Choose a treatment centre: from referral to treatment

Have you been referred for treatment or examination in the specialist health service? Then you have the right to choose your place of treatment. This is how you proceed.



You will need referral to be examined or treated in the specialist health service. You do not need referral in emergency situations.

It is usually you doctor who writes the referral. Psychologists, manual therapists and chiropractors can refer to a specialist in their field.

You have the right to choose which treatment center you are referred to.


Choose where you want to be treated

You can ask your doctor to send the referral to the treatment centre of your choice. You can do this already at the first appointment with your doctor if you know where you want to be treated.

You can choose from all public-sector treatment centres and several private-sector treatment centres in Norway. In order for you to be able to choose a private treatment centre, and be reimbursed for expenses on private treatment and examination, the treatment centre must have a contract with the public specialist health service.

You can also choose to use a contract specialist (avtalespesialist). A contract specialist can assess and treat conditions that do not require hospitalisation. Learn more about contract specialists.

Use the service “Choose a treatment centre”

The service Choose a treatment centre (Velg behandlingssted) provides an overview of treatment centres, treatment options and waiting times. This may be useful in helping you choose a treatment centre. Using this service, you can:

  • compare expected waiting times at different treatment centres
  • see the number of treatments a treatment centre provides on a yearly basis

Go to the service Choose a treatment centre

Different types of waiting times for treatment

How long the waiting time is to receive treatment depends on where you will be treated and what kind of treatment you have been referred for. Read more about the different types of waiting times.

Treatment centres at different stages of healthcare

You can choose different treatment centres at different stages of your healthcare. This means that an assessment of your health status can be done at one treatment centre, but you can have surgery at a second, and rehabilitation at a third. Please note that some treatment centres do their own assessment of patients they will be treating.

You are not personally able to choose the level of treatment, meaning that you cannot choose to be treated as an outpatient at a clinic or in hospital as an inpatient, for example.

Quality indicators

Many patients want to know the “best” treatment centre to choose. The national quality indicators can provide information about the quality of health services.

View all quality indicators at

Get information about your rights in choosing a treatment centre

In some cases, you can opt to receive treatment outside Norway.

Get help from a patient advisor

If you would like advice and guidance, you can call the patient advisor on telephone 24 24 05 00. The line is open on weekdays from 9:00 to 15:00 . Read more about what the patient advisors can help you with.


Send referral

Your doctor will send the referral directly to your chosen treatment centre. You can change treatment centre if you wish.

​The referral must be sent to a treatment centre which is licensed to assess whether you are entitled to medical care. 

The public treatment centers and some private treatment centres are obliged to prioritize patients from their own health region. If you choose a treatment centre that is outside your own health region, and this treatment centre does not have sufficient capacity, you may be rejected. In Norway, there are four health regions. Which health region you belong to depends on where in the country you live.

Change treatment centre

You can change treatment centre after the referral has been sent and while you are on a waiting list. To do so, contact the treatment centre where you are on the waiting list and ask for the referral to be sent to the treatment centre of your choice. You cannot change treatment centre to receive a more specialised treatment than the one you have been offered.


Reply to referral

Treatment centres that have received your referral should within 10 days assess whether you have the right to examination and / or treatment with a specialist. You will receive a letter from the treatment centre informing you whether you have been considered eligible for health care or not.

Right to health care

If the treatment centre has considered that you are entitled to the necessary health care, you will receive a letter with information on:

  • deadline for commencement of your medical care
  • your deadline concerns the commencement of examination or treatment
  • the time of the first meeting or about when the treatment centre plans to convene the first meeting

Waiting times are individualised

All referrals are assessed individually, and patients with the same diagnosis may have different waiting times. How long you have to wait may depend on:

  • how serious your medical condition is
  • your current state of health
  • any medication you are taking
  • whether you are being treated for more than one medical condition

The published waiting time is not a guaranteed waiting time, but rather an estimate of the capacity at the treatment centre. Clinical factors, such as other illnesses/disorders or other individual factors, may mean that you have to wait longer than the published time.

Not entitled to health care

The answer to the referral is based on a medical assessment by a specialist. If the treatment center believes that you are not entitled to health care, you will receive a letter with information on it.

You can ask your GP if there is a basis for requesting a review at another treatment site.

There may in some cases be offers of investigation and / or treatment in the municipal health service. You can investigate the possibility with your GP or by visiting the municipality's website.

You have the right to appeal if your referral has been refused.


Starting investigation or treatment

If you need to do anything to prepare for examination/treatment, you will receive information about this from the treatment centre.

If you are unable to attend the assigned appointment you must inform the treatment centre. Then you avoid paying the fee, and someone else can have your appointment.

Payment for the treatment

You pay the same deductible if you use a public treatment centre or a private treatment centre with agreement.

If you choose a private treatment centre without agreement, you will have to pay the cost of the examination and treatment yourself. More information on deductibles can be found here

Travel expenses

If you travel to or from public approved treatment, you may be covered for travel expenses in connection with the treatment, but pay a deductible. The deductible varies depending on whether the place you are traveling to is inside or outside your own health region. For more information, see patient travel coverage.

Waiting time exceeded

If the treatment centre exceeds the waiting time, they must contact Helfo so that Helfo can help you find treatment elsewhere. Read about your rights if the waiting time is exceeded


If you feel that your rights as a patient have not fulfilled, you can complain. For more information, see complaints procedures (in Norwegian).

Content provided by The Norwegian Directorate of Health

The Norwegian Directorate of Health. Choose a treatment centre: from referral to treatment. [Internet]. Oslo: The Norwegian Directorate of Health; updated Thursday, October 5, 2023 [retrieved Sunday, July 21, 2024]. Available from:

Last updated Thursday, October 5, 2023