Whether you are off the northern lights or skiing through deep powder, make sure you have the right travel insurance for your trip to Norway.
Norway is a one-of-a-kind destination with some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes in the world and a host of landmarks that attract visitors from throughout the region and further abroad. With some of the best snow resorts in Europe, if not the world, skiing and snowboarding are just one of the activities drawing in travellers each year.
While Norway is in-all a relatively safe destination for travel, there are some risks to be aware of before commencing your journey. This guide will explore some of the risks to be aware of and what to look for in your travel insurance policy.
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- Top 5 travel concerns for Norway
- Activities to get extra cover for
- Does my travel insurance cover me for…
- What happens if I have a medical emergency in Norway?
- What are the entry requirements for Norway?
- Money in Norway
- Tips for travelling in Norway
- Travel insurance exclusions to watch out for in Norway
- 5 steps to getting travel insurance for Norway
Norway is a very well-developed nation, and in many ways is safer than Australia. As a traveller in a foreign country, however, you still need to watch out for certain hazards.
- Border controls. Events in 2016 and preceding years have led to heightened border security in Norway. Carry your passport when crossing borders and monitor local media for up-to-date information on border crossings.
- Terrorism. Parts of Europe, including transportation hubs like airports and train stations, have suffered terrorist attacks. While Norway has not suffered major attacks, it is still at risk.
- Crime. Take similar precautions as you would in an unfamiliar part of Australia. Avoid walking alone in isolated locations, particularly at night. Norway has a very low risk of serious crime, but bag snatchers and pickpockets are becoming more of a concern, especially during the peak tourist season of May to September. Remain alert in crowded areas.
- Snow and ice. Australians may be unfamiliar with the driving hazards posed by ice and snow on the roads and should take extra care on Norwegian roads. Winter tyres are mandatory in Norway from November to April, headlights must be on at all times throughout the year and you are advised to carry snow chains if you plan on driving in the mountains. Roads in rural areas can be narrow and winding, so be careful on the bends.
- Avalanches. Landslides, rockslides and avalanches are much more of a danger in Norway than Australia. Steeper mountains and much deeper snow can be deceptively dangerous.
Get the most of out your Norwegian adventure by making sure your travel insurance policy covers the main events.
- Skiing or snowboarding. Did you sign up for extra snowsports cover with your travel insurance policy? The extra cover is highly recommended as it not only protects you in the event of injury but can also help cover lost or stolen gear, missing tickets, bad weather refunds and more. It may be worth taking out additional travel cover for winter sports activities.
- Mountain climbing. Norway is a global mountaineering destination thanks to a combination of stunning views and terrain to satisfy climbers of any skill level. Conditions can vary between providers for travel insurance for climbing.
- Fishing. Norway is one of very few places in the world that’s worth visiting just to go fishing. This is because it has a remarkable combination of rich, cold oceans, numerous freshwater rivers and lakes, and ice fishing. Many travel insurance policies will cover angling in general, but if you’re going on a boat it can get trickier, and many insurers will simply not ever cover ice-hole fishing.
- Trekking. You don’t have to scale a cliff for a great view. You can follow the paths instead for a more leisurely, but still thrilling, way to get at the vistas. The steepness is unlike what you’ll find in Australia so altitude sickness, thin air and unfamiliar weather are all worth looking out for. It's worth seeing how trekking is covered by different travel insurance brands.
How does your travel insurance policy work at some of Norway’s most outstanding destinations?
- Hiking the Jotunheimen. The Jotunheimen is one of the most awe-inspiring parks in the world, running through the shadow of Galdhøpiggen, Norway’s highest peak, and taking in 60 glaciers and 275 summits. Jotunheimen is not be missed, but you’ll want to take some extra precautions even though you’re covered by the Australian–Norwegian RHCA. In particular, consider a policy that covers search and rescue.
- Seeing Oslo. The capital city of Norway has been described as the Sydney of northern Europe on account of its tourist-friendly sights and thriving arts and culture scene. The coastal city even has its own uniquely designed seaside opera house to host the biggest shows in town. It’s still a big city, though, so travellers should consider how their travel policy covers lost or stolen cash and travel documents and luggage.
- Viewing the northern lights. It’s often said that no photograph can ever match the real view of the aurora borealis, or properly capture its size and depth as it fills the sky. Because the northern lights are largely a seasonal thing, it’s best to plan ahead of time. This means you may be able to benefit from cancellation cover if you have to change plans at the last minute.
- River and ocean cruises. International cruises are a popular way of visiting Norway and there are also a range of more local cruises and boating tours available. Cruises have their own insurance requirements, and you can’t necessarily assume boating will always be covered, particularly if you’re renting and piloting your own vessel.
In the event of an emergency, your number-one priority is staying safe and getting medical attention. Call 112 for local emergency services. Only call your insurer once you have received adequate medical attention.
- Norway and Australia have a reciprocal health care agreement (RHCA) which means that in the event of an emergency you can get immediate medical treatment at minimal cost. The RHCA does not pay for ongoing treatments, and is not a replacement for travel health cover.
- Most Norwegian doctors are part of Norway’s public healthcare system (NIS). Only NIS doctors are able to provide the RHCA benefits, but depending on the situation there might not be one available near you.
- Travel insurance is able to pay for peripheral costs, like medevacs if you need to be airlifted out of somewhere or medical repatriation if doctors recommend that you return home for further treatment. Without travel insurance these can, and often do, run into tens of thousands of dollars.
Depending on the nature of your emergency, the people you might reach out to for a solution could be:
- Friends or family in Norway or back in Australia, or your employer if it’s a work-related trip
- Your travel agent or airline for flight or transport-related issues
- Your tour operator or guide if the issue is one they might be able to address
- Your travel insurer, who should always have a 24-hour emergency number
- Local emergency services
- The Australian embassy for passport, travel documentation, legal or similar issues. In Norway, your closest Australian embassy is actually in Denmark. Call them on +45 70 26 36 76
How does the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement Actually Work?
Australians travelling in Norway can get subsidised health care while there, without needing to enroll in the Norwegian healthcare National Insurance Scheme (NIS). Simply advise the doctor that you want to be treated as an NIS patient and you can get:
- Medical treatment, referred specialist services and ambulance travel
- Emergency dental care
- Free hospital inpatient treatment
- Prescribed ancillary care
- Free prescription medicine for annual pharmaceutical costs above about $250
- Free health care and related services for children under the age of 7
However, you will still have to pay:
- Varying charges for certain services
- Fees if your doctor in Norway is not registered with the NIS – most are, but some aren’t
These benefits are only available to Australian citizens and permanent residents in Norway, which makes it a great place to visit despite being on the other side of the world.
Norway is a Schengen country. This means it’s one of 27 European nations that share a visa scheme. If you have a valid visa for any one of these 27 countries then it’s also valid in Norway, provided it still has entries left.
You must have a Schengen travel insurance policy to visit Norway. It is mandatory.
A Schengen travel insurance policy is one that:
- Offers at least 30,000 euros of cover all up
- Covers you in all Schengen countries and for the entire duration of your trip
- Covers costs relating to emergency medical or hospital treatments, medical repatriation back to Australia and the return of your remains should you die while in overseas
- Pays for on-the-spot needs like medical repatriation and emergency treatments up-front, rather than those which can only be claimed back later
And for your needs specifically, a Schengen travel insurance policy must:
- Cover any costs that are likely to arise in connection with emergency medical treatment
- Adequately cover pre-existing conditions like asthma or diabetes, and not exclude it unless a doctor has examined you and declared the condition to be under control
You are not required to have cover for high-risk activities and extreme sports like mountaineering or scuba diving, but it is highly recommended if you plan on doing these.
The only exemptions from Schengen travel insurance requirements are if:
- You’re just passing through and won’t be staying in Norway
- You have a diplomatic passport
- You are the partner, spouse, child or financially dependent parent of a Swiss or EU citizen
- You are an employee of certain exempt insurance companies
Other than your Schengen insurance requirements, to get a visa you’ll need to have:
- A completed visa application form
- Two passport photos that meet Norwegian standards
- A cover letter stating the purpose of your visit and a copy of your itinerary.
- A flight reservation with dates and flight numbers
- Your passport with at least two blank visa pages, valid for at least three months after your planned return date
- Proof of accommodation for the duration of your stay in Norway
- Proof of civil status (married, parent, widower etc.) in the form of marriage certificates or similar documentation, and employment status (self-employed, student, retired etc.) in the form of proof of enrollment, a business bank statement, recent pensioner statement or other applicable documentation
- Proof that you have sufficient funds to sustain yourself in Norway for the duration of your stay
- Currency in Norway is the Norwegian krone. Euros, US dollars and Swedish or Danish currency are not accepted.
- Norway is a relatively expensive country on the whole.
- ATMs, bank branches and currency exchanges are common, so you don’t need to carry large amounts of cash.
- If you’re having trouble finding an ATM in rural areas, try a petrol station or kiosk.
- Most places accept credit cards, with Visa and Mastercard being the most widely accepted, but many will not take foreign credit cards. Foreign debit cards, however, are generally accepted.
- Tipping is not common and not expected. Don’t feel obligated unless you’ve had some outstanding service at a bar or restaurant, and even then it’s still unusual.
- Norwegian kroner exchange rates can vary widely. Check the rates before and as you travel.
- Don’t underestimate how big Norway is. Just as tourists visiting Australia often underestimate how long it takes to drive between cities, so do tourists in Norway. Avoid falling into this trap, and be aware of how weather conditions can affect travel times.
- You cannot rely on public transport in all areas. The long distances and irregular schedules in rural areas mean public transport is not a reliable way to cover ground in Norway.
- Don’t assume cities are the main attractions. Many visitors orient their itinerary around trips between cities, like one would in most countries. This doesn’t work as well in Norway where the wildlife, scenery and land itself are the main event. Scenic detours are often well worth it in Norway.
- If it seems like the locals are unfriendly, remember that Norwegians have a reputation for being taciturn and withdrawn. There also isn’t as big a tradition of small talk as elsewhere.
- Pre-existing conditions. To fulfill Schengen requirements, your pre-existing health conditions must be covered by travel insurance. You can only exclude them and still have a valid Schengen travel insurance policy if a doctor has examined you and declared the condition to be under control.
- Drunk or under the influence. Travel insurance policies reserve the right to not pay out for losses suffered while you were drunk or under the influence of drugs.
- High-risk activities. Not all activities are automatically covered. If you’re planning on more active pastimes in Norway, like skiing, hiking or diving, then you need to confirm your travel insurance policy covers it. It is a Schengen requirement that you have travel insurance to cover you for dangerous activities wherever possible.
- Decide what you’ll be doing while there, and draw up as detailed a holiday plan as you are able. Look for a policy that covers all applicable activities.
- Consider whether or not it meets Schengen requirements. Broadly, this means it has at least 30,000 euros worth of cover all up (a fairly small amount), is valid in all Schengen countries, lasts the entire duration of your trip, covers pre-existing conditions as relevant, includes activities where possible, and covers you for a variety of medical needs.
- Compare travel insurance policies to find one that suits. Look at value for money and what cover is offered. You can instantly rule out those which don’t meet Schengen requirements.
- Use a travel insurance quote machine to sort through policies side by side, get prices and find the right one for you.
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