Banking in Norway does not differ greatly from banking in most other countries in the world. There are a variety of banks, both home-grown & international. Nearly all the banks offer online & mobile/smartphone banking and the security of both is taken very seriously. Many banks will issue you with a little gadget that will generate a unique code for you when you need to log in to your bank account. You can also opt to use BankID on your mobile to log in. Please bear in mind that very few banks are open on Saturdays. Standard banking hours are 9am – 4pm Mondays – Fridays. Some banks are open slightly later. Outside these times you must rely on online/mobile banking.
Setting up a bank account is pretty straightforward. Most banks require you to sign up online first. Once your online pre-application has been approved, you can visit the bank in person to complete the process of opening your account. Although, for some banks, it may be possible to set up an account without being present.
Short-term banking – short-term banking is not a problem and most banks will open an account for you with just a ‘D’ (temporary) number. However, be warned that some banks may not offer you the full range of services such as internet banking or the option of a credit card or Visa debit card. If you’re in this position, it might be worth asking the bank you choose, before signing up, what you will & will not be entitled to on a temporary registration. Obviously, as soon as you have your personal number you will be conferred full banking services.
Transferring an account
This is quite easily done. To transfer an account from back home to Norway, one should contact the bank back home & find out their transfer fees. There does not seem to be any limit to the amount of foreign currency that can be transferred into Norway. To transfer money from one bank to another you tend to need the International Bank Account Number (IBAN) and SWIFT BIC for the destination bank in addition to the individual account details. Once you have all this information the process is pretty easy and can take as little as 24 hours for the money to clear (depending on the bank). If you want to change banks within Norway, you can visit the bank’s website, your local branch or alternatively send request to change banks via Financeportalen here (in Norwegian).
‘Sparebank’ means ‘Savings bank’ in Norwegian & most banks that you do your day to day banking with will also be able to help you with savings accounts. Like any country in the world, rates of interest and terms can vary widely so it’s best to bear all the same things in mind that you would at home in terms of whether you will need easy access or not, or whether you would rather a longer term interest gain with limited access to your funds.
How to choose a savings account/rates of interest
Norway’s finance portal has a really great feature that will compare financial products for you. To find good rates of interest, enter the amount you want to invest in this site, in the box marked ‘Innestående beløp’, without commas or spaces. To it’s right is a box marked ‘Alder’ (this ‘age’ box is optional but probably worth filling in if you are either below 35 or a pensioner & check the boxes if a pensioner or a student for even better deals). Click ‘Sammenlign’ and it will find the best interest rates for your deposit amount, with links to the banking institutions offering them.
Loans, including mortgages, are assessed pretty much the same way is in most other western countries. Fixed & variable rate mortgages are available. You are unlikely to be deemed ‘credit worthy’ until you have returned 2 years of tax returns in Norway, however it IS possible to obtain a mortgage before building up this credit worthiness if you have a large deposit and good proof of income/set job contract. Credit cards are more arbitrary and will depend largely on the bank concerned. If you are under 35 and not short term in Norway, you may be interested in a BSU.
A BSU or ‘Boligsparing for Ungdom’ is a tax-free savings account for young people aimed at getting them on the property ladder. Money can be kept in this kind of account until you are 33 or 34 and a maximum balance applies. If you apply for a mortgage while this account is active, you will receive preferential interest rates. It’s a financial product that young Norwegians are strongly encouraged to use.
Check with your bank to find out the range of services and products they have to offer you.
Transferring Money Within Norway
Sending money to another recipient in Norway could not be easier. Simply use your internet banking to transfer in one simple internet transaction. All you need is the recipient’s bank details. You could also present a Giro to your bank to transfer some money. The bank will handle putting the money straight into the recipient’s account. You can also use various apps available now for transferring money to other parties.
Please note that for transfers within Norway; if either party does not have a bank account, you will need to go through one of the money sending services.
Transferring Money out of Norway
If you want to send money back to your home country or to a recipient in another country, there are a number of different ways to do it and much depends on which country you are sending to.
- Through your bank
Individual banks will offer different rates of exchange and/or fees on transferring money to another bank abroad. You will need the IBAN number and look for banks that use the SWIFT Bic system & have that number ready too of the bank & account you are transferring to. It’s a bit of a lottery; some banks are great with just a set fee not dependent on the amount being transferred but others may sting you doing this. There is usually no handling fee at the other end but again, check this before making the decision. Finansportalen has some tips here.
- Through a money sending service.
There are dedicated money sending firms such as Western Union and Forex.
- Via PayPal
Some people use PayPal to send money to others who are also in the PayPal system. Please check the exchange rates when sending abroad – sometimes they apply to the receiver not the sender & check that your home country is covered first from one of the links at the bottom of the page. If you already have a PayPal account & are happy making payments using the system, this may be a good way to go for smaller amounts of money.Please bear in mind that on top of any fees or the exchange rate, there are limits to how much Norwegian Kroner can be exported to another country – 25,000kr is the current limit for one transaction.
- Which service is best?
A great comparison widget to get a good deal if you are sending money to any of the following countries can be found at the Financeportalen on the link below: Afghanistan, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Chile, China, Eritrea, Ethiopia, India, Iraq, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Morocco, Pakistan, Palestinian territories, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey & Vietnam. Here is a calculator to help you find the best service and rate.
It is pretty straightforward to close your bank account – either show up in person or inform the bank in writing of your intent to do so. Before your account is closed, remember to make sure the bank has added any interest due you to your balance and that you have canceled any direct debits or standing orders. Also you can ask the bank to directly transfer your remaining balance to another account, either locally or internationally. You should receive written confirmation from the bank that your account has been closed.
If you are leaving Norway, it is recommended that you keep your Norwegian bank account for 3 to 12 months after your departure such that any outstanding amounts can be paid into your bank account, such as tax returns, lease deposit, vacation pay.