibiotics or things like that.

In my opinion, translating legevakt to the emergency room is far from perfect, but it’s the best translation we got.

Remember to call the legevakt before you travel to it. You will need an appointment before you go there. The telephone number is 116 117, and will take you to your local legevakt in the municipality you are currently in. Every single municipality in Norway has their own legevakt.

If you need medical help outside of regular business hours, legevakten is the primary stop for both Norwegians as well as tourists. A visit to a doctor or the ER in Norway will cost 200 – 300 NOK as long as you got a European Health Insurance Card.

For non-EU/EEA citizens, the price will depend on where you are from. You will usually be charged a pretty high price for using the doctor, but most countries or travel insurances will cover a big part of this cost.

Also read: Why you absolutely will want travel insurance when visiting Norway.

Hospital stays are free in Norway
Hospital stays are free in Norway. Photo published with permission.

Smaller municipalities will sometimes have free slots for non-registered patients, allowing anyone to see a doctor in Norway

The smaller and less populated the municipality you are staying in is, the higher the chance of getting a regular doctor’s appointment is. It’s next to impossible in cities, and you can forget about it if you are in Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim or any city like that. However, if you do visit a small municipality, you might get lucky and get a doctor’s appointment by calling the doctor’s office in that municipality.

When it comes to regular doctor’s, these are obligated to always accept their own patients before everyone else, so you will be at the bottom of the list if you call in without being on the patient list.

Other than that, they tend to give preference to semi-emergencies before regular consultations. So if you break your leg, you will usually be given a doctor’s appointment right away, while trying to get help for a rash will likely get you denied if they are busy.

You are free to call the emergency number in case of a medical emergency

While the legevakt can be used as a type of general doctor’s appointment for non-urgent visits, it’s also the place to go if you have an urgent medical emergency. If you have an emergency, call 113. This will get you in touch with the emergency operator, and they will be able to send for an ambulance, or prepare for you to arrive at the ER with a serious health issue.

Read more: How to call emergency services in Norway.

The emergency number in Norway is generally reserved for when it’s a life or death type of situation, so less serious injuries should be consulted with the regular legevakt telephone number 116 117. So if you break a bone or twist an ankle, call 116 117, not 113.

Calling 113 and get emergency help is free in Norway, and you won’t have to pay for the ambulance if you need it. This is independently from European Health Insurance Card or any travel insurance, so you should always call 113 if it’s a life threatening situation.

However, you will obviously get to see a doctor in Norway in these cases where you need to call the ambulance, so don’t hesitate to do so if it’s a real emergency.

Norwegian ambulance
Norwegian ambulance. Photo by Dickelbers / CC BY-SA 4.0.

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