Part 1: Preparing to go abroad
The country report
All Norwegian missions are required to draw up a country report. These reports contain a good deal of information that is useful for the whole family. They are available to Ministry employees on the Ministry’s intranet (UDintra). The reports include general information about the country, day care facilities for young children, schools, employment opportunities for accompanying spouses/cohabitants, the formal status of cohabitants, hospitals, health issues, air pollution, food safety, security/crime, transport and communications, leisure activities, food and consumer goods. You should ask your spouse/cohabitant to print out a copy of the report.
Special Agreement on Allowances, Benefits and Remuneration for Employees in the Foreign Service
Employees who are posted abroad receive a number of benefits in addition to their salaries. These benefits are regulated by the Special Agreement on Allowances, Benefits and Remuneration for Employees in the Foreign Service.
The parties to the Special Agreement are the Ministry (as employer) and the employees’ organisations. The Agreement applies to paid employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who are posted to a Norwegian diplomatic or consular mission.
The main allowance is the overseas allowance, which compensates the posted employee for additional living expenses during the posting. A higher overseas allowance is paid when the posted employee is accompanied by his/her spouse/cohabitant. In addition, a child allowance is provided for accompanying children under the age of 18.
Expenses for private day care for children and schooling are also covered under the Special Agreement in cases where private day care is necessary to ensure a similar standard to that available in Norway.
Expenses are covered for compassionate travel both for the posted employee and accompanying family members in connection with a death, life-threatening illness or accident involving a close family member in Norway.
The following allowances and benefits are provided under the Special Agreement:
- The overseas allowance is intended to cover higher living expenses in connection with transfer to and service at a Norwegian diplomatic or consular mission.
- The higher overseas allowance is intended to cover the higher living expenses connected with having an accompanying spouse permanently resident at the place of service.
- The child allowance is intended to cover higher living expenses connected with having a child/children permanently resident at the place of service.
- The hardship allowance is intended to cover higher living expenses at a place of service where living conditions are particularly difficult, and to cover travel expenses for breaks away from the place of service.
- The family separation allowance is intended to cover extra expenses connected with the posted employee’s travel back to Norway and other extra expenses incurred in connection with maintaining contact with his/her spouse/cohabitant and children who are resident in Norway.
The Special Agreement is published on regjeringen.no (Norwegian only)
We recommend that you start preparing to go abroad as early as possible. This is particularly important if you have children who will be accompanying you. All Norwegian missions have a family liaison officer, who can provide information about local schools, day care facilities for young children and employment opportunities. Contact the mission if you need any further information.
It may also be a good idea to contact other people who have served at the mission concerned and their families. They may be able to provide you with useful information about what it is like to live and work in the country or area in question.
Having parents who are posted abroad can be difficult for some children. This applies both to children who accompany their parents on a posting abroad and to those who stay in Norway. We recommend that parents attend the Ministry’s annual course for employees and their spouses/cohabitants who are preparing for a posting abroad. The possible psychological problems that may arise in connection with serving abroad is one of the topics covered on the course.
The course also looks at other challenges that both the posted employee and his/her family may meet, including, for example, how living in different countries may affect children, how they may react to different cultures, and how they may be affected by language challenges, etc.
Children with special needs
Children with special needs, for example relating to their health, or their physical or social development, may experience greater difficulties than other children. Parents should be particularly aware of this, and should consider their child’s needs and the number of times the child will have to move when choosing the place of service. As the employer, the Ministry will seek to ensure that the best possible information is provided in job advertisements, during interviews, in the country reports, in the information meetings for employees preparing for a posting abroad, and at the individual medical check-ups carried out by Aleris in connection with a posting abroad. See also section 1.6 on health issues, medical check-ups and vaccinations.
Family counselling services
It may be helpful to consult your local family counselling service (familievernkontoret) if there are family issues you are concerned about. This service is free, and you do not need a referral. You can find a list of family counselling offices on the website of the Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs (bufetat.no). There are also a number of helpful brochures that you can download from the website.
The Ministry provides financial support to help children (aged 5-18) learn the language used at their new school before they leave Norway.
Support is also provided for other educational programmes such as Norgesskolen, a summer school in Norwegian language and culture (see nww.no/kategori/norgesskolen-engelsk/).
The following online educational programmes are approved by the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training:
- Globalskolen: globalskolen.no
- Norskskolen: norskskolen.com
Schooling at the place of service
Under the Special Agreement, children are entitled to receive schooling that is at least as good as the schooling they are entitled to in Norway. When this standard of schooling cannot be provided by the state school system at the place of service, the cost of private schooling will be covered. In cases where it is necessary to make use of a private school, the posted employee must submit an application to the mission for coverage of these expenses. The mission assesses the application before forwarding it to the Ministry.
It should be noted that only the cost of ordinary schooling is covered. Non-compulsory extracurricular activities such as summer school, or other expenses such as school transport, school supplies or school lunches are not covered.
Leave of absence from school in Norway
Under the Education Act, children do not have the right to a leave of absence from their Norwegian school while they are abroad. This means that they are not guaranteed a place in the same class or at the same school on their return.
Right to a school place in Norway
Primary and lower secondary school are compulsory in Norway. Children and young people are entitled to receive public primary and lower secondary education in accordance with the Education Act and associated regulations. Primary and lower secondary pupils have the right to attend the school closest to their home or a school in the catchment area to which they belong.
In general, families may not apply for a school place until they are back in Norway. However, the Ministry recommends that families contact the school before they return home. If it would be helpful for the family, the Section for Recruitment and Personnel can write to the school on the Ministry’s behalf asking the school to take account of the child’s and the family’s need for predictability on their return to Norway.
The Ministry arranges a meeting for employees who are preparing for a posting abroad and their families, where we provide information on topics such as health, national insurance, moving, insurance, employment opportunities for spouses/cohabitants, the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, and entitlements under the Special Agreement on Allowances, Benefits and Remuneration for Employees in the Foreign Service, etc.
The aim of these meetings is to prepare the employee and his/her accompanying family for the challenges they may meet during the moving process and while they are abroad, and to provide information about the various kinds of support the Foreign Service and other public bodies can offer.
The Ministry also arranges an information day on psychological problems that may arise during service abroad. Half the day is devoted to general challenges that apply to all those travelling abroad in connection with a posting. The rest of the day focuses on children and their experiences. The overall aim of the day is to shed light on the various reactions you may experience during the moving process and when confronted with different cultures and language challenges, and to identify common pitfalls and coping strategies. The aim of the second part of the day is to raise awareness of how best to meet the needs of children.
The Ministry holds language courses for accompanying spouses/cohabitants. Further information can be found on the website of the Foreign Service Institute on UDintra.
The Ministry holds language courses for accompanying spouses/ cohabitants.
Further information can be found on the website of the Foreign Service Institute on UDintra. You can also contact the Foreign Service Institute Language Centre by email: sprakenheten@mfa,no.
The Ministry provides a free medical check-up for employees and accompanying family members prior to each posting abroad.
For employees who will be serving at a mission where there are special requirements for rest and recuperation (R&R) leave, a more comprehensive medical check-up will be carried out before and during the posting. This will include evaluation by a psychologist, and will also be offered to accompanying spouses.
Medical check-ups and vaccinations are currently carried out by Aleris, which has expertise in travel medicine, tropical medicine and treatment of work-related disorders. A number of issues will be raised during the medical check-up, including the climate in the country concerned, local diseases, drug and alcohol abuse and other dependency problems, issues that can affect children, and various health problems you and your family may experience during the posting. The purpose is to provide an opportunity to reflect on possible problems with a view to ensuring the best possible stay abroad for you and your family.
In recent years, there has been particular focus on air pollution and how this affects the health of employees and accompanying family members in both the short and the long term. At the request of the Ministry, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health has recommended a number of steps that should be taken by the Ministry, the individual missions and the employees themselves to minimise health risks. In addition, the Ministry has drawn up an action plan that contains advice for employees, actions to be taken by the missions, and guidelines on the length of service, as well as appropriate training courses and systematic health, safety and environment work.
The action plan, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health recommendations and other relevant documents are available on UDintra. Employees can download these documents and send them on to their spouse/cohabitant.
The Ministry urges parents to consider carefully whether children under the age of 16 should accompany them on postings to areas with severe air pollution.
Vaccinations are carried out by Aleris Helse (see contact information below). The Ministry covers the cost of any necessary vaccines. If vaccinations are carried out by a different healthcare provider, the Ministry will cover these expenses provided a receipt is provided and the expenses are entered into the travel expenses system. Further information can be found in the country report.
It should be noted that in Norway, vaccination of children is provided through the municipal health service and is carried out by your local family health clinic (helsestasjon). The posted employee must cover the cost of vaccinations carried out at the place of service, and these expenses are compensated for in the overseas allowance (see the Special Agreement). Vaccination expenses for children are only reimbursed for vaccines against diseases that may be contracted in the country concerned.
Aleris Norway – administration:
Frederik Stangs gate 11–13, 0264 Oslo
Tel: +47 22 54 10 00
For appointments/medical check-ups, contact Anne Næsset
Tel: +47 22 54 11 20
Tel: +47 22 54 11 54
For a more comprehensive check-up – consultation with a psychologist:
Specialist in Clinical Psychology Torunn Østerbø
Fridtjof Nansens plass 8
Tel.: +47 46 16 26 05
For advice and information on vaccinations or travel medicine, contact:
Ingvild or Lise
Tel: +47 971 08 667
All employees and accompanying family members need either a diplomatic or a service passport, which is issued by the Section for Diplomatic Relations. The employee’s and his/her family members’ ordinary passports that were issued by the police must be handed in.
Questions about passports can be addressed to the Diplomatic Section: firstname.lastname@example.org
PASSPORTS: in order to be issued with diplomatic or service passports, the employee and all accompanying family members must appear in person at the Diplomatic Section. You can book an appointment here: https://ventus.enalog.se/Booking/Booking/ Index/Utenriksdep
When you come for your appointment, a valid ordinary passport (issued by the police) must be shown. The Diplomatic Section will collect biometric data (digital photo, finger prints, signature) and other personal details. It will take approximately a week for the passport to be issued. Special rules apply to spouses/cohabitants who are not Norwegian or EEA citizens. Further information can be obtained from the Diplomatic Section: email@example.com.
VISA: The Diplomatic Section assists employees and family members with acquiring visas from the authorities in the country concerned. You should contact the Section in good time to find out whether a visa is required and, if so, to get assistance with acquiring the visa. Please note that some countries have special rules for issuing visas to accompanying family members and to cohabitants and other partners. In some countries, it may take several months for a visa to be issued.
Spouses/cohabitants who are not Norwegian or EEA citizens should contact the Directorate of Immigration before moving from Norway to find out about their rights and obligations with regard to obtaining a residence permit on their return to Norway.
Foreign Service employees who are posted abroad are considered to be resident in the municipality where they were living before their departure from Norway. Please note that accompanying family members who are nationals of the country of service are automatically registered in the National Registry as having emigrated from Norway.
You should notify the National Registry, which is under the Norwegian Tax Administration (Skatteetaten) of any changes in civil status (marriage, divorce, birth of children, etc.). Changes to your residential address in Norway during your posting abroad must also be reported to the Norwegian Tax Administration.
You should make arrangements for your private mail to be redirected to the mission or your private address in the country you are being posted to well before you leave Norway. The Ministry’s address can only be used for personal letters in countries where there are particular problems with the postal services. For more information, send an email to the Section for Property Management and General Services: Enhet.For.Fellestjenester@mfa.no
Please note that printed matter addressed to you that is sent to the Ministry will not be sent on, but will be destroyed.
There are also restrictions on sending parcels. The Ministry must know what all parcels contain. If there is any doubt about the content of a parcel, it will be opened and anything that cannot be sent on will be removed and stored temporarily in the Ministry. The addressee will be notified. Examples of items that cannot be sent on include: liquids, creams, food and organic materials, and batteries.
A safe system for opening all mail, including private mail, to the Ministry and missions abroad was introduced in spring 2017. Information about this system is available on UDintra. For security reasons, all post to the Ministry will be opened and sealed again in a protected environment in the Norwegian Government Security and Service Organisation (DSS) before it is sent on to the relevant mission, unless otherwise agreed.
We encourage posted employees and their accompanying family members to use a digital mailbox. This is a secure system for receiving and storing important mail, such as letters from public bodies containing official decisions, health information or other sensitive information. You can also receive mail from other entities that serve the general public such as banks, insurance companies, electricity companies, etc.
Spouses/cohabitants may apply to their employers for leave of absence if they wish to accompany a Foreign Service employee on a posting abroad.
Government employees who accompany their spouse on a posting abroad may, in cases where the posted employee has a duty to accept a posting (i.e. is a rotational employee), be given up to 12 years’ leave. Registered partners and cohabitants have the same rights as spouses. During their leave, these government employees will continue to build up seniority. For more information, see section 10.8 of the Norwegian civil service handbook (Statens personalhåndbok – Norwegian only), which can be found on Lovdata.no.
For members of the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund (Statens pensjonskasse), four years of this leave will be registered as pensionable service. More information can be found in section 9.17 of the Norwegian civil service handbook (Statens personalhåndbok – Norwegian only).
Government employees who accompany their spouse/cohabitant on a posting abroad in cases where the posted employee does not have a duty to accept a posting (i.e. is a non-rotational employee) may be granted unpaid leave of absence at the discretion of their employer.
Employers in the municipal and private sectors make decisions on applications for leave on the basis of their own rules. Practice in some municipalities, such as Oslo and Bærum, is similar to that of the central government administration.
Leave in connection with moving
Posted employees are entitled to paid compassionate leave of two days before they leave Norway and of two days in connection with moving to the country to which they are have been posted. An application for compassionate leave must be registered in SAP.
The Ministry has agreements with a number of removals companies. Only removals companies with which the Ministry has an agreement may be used for removals. This applies to removals from Norway to the mission, from the mission back to Norway, or from one mission to another. Information about the removals companies that are to be used is available on UDintra.
The choice of removals company depends on the location of the mission.
In accordance with current practice, the posting must be for at least two years for travel and moving expenses to be covered.
Removals and storage insurance
The Ministry has a collective policy with If Skadeforsikring for removals and storage insurance, the costs of which are covered by the Ministry (see table in the appendix).
It is therefore not necessary for the posted employee to submit a request for insurance unless he or she would like higher insurance cover.
However, the insurance company should always be notified of individual items or groups of items that are valued at NOK 100 000 or higher. Jewellery and medals are not included in the removals insurance.
Employees who would like higher insurance cover should contact If Skadeforsikring directly. The additional premium will be invoiced directly by If Skadeforsikring, and the additional cost covered by the employee. In the event of damage to removal goods, the employee should contact If Skadeforsikring directly.
Storage and insurance of household and personal belongings
The removals company will arrange for storage of personal belongings in Norway. Please note that the shipping company used for removals to the Americas does not provide long-term storage. Storage is therefore provided by another firm.
The Ministry covers the cost of necessary storage of household and personal belongings during the whole posting and for three months after return. The Ministry also covers the cost of insuring stored goods for six months from date on which the goods are put into storage. Insurance beyond this period must be covered by the employee him/herself.
Removals to and from the storage facilities are carried out by the removals company. This is to be agreed directly between the employee and the company. The Ministry covers the cost of removal to and from the storage facility once only. The cost of transporting any additional loads to or from the storage facility must be covered by the employee.
In South and Central America, Africa, Asia and Australia, furnishing of living accommodation is government-funded. For employees who are moving into accommodation that is not fully (85 %) furnished, and who wish to store goods during their posting abroad, the Ministry will reimburse the rental expenses for storage space for up to 67.5 % of the maximum volume (see the table in the appendix for maximum volumes).
For employees moving into unfurnished accommodation, the Ministry will also cover the cost of storage for the difference between the permitted maximum volume and the actual removal volume. For example, if you are entitled to a maximum volume of 40 m³ and only bring 25 m³ goods, the cost of 15 m³ storage, i.e. the difference, will be covered.
What may and may not be included in the shipment?
The shipment must only contain the personal belongings of the posted employee and his or her accompanying family, including a reasonable amount of consumer products. It is not possible to include items for anyone else unless this has been cleared with the Section for Property Management in advance.
The following are not defined as removal goods and are not covered by the insurance: foodstuffs, alcohol, weapons and motor vehicles. It should be noted that the rules for what goods may be shipped have become stricter, and you should ask the removals company for detailed information.
Detailed information about exporting/importing motor vehicles and boats is published on the website of the Norwegian Customs (toll.no).
Expenses in connection with baggage and baggage insurance during transfer to the mission
The Ministry covers the cost of up to 30 kg of excess baggage, i.e. over and above the airline’s free allowance, for the posted employee and each family member. These expenses should be entered into the travel expenses system.
Cameras, computers, jewellery, etc. and goods containing liquid or other contents that could damage clothes must not be packed in baggage that is to be checked in. Any items of particular value must be insured privately by the posted employee.
Any damage to luggage will be covered by the airline. Compensation claims should be sent directly to the Section for Recruitment and Personnel in the Ministry: SECT- SECT-RecruitmentAndPersonnel@mfa.no.
Expenses associated with pets
The Ministry does not cover expenses associated with the vaccination, transport, quarantine, etc. of pets.
Information about importing pets to Norway can be found on the website of the Norwegian Food Safety Authority (mattilsynet.no).
You should contact the mission to which you are to be posted for information on the rules for importing pets to the country in question.
Hotel accommodation in connection with a transfer abroad
In cases where hotel accommodation is needed in connection with the transfer to or from the place of service, the cost of up to 17 days’ hotel accommodation for the posted employee and accompanying family members will be covered by the Ministry, provided that these expenses are documented. In Oslo, these expenses must be paid by the posted employee and then entered into the travel expenses system. Any hotel accommodation that is needed at the place of service should be agreed with the mission. These expenses are to be paid by the mission and entered into the mission’s accounts. A subsistence allowance may be awarded for up to 17 days.
If the posted employee takes annual leave in the former or new place of service, in connection with the transfer, the cost of hotel accommodation for up to seven days may be provided. This applies in cases where the employee needs some extra time off work to sort out practical matters connected with the move (e.g. looking for accommodation, settling children into their new school, etc.), and on the condition that hotel accommodation would have been necessary in any case, and would have been covered by the Ministry. Hotel accommodation in Norway in connection with a transfer to a mission in Europe is only covered for the period during which the household contents are being removed and the house is being cleaned. Hotel accommodation in Norway is not considered necessary when the shipment has arrived at the destination, or if the household contents are put into storage in Norway.
If the posted employee and accompanying family members choose to stay with friends or relatives rather than in a hotel in connection with the transfer, they will receive half the subsistence allowance (but no overnight allowance) in accordance with the above rules.
Accommodation at the place of service
It is the mission’s responsibility to find appropriate accommodation for posted employees. The mission will normally make the best possible use of the accommodation already at its disposal, and the posted employee will not automatically take over his or her predecessor’s accommodation. It should be noted that apart from the ambassador’s residence, no account is taken of seniority or status in this connection. The size and value of the accommodation are determined solely by the number of family members.
It is not normally possible to change your accommodation during your posting. If you arrive alone, but your family is planning to join you later, you must inform the mission of this fact so that you are given suitable accommodation for the whole family straight away.
The Ministry covers the rent and any running expenses that are not included in the rent, such as electricity, fuel, gas and water use. These expenses are normally paid by the mission directly.
For more information about accommodation, you should contact the mission to which you are to be posted. You should also contact the mission if you have questions about security or refurbishment.
The mission will normally make the best possible use of the accommodation already at its disposal, and the posted employee will not automatically take over his or her predecessor’s accommodation.
The Norwegian state is self-insured, which means that, in general, government agencies may not take out private insurance to cover expenses incurred by unforeseen incidents. The state’s responsibility for its employees is largely regulated by collective agreements negotiated between the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation and the trade union confederations for state employees.
The state insurance and compensation schemes form part of the employment conditions for Ministry employees.
Insurance during the moving process
Insurance of belongings during the move to/from a mission/Norway is discussed under section 1.12. This includes insurance of goods during transport and storage.
Accommodation at the place of service
Home insurance (general liability insurance and insurance against fire, water damage, etc.) is covered by the mission.
Household contents and personal belongings
Each family must take out its own household contents insurance for personal belongings and baggage insurance for private holiday trips. Your Norwegian insurance policy may not be valid outside Norway, and you should check this with your Norwegian insurance company or, if relevant, your trade union.
Accident insurance for accompanying family members
Accompanying family members are covered by an accident insurance scheme administered by the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund. This applies to spouses/registered partners/cohabitants and children up to the age of 18 (or until the child completes upper secondary school) who accompany a Foreign Service employee on a posting abroad. Visiting family members are not covered.
The insurance is valid all over the world and for the entire stay abroad. This includes holidays and transit to the place of service, but not stays in Norway. The insurance gives a right to compensation of up to 20G (20 times the basic amount in the National Insurance Scheme) in the event of death or permanent disability. The compensation is paid out as a one-off payment. Expenses for necessary medical treatment are also covered unless these are covered by another insurance scheme. Injuries sustained as a result of terrorist acts, armed conflict, acts of war, riots, natural disasters and so on are also covered. More information is given in section 10.26 the Norwegian civil service handbook (Statens personalhåndbok – Norwegian only).
Insurance schemes for employees
Employees of the Norwegian state are covered by accident insurance under a special agreement on insurance and compensation for state employees on official travel or postings abroad. See section 9.24 of the Norwegian civil service handbook (Statens personalhåndbok – Norwegian only).
Employees in Norway are covered by the Occupational Injury Act and also have occupational injury insurance under the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund
Employees covered by the Basic Collective Agreement for the Civil Service are insured in the event of death under section 23 of the Agreement.
More information about insurance and compensation schemes for employees is available on UDintra (Norwegian only).