Social assistance in Norway

Kvinde i supermarked
Photographer
Yadid Levy / Norden.org
Here you can read about whether you can apply for social assistance in Norway. This is also called financial assistance or financial social assistance.

When can you apply for help to cover your expenses?

If you live in Norway, and you need help to manage and have no other means of supporting yourself, you can apply for financial assistance/social assistance. You can apply for social assistance even if you are not a Norwegian citizen. You are only entitled to this financial assistance if you are living legally in Norway.

Social assistance is a temporary benefit intended to help in situations where you need help to cover your living costs. Social assistance can be awarded in situations where you have insufficient money, income, or rights to other income-generating social insurance rights such as unemployment benefit or work assessment allowance (AAP).

It is the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV) that is responsible for financial assistance/social assistance in Norway.

You may also be entitled to housing allowance. The Norwegian State Housing Bank (Husbanken) is responsible for this.

What conditions must you satisfy to qualify for social assistance?

You are only entitled to social assistance if you are living legally in Norway. Everyone living in Norway is entitled to apply for social assistance, and all applications are assessed individually. You are not entitled to Norwegian social assistance if you live abroad.

Before you apply for social assistance, you should consider whether you have other ways to support yourself. If you apply, you will be asked to provide documentation showing your financial situation. What you will be asked to show will vary, but here are some examples of documentation that NAV may ask to see:

  • Valid proof of identity
  • Valid residence permit. Citizens of other Nordic countries automatically have a residence permit in Norway, so do not need to prove this.
  • Tax return (deklarasjon)
  • Tax assessment/tax settlement notice
  • Pay slip
  • Bank account summary, showing all your bank accounts, including current balances
  • Bank statements (if you cannot prove the necessary information by other means. You may cross out any information that is not relevant to your case.)
  • Documentation of housing (lease agreement)
  • Invoices documenting rent, mortgage payments, electricity, child care, care for school-aged children (SFO), and leisure time activities for children
  • Recurrent or especially high costs related to health and/or dental services

Municipalities are responsible for social services, including financial assistance. It is therefore the NAV office in your municipality that receives and assesses your application for financial assistance.

Are you entitled to social assistance immediately after you have moved to Norway?

If you are living legally in Norway, you can apply for social assistance in the municipality you are staying in. The address at which you are registered is not important; it is the municipality in which you are physically living that will assess your application. Whether you are entitled to receive social assistance or not depends on an individual assessment of your needs.

What expenses can you get covered?

You may be awarded assistance to cover the most essential expenses relating to living and housing costs, and health and dental treatments. The expenses covered must be reasonable.

There is no fixed rate for social assistance, but there are standard Government rates and guidelines that many municipalities apply. Other municipalities have developed their own rates. The rates are only for guidance, and do not replace the individual assessment the municipality is obliged to undertake in every case. Each application is processed individually, and the amount you can receive depends on your individual needs.  It is the NAV office in the municipality in which you are living that decides on social assistance. If you are granted social assistance, you will be sent a letter informing you of the amount, payment dates, and any conditions linked to the award.

How you apply for financial assistance?

You apply to the NAV office in the municipality in which you are living. The NAV office will usually discuss your situation with you, so that, together, you can review your need for assistance.

You are entitled to guidance from the NAV office in connection with your application if you need it. Regardless of whether you are applying for financial assistance, you are also entitled to information, advice and guidance from the NAV office in your municipality. Contact your local NAV office, or use the chat function on the NAV website.

In most municipalities, you can apply digitally, but in other municipalities you must ask for an application form from your NAV office. Read more about this using the links below.

Case processing time varies from municipality to municipality. If more than a month has passed since you submitted your application, you will receive a letter notifying you that your case is taking longer than normal to process. You may be asked to submit more information if NAV is lacking some documentation.

Can you receive social assistance if you live abroad?

You are not entitled to Norwegian social assistance if you live abroad. Check whether you are entitled to social assistance in the country you live in. 

Who should you contact if you have questions?

Contact NAV if you have any questions about social assistance in Norway. 

Ask Info Norden

If you have any questions, please fill in our contact form.

NB! If you have questions regarding the processing of a specific case or application, or other personal matters, please contact the relevant authority directly.

Info Norden is the information service of the Nordic Council of Ministers. Here you can find info and tips if you wish to move, work, study, seek support or start a business in the Nordic region.