For members


What are the rules for foreigners accessing welfare in Norway

Norway's welfare system offers a robust safety net to anyone who falls on hard times, and it's essential to be familiar with the rules. Here's what you need to know about accessing welfare in the country.

Norwegian flag
If you want to find out more about accessing welfare in Norway as an international citizen - look no further. Photo by Drahomír Posteby-Mach / Unsplash

As a general rule, everyone living legally in Norway who needs help to get by can apply for financial or social support – even if they’re not a citizen of the country.

If you need temporary help to cover the expenses of day-to-day life, you should look into Norway’s expansive offer of social assistance measures.

The various schemes include job hunting support, financial support, emergency assistance, unemployment benefits, and work assessment allowance (AAP) – to mention just a few.

As the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV) is responsible for all welfare-related applications, it will be your key point of contact for any inquiries you might have.

You can find out more about the NAV’s financial support measures here.

Requirements for accessing welfare assistance

Remember, you must legally reside in Norway to access welfare services in the country. Also, note that you’re not eligible for Norwegian social assistance if you live outside the country.

However, if you’re living in Norway legally, you’re free to apply for social support.

Expect the process to involve a moderate level of paperwork (most – if not all – of it can be submitted online), and make sure to have documentation showing your financial situation ready.

Then NAV will ask for different documents based on your individual circumstances, but you can expect them to ask for your residence permit, a document that serves as proof of identity, tax records, bank statements, accommodation documents, and the like.

In Norway, welfare is handled at the municipal level, so the municipal NAV office will be in charge of processing your social assistance application. More details on the process can the found on the NAV’s website.

Scope of welfare assistance

Welfare coverage in Norway can cover virtually all of your essential day-to-day life, health, and accommodation expenses – as long as the NAV deems the covered costs to be within reason.

While there is no fixed payment rate for welfare, some state guidelines are often applied across a number of municipalities.

Note that the guidelines are just that – guidelines – and the NAV makes individual assessments in each case. Therefore, the welfare support you might receive will be tailored to your estimated needs.

As the NAV points out on its website, the assessment takes into account your necessary living expenses, income, future income prospects, age, family situation, and health.

The state guidelines can be found here (available in Norwegian).

Social assistance that includes financial support is a temporary benefit, and – in most cases – you are expected to find a way to support yourself in the long term.

Application process

As stated beforehand, the NAV office in the municipality in which you live will be your main checkpoint for all welfare-related needs and questions.

You can apply for social assistance there, and the NAV employees will usually help you figure out the type of support that best fits your situation.

Remember that you have the right to ask the NAV for help in applying for welfare support. The Administration is obligated to provide you with all the information and advice you need on the process.

You can ask them for help on-site at your municipal NAV office or via digital channels on the NAV website.

Most places in Norway offer the possibility of submitting applications online, but in some municipalities, you will need to fill out the documentation at the NAV office.

You can find out more about digital and written paper applications here (available in Norwegian).

Expect the waiting times for hearing back from the NAV to vary based on where you live – your local NAV office will often inform you of case processing times during the application process.

There may be some hiccups in the process – especially if you submitted incomplete or faulty documentation. The NAV will contact you in such cases and ask you to update your application.

If the NAV decides to grant you social assistance, they will inform you of their decision in a letter, which will also contain more information on the payments, timeline, and associated rules.

Note that you also have the right to appeal the NAV’s decision. More information on appeals is available here.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.