Posted by: Sarah | October 23, 2011

Claiming Maternity Benefits In Norway

Some time ago I wrote a post called “Pregnancy In Norway” since Eliot and I are expecting our first “baby viking” in about 6 weeks time.  At the time I said I’d write something about the benefit system in Norway.  I’ve been putting it off for some time because it’s pretty complicated but I think we’ve cracked it.  So I figured I would share the experience on this blog, just in case other non-Norwegians are going through the same experience.

Eliot and I both have Norwegian employment contracts so these rules applied to us.  I suggest contacting NAV, the organisation responsible for labour and welfare in Norway, to find out what you’re entitled to since things change and my blog isn’t the official site for benefits.  Now, I’m going to try to simplify this as much as possible.

  • A good place to start is here – it’s a page on the NAV website which aims to explain parental benefit in Norway.  It also goes into much more detail that my simplistic explanation here but I still find pretty complicated to understand.
  • If both parents are working full-time they are entitled to parental benefits
  • A father must take a minimum of 2 weeks at time of birth and a further 12 weeks at some point during the first 3 years of the child’s life.  This is paid leave.
  • A mother must take a minimum of 9 weeks in total – this normally starts 3 weeks before the due date and then 6 weeks after the baby is born.   This is paid leave.
  • Yes, it’s strange that the father HAS to take more leave than the mother takes but that is how it is.

Now comes the tricky bit…

  • The above is the absolute minimum that each parent has to take according to Norwegian law (at least at time of writing)
  • You can actually extend this leave.  Parents can choose to take a total of 52 weeks off in the year at 80% salary or they can choose to take 47 weeks off at 100% salary.  This includes the absolute minimum outlined above.
  • When I say 80% and 100% salary this depends on how much you earn and who you work for.  NAV will cover your salary up to something like 446K NOK per year (I can’t remember the exact number).  If you earn more than that, many employers in Norway will contribute the difference so you still get 80% or 100% salary each month depending on the option you choose.
  • In most cases the mother will take a majority of the leave with the father taking the minimum entitlement (2 weeks + 12 weeks at some point in the first year of the child’s life).  However, it is possible to split the mothers leave so the father can take more time off should the mother want to go back to work earlier.  I think there are also options for both parents to work part-time for more flexibility.
  • No matter whether the mother or the father takes the leave, the salary is still covered.
  • Don’t forget that you also have your annual holiday entitlement on top of your allowance.

So now what?

  • Where do you go to complete the forms?  It’s here on the NAV website.  You may need someone to help you because they’re in Norwegian.
  • If in doubt contact NAVDial 810 33 810 and press 2 for English.


  1. Just letting you know there is another American in Norway reading your fine blog. Lots if fun and interesting posts here. I have lived in Bergen for the last 12 years with my Norwegian wife and two half-Norwegian girls.

    This probably won’t be the last comment I leave so see you around!

    • Fantastic to hear from a fellow foreigner experiencing life in Norway although you’ve been here much longer than I have! Bergen is just lovely – visited Bergen on the Norway in a Nutshell trip this summer. You’re very lucky to live there although I hear it can get very wet :-)

      • I visited Bergen a few weekends ago and it didn’t rain a single drop… in October! Astonishing :)

      • Hi David – isn’t Bergen lovely! You obviously experienced one of those rare days without rain. That was lucky.

  2. Hi Sarah, lovely reading your blog. I’m a fellow midlander living just down the road in jar. I had a little boy last year and recommend a great active social group based in baerum and oslo for new mums. It’s got a Facebook group called international mothers and baby group Oslo. They share a wealth of helpful information and also lots of opportunity to meet in person. Good luck and feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Clare

    • Hi Clare – great to hear from you and thanks for your comment. Wow – that’s fantastic news. I would love to network with other “overseas” Mums. That sounds brilliant – I’ll drop you an email to your address and we can communicate offline. Thanks so much – sounds really interesting.

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