Guidance for travel to Svalbard in spring 2021

On Friday 9 April we held a special edition of our weekly virtual hangout with the SIOS community to give researchers a platform to discuss the coming field season, potential collaboration and an exchange of experiences concerning the travel restrictions and regulations when entering Norway connected with the ongoing pandemic. The event was well attended with representatives from many different countries. Several people who have made the journey provided details of the steps they needed to take to cross the border into Norway and then travel onwards to Svalbard. SIOS-KC is very grateful to everyone who shared their experiences!

A summary of the discussion is provided below. Please note: The summary is provided for information only. SIOS-KC cannot gurantee the veracity of any of the guidance provided, nor that entry to Norway will be granted to those following these steps. As the rules on entry into Norway may change at short notice you are advised to check the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration guidelines regularly to stay updated. At the time of writing Norway is closed for non-Norwegian citizens / residents, with certain exceptions. Travelling via mainland Norway to enter Svalbard for work is one such exception. The current rules will be in place until at least 21 April, but may be extended. It is up to each traveller to demonstrate an exception to the entry ban applies to them and provide the necessary documentation.

If you require any further information about the tips below, please contact the SIOS Access and Logistics Officer.

Before leaving for Norway:

  • Register your entry to Norway here: Print out and bring this form with you when you travel or register on your phone and save the confirmation. You cannot register your journey any earlier than 72 hours prior to the time of arrival.
  • Get letters of support describing the essential nature of your planned visit from your employer and a local contact based in Svalbard. 
  • Ensure your travel plans allow for sufficient time to quarantine for 10 full days before onwards travel to Svalbard. Note: 10 days means 10 x 24 hours, i.e. 240 hours. If your flight to Svalbard is within less time than that since your arrival in Norway you will need to stay in Oslo (or alternative entry point) for one additional night before you fly to Svalbard. 
  • You must have a negative Covid-19 test taken no more than 24 hours before your flight to Norway. You will have to present the document with the test result to the Immigration Officer upon entry to Norway, so if possible, have it issued in English. A rapid antigen test is acceptable.
  • Check also the requirements from other countries you will travel through (including connecting flights) if applicable.

Upon entry to Norway:

  • You will need to show documentation of onward travel to Svalbard to show you do not intend to stay in Norway and documentation of the negative Covid-19 test. In addition, letters of support to show that you have a legitimate work related reason for going to Svalbard may be required. 
  • It is mandatory to take a PCR test for Covid-19 upon entry to Norway. There is no charge for this test. You will be guided to the testing point by airport staff after you successfully go through the admittance procedure.
  • Quarantine in a quarantine hotel is mandatory when entering Norway. You will be escorted  by airport staff to a shuttle bus that will take you from the airport to a hotel (you will have no influence on which hotel you are taken to). The cost is 500 NOK per person per night (i.e. 5000 NOK for the 10 mandatory nights of quarantine). You may be required to pay this upfront. The price also covers the cost of food which will be brought to your room.
  • While in quarantine you may go outdoors unaccompanied for up to 2 hours at a time. You will need to sign in and out at the hotel. Follow the instructions of hotel staff at all times. Please note that when outside the hotel, you are not allowed to visit shops, petrol stations, restaurants, etc.
  • After 7 days you may take a PCR test. There is no charge for this test. For certain quarantine hotels, is may not be available on Sundays (in which case you can take it the following day). If this test is negative you may be released from quarantine early. Note: Even if released from quarantine you may not travel to Svalbard until the full 240 hours have passed since entering Norway. 
  • After your quarantine has finished, if you need additonal hotel nights before flying to Svalbard, this must be organised seperately and will cost the normal amount for a Norwegian hotel (approximately 1200 - 1500 NOK not including meals). 
  • People from the municipality are always present at the quarantine hotel and can issue a certificate that you completed the quarantine. 

Onward travel to Svalbard:

  • You will need to have a negative rapid Covid-19 test taken no more than 24 hours before your flight to Svalbard. An appointment can be booked at Dr. Dropin at Oslo airport. This test costs 1200 NOK. 
  • It is wise to keep hold of your boarding pass and / or luggage tags from your flight to Norway as proof of date of entry to Norway – to be used as evidence that you have completed the mandatory 10 day quarantine period before travelling to Svalbard, if requested by Norwegian customs on departure to Longyearbyen.  
  • In Longyearbyen you will be required to wear a face mask in shops, restaurants, public spaces in hotels and the airport. 
  • For more information on the Covid-19 regulations in Svalbard visit the website of the Governor of Svalbard

Other tips and information:

  • There is no place to take a rapid test in Svalbard. If you need one for your homeward travel you must allow sufficient time to take it at Oslo airport and receive the result before onwards travel. You may book an appointment at Dr. Dropin.
  • There is a service in Oslo that provides PCR tests and guarantees a result within 12 hours. This is more expensive (2600 NOK) than a rapid test at the airport but if your airline or country requires a PCR test for travel this is an option. The service can come to your location but will charge extra.
  • The SIOS community recommends bringing your favourite foods and drinks to make your quarantine more enjoyable! You are otherwise limited to what the hotel provides as you cannot go to any shops. A small french press for coffee was mentioned as a must-have item in case the coffee served at the hotel is not so good.