According to the current U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory at the date of this report’s publication, Norway has been assessed as Level 1. Exercise normal precautions.
Overall Crime and Safety Situation
U.S. Embassy Oslo does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The American Citizens’ Services unit (ACS) cannot recommend a particular individual or location, and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.
The U.S. Department of State has assessed Oslo as being a LOW-threat location for crime directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.
Please review OSAC’s Norway-specific page for original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact information, some of which may be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC password.
Norway has a relatively low level of crime in comparison to the U.S. and Western European countries with large populations. The amount of total crimes reported in Oslo for 2017 decreased from 2016 by 5.6%. Total crime statistics for 2017 are not yet available.
The majority of the criminal cases reported to the police continue to be theft-related incidents. In Oslo and the other major urban areas, crime has been centered in the inner city and high transit areas. Instances of pickpocketing and petty theft are common in the major tourist areas, hotel lobbies, and in the areas around train and transit stations. Most hotels and tourist areas are located within walking distance of what can be considered Oslo’s higher crime areas, making instances of property crime and/or petty theft more likely to occur.
Though thefts are the overwhelming majority of cases reported, overall there was a 10% decrease from 2016. Violent and weapons-related crimes (including physical/non-physical threats) increased by 0.8%. These crimes usually occur in areas known to have drug trafficking and gang problems, such as certain parts of eastern Oslo and elsewhere. Sexual crimes saw the greatest increase in 2017, with an increase of 14.1%. The large increase can be attributed to a few large cases that involved many victims.
Organized crime does exist but on a small scale. Drug trafficking, petty theft, and home burglary rings typify organized crime, which is often associated within immigrant youth communities or transiting criminal rings from outside of Norway. Reports of crimes involving drugs decreased by 9% in 2017.
Other Areas of Concern
Areas close to and immediately east of the main train station in downtown Oslo have higher instances of open drug use and crime in general, especially at night.
Parks in Oslo, even in “safe” neighborhoods, have been the sites of several sexual assaults and muggings in the past few years. Individuals who have been targeted have generally been alone or in small groups and walking late at night in areas without much pedestrian traffic or ambient light.
For more information, please review OSAC’s Report, “Security in Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.”
Road Safety and Road Conditions
There is a relative scarcity of freeways, and the roads are often narrow with repair projects underway. Despite this, the frequency of traffic accidents is generally low in comparison to Western Europe. For more information on self-driving, please review OSAC’s Report “Driving Overseas: Best Practices.”
Individuals involved in an accident resulting in injury must call the police and should not move the vehicles before police arrive. Those involved should fill out an accident report but should not discuss guilt and should not drink alcohol for 12 hours afterward.
Norway has very restrictive laws regarding driving while under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. Norwegian law prescribes heavy penalties for even a very low blood alcohol level; .02 is the legal limit. Police checkpoints inspecting drivers under the influence of alcohol are routine and are often set up in the mornings to catch people who drank heavily the previous night and still have alcohol in their system.
Other Travel Conditions
Mountain roads are narrow and winding. Some mountain roads are closed from late fall to late spring due to blockage by snowfall or danger of avalanches. Icy road conditions are a concern during the winter. Oslo has lowered speed limits in the city to alleviate winter air pollution. Spring flooding can create traffic delays. Travelers should keep weather conditions in mind when planning travel.
The U.S. Department of State has assessed Oslo as being a MEDIUM-threat location for terrorist activity directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.
Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns
Recently published government reports indicate that a growing number of Norwegian citizens and legal residents have taken part in militant activities primarily in Syria and eastern Africa. In October 2013, a Norwegian citizen of African descent played a prominent role in planning and carrying out a terrorist attack on a mall in Nairobi, Kenya (see OSAC Reporting on Westgate Mall). Norwegian officials have expressed concerns that such individuals could present a serious threat if/when they return to Norway.
Norway has open borders as part of the Schengen agreement. Those crossing by land from Sweden rarely have to stop or show any identification. Because of the ease of entry, it is possible for any threat that exits in any other part of the Schengen zone to enter Norway. However, no recognized international terrorist group is known to be operating in Norway.
Anti-American activities can best be characterized as small, planned, and generally peaceful demonstrations, either against a particular U.S. policy or advocating that a particular course of action be taken by the U.S. government. For instance, demonstrations have focused on the U.S. policy regarding Palestinian and Israeli issues, U.S. actions in Iraq, relations with Cuba, and capital punishment in the U.S. These protests have generally been staged at the U.S. Embassy or in the central areas of Oslo and have not targeted U.S. citizens.
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
The U.S. Department of State has assessed Oslo as being a LOW-threat location for political violence directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.
Norway is a very peaceful nation, and civil unrest is extremely limited. The police in Oslo have greatly increased the training in riot control techniques. It is unlikely that even riotous protests would escalate to violence. Police are assigned to be present at and monitor known demonstrations, and specially trained anti-riot officers are present whenever a demonstration might turn violent.
There are occasional problems with flooding and landslides in certain areas, particularly during periods of heavy rainfall.
A larger issue is heavy winter snowfall in the mountainous areas.
Drug problems are increasingly similar to that of other Western European nations. At night, especially during the weekend, open drug use by heroin addicts can be seen in downtown Oslo, especially near the main train station. As a result, other types of criminal activity have increased in these areas.
The police can be counted on to provide adequate services to foreigners. The police are generally responsive, professional, and cooperative. Law enforcement personnel are well-trained, and almost all speak fluent English. Their emergency response time is good, except in remote areas, and their equipment is excellent. Uniformed police patrol on foot, motorcycle, bicycle, horse, and car. Police usually do not come to the scene of routine non-violent crimes (non-injury vehicle accidents, residential burglaries). Official corruption is extremely rare and is punishable under the law.
How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment
The legal system is similar to that of the U.S. American citizens who are detained by law enforcement authorities should request immediate notification to the U.S. Embassy Oslo. Persons detained by the police cannot be held for more than four hours without being formally charged with a crime. Free legal advice is available.
Crime Victim Assistance
The police emergency number is 112.
If you are a U.S. citizen experiencing an emergency, please call: (011 47) 2130 8540. An Embassy duty officer will be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to handle emergencies.
For local first responders, please refer to the Embassy’s Emergency Assistance page.
Police have a counter-terrorism squad, which consists of specially trained officers who can respond quickly to large-scale emergency situations.
Private security companies are prevalent and can be seen performing duties in train stations, shopping malls, and movie theaters. The private security companies are considered professional but often suffer high employee turnover rates due to relatively low pay and limited room for advancement. Any private security company must be authorized by the government, and guards must go through prescribed training before they can perform any security guard services.
Emergency medical assistance is widely available, and emergency room care is generally of high quality and for the most part equivalent to U.S. standards. The ambulance emergency number is 113.
Contact Information for Available Medical Services
For medical assistance, please refer to the Embassy’s Medical Assistance page.
Available Air Ambulance Services
Air ambulance service, as well as ambulance service by boat (applicable to those in outlying islands), is available. Officials will determine if/when ambulance services are warranted.
Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance
In large cities, air pollution in the winter months is prevalent (said in large part to be caused by the use of studded tires on the asphalt) and can affect those with asthma or other respiratory problems.
The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Norway.
OSAC Country Council Information
There is no Country Council in Oslo. Interested private-sector security managers should contact OSAC’s Europe Team with any questions.
U.S. Embassy Location and Contact Information
Embassy Address and Hours of Operation
The U.S. Embassy in Oslo is located at Morgedalsvegen 36, at Makrellbekken.
Hours of Operation: Mon-Fri, 0800-1700
Embassy Contact Numbers
Operator tel. (47) 2130-8540
U.S. citizens traveling to Norway should register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to ensure they receive pertinent security updates and notices.
Norway Country Information Sheet