Employees on ships

As a citizen of Norway or another EU/EEA country employed on a Norwegian vessel operating overseas, you will be eligible to receive healthcare services while you are overseas. The steps in this guide explain your rights and what you need to do. You will find the application form in Step 5.

Man talking on the phone next to a ship


Membership of the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme

If you are employed on a non-Norwegian ship, you must first clarify your membership with NAV (the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration) before Helfo can confirm your eligibility for healthcare services or process your claim for reimbursement of your healthcare expenses abroad.

You will automatically be a member of the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme if you are a citizen of Norway or another EU/EEA country and are permanently or temporarily resident abroad as an employee on a Norwegian ship operating overseas. You will therefore be eligible to receive healthcare services while you are abroad. However, the ship must be registered in either the Norwegian Ship Register (NOR) or the Norwegian International Ship Register (NIS).

Employees of hotel and catering enterprises onboard tourist vessels registered in the NIS are exempt from membership of the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme, which means they are not entitled to receive healthcare services.


Martina is considered to be resident in Norway. She is employed as a second engineer onboard a Norwegian vessel registered in NOR. The vessel is operating outside Norwegian territorial waters and Martina is eligible to receive healthcare services while she is overseas.


Healthcare rights in the EU/EEA

If you are a mandatory member of the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme, you will be entitled to reimbursement for your expenses relating to healthcare services that you receive in other EU/EEA countries.

If you receive medical care in an EU/EEA country other than the one in which you are resident, you can use your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). If you are unable to use your EHIC, you can apply to Helfo for reimbursement. For more information on this, see the page concerning "Overview of reimbursable healthcare".

If you are considered to be resident in another EU/EEA country and receive medical care in Norway or your country of residence, you can find out more about your rights on the page on employees from the EU/EEA or Switzerland who work in Norway but do not live here.


Marte has a fever and sees a doctor while her ship is docked in port in Marseilles, France. She is given antibiotics and told to see a doctor again if she does not get better. She shows her European Health Insurance Card and only pays a user fee.


Healthcare rights outside the EU/EEA

If you are a mandatory member of the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme, you will be entitled to reimbursement for healthcare services that you receive in countries outside the EU/EEA. The rules concerning extended benefits will then apply.

Extended benefits means, for example, that any expenses you incur from hospitalisation and medical care will be covered in full.

Coverage is provided for 75% of necessary expenses for:

  • medical assistance
  • X-rays and radiological treatment
  • tests performed by medical laboratories
  • psychological counselling
  • physical therapy
  • dental treatment for disease, except orthodontic treatment

You can use either the public or a private health service.

Your employer can pay for your treatment and apply to Helfo for reimbursement retrospectively.


Martina’s ship has continued on to Ismailia in Egypt. While the ship is in port, Martina’s fever deteriorates. A local doctor examines her and suspects she has meningococcemia. The doctor thinks the nearest appropriate treatment provider is in Cairo, so Martina is taken there for treatment. She is treated at a private hospital, and her employer covers the cost of the treatment. When her employer applies to Helfo for reimbursement, the full cost of the treatment that Martina received while in hospital will be reimbursed, while 75 percent of the cost of treatment by the doctor will be reimbursed.


Travel expenses may be covered

Travel expenses outside the EU/EEA are reimbursable under the same rules that apply in Norway.

As in Norway, the general rule is that your travel expenses will be reimbursed at a standard rate per kilometre regardless of the means of transport that you use. You must travel to the nearest location at which the healthcare services you require can be provided.

If appropriate healthcare is not available where you are staying, this must be confirmed by a doctor at that location in order for your travel and accommodation expenses linked to your treatment to be reimbursed. The confirmation must include information on the medical necessity of travelling to another town or country, and the location of the nearest available appropriate healthcare.  

If a companion is necessary for medical or treatment-related reasons, this person's travel expenses will also be reimbursable.

In order to be reimbursed, the journey must be longer than ten kilometres each way and cost more than the local minimum fare by scheduled public transport. You will have to pay a user fee per journey.

If you are applying for reimbursement of your travel expenses, you should use the same form as for claiming your healthcare expenses. This form is available in Step 5.


Because Martina's treatment is urgent, she is flown by air ambulance to a hospital 150km from the ship. She has obtained documentation from the doctor confirming that the hospital she was taken to was the nearest location offering appropriate healthcare and that it was necessary to use an air ambulance. She also has documentation of the location of the ship when the air ambulance picked her up. Based on the documentation, Martina's employer can be reimbursed for travel expenses in excess of the user fee.


Submit your application

When the treatment has been completed, the application must be sent to Helfo. This must be done within 6 months.

​You must send the application form and documentation to Helfo within 6 months of each treatment date. If you have not settled on the spot but paid later, we calculate the deadline from the payment date.

The application must contain

  • necessary original documentation of your medical condition, examinations and any treatment
  • documentation of the types of treatments provided
  • original receipts for all expenses
  • documentation that the expenses have been paid

If your employer has not covered your expenses, you can apply by using our digital form:

Log in to Helfo's digital form and apply for a refund of expenses (only in Norwegian)


If your employer has covered your expenses, or if your employer is applying on your behalf, a paper form must be used. You can also use a paper form if you are unable to use our digital form.

Send in this form enclosing the required documentation, to Helfo:

If you send the application yourself, your employer must complete Section 4 on the application form if they covered the expenses.

You or your employer must enclose up-to-date documentation confirming the name of the vessel and the term (duration) of your employment contract.

Send the application to: Helfo, Postboks 2415, 3104 Tønsberg, Norway.

Separate rules apply to holders of exemption cards.


Martina's employer submits a completed application form to Helfo. The employer makes sure that it encloses all the necessary documentation.


Power of Attorney over Helfo communications

To contact Helfo on behalf of someone else, you need to have power of attorney.

Parents/guardians also require power of attorney for children over 16. This is because the age of majority for health matters is 16 years.

Health records and information are sensitive and should not be transmitted by e-mail. We therefore request that you send the power of attorney to Helfo by letter post. Remember to enclose a copy of valid identification.
Complete the power of attorney form and send it to Helfo, Postboks 2415, 3104 Tønsberg.

Content provided by Helfo

Helfo. Employees on ships. [Internet]. Oslo: The Norwegian Directorate of Health; updated Monday, October 2, 2023 [retrieved Wednesday, July 24, 2024]. Available from: https://www.helsenorge.no/en/health-rights-living-abroad/employees-on-ships/

Last updated Monday, October 2, 2023