For members


What problems have Brits in Norway faced as a result of Brexit?

From long delays for post-Brexit residency, to confused officials at the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration, and border guards who still insist on stamping passports. Here are some of the headaches Brits living in Norway are reporting as a result of Brexit.

Pictured is a British passport.
These are the issues facing UK nationals living in Norway after Brexit. Pictured is a British passport. (Photo by Anthony WALLACE / AFP)

Long delays in getting post-Brexit residency

Perhaps the biggest headache for Brits living in Norway has been how long it has taken the police or The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) to formally award post-Brexit residency, with UDI officials telling some of those applying that the 800 applications passed to UDI by the police are currently stalled as the UDI waits for the government to take decisions on key questions. 

“It would be nice to get an answer,” said Alan, who made his application for post-Brexit residency in May 2021, and is still waiting for a response. 

READ ALSO: Long waiting times for Norwegian residence: Is the situation improving?

Colin, who has been living in Norway since 2009, said that his application was stuck because whereas UDI thinks he was permitted to leave Norway for over 12 months, as he did in 2016, and still retain his permanent residency, the police argue that this lost him his residency rights. His application is now stuck, as he needs to make “substantial changes” to the application for UDI to be able to resubmit it, and he cannot do that.

“It’s no problem coming back in [to Norway] as I now have a lengthy file on their system that shows up,” he said. “But if I come into the Schengen area from a country other than Norway, they have no access to the files, so they are within their rights to refuse my entry as I don’t have the residence card.” 

Chris in Stavanger has also been bounced around between UDI and the police.

“Every time I’ve contacted the police, I’ve been passed to UDI and visa versa. Last time I called I was told they had spent the budget, so I’d have to wait till this year,” complained Chris.  

Scott, also in Stavanger, said that he could never find an appointment at Stavanger police station to identify himself for a Brexit residency card. In the end, he went to the police station at the airport.

Problems getting work permits, student visas, and family reunion
Those who arrived in Norway after the deadline for post-Brexit residency are, or course, treated like any other non-EU citizen, meaning they need to meet the requirements for a work permit, study visa, or for family reunion.
Liam, who is engaged to a Norwegian, has had his family immigration visa turned down because he and his Norwegian fiancée are unable to prove they lived together in the UK, partly because they were living in Dubai before they came to Norway.
“The paperwork from there isn’t worth the paper it is printed on and it’s impossible to have, as it all has only one name on it,” he said. “It is impossible to get any clarification on documents they would deem would prove this, and I have found UDI to be basically uncooperative when trying to clarify things.”
They are still now waiting two years after Liam applied.
Nicola, who planned to study an online course at an Oslo university was told by the UDI that this would qualify her for a study visa, and when she applied, she received an approval by email. But she then received a letter saying that her case was being reviewed.
“Two appeals later, I’m still waiting. Twice I was told yes, followed by a no, and then, before Christmas, I was told to leave. They knew it was their fault, but couldn’t approve it as you can study from your home country for an online course,” she told The Local. 
Losing right to live and work in EU countries 
For many Brits, receiving post-Brexit residency in Norway did little to assuage the loss of the right to live and work in the EU. 
“In a sense i felt trapped in Norway, unable to move to another EU country, take up work offers or opportunities I had taken for granted,” said Dan Tyler. “I was offered a job, which was later rescinded once it became clear that the UK would exit the single market and all freedom of movement would cease.” 

Feeling unable to leave Norway while residency/citizenship is processed

One of the big problems with the delays at UDI is that many Brits feel unable to leave Norway while their applications are being processed. 

Isobel applied for residency in Norway in 2020, but then got a job back in the UK, so pulled out of the application process before it was complete. Her husband was supposed to follow, but ended up staying in Norway because of unexpected health issues. Isobel is now back in Norway, having applied for residency in December 2022. But her application has been passed to the UDI, and the UDI say it could take as long as eight months to process. 

“I am of course now over my 90-day Brexit visa limit, so am unable to leave or work or get a phone until I hear from them,” she said. “My daughter is in her early twenties and lives in the UK and it’s deeply frustrating not to be able to go there to help her with her house move. Oh for the free days!”


Forced to pay high prices for parcels from home

Brits living in Norway have frequently been sent into a rage by the cost of customs duty and processing fees applied to parcels sent from the UK, with the recipients often having to pay more than the value of the goods inside. Parcels clearly labelled as gifts are often taxed, and while you can get the tax paid back from Norwegian customs if you can prove this, it is a costly process. 

Poor understanding about Brexit residency among officials 
Joanna said that she was told at a police appointment that she would need to pass a language test and pay a fee as part of her application for permanent residency. 
“As I arrived pre-Brexit I didn’t need either of these things, but the guy sounded so certain and on that day was training someone else in Brexit that day,” she said. “There is a general problem as Brexit is new and even those in officialdom don’t know the rules.” 
Jonathan, who came to Norway in 2021 with his Norwegian wife and daughter, had the opposite problem. He applied for family reunion, paid 10,000 kroner and was told to go to the police station in Svolvær, a three-hour bus journey from their home.
In Svolvær, he was refunded the money.  
“I actually asked if she was sure about this because me and my wife had checked thoroughly what we needed to do, but the officer reassured me: ‘no, you didn’t have to pay it’,” he remembered. “Then, a week or two later, the same officer sends an email, saying she was wrong and we had to pay again.”
“Very disappointing and inconvenient,” he wrote of the process. “In my opinion, there is a lack of clarity and poor information given out by the DUI throughout the process. Makes it very frustrating for people coming here.”
Passport queues, and the battle to stop your passport getting stamped 
Some Brits complain that going through Norwegian passport control has become significantly more time consuming since the UK left the European Union. 
“On a practical level, it is frustrating to travel now,” said Tyler. “I have missed flights and connections due to long passport queues. I am often having my passport scrutinised and being questioned on why I am entering my country of residence – where my home is.” 
James, who divides his time between Oslo and London, also reported “long delays at airports”. 
More than a year after the end of the Brexit transition period, Britons continue to be faced on arrival at airports in Norway by border officials who try to stamp their passports, even when shown a valid residency card. 
This means they risk looking as if they may be overstaying the limit put on Schengen visits post-Brexit, even if British embassies insist that the right of residence proved via a card will trump a passport stamp, should any questions or problems arise. 
“I had a long argument with a police officer at the airport who refused to believe me when I said she shouldn’t stamp my passport,” said Ben, who lives in Oslo. “‘Are you telling me my job?’. ‘No, but I am saying that I know for a fact that you mustn’t stamp my passport’. ‘So you think you know more about my job than I do?'”. 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


READERS REVEAL: Why foreigners want to settle down in Norway

The Local asked readers whether they saw their long-term future in Norway, and the overwhelming majority said they did. Here's why foreign residents in Norway want to stay.

READERS REVEAL: Why foreigners want to settle down in Norway

There are many reasons why foreign residents may be attracted to Norway, whether it’s because the living conditions contribute to the locals being ranked among the happiest people in the world, the work-life balance, the nature, the wages, having family or loved ones there or simply falling in love with the country from afar.

Still, that doesn’t mean that everyone who moves to Norway comes to settle down. For starters, many may have only come to Norway for their studies, to work a short-term contract, or to try living in another environment.

And while many things on paper make Norway seem like the perfect country, things sometimes work out differently than planned and settling in may actually be a tall order.

READ ALSO: Is it easy to settle in Norway?

However, when asked whether they saw their long-term future (the next five years and beyond) in Norway, 84 percent of readers told The Local that they planned to stay in the Nordic country. Despite the small sample size, it’s clear that many have decided to settle down in Norway.

“There are great opportunities for career development in Norway. I have already learned more skills while working in the construction industry in Norway in the last 2.5 years, and I plan to learn more in the coming years. I also like the culture and Norwegian landscapes. Perfect outdoors,” Dmitry in Kristiansand wrote.

For many of those who wrote that they wished to stay in Norway long-term, this was initially the plan and life in the country has only reaffirmed their desire to settle in the Scandinavian country.

“I feel at home for the first time in my life. I love living here,” Jess from Ireland wrote.

“It hasn’t (changed). Once I moved here, I was pretty certain I wanted to stay,” she responded when asked whether the length of time she wished to remain in Norway had changed.

Many pointed to the quality of life in Norway, career development and wages as reasons for their move and subsequently wanting to stay. However, quite a few readers also pointed out that they moved, and therein, their reason for wanting to stay was due to having a Norwegian partner.

“Wages for my profession are lower here than in my home country, and the cost of living is higher. I like my life here, but my only reason for staying long term is my partner,” an Australian reader in southern Norway wrote.

When it came to those who were in Norway for work, many said that their decision to keep living in Norway would depend on their job or career development.
Not everyone who comes to Norway, though, intends to stay for the long haul. Many readers who now wish to live in Norway for the long run have decided to do so after either being won over or weighing up the pros and cons.

“I would say the city (Oslo) itself has convinced us to stay, less so the more mundane aspects of daily living: for example, the food and drinking culture is lacking and expensive when it is good. As a consumer, the lack of purchasing options is also felt. However, we appreciate that, although Amazon et al. is not here, the high street seems way healthier than in the UK, where we have moved from. I don’t mind the climate (coming from Scotland, short days are a thing there, too), and I actually enjoy the more marked seasons and lack of wind (Oslo-specific). People are at first difficult to connect with, but via mutual friends, we have met great Norwegian and international folks,” Nico explained.

“While at first a tentative move, I now plan to live here long-term. The pros outweigh the cons,” he added. Other factors in Nico’s decision were purchasing a flat and ample work opportunities.

Among the minority who didn’t wish to stay, the most common reasons why their plans for life in Norway were more short-term were family commitments back home, concerns over the residency requirements and sticking to their plan of only being in Norway for a few years. Others also wished to retire in their home countries too.