Death and inheritance in Norway

Dødsfall og arv i Norge
Information for people who lose a relative in Norway.

Reporting and registering a death

When someone living in Norway dies, a doctor must send the death certificate to the National Registry. A death certificate is a doctor’s declaration of death. The doctor can send the certificate electronically or on paper. If there is a suspicion of anything other than a natural cause of death, the death must be reported to the sheriff/police. If you are uncertain, ask your doctor if the report of death has been sent. 

The Norwegian national insurance authority, NAV, is responsible for reporting deaths of people in the National Registry who have died abroad. If you have lost one of your close relatives, and are uncertain whether NAV has received the information, contact NAV to check. 

As relative, you are responsible for reporting the death to the district court. It is usually a funeral home that reports the death to the district court on behalf of the relatives. After the death, you should therefore contact a funeral home, which will also help you with practical matters concerning the death.

Once the district court has received a report of the death, you will receive a guidance letter with practical information. In the letter you will be asked to decide whether you want to settle the estate of the deceased.

If you live in another country, and a relative dies in Norway, the Norwegian authorities are responsible for reporting the death to the authorities in your country who, in turn, will notify you.

    When a Norwegian citizen/person living in Norway dies in another country

    When a Norwegian citizen dies in another country, the Norwegian diplomatic mission (embassy or consulate) in the country in which the person died will send the death certificate to the Directorate of Taxes. The death will then be registered in the National Registry.

    If the deceased was registered as living in Norway, the Directorate of Taxes sends the death certificate to the district court where the deceased was last registered.

    Funeral and funeral grant

    Normally, burial or cremation takes place within ten days of the death. For cremation, the ashes must be buried or scattered within six months of the death.

    The funeral is arranged by the relative with the right to arrange the funeral (gravferdsrett). If nobody arranges the funeral, the municipality in which the deceased lived at the time of death arranges it. If the deceased did not live in Norway, it is the municipality in which the death occurred that arranges the funeral.  The municipality may demand that funeral expenses be covered by the estate.

    The Norwegian national insurance authority, NAV, may award a funeral grant in some cases. This is needs-tested and, in order to apply for this, the deceased must have been a member of the Norwegian national insurance scheme. Special regulations apply when the death occurs outside Norway. There are also special regulations when the death is the result of an occupational injury. If necessary, contact NAV to find out more about the regulations.

    Expenses connected with a death abroad

    Expenses in connection with a death abroad are either covered by the deceased’s insurance or paid by the estate or the relatives. Expenses may include storage, home transport of coffin or urn, and other costs.

    On the basis of a death certificate issued by local authorities abroad, the Norwegian diplomatic mission will send a formal notification of death to the Norwegian Tax Administration (Skatteetaten, Folkeregisteret) for Norwegian citizens and for foreign citizens registered in the National Registry in Norway. It often takes longer than relatives expect for all the formalities to be completed when a person dies in a different country to the one in which they lived.

    Inheritance and housing

    Beneficiaries must contact the district court, as it is the court that administers the division of the estate (skifte av dødsbo). This means division of the inheritance left by the deceased. In Oslo it is the Oslo County Court (byfogdembete) that administers the division of estates. In the rest of the country, it is the local district courts that do this.

    In Norway, there is no estate inventory.

    Who are beneficiaries?

    You are a beneficiary if the deceased has named you in their will, or if you are an inheritor as stipulated in the Norwegian Inheritance Act (Arveloven). If the deceased has not drawn up a will, it is the direct heirs (slektsarvingene) and any surviving spouse of the deceased who are beneficiaries. Direct heirs are divided into three groups (arverekker), also called inheritance classes.

    The beneficiaries must decide how the estate will be divided, i.e. who will divide the deceased’s estate among the beneficiaries. Division of the estate is regulated in the Administration of Estates Act (Skifteloven). The district court can proved guidance on how to arrange the estate (assets and debts) after the death. 

    How the deceased’s estate is divided

    The most common way is a private division, which means that the beneficiaries agree on how property and assets will be divided. This is why it is important to determine who are the actual heirs of the deceased. If the beneficiaries are to proceed with a private division, the district court must issue a grant of probate (skifteattest). This certificate gives the beneficiaries the right to dispose of the deceased’s property.

    In a private division, at least one beneficiary must assume liability for the deceased’s debts. Beneficiaries who want a grant of probate or other certificates must complete and sign a form. 

    If the beneficiaries do not want to assume liability for the deceased’s debts or to divide the deceased’s assets and property, the district court can, on request, carry out a public division. The district court then appoints an executor (bobestyrer) to administer the estate according to the law. Contact with the beneficiaries will generally be through the executor. When all the issues relating to the estate administration have been resolved (including sale of property, disputes, payment of the deceased’s debts, etc), the executor will submit the case to the district court, which concludes the public division with a decision on distribution (fordeling) to the beneficiaries.

    Inheritance tax

    Since 2014, there has been no inheritance tax in Norway. However, you should normally report an inheritance to the Norwegian Tax Administration. 

    Other information for relatives

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