“D-nummer”: the start of your Norwegian Stay

I love having early breakfast with my friends. Granted, 7am is not a humane hour for any kind of meeting, but it’s the best way I know to start the day. Before a genormous tower of steaming pancakes drowning in maple syrup, we go through the usual steam-blowing discussion about the weather and a good 20min of trivial gossip 🙂 My friend “G” and I recently joined in this early therapeutic exercise and an interesting topic surfaced: getting her D-number (“D-nummer” in Norwegian).

Bringing up the matter was no simple task, because it led unequivocally to frustration. Three months after filing her request, the situation had not evolved. After visiting three different institutions, she was “Lost in Administration”.

Listening to my friend helped me realize how confusing this procedure can be.  Depending on who you ask or where you go (whether online or offline), you will get different information. Every person I’ve talked to has had a different experience and been through a different process, often times sinking into a bureaucratic bog.

It is about time someone made some sense out of this Gordian red-tape knot!… At my own risk, I am about to give it a try!

What & Why

The “D-nummer” is the first mile-stone for everyone planning to stay in Norway for a period of six months or less. You need it to exist. Period. The benefits of having a D-number are 2-fold:

  • you will be able to open a bank account
  • you will be registered in the welfare system, which means you will have a right to social security benefits and unemployment benefits

The government, on the other hand,  gets to cash in a good chunk of your salary in the shape of TAXES. Your D-number will allow you to file for a “Tax card” (“Skattekort”).

Oh, yes: and the “D” stands for “Direktoratet for sjømenn” or “Sailor’s Directorate”. The number was meant to identify foreign sailors on Norwegian ships.

If you are planning to stay in Norway after your first 6 months (great that you made it so far!), you will need a permanent ID-number, otherwise known as “Fødselsnummer”. This number will stick to you for as long as you shall live…. in Norway. It is more important than your name.

Your “Fødselsnummer” will be required for all administrative purposes, e.g. residence permit, doctor’s appointment, getting a mortgage, taxes, work contract, etc.

How to recognize them

  • Both the “D-nummer” and “Fødselsnummer” have 11 digits.
  • The first 6 digits are your birthdate.  The next 5 are your “personnummer”:

Your Birthdate + “Personnummer” = Fødselsnummer

  • Composition of D-number vs Fødselsnummer:

D-nummer:

Fødselsnummer:

In conclusion: Your D-number will later become your Fødselsnummer.

How to get your D-number: The million kroner question

If you don’t have a job

Not all paths lead to Rome, and not all information out there is consistent. That makes it difficult to know where to start, especially if you don’t know anyone familiar with the system or someone who speaks Norwegian. When you are new, it’s hard to argue with the person on the other side of the counter. We are left with no choice but to take “no” for an answer. You have to call back, go to the next office, wait, and start the cycle all over again. You come out of that office without being completely sure what happened and without knowing if your file is now in progress… Especially because they won’t give you a ticket or letter confirming you were there! Bear with me, it’s not as bad as it sounds.

There are two paths towards your D-number:

1. “Skattekontor”: your Local Tax Office (For Oslo go here; for other cities look here)

Your local tax office is a part of “Skatteetaten”. It is entity that issue Tax cards.

“Folkeregisteret” or “Population Registry” is a part of Skatteetaten. Once you get your Skattekort, you will be registered in the “Folkeregisteret”.

2. An authorized establishment

Some establishments (other than your local tax office) are authorized to order a D-number for you (to my surprise, official pages highlight that employers are not authorized establishments). The full list is available in Skatteetatens’webpage  ( information only in Norwegian. Pity.).

You can copy-paste the list on Google Translate or contact me if you need a hand with translation (Free). What I can do for NOW is to give you my advice based on friends’ and my own experience.

If you do have a Job

If you already have a job, I recommend you go to Skateetaten directly. They will be happy to register you and issue a Tax Card for you. They look forward to that 1st check as much as you!

By doing this things move quicker because:

1/ Skatteetaten will be eager to welcome you to the tax payer’s club

2/ Banks will be interested in opening an account for you, since you represent a regular source of income for them

Some companies might even help you to find out the better way to make your request (but bear in mind they cannot make the request for you as they are not an authorized establishment). Ask your Human Resources department for guidance.

MY TIPS to get your D-number (recap)

1. Go to the bank first. Print the page from Skatteetaten’s website about authorized establishments, not all clerks know banks are entitled to do this. Show it nicely to them 🙂

  • Advantage:  you will avoid long lines at government agencies
  • Disadvantage: not all banks will be willing to do it. They will say you have to get a D-number before you can open an account. You might have to go to several banks, which in the end could be the same as going to your local tax office directly.

2. Do NOT go alone. Ask a friend to come with you, ideally someone who’s been through the process OR who speaks Norwegian. Their very presence will provide you support and maybe motivate you to not take “no” for an answer.

3. Remember to ask these questions:

  • What’s the best way to follow up the process?
  • Who can I contact to learn about the status of my application?
  • How much time will it take before I get an answer?
  • How will you notify me when my D-number is ready?

Call regularly and be patient. As with all administrative papers, things take time. Besides, your case might be bound to special circumstances depending on where you come from. Ask about that too!

A bit about other “Authorized establishments”

NAV (Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration) and UDI (Norwegian Directorate of Immigration) are two of the biggest government agencies. You would go to NAV to find a job or claim unemployment benefits and to UDI regarding your residence permit.

I do not recommend going to either of them for your D-number for two main reasons:

  • The procedure will only take longer, simply because they will forward your file to Skatteetaten. Going to Skatteetaten directly will save you a step in the process.
  • If NAV has your file, it will probably have to wait in line after the ones that have 1st priority (employment and unemployment related files) and same for UDI regarding immigration issues.

Other establishments in the “authorized establishments” list cover cases for applicants with specific circumstances. Check out if you are a aprt of any of them.

Extra info: from Expats!

Other than official webpages, you can get precious information from other expats who communicate through the following networks:

  • New to Oslo (find on Facebook)
  • New in Norway (also on Facebook)
  • Internations (you need an invite)

See Links for Expats

My aim with this post is to bring some clarity into a rather blurry process. If you have any tips on how to improve this article, please let me know!

PS: at the time of this post, my Breakfast-friend is on holiday and still waiting for her D-number. She does not have a job yet, and despite my annoying insistence, she did not go to a bank first; HOWEVER: She did call the administration a couple of weeks ago and she got confirmation that her file is in progress: good news! Will keep you informed….

Sources:

8 Responses to “D-nummer”: the start of your Norwegian Stay

  1. Little Pixy Boots February 27, 2012 at 21:50 #

    Thanks for the informative post. I got my D-nummer through a very helpful bank officer. But my friend from Singapore had to go to 3 banks before the third one agreed to do it for her. Basically explain that you want to open up a bank account and put lots of money in, but need a D-number first! UDI actually told me “D” stands for “dummy”….hmmm…

    Since your post is quite informative, I’m setting a link to it in my blog! Here’s my link if anyone is intersted in knowing more: http://littlepixyboots.blogspot.com/2010/07/getting-d-number-dummy-number-in-norway.html

    • Gisele March 2, 2012 at 21:56 #

      Glad you liked it! Your blog looks very nice. Thanks for adding a link to my post in your blog, I see you liked the “Sources”-part enough to add them to your post too. It’s important for credibility of course!

  2. Gaëlle February 29, 2012 at 16:51 #

    Hi!

    thank you so much for sharing your knowledge on this tricky matter. You’re my Superstar!

    Your friend G has gone to Nordea who sent her back to Skattenkontor and been told not too ask for a D-nummer everywhere otherwise too many requests would slow down the procedure. As NAV didn’t do anything for 2 months I felt safe asking at Skattenkontor. They said it would take 3 weeks and now it’s taking again more than four weeks!

    So tomorrow after checking with them one last time that there are still so many foreigners that the bureaucrats are all hand tights and unable to deliver any D-number, I will definitely go and try a new bank starting with Barebank! 🙂

    Wish me luck and see you soon for a delicious Raclette… The cheese is waiting for you in the fridge! 😉

  3. Gaëlle March 1, 2012 at 20:54 #

    Finally!!! Today I received my D-number!!! So cool, let’s go party now! 😀
    Again thank you for your help and great advice! See you when?

    • Gisele March 2, 2012 at 22:05 #

      WOOOO-HOOOOO!!!!! Congrats Gaëlle! Good to hear! I am happy you persevered 🙂

      I would like to add that I spoke to a Bank employee last week and she told me that one of the reasons why Banks are so reluctant to requesting a D-number for a potential client is that they fear money-laundering. It seems some people open a bank account just as a “cover”. So, as soon as you pass the glass doors, put on your most chast facial expression, and don’t forget the print-out of Skateetaten’s website! 🙂

      • Gisele March 2, 2012 at 22:06 #

        PS @Gaëlle: c u tmw!!

  4. David March 28, 2012 at 17:17 #

    Hi,

    I just found this post quite by accident, and have to say it made me chuckle (not in a derisive way I hasten to add).

    I have live in Norway for almost six years. Getting my D-nummer was an absolute NIGHTMARE!!! And as you quite rightly state, depending on who you ask or where you go, the information that you are given can be as conflicting as it’s possible to be.

    When I got my D-nummer, after the all too frequent administration errors, nobody told me that it was only supposed to last six months. In fact, I was told that I should keep the D-nummer until I finally get full-time work.

    So, when I got my first part-time job, I just stuck with the D-nummer, not knowing that now is THE time to upgrade to the regular Fødselsnummer. As a foreigner, I found it unbelievably difficult to find full-time employment. As a result, I have had a succession of part-time jobs.

    Then a couple of years ago, my last part-time contract expired, I became unemployed, and haven’t worked for the last two + years (thankfully, I have a well paid Norwegian partner!!).

    Around this time, my partner and I bought a new apartment. Because I still only held a D-nummer, none of the informtion held on me by the local kommune, the tax office, Folkeregisteret (and I’m sure many other places) was updated. But of course, nobody tells you this. So, when one of our banks was sending me a new Visa card, it didn’t arrive, three months later, it still hadn’t arrived, and I kept writing to the bank asking about it, only to be told that it been sent three times, and returned each time. Why, because although the bank had my new address, they have another company sending out their cards, and they get their information from the Folkeregisteret, and of course because their information was not up to date, the card was repeatedly sent to the wrong address.

    So, now I knew that something was wrong, so off I went to the Folkeregisteret to get my details updated…. “Oh, you have a D-nummer, we can’t and WON’T change any of your details here, you’ll have to go to the tax office and apply for a Fødselsnummer there”.

    Fair enough, and off I trot to the tax office. “Oh, you are not allowed to have a D-nummer for more than six months, you must apply for a Fødselsnummer. But as you’re not currently working you can’t have Fødselsnummer, even though you’ve lived here for several years.”

    So here I am, been here almost six years, still only have a D-nummer, the state doesn’t hold correct information on me, and each year my tax papers are sent to an address that I stopped living in around six years ago, so I never get them (not a huge problem now, but the year after finishing work when I “received” a tax bill sent to the wrong address with no way to get hold of it, now that was unpleasant!!!).

    One day with luck I will officially “arrive” in Norway, and will receive the fabled Fødselsnummer…. until that day, hey-ho!!

    • gaëlle March 28, 2012 at 21:10 #

      Hi David, sorry to read about such troubles and thank you for sharing your story. It shows how careful I will have to be the day I get THE golden job. Good luck with the Fødselsnummer. A good friend of mine told me that in Norway it’s always better to ask for the same things twice. I did that recently with a phone company to get my chip card reactivated and it worked. So hopefully you can go back there (if possible nicely accompanied with your Norwegian partner) and ask again. Hopefully they give it to you then. I keep my fingers crossed for you and keep us updated we want to listen to the happy ending! 😉

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