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Research permissions

While some research activities in Svalbard do not require prior consent, other research activities may be subject to the approval of several government bodies.

Regulations apply. (Photo: Sverre Jarild) Most of Norway's legislation applies to the Svalbard islands and regulates a number of research-relevant activities in the archipelago. Researchers and research institutions must familiarize themselves with applicable regulations and obtain all relevant permits from Norwegian authorities before initiating their research activities in Svalbard.

Svalbard-specific Norwegian legislation, notably the Svalbard Environmental Protection Act (2001) and regulations, is highly relevant to all field research in the archipelago. More often than not, field research will require an exemption from the environmental regulations and/or a permit from the Governor of Svalbard. For more information about activities that require the Governor's consent, see the Governor's guide to researchers in Svalbard (external link).

Some of the following bodies may also be relevant to researchers and research institutions, depending on their planned activity in Svalbard (the list is not exhaustive):

The Directorate for Cultural Heritage (Riksantikvaren)

The Directorate for Cultural Heritage is responsible for the management of all archaeological and architectural monuments and sites and cultural environments in accordance with relevant legislation, see particularly the Svalbard Environmental Protection Act (Chapter V). Any research and investigations that will involve any disturbance of protected monuments and sites and their security zone (e.g. uncovering objects, small or large excavations, removal of objects and materials, undertakings within the security zone) require permission from the Directorate. Applications should be addressed as early as possible to the Governor of Svalbard, who will consider them and recommend a decision to the Directorate. postmottak@ra.no

The Longyearbyen Local Council (Longyearbyen lokalstyre)

Longyearbyen. (Photo: Shutterstock) The Longyearbyen Local Council must be notified before an activity is started or property is allocated within the Longyearbyen Land-Use Planning Area. The notification shall provide sufficient information to indicate whether the activity or allocation is in accordance with the plan. Measures covered by local building regulations (Byggeforskrift for Longyearbyen) is subject to the Longyearbyen Local Council's approval. postmottak@lokalstyre.no

The Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries (Fiskeridirektoratet)

All applications to engage in marine scientific research in waters under Norwegian jurisdiction must be sent to the Directorate of Fisheries by diplomatic missions accredited to Oslo. For more information and application forms, visit the Directorate's webpages. postmottak@fiskeridir.no

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority (Mattilsynet)

The Regulation on Animal Experimentation (forsøksdyrforskriften) covers the use of animals in research. The Food Safety Authority has launched a webpage (in Norwegian) that outlines research activities that require review and approval.  postmottak@mattilsynet.no

The Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority (Arbeidstilsynet)

Research institutions must in some cases apply for permission or prior consent from the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority, for instance in cases that involve construction work or special working arrangements (such as long periods of work or extended use of overtime). The main task of the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority is to oversee that employers comply with the Working Environment Act (arbeidsmiljøloven) and regulations, which as a general rule also apply to foreign employers with employees working in Svalbard. post@arbeidstilsynet.no

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Utenriksdepartementet)

Foreign state-owned or operated vessels, used for government non-commercial purposes, have admission to Norwegian territory only if they in advance have obtained permission through diplomatic channels. Applications for admission must be presented to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or a Norwegian embassy. Inquiries to the Ministry may be sent to post@mfa.no. Foreign vessels do have a right to innocent passage through the territorial sea without prior diplomatic clearance. If the vessel will be engaged in marine scientific research, information on activities in territorial sea and any port calls should be included in the application for research permission submitted to the Directorate of Fisheries. State- owned or -operated non-military vessels with a research permit would then be exempted from obtaining permission through diplomatic channels.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries (Nærings- og fiskeridepartementet)

Without a prior permission from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, it is prohibited to launch any object – research rockets included – into space from Norwegian territory. postmottak@nfd.dep.no

Nkom – The Norwegian Communications Authority

Frequencies cannot be used in Norway without permission from the Norwegian Communications Authority (Nkom) or the Ministry of Transport and Communications. The Free Use Regulations provides general authorization to use some frequencies on certain conditions. The Free Use Regulations do not apply to frequencies in the range of 2 GH–32 GHz in the geographic area within a 20 km radius of the center of Ny-Ålesund Svalbard as well as certain frequency use cases to Svalbard as a whole. In order to obtain an individual frequency license, transmitter license or spectrum license, an application must be submitted. Nkom publishes overviews of available frequencies and assigned frequency licenses. firmapost@nkom.no

The Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority (Luftfartstilsynet)

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) may be relevant in many respects. All scheduled and non-scheduled flights to and from Svalbard require prior permission from the CAA. A CAA webpage specifies the requirements to the application. In addition, helicopter and fixed-wing flights can only be conducted by CAA-licensed operators. All flights are also subject to the approval of the Governor of Svalbard. Further, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), requires an operation license from the CAA. Special regulations apply to Svalbard. Applications must be submitted before each flight to the CAA and the Governor of Svalbard, which enforce relevant aerial regulations and environmental protection legislation respectively. postmottak@caa.no

The Norwegian Coastal Administration (Kystverket)

All research measures that may affect maritime safety and navigation require a permit from the Norwegian Coastal Administration or Longyearbyen Local Council (inside the Longyearbyen Land-Use Planning Area), whether they are great or small, permanent or temporary, at sea, on land or in the air. For instance, Norwegian authorities would have to authorize the deployment of research buoys and other installations at sea. For further information, consult the webpages of the Norwegian Coastal Administrationpost@kystverket.no

The Norwegian Data Protection Authority (Datatilsynet)

As a general rule, the Norwegian Data Protection Authority must be notified about research that involves the processing of personal data. If the data is sensitive, a licence is usually required. See the Norwegian Data Protection Authority's webpage that covers research that requires a prior notification and/or licencepostkasse@datatilsynet.no

The Norwegian Environmental Agency (Miljødirektoratet)

Although the Governor of Svalbard as a rule handles all applications that relate to the Svalbard Environmental Protection Act, the Norwegian Environmental Agency will be presented research applications in some limited cases. One example is the ringing of birds. The agency issues licenses to researchers and other individuals or groups for ringing of birds in Norway, including Svalbard. Applications for license to ring birds should be sent to Museum Stavanger birdringing@stavanger.museum.no, who assess if quality requirements are met, and make recommendations on licensing to the Norwegian Environmental Agency. post@miljodir.no

The Norwegian National Security Authority (Nasjonal sikkerhetsmyndighet)

Generally, all use of airborne sensor systems within Norwegian territory (including Svalbard) is subject to the Norwegian National Security Authority's approval. However, there is an exception to this requirement for use of remotely piloted systems (RPAS), using photo/video sensors only, which are operated within line of sight (VLOS), and outside/away from military installations and areas. For all other use of airborne sensors from manned or unmanned platforms are subject to approval. This also includes RPAS operations beyond line of sight (BLOS). Approval can be obtained either as a license – for long term needs (particularly over mainland Norway) or case by case approval limited by time and geographical area. Relevant information and forms can be found here (application to photograph/film from the air and use airborne sensors), here (personal particulars form) and here (declaration of secrecy)post@nsm.stat.no

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (Oljedirektoratet)

Norwegian and international research institutions have a right to conduct scientific surveys on the Norwegian continental shelf outside Svalbard, in accordance with the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea and Norwegian legislation. An application must be presented in advance to the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries, which will forward applications relating to the seabed or subsurface to the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) for processing. Norwegian institutions should apply directly to the NPD. Note that material and data acquired from scientific surveys must be made available to the public. NPD has posted more information about scientific surveys on its webpagespostboks@npd.no

The Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority (Statens strålevern)

The Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority is the competent national authority in the area of radiation protection and nuclear safety. NRPA must be notified about all use and handling of instruments and/or materials that emit ionizing radiation, such as X-rays and radiation from radioactive substances, in all research in Svalbard. The NRPA will then clarity if further requirements are relevant. In Svalbard (and Jan Mayen), the Regulations of 9 May 2003 concerning Application of the Radiation Protection Act apply. In addition, Chapter IV as well as Section 34 (in relation to occupational exposure) of the Radiation Protection Regulations are applicable to Svalbard. In case of emergencies (incidents and accidents), call NRPA Emergency Phone Number (+47) 67 16 26 00 (for general inquires, call +47 67 16 25 00). nrpa@nrpa.no

Written by:
SSF
Published:
26.11.2015
Last updated:
07.02.2017