You may be convicted of an offense even if you do not know that you are breaking a Norwegian law. It is therefore important to be familiar with the most important laws. In Norway, the law takes precedence over religion or tradition. That means you must obey Norwegian law even if it goes against a tradition that you are accustomed to. You cannot justify an unlawful act by calling it tradition or a religious act.
If you break the law, you may be tried before a court. If you are found guilty and convicted of a serious criminal offense, you may be sentenced to many years in prison and/or be given a large fine. The maximum penalty in Norway is 21 years imprisonment. The maximum penalty may be imposed in connection with serious narcotics offenses and murder cases. Norway does not have the death penalty.
Norway has a relatively low crime rate. However, over the last several years and in certain areas of Norway, especially in metropolitan Oslo, there have been steep increases in residential and office burglaries and petty thefts. Petty crime is attributed in part to youth gangs and drug addicts, as well as some organized theft rings.
In Oslo and other major urban areas, crime has predictably been centered in the inner city and high-transit areas; however, some of the recent residential burglary waves have also targeted bedroom communities of Oslo. As in any other Western country, especially in urban areas, the exercise of basic security awareness is prudent and appropriate. The majority of the criminal cases reported to the police continue to be theft-related incidents.
Although rare, violent and weapons-related crimes are growing in frequency and receiving intense media coverage; these crimes usually occur in areas known to have drug trafficking and gang problems, such as certain parts of eastern Oslo.
The national police force consists of approximately 12000 employees in 27 police districts. In addition to preventing crime and maintaining peace and order, the police work closely with other public authorities, such as child welfare services, schools and health services to prevent children, young people and others from committing criminal offences.
The police are particularly concerned with the prevention of violence, both domestic and violence committed in public places.
In Norway there are no street children because the government is very serious about taking care of children’s welfare.
The right of parents to use physical and psychological punishment on their children has been fully eliminated in Norway. Sexual abuse is strictly forbidden. Anyone with worries about a child’s development or care can contact child welfare services (Barnevern).
Private individuals may report cases anonymously to the child welfare service. They may, in other words, tell child welfare officials that they are worried about a child, but that they wish to hold their own identity secret from the family in question.
From the point of view of the child welfare authorities, it is positive that people step forward. But even if someone wishes to remain anonymous, the authorities are obligated to investigate the case in the usual way. The child welfare service itself can provide anonymity, but it cannot exempt people from having to witness when the case is handled by the county social welfare board or the courts. The name of the person who reported the case must then be provided.
The child welfare services are allowed to intervene when necessary – possibly against the will of the parents. The child welfare service has a responsibility to intervene if measures in the home are not sufficient to meet the child’s needs. In consultation with parents, the service may then arrange placement for a period of time in a foster home, parent/child programme or institution. If a child is to be placed outside the home without the parents’ consent, the County Social Welfare Board is required to rule on the proposed placement after hearing the municipality’s recommendation.
It is illegal in Norway to have sexual intercourse with anyone who is under the age of 16, even if both parties give their consent. It is the responsibility of each person to find out if their sexual partner is over the age of 16.
Sexual relations with family members (parents, children, siblings, grandparents, etc) is called incest. Incest is strictly forbidden in Norway.
Rape is a serious crime in Norway. This also applies to marital rape. There is no excuse for rape, regardless of how the victim is dressed or behaves. Convicted rapists are sent to prison.
Female circumcision is strictly forbidden in Norway. All forms of female circumcision are regarded as genital mutilation. It is illegal to force someone into, agree to or participate in the genital mutilation of girls or women. Genital mutilation carries a maximum penalty of eight years in prison.
If you know that you are infected with a sexually transmitted disease yet still infect other people with this disease, you may be prosecuted. If you are in any doubt about whether you have a sexually transmitted disease, you should consult a doctor. Doctors have a duty to protect their patients’ privacy.
Alcohol and Drugs
Norwegian legislation regarding alcohol and drugs is stricter than in other European countries.
The age limit for purchasing beer and wine is 18 years and for spirits it is 20 years. For importing alcoholic beverages with more than 22 % alcohol per volume the minimum age is 20.
Note that it is prohibited to drink alcohol in public places such as on the streets or in parks. It is also not recommended to drink and drive, as the BAC (Blood alcohol concentration) limit in Norway is 0.02% or 0.2 g/kg.
Severe sentences may be imposed for the possession of even small amounts of illegal drugs. Khat, hash and marijuana, which may be legal in some countries, are considered illegal drugs in Norway.
Offices and other places of work are non-smoking areas. This includes hotels, bars, restaurants and all other establishments where food and beverages are served.
Smoking is not permitted on board aircrafts or on other means of public transport.
You must be over 18 years to buy tobacco in Norway.
Documentation: always carry your driving license, vehicle registration document (V5), and certificate of motor insurance. If your license does not incorporate a photograph ensure you carry your passport to validate the license. If the vehicle is not registered in your name, carry a letter from the registered owner giving you permission to drive.
As mentioned above, do not drink and drive, as the BAC (Blood alcohol concentration) limit in Norway is 0.02% or 0.2 g/kg. In other words, the legal limit is 20 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitre of blood. Depending on your body weight and size, even a small glass of wine can take you over the limit. Road checks with mandatory breathalyzer tests occur quite frequently in Norway.
Automatic speed cameras placed by the police along roadways and police speed checks (radar, laser, civilian cars and helicopters) help to maintain speed limits, which unless otherwise stated, is 50km/h in builtup areas and 80km/h in non builtup areas. Radar-jammers, laser-jammers and detectors are, of course, strictly forbidden. Stiff fines – and sometimes even jail time – are imposed for violations.
Norwegian law requires that drivers always use their vehicle headlights when driving (even in bright sunlight). Norwegian law also requires drivers to yield to vehicles coming from the right, unless you are driving on a priority road (which is marked by a yellow diamond sign).
Seatbelts are mandatory for drivers and passengers. All children must be firmly strapped in using approved safety equipment that matches their age, size and weight. Children under 135 cm must have their own seat or safety restraint (babies in a cot). Children over 135 cm can use the normal seat.
Tyres (tires) must have a minimum of 1.6 millimetres tread on summer ones and a minimum of 3 millimetres on winter ones. Vehicles must not be used unless their tyres have sufficient road grip for the road surface.
During the winter, you must drive with winter tyres with or without studs. All-year tyres can also be used. Use of studded tyres is allowed from 1 November – 15 April. In Nordland, Troms and Finnmark studded tyres are allowed during the period 15 October – 1 May. Studded tyres may also be used outside these periods if the weather and road surface conditions make it necessary.
If studded tyres are fitted to a car weighing under 3.5 tonnes, they must be fitted to all four wheels. Vehicles with a permitted total weight of 3.5 tonnes or more, must carry snow chains if ice or snow is expected on the road. These snow chains must fit the vehicle’s wheels.
Snow chains can be bought at reasonable prices. Studded tyres can be rented. In Trondheim and Oslo you will have to pay a fee of approximately NOK 30 if you drive with studded tyres in the city centre. This restriction has been introduced to limit the pollution produced by studded tyres.
It is compulsory to have at least one visibility vest in your car.
It is an offense to use a handheld mobile phone while driving.
In case of a breakdown or accident, you are required to carry a red warning triangle and a yellow fluorescent vest in your car.
The following telephone numbers will provide help:
* Fire: 110
* Police: 112
* Ambulance: 113
If you require salvage or technical assistance with your vehicle you can call the following 24 hour numbers:
* NAF: 810 00 505 (local rate)
* Falken: 02 222 (freefone)
* Viking: 06 000 (freefone)
It is illegal to carry firearms, knives or any other weapons, even for self-defence purposes. The same applies to replica firearms, toys, air soft guns and other objects with the appearance of a weapon. It is illegal to buy or sell weapons without a special permit from the Norwegian authorities.
It is not permitted to bring goods into the country unlawfully. All buying and selling of smuggled goods may result in prosecution. You have a personal responsibility to make sure that you do not buy smuggled goods.
Theft and Handling Stolen Goods
Theft is illegal in Norway. It is also illegal to buy or sell items that have been stolen, even if they were stolen by someone else.
Prostitution, Procuring and People Trafficking
It is illegal to buy or sell another human being. It is also illegal to hire people out for the purpose of prostitution or aid in the organisation of prostitution. If you are the victim of such activities, you can receive help to get away. Talk to the police or staff at your asylum reception centre if anyone is forcing you or attempts to force you into prostitution. You should also tell the UDI about your situation.
Everyone in Norway over the age of 18 is entitled to decide for themselves who they will marry. This means that no one living in Norway may be forced into a marriage against their will – either in Norway or abroad. Everyone is entitled to decide for themselves if they wish to divorce. Marriage is sacred in many religions. Nevertheless, the law must be obeyed, even if different rules apply in other cultural or religious traditions.