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What you need to know if your job in Norway requires security clearance

Some jobs in Norway require a security or access clearance. What is the process and what problems might arise that could stop you getting through?

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If you’re moving to Norway in order to get a job in a sector which often deals with classified information – think security or government – chances are that you’ll need to get a security clearance and pass the necessary vetting process.

In this article, we’ll cover what security and access clearances entail, how classified information in Norway is categorised, how the authorisation process works, and what circumstances could negatively affect your clearance prospects.

The four levels of classified information

According to the Norwegian Security Act (Sikkerhetsloven), information is classified if the country’s national security interests may be harmed if the information becomes known to unauthorised persons.

At the time of writing, per the Security Act, the following four levels of security classification are in force – listed from highest to lowest: (1) top-secret (if critical adverse consequences could result from an information leak), (2) serious (if a leak could lead to serious adverse consequences), (3) confidential (if adverse consequences could result from the information becoming available to unauthorised persons), and (4) restricted (if adverse consequences could result from a leak to some extent).

So, if you’re working in a job in Norway which requires you to have access to classified information, you will need to be authorised by the competent vetting authority.

The same applies if your job entails you having access to critical national objects and infrastructure.

Who needs to be authorised?

Security regulations in Norway state that persons who handle information with a “confidential” or higher classification must hold a valid security clearance.

This also applies to people with access to critical national objects and infrastructure.

A person may only be given a security clearance if there are no reasonable grounds for doubting their suitability in terms of security.

Clearance decisions are made by the competent Norwegian clearance authority.

Who is in charge of the vetting process, and what to expect

There are different vetting authorities for the military/security sector and the civil sector in Norway. 

However, during the vetting process for both sectors, you’ll have a duty to provide complete information on any circumstances which may be relevant in the assessment of whether you’re suitable for getting a security clearance.

If you fail to respond to inquiries by the clearance authority or refuse to share pertinent information, the competent authority may decide to close the case without granting you clearance.

Also, if you need to get a high-level security clearance or access to objects or infrastructure classified as highly critical, the vetting process may also extend to persons associated with you.

Expect the vetting entity to review the information in their possession, information from relevant registers, and information from sources such as public authorities, places of service, workplaces, and other references.

Which authority is in charge of the clearance process?

As Gudmund Gjølstad, the Director General of the Norwegian Civil Security Clearance Authority, told The Local, Norway has several security clearance authorities.

“For the majority of the cases, either the Norwegian Defence or the Norwegian Civil Security Clearance Authority (NCSSA) is the relevant authority.

“The NCSSA (SKM in Norwegian) is the civil authority. We have the responsibility for ministries, municipalities, state administrators, and state and private organisations subject to the National Security Act.

“The National Security Authority (NSM in Norwegian) is only responsible for clearances of own employees. They have an overall role of providing legal and professional support to the clearance authorities. They also have other roles in addition to personnel security,” Gjølstad explained.

Furthermore, he noted that public employees at all levels and other personnel who need access to objects or information with a need for protection per the Security Act have to apply for clearance.

“The variety in which profession they have varies greatly, and the individual organisation assesses the need for clearance in the individual position. People cannot apply themselves – it is done through the employer. When positions are advertised, any requirement for clearance will normally appear there.”

What does the vetting authority look for?

In assessing your security suitability, the vetting authorities focus on your reliability, loyalty, and judgment in connection with processing classified information and access to critical national objects and infrastructure.

If there is any doubt about whether a person is suitable for security clearance, the clearance authority shall conduct a security interview with the person in question.

The following aspects of your biography and career are likely to be given particular attention during the vetting process and the potential security interview:

Espionage and terrorism connections: Any involvement in espionage, planning or committing acts of terrorism, sabotage, assassinations or similar acts, as well as attempts to engage in such activities, will be an obvious red flag.

Crime: The same goes for criminal acts or preparations for or inciting criminal acts.

Vulnerability to blackmailing: Expect the authorities to focus on circumstances which may cause you or your associates to be subjected to threats against their life, health, freedom or honour, such that you may be coerced into acting contrary to Norway’s national security interests.

Falsifying or omitting important information: Don’t hide any relevant information during the vetting process. Any falsification of facts, incorrect information, or omission of factual circumstances which are relevant to your security clearance can have a negative effect on the final outcome.

Addiction and intoxication abuse: The authorities will likely check whether you have a history of alcohol abuse or consumption of other intoxicants.

Illnesses: Remember to disclose any illness that may temporarily or permanently reduce reliability, loyalty, or judgment on medical grounds.

History of information/security breaches: Previous instances of compromising critical national information or breaching security provisions are, of course, glaring red flags.

Withholding information: Your refusal or failure to provide personal data will attract attention, so make sure to provide the authorities with what is requested. Also, failure to notify the authorisation authority of personal circumstances relevant to security is likely to become an issue.

Refusal to take a secrecy pledge: Any refusal to make a pledge of secrecy, a statement confirming a desire not to be bound by a pledge of secrecy, or refusal or failure to participate in a security interview goes against the very purpose of having a security clearance.

Financial vulnerability: Expect the authorities to inspect your financial circumstances to see if you might be tempted to act contrary to Norway’s national security interests.

Affiliation: Do you have any connections with organisations which have an unlawful purpose and which may threaten Norway’s democratic social order or which regard violence and terrorism as acceptable instruments? If so, you’re not likely to get clearance (obviously). Ties with other countries are also grounds for scrutiny.

Along with this (non-exhaustive) list, the process can also involve clarifying any other circumstances which may give reason to fear that you may act contrary to Norway’s national security interests.

You can find more information about the vetting process and security clearances in general on the webpage of the Norwegian National Security Authority, here. Further information can be found on the website of the Norwegian Civil Security Clearance Authority.

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For members


EXPLAINED: How to boost your career chances in Norway

High wages and an excellent work-life balance attract many to Norway for a job. Once you've settled into your new role, you'll want to keep your career moving forwards.

EXPLAINED: How to boost your career chances in Norway

Upgrade your language skills

Plenty of jobs and careers can be done in Norway without strong Norwegian language skills.

However, to advance your career, including with firms where the working language is English, you will want to invest in learning the language.

Generally, the B1 and B2 levels of the Common European Framework of Reference should be enough to help you navigate working life in Norway. However, taking things to the next level and moving up to the C level could boost your job prospects. A C-level certificate helps demonstrate your Norwegian language proficiency and that you have invested in Norwegian.

The better your language skills, the more options you will have open to you. Not just this, conversing with Norwegian colleagues in their native language will also help you gel with your team more, which will prove beneficial if you wish to progress your career within one company.

Get to grips with Norwegian working culture

Like most other countries, Norway has a hierarchical structure in workplaces. However, great emphasis is placed on the belief that all employees can express their opinion on the best way to tackle the task at hand. Transparency and honesty are valued.

Workers in Norway are also expected to be able to take the initiative and work independently when required. This means many should be confident in making their voice heard constructively and getting to work rather than waiting for direct instructions or orders.

Due to the more laidback and informal office culture, workers are expected to, to varying degrees, socialise outside of work, either in the form of after-work drinks or team-building activities.

While every office or department has its own politics, coworkers should be seen much more as collaborators than competitors.

Building a rapport with your colleagues will ultimately play into your hands if you wish to progress your career. Furthermore, while the dress code is more informal than in other places, punctuality is seen as a form of respect – so you mustn’t take a relaxed attitude to turning up for meetings on time.

Make sure your CV is suitable for Norwegian recruiters

Ensuring your CV is adapted for Norwegian recruiters will also help you make that leg-up.

Consider a design with not too much information squeezed in. Key qualifications are a management summary of your skills, experience, qualifications and soft (or interpersonal) skills. Some information, such as hobbies and interests, helps the recruiter relate to the person behind the CV.

One thing to consider is that unless applying for a job in a competitive environment, you should make achievements and accomplishments less about yourself and more about the team you were a part of.

Additionally, when it comes to a CV, you should only submit one in Norwegian if you are confident and comfortable enough writing one in Norwegian. If you have someone translate your English CV into Norwegian but aren’t comfortable with the language, employers may feel you are trying to deceive them.

READ ALSO: The dos and don’ts of writing a killer CV to impress Norwegian recruiters


Having a robust professional network can bolster your career opportunities. LinkedIn is a very big deal in Norway, so it’s worth ensuring your profile is fully up to date and you create or share the odd post to highlight to recruiters doing some background that you are invested in your career and networking.

There are also typically a decent amount of industry or networking events held in person. Staying on your colleague’s good side will also pay off when it comes to networking. Personal recommendations from recruiters can go a long way. Therefore an ex-work friend putting in a word with your prospective employer because you left them with a good impression can help you get a boost in your career.

Getting your qualifications officially recognised in Norway

There are around 160 or so regulated professions in Norway, which means you will need some qualifications, training or education to qualify for the role.
If you have obtained qualifications abroad, you must have these officially verified and recognised by the relevant Norwegian authority to perform certain roles.

There are multiple agencies responsible for checking and verifying whether qualifications and training obtained outside of Norway are of the required standard.

For example, healthcare workers must assess their written and verbal Norwegian language proficiency and may be sent on additional courses to learn about the country’s health system. Applicants must cover the cost of additional language training.

Getting your qualifications verified confirms to Norwegian employers that your training equates to the corresponding Norwegian qualification.