Everything you need to know about marriage in Norway

7 Mar 2023·19 min to read
Everything you need to know about marriage in Norway 01

Over 20,000 marriages are performed annually in Norway by Norwegians and foreign nationals. The northern European country is also popularly referred to as the "Land of the Midnight Sun." The country is quite popular for its magical skies and various beautiful natural attractions. In Norway, there are different types of marriages performed by the citizens of the country as well as other foreign couples. These include civil, religious, traditional, secular, and symbolic marriages. Of all these types of marriages, civil and religious (or traditional) marriages are the most commonly performed in the country. They are also both legally binding and recognized under the laws of the country. 

The country makes it easy for foreigners to get married because a Norwegian citizenship or residence permit is not generally required. Before marriage is allowed in a country, the spouses must obtain a certificate showing that they are allowed to conduct a marriage. This document is referred to as a "certificate of no impediment to marry" by many countries in the world. It may also be called a "freedom to marry certificate." This certificate is usually valid for a period of 4 months. The minimum legal age for marriage in Norway is 18 years. 

Generally, this marriage must be reached by both spouses, and there are no exceptions to the rule. Underage spouses who engage in marriage in the country may demand that their marriage be dissolved. Spouses who want to get married in the country without a permanent residence permit must submit documentation to the tax administration in Norway. The rest of the article will touch on the Norwegian marriage laws and rights as well as their cost. Let’s get started.

Civil marriage 

In Norway, civil marriages are legally binding. A civil marriage is performed by an authorized marriage registrar, and such marriages are conducted in the civil registry or city hall. There are conditions that have been laid out by the government in Norway that must be met by both foreign and Norwegian spouses before a civil marriage is allowed to happen. Civil marriages are the most common form of marriage in the country, and most times they are combined with other forms of marriage, such as religious or secular marriages. Before a civil marriage is conducted in Norway, a certificate of no impediment must be obtained. This was stated earlier in the article. This certificate is important because it serves as evidence that there are legal issues surrounding the marriage and union between both spouses. 

A foreign spouse getting married in Norway must be permitted to marry in their own country before performing a civil marriage in Norway. The legal marriage age is 18 years old, and there are no exceptions to this law. Foreign spouses must also reach this age before they are allowed to get married, regardless of what the marriage age is in their own country. The certificate of no impediment is usually valid for a period of four months, and during this period, the marriage must be conducted between both spouses. The Oslo City Hall is a popular venue where marriages are conducted in the country, and this venue is usually packed and busy throughout the year. To get married in the hall, spouses must book the venue at least two weeks before the marriage ceremony and at most one year before the ceremony. 

The process of applying for a certificate of no impediment in Norway takes up to five or six weeks, and couples are often advised to ensure they plan well and apply well ahead of time. The certificate of no impediment to marry must be submitted by the couples to the civil registry or city hall where they plan to conduct their marriage at least one week before the actual booked date, as failure to deliver it within the stipulated period may result in the marriage ceremony getting cancelled or postponed to a less preferred date. There are documents that must be submitted during the marriage registration process, which are stated below.

Documents Required 

  • A valid means of identification. This includes a Norwegian national ID or valid passport.
  • There are cases where a digital ID card may not be accepted by the registry or city hall performing the marriage ceremony.
  • Both spouses are required to submit copies of their birth certificates. This is to serve as proper paperwork that includes the correct name and age information of the partners.
  • Divorce or death certificate. This must be provided by spouses who were previously married and are currently widowed or separated, as at the time of registering a new marriage.
  • Proof of address This may be required from foreign spouses to show that they have been living in Norway for the required period of time.
    After all the required documents are submitted and the marriage conditions are met, a temporary marriage certificate is issued to the couple. The couple is then informed of the waiting period to obtain a permanent marriage certificate recognized in all of Norway and other foreign countries.

Conditions for marriage

  • Both partners must be at least 18 years old. Underage marriages are frowned upon by the laws of the country, and courts do not authorize marriages between spouses below this age.
  • The partners getting married must not be closely related to each other. This implies that spouses cannot be related by blood or affinity.
  • A marriage may only be entered if both spouses give their free consent.
  • A marriage can only be entered into by spouses who have a current single civil status in Norway and their home country (as applied to foreign spouses).
  • Cousins may be allowed to marry; however, both parents should not be related to each other so as to prevent health complications or even the death of future offspring.
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Religious marriage 

Religious marriages are recognized and protected by the laws of Norway. To be valid, a religious marriage must be performed by the Church of Norway in accordance with the Church of Norway's general liturgy. Lutheranism is the predominant religion in Norway. The population of Christians is followed by Muslims and atheists. Lutheran Christians make up over 65% of the total number of people living in the country, with the Catholic Church being the next largest group. The majority of religious marriage ceremonies in the country follow the principles of the Lutheran Christian faith. Such weddings often start with a prelude, which includes different hymns. The couples can decide on the number of guests during the marriage ceremony. 

Some couples may prefer to hold simple church wedding ceremonies attended by family and close friends only, whereas some other couples may prefer it if their wedding ceremony is attended by hundreds of people. The reverend or pastor performs the wedding sermon and reads the scripture just like he normally would, but with some special teachings and Bible verses. After this, the couples exchange marriage vows. These vows can be read from the holy book or may be drawn up by the couple to be more personalized. However, the couple may need to submit their vows to the pastor before the wedding ceremony. After the vows are shared, the couples exchange their wedding rings and are pronounced husband and wife by the pastor. After the church service, most couples hold a wedding reception that is celebrated at another venue.

Marriage traditions in Norway

The bridal crown

This is a unique Norwegian wedding tradition. During the marriage ceremony, the bride wears a Norwegian bridal crown with her chosen wedding dress. These bridal crowns are usually made from silver and are attached to the veil most of the time. The symbolic significance of the crown is that it represents Mother Mary and shows that the bride is pure during the wedding ceremony. It is common for the bridal crown to be worn during the marriage reception.

Barley Grains

This is a popular ceremonial rite in Norwegian marriage ceremonies. Here, rice grains and other similar food items are thrown in the air as a sign of celebration for the couple. The custom for Norwegian marriage ceremonies is for rye and barley grains to be thrown at the newlyweds. During this ritual, the bride tries to catch as many grains as possible. The belief behind this ritual is that the more grains she has, the better and brighter her future with her new husband will be.

Norwegian bridal attire

The custom for a marriage ceremony in Norway is for the bride to wear a white dress or a silver gown that has been ornamented with a bridal crown. In most other countries, the maid of honor and other bridesmaids wear colorful and beautiful attire to wedding ceremonies; however, this is not the case in Norway. The wedding party wears the same color that has been chosen by the bride. This is usually performed as a way of warding off evil spirits. The popular belief in the country is that evil spirits will get confused when they are unable to determine who the actual bride is.

Same-sex marriages 

Same-sex marriages are legal in Norway. Marriage between two people of the same sex became legal in Norway in 2009. A gender-neutral law was introduced this year, making Norway the fourth European country to legalize same-sex marriages. Furthermore, Norway allowed same-sex couples to enter registered partnerships from 1993 until 2008. Couples who became partners during this period are also allowed to officially convert their marriage so as to be officially married in the country. Generally, same-sex couples enjoy most of the rights and benefits available to opposite-sex couples in the country. This includes the right to perform marriages under their preferred religious body, the right to fertility treatments, and the right to adopt. Both single and married same-sex spouses are permitted to adopt in the country.

Polygamy in Norway

The Norwegian law states that polygamous marriages are not permitted in Norway. The offense of committing this crime is referred to as bigamy and is punishable by the payment of fines as well as imprisonment. A man is only allowed to be married to one woman at a time in the country. If a new marriage is to be entered by a spouse who is currently married, they must legally terminate such a marriage before entering a new one.

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Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties

Laws and Rights

Spouses getting married in Norway must be legally allowed to be in the country. This implies that there must be no prohibitions or baba preventing either or both spouses from living in Norway. Former spouses must legally end their previous marriages before beginning a new one. This implies that a divorce or death certificate must be obtained in the case of the separation or death of a previous spouse, and the matrimonial properties must have been shared or settled before entering a new marriage. Divorces from other countries require the county governor's approval. Foreign spouses who do not have a residence in Norway must provide a certificate of no impediment to marriage. 

This document must be submitted before either civil or religious marriages are performed. Marriages in the country are only recognized when they are performed by authorized officiants. Marriage registration must be performed in person, and during the marriage registration, both spouses must declare that they are freely willing to marry each other. All the stated documents and wedding procedures must be followed before a couple can be regarded as being officially married in Norway. Due to this reason, marriages performed online or with the use of a proxy are invalid in the country.

Both spouses have equal rights to the disposition of their respective properties. This implies that the man and woman can do with their assets and properties what they deem fit and can freely acquire or sell their properties. A spouse must receive written consent before they are allowed to manage their partner's properties in any way, and this includes transferring, selling, or leasing the properties. Both spouses have the right to jointly own properties in Norway and share the assets and liabilities incurred for as long as they are married. 

Both spouses have the legal right to divorce if the legal grounds are met. A mediation session must be attended by spouses who have children together who are under the age of 16. Both spouses have an equal right to apply for separation, and the spouse who applies does not require the permission of the other spouses or owe them an explanation. Both spouses have the right to join any religious association and perform their religious marriage under the principles of such an association.


The average cost to perform a traditional marriage ceremony in Norway ranges anywhere from NOK 100,000 to NOK 140,000. Most times, it all comes down to the personal preferences of the couples regarding the size of the wedding, the number of guests, the type of food and drinks to be served, as well as the pre-wedding expenses. In Norway, destination weddings can be quite expensive, costing up to NOK 200,000 or more. 

When the cost of the honeymoon comes into play, the total cost of getting married goes a lot higher. This is because of transportation expenses as well as venue and hotel lodging fees. The cost of the rings also has a significant impact on how expensive a marriage is in the country. The cost of wedding rings widely varies, and it can cost as little as NOK 30,000 or as much as NOK 900,000 or even more.


Both spouses have the duty and obligation of loving and remaining faithful to each other. The spouses are required to respect each other as well as their family members. The spouses have equal responsibility for the maintenance, work, and expenses required to keep the entire household running. The husband and wife must provide the basic necessities required to make their children comfortable. 

Both spouses have an equal duty to contribute to the financial capacity of the family. There should be a mutual understanding between both partners as to which roles and responsibilities are shared, as well as who will be the primary provider as regards certain activities or if they will be equally shared in the family.


Getting married in Norway is quite straightforward. Both foreign spouses and Norwegian nationals can easily get married with the provision of all the required documents during the marriage registration. In Norway, spouses must be physically present during the marriage registration and the signing of the marriage contract. The government does not allow marriages by proxy.

Norway has various customs and traditions that are unique to the country. Most of these traditions have been passed down from ancient times and are still being practiced to this day. Foreign spouses must ensure they have no restrictions before proceeding with marriages in the country. They must provide a certificate of no impediment showing that there is no hinderance or obstruction to the marriage ceremony in Norway. This article is a complete guide to everything you need to know about marriage in Norway.