Norway is a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy of mountains, fjords and glaciers in the western and northern regions of the Scandinavian Peninsula. Also included are the areas of Svalbard and Jan Mayen islands in the Arctic, and the dependencies of Queen Maud Land, Peter I Island and Bouvet Island in the Antarctic and Sub-Antarctic. Norway has land borders with Sweden, Finland and Russia, and maritime borders with Denmark, the United Kingdom and Iceland.
Norway has a population of 5.2 million and is not a member of the European Union (EU) but participates in regular consultations with the EU on political, trade and security-related issues. It is a member of the Schengen zone, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), the European Economic Area (EEA) agreement, and the European single market. It is a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and a member of the United Nations (UN), the Arctic Council, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Economically, Norway is a major oil and gas producer. The country’s per capita income is among the highest in the world as a result of the influx of capital investment into its North Sea oil and gas fields and its substantial resource revenues. The oil and gas sector contributes almost half of its export revenue, and it is the world’s third largest natural gas exporter, supplying 20% of European gas consumption.
Norway is a welfare state in which the government has primary responsibility for the welfare of its citizens. The Norwegian social welfare system includes membership in the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme, social security, sickness benefits, surviving benefits and pension. The healthcare policy is free to all residents, is government controlled and financed through taxes, social security contributions, and out-of-pocket co-payments. The National Insurance Scheme is open to legal residents of Norway who intend staying for at least twelve months.
Even non-residents legally employed in Norway automatically become a member of the folketrygden. Education in Norway is free. Norwegian universities are tuition-free for all international students, whether they come from the EU/EEA countries or not.
Norway’s appeal extends from the urban vibe of Oslo to the Arctic life in Svalbard and everything in between, for singles and families. The country offers mainland and island attractions – traditional villages with their fishermen and artists, local fare from seafood to lamb, white beaches, old towns and Viking Museums. Certain times of the year afford the opportunity to see the mystical Northern Lights.
Norway’s only natural UNESCO World Heritage site is Geirangerfjord with its Seven Sisters and many more waterfalls. Cultural sites include Bryggen, Rjukan-Notodden Industrial Heritage Site, Rock Art of Alta, Røros Mining Town and the Circumference, Struve Geodetic Arc, Urnes Stave Church and the Vegaøyan Vega Archipelago.
When the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) is implemented in 2021, Australians and nationals from the other 61 countries benefiting from visa-free entry into the EU and Schengen countries, will be impacted. Although Norway is not an EU member, it is a Schengen country, and therefore subject to the travel regulations imposed by ETIAS.
The visa waiver application will cost a small fee for each applicant over the age of 18. The online application takes only a few minutes to complete and should be submitted 96 hours before intended departure to any Schengen country. The authorisation is attached electronically to the passport and will be valid until the passport expires or up to three years, whichever is first. ETIAS approval endures for any Schengen country for a visit of 90 days or less.
Notable early Norwegians in Australia were shipwrecked castaway Thorkel Thorkelson and the Archer brothers from Narvik. Norwegian seamen contributed to the Australian populace by choosing to jump ship along the coast to try their luck onshore. The gold rush of the mid to late 1800s brought many more. Of the first 2000 Norwegians in Australia, most travelled on relatively cheap passages, subsidised by the Queensland government in the 1870s to attract European settlers.
Australia and Norway cooperate in the United Nations and World Trade Organisation. They work together to advance international peace and security through military contributions to the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan and the Global Coalition against Daesh in Iraq and Syria. Bilateral agreements between the two countries include the Working Holiday Maker arrangement, a reciprocal health agreement, a bilateral Social Security Agreement and a revised bilateral Double Taxation agreement.
Australia exports predominantly specialised machinery and parts, and alcoholic beverages to Norway and imports mainly fish and fish products, specialised machinery and parts, and measuring and analysing instruments. Australia’s services exports to Norway were half their imports and were dominated by transport and education-related travel. Australia imported predominantly transport and professional services.
More than 26,000 Australians claim Norwegian ancestry.
Australian wanting to visit Norway will need ETIAS authorisation before they embark on travel. ETIAS is very similar to Australia’s ETA and is also expected to be as cost-effective and effective time-wise.