Svalbard Visa – Do I Need a Visa to Enter Svalbard?
What do I need to visit Svalbard?
Embarking on an Arctic adventure to Svalbard? Before you set off to explore this remote archipelago situated between Norway and the North Pole, it’s crucial to know what you need. Explore the essential Svalbard Visa information in this comprehensive guide and learn all you need to know about visiting this remarkable destination.
Brief History of Svalbard
Svalbard is located in the Arctic Ocean, between Norway and the North Pole. At a latitude of 78 degrees north, this archipelago is one of the northernmost inhabited places on Earth. The main town, Longyearbyen, is a hub of activity despite being a small community. In fact, it holds many records for being the “most north” in various categories, such as having the most northern airport and being the most northerly settlement of its size. It is also now one of the most important research centres, with scientists from all over the world studying the effects of climate change on this unique ecosystem. It’s up for discussion, but many people believe Svalbard was first discovered by the Vikings in 1194, though there’s no concrete evidence to back this. It wasn’t until 1596, when Dutchman Willem Barentsz set out to discover the Northeast Passage that the first documentation was maintained. Svalbard was exploited in the 18th and 19th centuries for its natural resources, including coal from the mountains and blubber from the whales and walruses. The British, Swiss, Russians, French, Norwegians and Danish all had their share of Svalbard, yet at this point, no one owned or government Svalbard – it was a land under no laws.
Longyearbyen is the largest settlement in Svalbard and serves as the administrative center for the archipelago.
The Svalbard Treaty
Norway recognised the importance of Svalbard and the necessity for rules and regulations to be adhered to, and in 1907, the Norwegian Government opened up negotiations between the countries interested. In 1920 the Svalbard Treaty was signed, granting Norway full sovereignty and adopting and enforcing the laws of Norway.
What does the Svalbard Treaty mean today?
The Svalbard Treaty still has significance today, ensuring peace and stability in the region by allowing many nationalities to live, work and conduct research together.
Do I need a visa for Svalbard?
Svalbard is uniquely a visa-free zone. It’s part of Norway but is separate from the Schengen co-operation and foreigners do not need a visa nor a visit, work or residence permit to reside in Svalbard.
However, the only way to access Svalbard is through the Schengen country, Norway. This means you may need a visa to travel through Norway unless you are a citizen of EU, EFTA or Swiss citizen.
We always recommend checking with the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration before you travel – useful information can be found here.
Do I need a passport to enter Svalbard?
All foreign citizens travelling to Svalbard must present their passport or national identity card upon entering the islands. This requirement is due to Svalbard’s status as an unincorporated territory of Norway, which has its own entry regulations separate from the rest of the Schengen Area.
Do I need a visa to travel via mainland Norway?
You do not need a visa to visit Norway if you are an EU/EEA or a Swiss citizen.
You will need a short-stay visa to enter Norway and any other member country of the Schengen zone if you:
- You are a citizen of a developing nation with which the Schengen member states have not yet concluded a visa liberalisation agreement.
- You are from a third-world country that signed a visa liberation agreement with the Schengen states, but you were previously denied entry to Norway or any other Schengen country.
What are Norway’s Entry Requirements?
If you are an EU/EEA national travelling to Norway, all you need to enter the country is an identification document or passport.
If you are a non-EU/EEA national wishing to visit Norway or travel through, you will need the following:
- A valid passport or travel document that’s valid for at least 3 months beyond your planned exit date and issued within the last 10 years.
- A visa subject to the Norwegian visa regime.
- Proof of sufficient funds (cash or credit card) to support yourself during your stay.
- Documentation showing your purpose of visit, such as an invitation or hotel reservation.
- A round-trip ticket.
Where to Apply for a Norwegian Short-Stay Visa?
To apply for a visa to Norway, you may need to submit your application at one of the following:
- Norwegian Embassy
- Norwegian consulate
- Visa Application Center
- Embassy/Consulate of another Schengen country
How long does it take to get a Norwegian visa?
It usually takes up to 15 days but in some cases can take up to 30 days or in exceptional cases 60 days. It’s best to submit your application in plenty of time before you travel.
If you think you require a visa to travel through Norway please find more information here.
If you would like to explore Svalbard in a small group of 12 guests please see our Svalbard Cruises.