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:
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:
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….
- Skatteetaten (Norwegian): http://www.skatteetaten.no/no/Artikler/Hvem-kan-rekvirere-D-nummer/
- Norway.no (English): http://www.norway.no/temaside/tema.asp?stikkord=94020
- NAV (English): http://www.nav.no/English
- UDI (English): http://www.udi.no/Norwegian-Directorate-of-Immigration/
- Wikipedia (Norwegian): http://no.wikipedia.org/wiki/F%C3%B8dselsnummer#D-nummer
- Interviews with friends: special thanks to my breakfast friend G!! 🙂