Frequently Asked Questions

The Information Resource Center (IRC) is the information unit at the U.S. Embassy, and can help you find answers to questions you have about the U.S. The Information Resource Center almost always refers queries to other government agencies. To save you some time, we have put together a list of frequently asked questions.

All visa-related questions should be directed to ustraveldocs.com. Please note that you will be able to ask visa questions via the phone and e-mail through the link above. No other sections will be able to assist with such queries.

Note that the most commonly asked questions about visas are answered here.

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), an automated system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), is not administered by the Embassy, but by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

For more information about ESTA, please see the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.

To submit your ESTA application, please go here

Questions?

You can also check out the most frequently asked questions here. (See fact sheets to the right).  If you have questions about ESTA, please contact Customs and Border Protection. They can be reached here: https://help.cbp.gov/app/ask

ESTA Fraud Warning

Please note that there are many websites and e-mail scams which attempt to mislead customers and members of the public into thinking they are official U.S. government websites. ESTA is designed for those seeking to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. There is only one official ESTA website and that is https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov

Third-party companies who are charging a fee to assist travelers in registering under ESTA are NOT operating on behalf of the U.S. government. Visa Waiver Program travelers who are looking for information on how to apply for ESTA should be aware that unauthorized third-parties have established websites that charge a fee (on top of the regular $14 registration fee) to provide information about ESTA and to submit ESTA applications on behalf of the VWP traveler. These businesses and websites are not endorsed by, associated with, or affiliated in any way with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or the U.S. Government. These websites are designed to appear legitimate, and though deceptive, they operate legally. U.S. Government websites can be identified by “.gov.”

If you have used one of these third party sites, we strongly suggest you use your reference number to confirm the application with the official U.S. Government site to ensure that your application information is correct in the system, and to avoid delays when you arrive in the United States. Please note that the U.S. government cannot refund the money paid to a third party website.

The Embassy always refers these types of questions to Customs and Border Control (CBP). Please note that you are unlikely to get a reply about the legality of a specific product. As a general rule, the U.S. very rarely allows for the import of meat (including pinnekjøtt), while most all processed chocolate, fish products (like smoked salmon) and brunost are allowed.

Read the following information about bringing food to the U.S. on this link. Follow-up questions should be directed to the same website.

The United States does not charge a federal value-added tax (VAT), like for instance Norway or many other European countries. Instead, a sales tax is often charged on the state level, and as such, the federal government (i.e. the embassy) does not refund sales tax to foreign visitors. For more information, please see this U.S. Customs and Border Protection webpage.

As this website notes, “you will want to contact the State taxation authority in the state where you will be making the purchase.  They will be able to inform you of their criteria for refunding any sales tax paid.” Note that travelers are not guaranteed to be able to claim a refund on the sales tax. For visitors to New York, the NY State Department of Taxation and Finance would be the appropriate office.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regulates the import of pets to the United States.

For information on how to bring a pet into Norway, you should consult Mattilsynet, the Norwegian agency responsible for regulating such import rules.

Automobile regulations are issued on the state level in the United States, meaning that there are few nation-wide regulations. Various state offices, most commonly called Department of Motor Vehicles, issue such regulations. As such, if you plan on visiting California, google California Department of Motor Vehicles to read about the specific regulations for driving in that state (or even better, do a search on usa.gov to ensure that your hits only include government sites). Note that most states recognize Norwegian driver’s licenses as valid.

Here is a list of DMVs for the most visited states:
Florida – flhsmv.gov
California – dmv.ca.gov
New York – dmv.ny.gov
Texas – txdps.state.tx.us
Nevada – dmvnv.com

Norges Automobil-Forbund (NAF) issues International Driving Permit (IDP) for persons traveling abroad with the intent to drive. However, it is important to know that such a license is only a translation of your Norwegian license. Please see the following website for more information at naf.no.

In order to double check if you have obtained the correct information, most rental car services will list state requirements on their respective websites. As such, it would be helpful to contact one of these agencies’ offices in the state you wish to drive, before departing Norway.

You can find information about how to permanently export a firearm from the United States on the webpages of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Authority.

General information queries should be directed to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Please follow the top link to see information regarding temporary import of a firearm for hunting purposes.

Please note that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) regulates the use of firearms in the United States.

The U.S. Embassy in Norway cannot help with asylum requests. In order to apply for asylum in the U.S. you need to be present in the U.S. You can read about the U.S. asylum process here.

The Embassy information office has no competency in judicial matters.

Please see our list of lawyers in Norway, which would be better able to assist you with information.

Unfortunately, the Embassy cannot assist you in great detail with legal questions. A probate court is a specialized court that deals with matters of probate and the administration of estates. Probate cases are regulated on the state level, meaning that you should contact the probate court in the specific state in which the case takes place.

If you are a Norwegian national, you might also want to contact the Honorary Consulate in the state in question.

The United States government does not keep a public record of citizens, which in Norway is known as folkeregister. The Embassy is not able in assisting persons with locating specific individuals currently residing in the U.S., and in this regard, social media sites like Facebook might be a better option. Note that certain privately-run websites keep track of death certificates in the U.S.

If you are looking for ancestral information, please try privately-run sites like ancestry.com or ellisisland.org. These sites have extensive records available on a pay-per-view basis.

Please see the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) website for more information about military awards and decorations.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury administers sanctions imposed by the United States. See this link for a list of Sanctions Programs and Country Information.

The website dmv.org (which is an abbreviation of Department of Motor Vehicles) includes information about how to pay speeding tickets. Note that motor vehicles are regulated on the state level and the DMV is not a federal agency.

The Bureau of Consular Affairs at the Department of States has a wealth of information to consult about intercountry adoptions.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is responsible for the U.S. Tax Code. If you are a taxpayer who lives outside the United States, the IRS has full-time permanent staff in 4 U.S. embassies and consulates. These offices have tax forms and publications, can help you with account problems, and answer your questions about notices and bills.

Go to this link for contact information.

U.S. Postal Service regulations prohibits sending alcoholic beverages through the mail (18 U.S.C. 1716(f). For information about bringing alcohol into the United States for personal use, see the this link.

In general, cigarettes may not be imported into the U.S. unless they satisfy four specific conditions, outlined by the Customs and Border Protection. See also this link.

The Treasury Department manages government bonds. Please see this link for more information on how to proceed.

Special provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) authorize U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to expedite the application and naturalization process for current members of the U.S. armed forces and recently discharged members. Please note that persons who wish to naturalize through this process must already have a valid U.S.  Residency Permit before entering military service.

You can read more about this at the website of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Prescription medications should be in their original containers with the doctor’s prescription printed on the container.  It is advised that you travel with no more than personal use quantities, a rule of thumb is no more than a 90 day supply.  If your medications or devices are not in their original containers, we recommend that you always bring a signed letter from your doctor, particularly for medicine labeled A (narcotics) and B (strong pain killers. See this link from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for more information.

The police education works differently in the US than here in Norway. In Norway a candidate applies to the police university and then become eligible to apply for an open police position after graduation. In the United States, a candidate first applies to a police department advertising open positions. Then if the person is hired, that department places the candidate in a police academy for the police education. In other words, to be certified as a police officer one first needs to be hired by a police agency. This is, however, regulated at the state level so it is possible that there are variations of this process. There are likely private police academies that certify candidates as well.

Most departments will have a citizen requirement and of course a legal residency/work permit requirement.

Unfortunately, the Information Resource Center (IRC) section is unable to provide more specific information about police hiring practices in the U.S.

In order to be qualified to work as a nurse in the United States, you need to take two exams. First, the CGFNS, to verify your foreign credentials and ensure that you are comfortable working in the English language. Secondly, you also need to pass a state nursing exam.

Obtaining temporary worker status as a nurse is somewhat difficult in the United States, as only certain categories of nurses can be admitted under the H1-B visa category. See more information here.

A U.S. employer will need to sponsor your work visa, so you need to have a job offer before obtaining a temporary worker visa. You should inquire further with our visa section.

There is no way to be absolutely sure, but a good way to get an indication is to look at the e-mail address or the internet address they refer to. If the website/e-mail ends with .gov, the address is legitimate. E-mail addresses of U.S. army personnell ends with .mil. If you are unsure if it’s a scam or not, please contact us at osloirc@state.gov

While it is not required, we recommend that children under 18 who are traveling without their parents, traveling with only one parent, or traveling with another relative or friend, take with them a letter of permission. The letter should be signed by one or both parents who are not traveling with the child. They should write in English that the child has permission to travel without them and include their address(es) and phone numbers. If the child is traveling alone, the letter should state a name, address and phone number of an adult who is hosting the child in the U.S. A copy of the photo page of the parent’s passport should be attached. You can see some examples of letters below.

We recommend that the letter is attested by a “notarius publicus” at a District Court (Tingrett) (read more at domstol.no) and then verified with an “apostille” by the County Governor (Fylkesmann) (for example the County Governor of Oslo and Akershus), in order for it to be a legal document for use in the U.S.

1:
“I acknowledge that my husband, (name), is traveling to the United States with my daughter, (name), without me. He has my permission to do so.

(Print name)
(Signature)
(Phone number)”

2:
“I acknowledge that my son, (name), is traveling to the United States by himself to visit his grandparents, (name) and (name), without me. He has my permission to do so. (Name) lives at (street address) and can be reached at (phone number).

(Print name)
(Signature)
(Phone number)”

3:
“I acknowledge that my daughter, (name), is traveling to the United States without me. She has my permission to do so. She is travelling with (group name) and (adult group leader name) is responsible for her during the trip.

(Print name)
(Signature)
(Phone number)”

Getting married under Norwegian law:

If you would like to get married under Norwegian law, you can do that at one of the six Norwegian Church Abroad’s (Sjømannskirken) churches in the US. You can find more information about the procedure and what paperwork you need from Norwegian and U.S. authorities on the website of each church:

Getting married under U.S. law and making it valid in Norway:

  1. Make sure you and you fiancé are eligible to get married in the state of your choice, by checking the requirements for marriage licenses in the county where you wish to get married.
  2. Obtain a marriage license from the county.
  3. Get married!
  4. Obtain a marriage certificate from the county.
  5. Get the marriage certificate apostille certified in order for your marriage to be legal in Norway. The Hague Conference of Private International Law has a list of all of the authorities in all fifty states that are authorized to issue the apostille certificate.
  6. When you return to Norway, you must present your apostille certified marriage certificate to The Norwegian Tax Authority (Skatteetaten) to make the marriage valid in Norway.

There are no vaccinations required to visit the United States, but some schools and universities require that international students have certain vaccinations. Norwegian health authorities recommend these vaccinations for everyone, and also recommend vaccination against Neisseria meningitidis for some travelers to the U.S. You can find updated vaccination recommendations for the U.S. here.

You are permitted to bring 100 cigars or 200 cigarettes (one carton) into the U.S. duty free, or one roll (“stock”) of snuff (snus) into the U.S. duty free.

If you cannot find the answer to your questions here, you can contact us at osloirc@state.gov.