Step 3 in Norway’s four-step reopening plan opens the way for increased cross-border travel. However, travellers from numerous countries will still face entry restrictions and quarantine requirements under criteria established by the health authorities. Norway at present has a lower Covid-19 infection rate than many other countries, and these restrictions will protect it against virus importation and new virus mutations.
‘We have always said we don’t want our travel advice to stay in effect longer than necessary. Travel is important for business, for friends and family, and for many other reasons. Our goal is to accommodate travel within a safe framework, and we are taking it one step at a time,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide.
‘In line with the reopening plan, we are now easing the rules to allow more people to travel abroad again. Although our travel advice for the EEA/Schengen area, the UK and some countries on the EU’s list of safe third countries will be rescinded starting 5 July, the situation remains unpredictable. New travel advice could be issued at short notice if warranted by coronavirus developments, causing difficulty for Norwegians who are travelling abroad,’ the Minister of Foreign Affairs said.
Minister of Justice and Public Security Monica Mæland added: ‘We are introducing use of Covid-19 certificates to simplify travel within the EEA and Schengen area, and we’re easing certain other entry restrictions. But this is a gradual reopening in accordance with expert health guidance, and there are still strict rules at the border. Unfortunately, travellers must continue to be prepared for queues and waits at border crossings. My recommendation is therefore to holiday in Norway. It is the safest and surest way to enjoy the summer.’
Effective 5 July, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will rescind its global travel advice for the EEA/Schengen area, the UK and third countries on the EU’s ‘safe list’ that the Norwegian Institute of Public Health also defines as safe. The ministry’s travel advice against non-essential travel for all countries outside the Schengen area/EEA and the UK will be extended until 10 August. Starting 5 July, the Ministry of Health and Care Services and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will carry out regular assessments of travel to countries on the EU’s third-country ‘safe list’. These assessments will be based on recommendations of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in consultation with the health authorities, may issue or revise travel advice at short notice if a country demonstrates an especially high level of infection, develops new variants or experiences capacity problems in its health care system.
It is up to individuals themselves to decide whether or not to travel based on conditions at their planned destination, dialogue with their insurance company and travel advice and information provided by Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is also important to follow advice and instructions issued by the local authorities in the destination and transit countries.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will continue as usual to issue travel advice for countries in conflict or facing other security challenges not related to the pandemic.
While some travel advice is being withdrawn, the entry quarantine rule for persons arriving from countries with a high infection level is to remain in force. On 5 July, however, the infection severity level in other countries that triggers quarantine duty for travellers entering Norway will be changed to harmonise with EU recommendations. Steps are also being taken to simplify entry into Norway for romantic partners and other closely related people.
The global travel advice relating to countries outside the EEA/Schengen area and the UK will be assessed again in early August.
Romantic partners and other family members may travel to Norway
‘It will now be easier for people to see their loved ones in Norway. Many are impatient and have had a hard time under the strict entry rules that have been in force. We don’t want to have strict measures any longer than necessary, but we introduced them to block the spread of infection, especially of new and more infectious variants of the virus. Though more people will now be allowed in, some unfortunately will still have to wait,’ said Ms Mæland, the Minister of Justice and Public Security.
From Saturday 19 June (at 12 noon), entry will be permitted for foreign nationals residing in the EEA or the United Kingdom who are related in the following ways to a person residing in Norway:
- adult children and stepchildren and parents and stepparents of adult children/stepchildren
- grandparents, step-grandparents, grandchildren and step-grandchildren
- romantic partners over the age of 18 and the minor children of romantic partners, when the partners’ relationship has had a duration of at least nine months and they have previously met each other physically.
Entry permission for romantic partners requires prior consent for a romantic partner visit. It is to be arranged by application to the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI). The system is fully automated, with no fees, and those rejected will have no right of appeal.
Please note that closer family members, such as spouses/cohabitants and minor children, are already eligible to enter the country.
From the same date, entry will also be possible for foreign athletes and necessary support staff who arrive in Norway to participate in the Oslo Bislett Games and qualifying matches for the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Conference League.
The eased entry restrictions will be re-evaluated in connection with Step 4 of Norway’s reopening plan. At that time, entry permission is envisaged for all work-related travellers from the EEA, students and pupils, and romantic partners and more distant family members from third countries. This easing of rules will not necessarily coincide with the introduction of Step 4. For students, an easing can be expected before 1 August.
Threshold levels for entry quarantine requirements are changing
Starting on Monday 21 June, Norway will harmonise its colour-coding of countries with that of the EU, but the national infection severity thresholds used in exempting travellers from quarantine duty will not change until 5 July. This means countries are classified as green when there are 25 or fewer new infections per 100 000 inhabitants over the past 14 days and fewer than 4 % of all tests come back positive.
Effective Monday 5 July, the Government will change the infection severity threshold that defines a green country in Europe. On that date, Norway’s rules will harmonise with European recommendations, so that green countries will be those with 50 or fewer new infections per 100 000 inhabitants over the past 14 days and fewer than 4 % of all tests coming back positive, or alternatively a rate of new infections under 75 per 100 000 and a positive test rate below 1 %.
Already, people travelling from a ‘green’ country avoid entry quarantine duty on arrival in Norway. Those who live in a green country and have stayed there for the past 10 days may also travel freely into Norway, regardless of nationality. However, there will be a requirement to register on arrival in Norway and to take a Covid-19 test at the border.
Since autumn of last year, almost the entire map of Europe has been red. That is changing now. As infection rates in Europe decline, more and more Europeans are permitted to enter Norway without quarantining, regardless of Covid-19 certificates and vaccine status.
The Norwegian Institute of Public Health is the authority that classifies countries by colour. Its determinations are normally announced each Friday and enter into force at 12:01 a.m. the following Monday, and are published on the Institute’s map.
Starting on 5 July, the Institute of Public Health will assess the infection levels of certain European islands and archipelagos. If the levels are low enough, it will be possible to travel to these islands and archipelagos without having to undergo quarantine on return, provided travellers do not stop intermediately in a country that gives rise to quarantine duty or stay outside of the approved islands or archipelagos during course of their holiday.
Fewer going to quarantine hotels
To minimise the transport of coronavirus infections into Norway, the Government introduced a quarantine hotel scheme in November 2020. On the advice of the health authorities, the Government is now changing who has to stay in a quarantine hotel. Travellers from the EEA and the Schengen area have no such requirement, while travellers from other countries can test themselves out of a quarantine hotel three days or more after entry. Minors are not to stay in quarantine hotels.
‘Quarantine hotel stays are a very important way to keep infections from being imported. We are now relaxing the scheme in accordance with updated guidance from the health authorities. Starting tomorrow, travellers who have remained inside the EEA/Schengen area will avoid any quarantine hotel duty, and we are shortening the hotel stay for travellers who have been in other parts of the world,’ Ms Mæland said.
The following changes will apply from Saturday 19 June at noon:
- Travellers who for 10 days before entry into Norway have stayed only in EEA/Schengen area countries with fewer than 500 new infection cases per 100 000 inhabitants over the past two weeks are now exempt from the quarantine hotel requirement.
- Travellers who have been outside the EEA/Schengen area during the 10-day period before entry into Norway must as a general rule stay in a quarantine hotel until they obtain a negative result from a PCR test taken no earlier than 3 days after entry.
- Minors are not to stay in quarantine hotels.
The Institute of Public Health reports that the UK coronavirus caseload has increased lately, and that the Delta virus variant now accounts for some 90 % of cases there. As a result, under guidelines recommended by the health authorities, travellers who stayed in the UK during the 10-day period before their entry into Norway must stay at a quarantine hotel until they obtain a negative result from a PCR test taken no earlier than 3 days after entry. This policy enters into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Monday.
Exemption from the quarantine hotel requirement does not eliminate entry quarantine duty. The general rule is that entry quarantine is to be carried out at one’s own home or another suitable place of accommodation where it is possible to distance from others while having a private room, a private bathroom and one’s own kitchen or food service.
It is important to bear in mind that national threshold levels of infection severity may not be the only factors used in determining quarantine and quarantine hotel requirements. Comprehensive assessments may be undertaken of the Covid-19 situation in individual countries, including such factors as the prevalence of certain virus variants and infection trends. That explains why quarantine hotel stays are now required for people who have been in the UK.
Until 5 July, the Government will be assessing which entry restrictions to apply to third countries on the EU’s ‘safe list’.
Easing restrictions on work-related travel
‘Many companies depend on having help during the summer season. As it becomes easier to travel from the EEA, more small and large job creators will have access to the labour they need. During the pandemic, Norwegian businesses have had challenges getting hold of enough people to keep the wheels turning. The easing that is now in the works could make a major difference,’ said Minister of Trade and Industry Iselin Nybø.
The vegetable and fruit industry scheme will be extended to secure labour that is absolutely essential for agriculture. The Minister of Agriculture and Food will continue closely monitoring the Norwegian Agriculture Agency’s scheme and will make any necessary adjustments or constraints identified in the health authorities’ infection control assessments.
Covid-19 certificates allow quarantine-free entry into Norway
Fully vaccinated people and those who have had Covid-19 in the past six months are exempt from entry quarantine duty provided that they can document their status on the Norwegian Covid-19 certificate. More information is available here.
On 24 June, Norway will link up with the EU’s solution. Travellers to Norway from EU/EEA countries will then be able to use a Covid-19 certificate. To be sure, not all countries will have a solution ready for their nationals to use, but travellers in possession of a certificate will be able to use it when entering Norway.
Those who travel from an EU or EEA country with an EU Covid-19 certificate that is verifiable by QR code and shows they have been fully vaccinated or have had Covid-19 in the past six months can enter Norway regardless of the country’s colour code. Denmark’s Covid-19 certificate is ready for use. Starting on Saturday 19 June at noon, residents of Denmark who enter Norway can avoid having to undergo entry quarantine if they have been fully vaccinated or have had Covid-19 in the past six months. Sweden’s Covid-19 certificate is not ready for use, but as soon as it is, this entry policy will apply to Swedes as well as Danes. Such entries can occur before the joint European solution is in place.