Travelling to Norway is like stepping into another world – one of stunning vistas and ancient history. If you’re a tourist on your way to Scandinavia, the last thing you want to do is spend a lot of money incurring roaming and data charges on your smartphone. By purchasing a prepaid SIM card from a local operator, you can cut down on costs while enjoying your stay in Norway.
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Although Norway is not a member of the European Union (EU), it’s part of the European Economic Area (EEA) and therefore falls into the “Roam-Like-at-Home” plan, which came into effect on 15 June 2017. If you’re not a Norwegian citizen, you must show a photo ID when you buy a SIM card.
Prepaid SIM card operators in Norway
There are three operators in Norway: Telia, Telenor and the Telia subsidiary MyCall. Telenor is considered the market leader, but Telia has the better flexibility for short-term visitors. You can get a Telenor prepaid starter with 4G/LTE coverage for NOK200 (AUD$32.17) and an additional NOK50 credit.
By combining with Tele2, Telia surpassed Telenor in total coverage in 2016. Its 4G/LTE network covers 98% of the population. It can be a struggle to use Telia’s services unless you speak Norwegian, because that’s the language used for all print and online documentation. Telia’s SIM card product is called Telia Smart Kontant, and it’s sold for NOK99 at Telia’s own stores or for NOK29 (with a NOK30 credit) at various convenience stores, electronic retailers and online. Without a Norwegian credit card, you can only recharge with vouchers bought at convenience stores. You can check your account balance by dialling *150#.
Telia provides short-term data plans for 1-3 days as well as base plans that include calls, texts and data that range from 14-31 days. The plans are compared below.
Telia's APN: telia, and website: https://telia.no/
More than 50% of the national users are customers of Telenor, which offers 4G/LTE for a prepaid SIM with a maximum speed of 6Mbps. The prepaid SIM is called Telenor Kontant and is sold at the Oslo Gardermoen Airport next to the car rental counter. The cards are also available at convenience stores. To check your account balance, send an SMS with the word “SALDO” to 2525. If you have an EU-issued credit card, you can top up on the Telenor website. Otherwise, you can go to places like 7-Eleven and get a top-up code. The instructions are usually in Norwegian, so if you can’t get help from the store clerk, just enter the code you bought and that should do it. The flat rate for data is NOK10/day. If you surpass 500MB of downloaded data in a month, your download speed will be reduced to 128Kbps.
Telenor does not offer any short-term data deals, largely because Norway is filled with hotspots offering free Wi-Fi, including most of the capital city of Oslo. Its three existing packages are for 200MB a month from 3 to 12 months. If you’re going to be in Norway for a while or plan on several trips, these plans could be your solution.
Telenor's APN: Telenor, and website: http://www.telenor.no/
MyCall is a subsidiary of Telia and has 4G/LTE available for prepaid customers. Its SIM card is called Kontantkort and costs NOK49 online or NOK25 at many retailers. A startup fee of NOK0.99 is billed when you activate the card. Unlike the other two Norwegian operators, you can use an international credit card to buy top-ups on the MyCall website.
Check your balance at any time by dialling *150#. Things get a lot more convenient for English speakers by dialling *151#, as you can change the language to English and learn more about data packages.
MyCall data packages
MyCall's APN: internet, and website: https://mycall.no/
MVNOs in Norway
In addition to the physical operators, there are three mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) offering prepaid options in Norway. MVNOs use the networks of physical operators in a pre-arranged deal to offer lower prices on the market. Here is a summary of the three MVNOs that can be useful to visitors to Norway.
Chess is part of the Telia network and has 4G/LTE service up to 60Mbps. Its cards are largely sold in 7-Eleven and Narvesen shops, and there are two products:
- Chess Kontantkort – the standard card.
- KontantkorGlobal – features reduced prices for international calls.
Its data plans are:
LittlBruk: 150MB, 150 minutes, SMS and MMS, NOK99
NormalBruk: 1GB, unlimited minutes, SMS and MMS, NOK199
EkstraBruk: 5GB, unlimited minutes, SMS and MMS, NOK299
Chilimobil became part of the Telia network as of February 2017 and was the country’s first MVNO to offer prepaid 4G/LTE coverage. It’s available at most convenience stores and boasts more than 3,000 top-up locations.
It has just one data rate, which is NOK0.99/MB. This rate is capped at either 300MB/day or NOK15/day. Its maximum speed is 3Mbps.
While plenty of people use Trip Advisor to discuss hotels and attractions in different cities, the site is also a great resource for learning about local services, including SIM cards. Here are some thoughts from previous SIM card buyers in Norway.
“Problem in Norway is that you need to register ID to activate the card so you'll need to visit one of the mobile phone shops - usually found in shopping centres. Make sure they can activate the card before you buy. Alternatively convenience shops sell a start pack for MyCall which includes a registration form which the shop confirms having seen your ID and scans and sends to MyCall who activates the SIM within 24 hours.”
Pros and cons of Norway’s top SIM card operators
Free Wi-Fi is a big thing in Norway, but there are still plenty of places where a data bundle is needed to access the Internet while on vacation. Here are some of the positives and negatives about the country’s SIM card operators.
- As a member of the EEAA, Norway is in compliance with the “Roam-Like-at-Home” laws enforced by the EU.
- Telia has a broad range of data bundles from one day up to one month.
- Almost all websites and instructions are in Norwegian, which is difficult for people who speak other languages.