Entry and residence
Svalbard is part of the Kingdom of Norway. If you are considering moving to Svalbard to live, there are several important factors to consider.
Visa to Schengen
In mainland Norway, the Immigration Act regulates foreigners’ access to and residence in the country. Although Svalbard is part of Norway, the Immigration Act does not apply to the archipelago.
Foreigners do not need a visa or work and residence permits from the Norwegian authorities to travel to Svalbard. However, foreign citizens with a visa requirement for the Schengen Area must have a Schengen visa when travelling to and from Svalbard via mainland Norway. It’s important to ensure that you get a double-entry visa so you can return to the Schengen Area (mainland Norway) after your stay in Svalbard.
Requirements for staying
Although you do not need a visa or your own work and residence permit, everyone must meet certain requirements in order to stay in Svalbard. These requirements are governed by a separate policy called “Regulations relating to rejection and expulsion of persons from Svalbard”. Among the requirements is that you must have the means to be able to reside on Svalbard. These requirements apply to both foreigners and Norwegian citizens, and The Governor of Svalbard may reject persons who do not meet the requirements. Therefore, those planning to come to the archipelago are advised to obtain work and housing before they arrive.
The Governor of Svalbard does not arrange work and does not have an overview of which jobs are available. The Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV) provides an overview of job vacancies in Norwegian, but not in English. However, NAV has English pages with general information about working in Norway, and you contact them to enquire further. Another option is to contact the various employers in Longyearbyen directly.
Housing and work
The housing market in Svalbard differs from the housing market in mainland Norway. Most of the housing is owned by the various employers who offer them to employees as part of their employment. In other words, it’s hard to get housing if you do not have a job. The Norwegian state owns practically all land in Svalbard and in practice it is not possible to buy a plot for building your own home. Some private housing has been built on rented land. This housing has been sold or rented out to private individuals in Longyearbyen. Housing prices are very high.
The Governor of Svalbard can provide advice and guidance with respect to Norwegian immigration legislation. You can also get application forms for the various permits here, e.g. permission to study on the mainland. The Governor has the authority to make decisions on visa matters. The Governor also accepts applications for residence permits and citizenship. These applications are forwarded to the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) for processing.