The right to a doctor

All inhabitants who are registered in the National Population Register as living in Norway have the right to a General Practitioner/family doctor.

The GP situation

Shortage of GPs: It is the municipality that is responsible for ensuring that you receive GP services, but many municipalities in Norway do not have enough GPs.

When you have lost your GP: If you have lost your GP and have been moved to a list without a permanent GP, you are still affiliated with a doctor’s surgery. This will often be the doctor’s surgery where you had your GP.

Don’t leave it to the last minute: Due to the current capacity problems, make sure you contact the doctor’s surgery well in advance to have your prescriptions renewed, etc.

Who is entitled to a General Practitioner?

​Everyone who is registered in the National Population Register as a resident in a Norwegian municipality is entitled to have a General Practitioner (GP; "fastlege" in Norwegian).

The municipality is responsible for ensuring that you are offered the necessary general practitioner services. You can also choose a GP in a different municipality to the one you live in. If the municipality you live in has a major shortage of GPs, it may be easier to find a GP with vacancies in a neighbouring municipality.

Persons who have D-numbers are not entitled to a GP, the only exceptions are the following groups, who are entitled to a GP:

  • Asylum seekers with D-numbers, and their families
  • NATO personnel with D-numbers and their families
  • Foreign personnel sent as representatives to Norway and their families

A D-number is an identity number assigned to people who do not meet the criteria for a standard Norwegian national identification number.

Other persons with a D-number are not entitled to a GP, but are entitled necessary medical treatment. The municipality is responsible to providing this kind of healthcare.

If you move to another municipality within Norway and later move back to your original municipality within three years, you may be reassigned to your original GP if you register this move in the National Population Register within 6 months.

If you are unsure whether you are entitled to a GP, call the user service (Veiledning helsenorge.no) at +47 23 32 70 00.

When your GP cancels or reduces their patient list

It is the municipality that is responsible for ensuring that you are offered the necessary general practitioner services. 

If y our GP leaves their practice, you will be transferred to another GP’s list. If you are transferred to a list without a specific GP, it will often be a substitute doctor who takes over the responsibility, or it may be another doctor from that practice. In some cases, you may need to use the doctor on call service or immediate assistance to get the necessary medical help. 

When a GP decides to reduce the number of patients on their list, the selection of patients to be transferred to another list is random by a computer system. Neither the GP nor any other person has the right to decide who shall be transferred and who shall remain on the list. Section 35 of the Regulation relating to a municipal regular GP scheme (only in Norwegian) specifies that a GP’s list shall be reduced through a random selection. Families that are registered at the same address are kept together in the event of such a list reduction. 

The legal age of majority for Norwegian health care is 16. Children older than 16 are therefore not classified as family in the event of a transfer from one list to another.

General Practitioner for children under the age of 16

Children under the age of 16 get the same GP as their mother, assuming the parents have joint parental responsibility and share the same address. In the case of shared custody, the child will have the same GP as the parent with whom they live. Your child has the right to have the same GP as you, even when your GP does not have a place on the list. 

You may choose a different GP than your own for your child. Your child does not automatically change GP when you do.

You have the right to change GP for your own children who are under the age of 16. This also applies with shared custody of children. In the case of shared custody and joint parental responsibility, the parent who does not live at the same registered address as the child must document parental responsibility. Documentation can be downloaded from skatteetaten.no and sent to Helfo.

Foster parents do not have the right to change GP for foster children.

GPs for asylum seekers

If you have received a registration certificate as an asylum seeker, and you know the municipality where you will be living, you can be assigned a GP. If you are living in an asylum centre, the centre will help you send the necessary documentation to Helfo so that you can be assigned a GP. If you have a private residence, you must send your registration certificate as an asylum seeker yourself or with the help of others, in addition to a completed form on the assignment of a GP for asylum seekers with private residence, to Helfo.

A regular GP for persons who have been sent to Norway as foreign representatives

The term foreign representatives covers persons who work at embassies, consulates and intergovernmental organisations.

Persons sent to Norway as foreign representatives are not automatically assigned a regular GP. This also applies to any family members who join such representatives in Norway.

It is optional to enrol in the GP scheme. Your representatives will help you enrol.

If you, at a later date, wish to change to a different GP, you will have to call Guidance helsenorge.no on telephone number +47 23 32 70 00.

Having a General Practitioner while you are a student

​GPs associated with the health service at universities and colleges can be used by students who have paid their semester fees, as well as by their children under 16. Students who move back to their former municipality within three years are entitled to return to their GP in the municipality, even if the GP's list is full.

Students who have formally moved abroad are not entitled to return to their former GP.

Are you student connected to the student welfare organization in Oslo, SiO? Read more at SiO's own website.

Having a General Practitioner while in a nursing home

When staying in a nursing home, you are entitled to keep your regular GP, but you need to use the nursing home doctor while living there.

General Practitioner assistance in the event of acute illness

In the event of acute injury or illness outside of the GP's opening hours, you must contact the out-of-hours medical service, legevakten (116 117). In life-threatening emergency, call 113.

​GPs are responsible for all general medical service for their patients during opening hours. GPs will prioritise patients on their patient list over others, except in the case of acute, life-threatening illness.

Out-of-hours medical service

Call 116 117 to contact the out-of-hours primary care call centre for your area.

Responsibility for the General Practitioner scheme

The municipalities manage the General Practitioner scheme and sign agreements with individual GPs. It is the responsibility of each municipality to ensure that there are enough GPs.

Each municipality has a supervisor of GPs. This is generally the municipal doctor.

Complaints about your GP or the GP scheme

​If you are dissatisfied with your General Practitioner, you are entitled to submit a complaint.

Patient dissatisfaction with their GP is often due to communication problems. A useful first step may be to book an appointment with the GP to explain why you are unhappy. You may wish to bring someone along with you for support.

When booking the appointment, it is best to notify the GP that you wish to complain. This allows the doctor to reserve more time for the discussion. If you still feel the need to make a complaint, you can consult the person within the municipality who is responsible for the GP scheme (usually the head of health and care services) or send a complaint to the County Medical Officer (fylkeslege), with a copy to the chief municipal doctor (kommuneoverlege).

The municipality is responsible for the provision of GPs. If there are no GPs available in the municipality, you can complain to the municipal health department (chief municipal doctor).

Opting out of the General Practitioner scheme

To manage your registration with the GP scheme, call Guidance helsenorge.no (Veiledning helsenorge.no) at +47 23 32 70 00.

Content provided by Helfo

Last updated Sunday, December 4, 2022