Scandinavia – a long introduction

Most first time or even repeat travellers report emotional rush when making preparations for travelling to a new destination. Most of them will testify that the last few days before leaving for another country some uneasiness came over them. A mixture of worries, fleeting questions and uncertainties occur. Such emotional rush and fear of unknowns can be even heart wrenching. Travellers and expatriates use different ways to reduce the effect of this emotional rush on their journey. No one should lie to you that some anxiety do not creep into the preparation phase for a trip which is the reason focus should be on ways to minimize it. Completely getting rid of it is impossible. The most practical way to overcome the anxieties is finding out more information about your destination beforehand. A simple internet search about culture, language, social systems, political economy will do you good. 

Dedicated information about Scandinavia

Often, internet  searches may fail to give clear information. It requires a lot of keenness of you to synthesize every detail of the many internet feedback that come with a single click.  As a result, you may end up more confused than before when you just use a random internet  search about your destination. So many websites are available, yes, but the best they do is give fragments of information which may not be consistent. 

Without a website that is particularly dedicated to the region you are travelling; it is possible to end up overlooking some important bits of information. A one stop website for you destination should at the very least give you critical information regarding:

  • How to get part time jobs,
  • How to change residence status 
  • Who to consult when in need of anything, 
  • How to organize documentation and get pocket friendly housing,
  • When and how to apply for special residence considerations such as extension of stay or establishment card. 

The Scandinavia

The Scandinavia is part of the EU . It comprises of Denmark, Sweden and Norway which have largely identical systems of governance. As an expatriate, you will have to meet the country-specific regulations as well as EU laws on immigration. 

Assuredly, the rules that will govern your residence in the Scandinavia may be so convoluted and confusing. Stretching yourself to know what, when, why and how about the Scandinavia is just the best give to give yourself before eventually travelling there. 

Remember, most of the documentations have strict timelines that must be adhered to at any given time. Based on this understanding Scandinavia.life provides critical information about most, if not all, of the things sone may need to know. It covers areas that are considerably key to any expatriate. These include work, housing, legal papers, and social security. For your daily experiences, we give you insights about  cuisine, where to shop, how, commuting services, commodity pricing, and global money transfer options. Information about banking, paying of bills, driving regulations and so much more are provided. 

Uniqueness of the Scandinavian Countries 

It is important to know that the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Sweden and Norway have strong ties. This means that their systems and ways of life are largely similar. The few differences may only be as a result of attempts of each country to attain efficiency and deliver tailored services to its people. 

What is now Scandinavia covered the kingdoms of Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. At that time, what is currently called Finland was part of Sweden, and Iceland was part of Denmark and Norway. 

Arriving and getting housing in the Scandinavia

The first important thing for anyone upon arriving in the Scandinavia is the search for an apartment with good facilities. Homelessness is very uncommon in the Scandinavia. If anything, the extreme temperature variations from very cold to very hot depending on the season cannot allow one to be homeless. 

While there are various companies in Sweden, Denmark and Norway that offer housing, taking preliminary steps to access such accommodation if key. An immigrant to the Scandinavia who does not have a prior organized accommodation must contact the housing company and ask for available houses. 

The assumption here is that one seeks out housing, one already has a CPR number.The procedures for getting registered varies depending on one’s citizenship. Merely having a written document to show that one is allowed to stay in the Scandinavia is not adequate for someone to start benefiting from the social system. 

Having a registered address/residence is very important since all your post mails will be brought there. The residence card, health insurance card, and other critical documents will be mailed to your address. 

Each of the Scandinavia countries has its own requirements for someone to access different social services. It is necessary to keenly check requirements about healthcare, childcare, tax obligations etc. While each of the countries in the Scandinavia share various ideals, it is important to consider each of them separately to extensively capture critical aspects. 

Denmark 

Life in Denmark can be very exiting when one knows what to do and when to do them. Just take time to learn about the available safety nets and social support systems.  That is why we try to give expatriates a step-by-step guide about Denmark.  The most basic information one needs to know as soon as he or she enters Denmark is mobility services.  Immediately one lands at the airport of entry to Denmark, the mobility systems kick in. Another important thing to know is how to get the Civil Personal Registration (CPR)

housing, cuisine, healthcare, job, tax obligations, education system, political system, and how to transfer money from and to Denmark, banking family unification, and renewal of residence documents. 

Public Mobility Systems in Denmark

Once at the port of entry in Denmark, you can be sure to catch the most immediate means of public transport. Buses, taxis and trains have very specific schedules which I well designed to match typical travel plans. The entire travel systems are digitalized and well scheduled to attain efficiency. Both cash and card payments are acceptable by all the means of transport. The bus, railway stations are clearly named and marked which make it easy to know when at the destination. 

Upon arrival in Denmark, the next thing is to contact the housing company. By registering you need for accommodation, the housing company will check for you the vacant houses. Sometimes the process until when you occupy a house can be so long. However, if someone is lucky, it can be done quickly. At the time of checking accommodation, you must already have an idea about which city it should be , the prices and accessibility. It is important to always be very sure about the  preferred Kommune (municipality).

CPR in Denmark

After entering Denmark using the permit given at the danish consulate in your country, the next thing is to regularize the stay. This means you visit the municipality offices and register to get the CPR number. The CPR number is given immediately upon registration but it takes up to 4 days to get the residence permit card posted to thee expatriate’s address. Before getting civil registration number, one must have already made arrangements on the address where the residence card and health insurance card also known as yellow card will be sent. The address where the documents can be sent include that of a friend, pre-arranged housing, already rented house, relatives residence or any other which is secure and convent for them. The CPR comes with a Nem ID which is akin to password.

 Whenever one has to use the CPR, he or she must also have the Nem ID. The Nem ID given by the Kommune in collaboration with SIRI is a document with codes. However, one can also download the Nem ID App from google play store. However, it is always important to properly keep the hard copy Nem ID even if using the downloaded version. 

Housing in Denmark

With a residence permit, one can easily contact the housing companies, apply for tenancy and wait for a response. This means that a prospective tenant may need a temporary accommodation from a friend, relative or guest houses awaiting processing of housing application. The alternative short term accommodation may be putting up in hotel rooms which may be very expensive. It is important that the expatriate acquaints with the typical tenancy terms and conditions to make informed choices. 

Some existing tenants may decide to sub-let their apartments if they are spacious enough. Such sublets are often more affordable than renting a whole house. However, the facilities such as kitchen, laundry and toilet are shared. The cost of residential housing varies from city to city and type of apartment that one decides to rent. Some houses are always fully furnished while others one needs to buy all the household items. 

Working in Denmark 

If the expat does not have a pre-arranged employment, the job center can help in getting some work to do. However, it is critical  that people with limited residence permit work only the hours that the permit allows them to work per week. Going against the terms and conditions of the permit may result in its cancellation. When a residence permit is cancelled for any reason, an expatriate automatically ceases to be considered legal immigrant. Imperatively, a cancellation of residence means one has to go back to home country.  Any person earning rom any kind of work must document it with the Danish Tax Authority. Furthermore, there are various institutions within Denmark that provide expatriates with seamless relocation services, information relevant to their stay and even employment search. 

Language and Culture in Denmark

Despite the fact that Denmark is a multiethnic society with many languages, an expatriate requires to register in a language (sprong) school. Having a level of proficiency in Danish makes it easy to get better employment opportunities. Furthermore, competency in Danish eases  friends  the process of making new friends and even take other courses taught in Denmark. The Danes love their culture; particularly the language. So once they realize your ability to speak Danish, you automatically win their trust. Having the ability to speak Danish makes life very comfortable because it the primary language of communication in virtually every public space. Learning Danish as an expert may be free or paid depending on the prevailing government policy. 

Children Education in Denmark

An expatriate with children, it is important to check out available kindergartens or day care facilities. Assuredly, Denmark has one of the advanced education systems in the world with a great priority on accessibility. The Danish Education System which is so robust aims  at ensuring that the children attain holistic development. In fact, the rights of children are highly regarded in Denmark and various state agencies can take away a child from parents if they confirm that they are unable to offer required care. Conceivably, children who study in the Danish education institutions get the correct knowledge that they can apply in different parts of the world. With a danish education, you are sure that the child will attain high competence and rise through various ranks in the work environment. 

Higher Education in Denmark

Making an application for study in Denmark can seem so laborious with various documentation required to support eligibility. However, if one keenly follows every detail provided in the Danish University Admission Portal, he can be sure of finding it very easy to access everything in good time. Notably, the Scandinavian countries of which Denmark is part, introduced a non-refundable fee for application to study there. This application fees varies across universities. For instance, as of October 2017 the University of Copenhagen charges an application fees of DKK 750 (EUR 100), when applying for one or more master’s degree programmes in the same application round to citizens from outside EU/EEA or Switzerland. 

Requirements for Higher Education in Denmark 

Interestingly, unlike other countries such as the United States that require expatriates to show that they can support themselves when studying there, Denmark only requires students to pay the first semester fees which is an adequate evidence that one can support himself as a student in the country. Alternatively, an expatriate intending to come to Denmark can apply for scholarships offered by various institutions in the country including the Danish ministry of higher education through the respective university and others. The scholarship offers can either be partial or comprehensive ones. In case of partial scholarship offer, the student has to meet part of the tuition fees as well as meet living and travel costs. With a comprehensive scholarship however, the student is exempt from paying tuition fees and is given a monthly stipend of 6,500 DKK to meet other costs including paying rent, food and domestic travel. 

Danish Legal System 

Despite the fact that the Danish legal system is designed to protect the rights of everyone including expatriates, it is likely that one may have run ins with the government authorities such as failure to renew resident documents, child confiscation, delayed remittance of bills such as house rent, unpaid debts and many more. Some of these cases may even escalate to the point that deportation is recommended.  Understandably, the intricate legal issues are often beyond an individual’s ability hence the need to get a good lawyer to help argue out the case. One must be sure to get the best lawyer with the best credential for the particular issue. 

Sweden

Sweden is a constitutional monarchy with a Prime minister and a Monarch. The system has ensured political stability which allows the citizens as well as expatriates to thrive in various fields. According to the 2019 World Happiness  Report, Sweden is among the top ten happiest countries in the world which means that the social welfare of everyone is adequately met. 

Swedish personal Identity Number

Just like in any other Scandinavian country, getting Swedish personal identity number also called personnummer once in Sweden is a critical step and a gateway to a full experience of the public services that the country has in store. It basically allows an individual to transact everyday businesses including opening a bank account or any form of subscriptions such as telephone or mobility. 

Housing in Sweden

Another basic step is to get proper housing which guarantees safety and privacy. So many companies in Sweden have perfected in providing great value for inhabitants, while at the same time serving the respective municipalities, and offering good housing for everyone. Typically, the housing  companies offer a wide range of housing that meets the needs of everyone without any forms of discrimination on income, background, age and family situation. 

Getting a house in Sweden is very competitive and the rent prices are relatively higher than most of the European countries. On average, a monthly rent in Sweden for a one bedroom rented apartment can be up to SEK 12,000. This means that one needs to be extra vigilant to get a place that is more affordable as the average cost of rent can take up to 30% of every resident’s salary. 

Working in Sweden 

For an expatriate without a ready employment, it is necessary to seek some form of work which is the only way to meet the cost of living in the country. One cannot afford to idle without work in Sweden since the cost of living is comparatively higher than the other Scandinavian countries. 

Job sites and Government Support

There are various Swedish job sites that one can check to get employment provided they can present the required documents showing they are allowed to work. Subsequently, one needs to Sign up for benefits at the Swedish Social insurance Agency which helps with benefits including basic healthcare, parental benefits, child allowances, disability coverage and other insurance payments. 

Again, living in Sweden and earning any form of income comes with tax obligations which one must declare through registering with Skatteverket. The Skatterverket is the Swedish tax authority which issues a registered person with an ID-card required to open a Swedish bank account. Notably, without a bank account, one cannot do most if not all transactions involving money. 

Language and Culture in Sweden 

Just like in all Scandinavian countries, Sweden is multiethnic with various languages being spoken but at the top of most interaction is the Swedish language. Therefore, one needs to learn Swedish as a means of gaining a successful integration and ease in everyday life. 

For an individual who has competency in English, it is possible to live comfortably with the Swedes since they are ranked the second best in speaking English as a second language. Nonetheless, the competency in Swedish knowledge of swedish is important indication of full integration and a possible consideration when making determination for special stay such as permanent residence applications for Non-European Union expats. 

Higher Education in Sweden 

Apart from the procedures that one needs to follow and to have a successful integration, those seeking to study in the Swedish universities need comprehensive information about the higher education system. Sweden has some of the best universities worldwide which offer leading courses such as computer science, engineering, economic, medicine, sociology, business and international relations among others. One can just log in to the 

Interestingly, foreign students can easily access information across faculties since so many a large number of university degree programmes and courses are taught in English.

Norway

Norway has a rich history which can be traced back to the era of the Vikings. As a matter of fact, Norway is also popularly referred to as the land of the Vikings which is a history worth reading for anyone interested in understanding the country. 

Fun Facts about Norway 

Apart from its unique and fascinating landscape dominated by hills, rivers and magnificent seaports, Norway is welcoming to expatriates from all parts of the world. Despite the hospitality of the Norwegians, it is important that an expatriate know what is expected of them once in the expansive country of Norway. The expectations from expatriates moving into Norway fall into three categories including Nordic citizens, EU/EEA citizens and the rest of the world. It is important to know each of these categories and their respective requirements as a key to ensure a relaxed and fulfilling residence in Norway. 

Housing in Norway

As an immigrant to Norway, one necessity is to get a proper housing once in the country. The accommodation in Norway varies and one can chose to rent detached houses, semi-detached homes, apartments and many more. Due to the basic need of housing, it is important to put it as the first in the to-do list once in Norway. As a result, the knowledge of Rental process and rules is necessary.  

Basically, one needs to have the house rent and deposit and the valid documents showing that they are allowed to reside in Norway. With a well selected residence, one can be sure to get various services such as house heating system, water supply and well-designed floor space to meet individual needs. 

Environmental Conditions in Norway 

Being in the artic zone, Norway is  colder than most of the Scandinavian countries hence functional heating systems and wel insulated buildings is a key priority when renting a house.

Norway is very expansive from Rossøya ( Ross Island) in the northern most point to Pysen in Manda to the south. This distance and the relatively cold climate in the country necessitates a well-functioning mobility system. Notably, sometimes the temperature over Norway fall to the lowest measurement of minus 42 degrees Celsius in the winter. Nonetheless, people have gotten used to this situation and often say that in Norway, “there is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothes.” 

Transport in Norway

The public transport is well established with a network of buses, ferries, trains and planes. Different transport companies operate in various routes in Norway. Some of these mobility firms specialize in local transportation while others ply the long distances. If not interested in using the public means of transport, it is also possible to buy a car. Once you have a car, get the correct driver instructions and certification to enjoy smooth rides on the almost traffic free road networks in Norway. As expected, an individual may prefer private car rides private transport to public means. 

Working in Norway 

The Norwegian job market is liberal to expatriates, especially those who are skilled in various industries. Recent surveys showed that most of the Norwegian companies experience skill shortages. This situation created demand  anyone interested in exploring the job market there. 

Salary Scale in Norway

The salaries in Norway is satisfactory with everyone earning at least a living wage. As a result of this favourable working environment, the Land of the Vikings, as Norway is often referred is an attractive destination for an expatriate. It has systems that ensure a healthy balance between life and work, childcare, education, equal rights and social justice.

Work life in Norway 

The normal working days in Norway is forty hours per week and nine hours daily. As an expatriate with foreign qualifications but intending to get work in Norway, it is important to contact If you need your qualifications recognized in Norway, such as foreign vocational education and training certificates and diplomas, contact the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education that recognizes or approves such certifications. 

With a properly formatted curriculum vitae that meets the Norwegian layout, send out applications to any relevant institution. Mostly, the employers will respond without any forms of discrimination whatsoever. Demonstrated competence and skill base is key in the recruitment processes in Norway. 

Studying in Norway 

Just like any other country, applying to study in Norway can be bureaucratic due to the intricate details required from students, especially those coming from outside the EEA and EU. Nonetheless, one can be sure to get quality education from these universities that may boost their competency and profile in their careers thereafter. 

Cost of higher Education in Norway 

Completing a university education and getting the critical certificate is often an expensive endeavour but in Norway, education is completely free for everyone including the international students. As a rule, Norwegian universities and state university colleges as a rule do not charge tuition fees  for international students. This peculiar move by the Norwegian government is aimed at ensuring that everyone accesses quality education. 

International Student in Norway 

Nonetheless, an international student intending to study in Norway must be very sensitive to the fact that nothing is always exclusively free. While does not pay tuition fees in Norway, the cost of upkeep is high in Norway is high hence proper funding to meet other expenses such as housing, food, travel and clothing are critical. 

Municipalities in Norway 

The Municipalities (Kommuner) in Norway are the lowest levels of governance which does all forms of grassroot services provision. Some of these services include childcare, primary education, unemployment and other social services, waste management, and economic development among others. Due to the criticality of the municipalities in the social system of Norway, anyone moving into the country should register within eight days and get a D-number. It is only when registered that the municipalities gets obligated to provide an expatriate with the necessary social services like any other resident. The D-Number is also called Personal Number (Personnummer) which compares to the personal identification number or Social Security number. 

The Personnummer is obtained through a formal registration by the local tax office.  Actually, one would say that the personal number gives an expatriate an actual entry to the Norwegian society. An individual must present himself personally at the local tax office and register you as a resident in Norway. Upon registration, the office then issues the resident with a personal number  which may take between ten days and four weeks to arrive at the person’s registered address. The personal number is required in virtually every place including opening a bank account, tax remittances, accessing public health services and purchasing of internet and many more.