Monday, October 21, 2013

A worsening image problem?

What's the value of goodwill? Like many things in life, the best things are not only free but cannot be bought which brings hope for those of us that are poor and something for the rich to ponder."

I don't know what it would have cost Norway to just give Stig Arne Jonsson his unemployment benefit or how many people would have been affected if a legal precedent had been set by them doing this. Who is Stig Arne Jonsson?

"79 The Norwegian State’s interpretation would also run contrary to the aim of Article 
71(1)(b) of the Regulation, which is, as the Court has observed in paragraph 63 above, 
to guarantee unemployment benefits to migrant workers under the most favourable 
conditions for seeking new employment, and to enable the workers to make a choice in 
that respect. That aim would not be attained if, after having had an application for 
unemployment benefits in the EEA State of last employment turned down, the person 
concerned were deprived of all right to benefits in the same State solely as a result of 
subsequently applying for unemployment in the State of residence. Indeed, the first 
application for unemployment benefits made by an applicant, such as the defendant in 
the main proceedings, may be generally presumed to constitute his choice as to where 
to receive those benefits pursuant to Article 71(1)(b) of the Regulation."

That's just one excerpt from yet another judgement by the EFTA Court ..... how does any of this serve Norway?

Norway NEEDS migrant workers and decisions like these won't help Norway compete for the cream of the people prepared to travel so far North and endure the reality of life in Norway. Much as it's hard to see what the UK did with its North Sea Oil, I wonder what the ultimate legacy of Norway's wealth will be. It's not a happy place regardless of what the OECD says. How can a place where 50% of the population will suffer from depression or anxiety be the best country in the world to live?

Let's look more at this judgement ...

"Finally, legislation such as that at issue in the main proceedings, which makes 
acquisition of the right to unemployment benefits subject to actual presence is likely, 
by its very nature, to operate to a particular disadvantage for unemployed workers 
residing outside the territory of Norway."

Now this seems a re-visiting of a case in 2011 where Norway was given its "final warning". See here

I wonder how long Norway can carry on attracting this kind of attention before it affects it's ability to attract the foreign workers it needs? As in the UK, the country would fall apart without its foreign workers and the nation's decision the vote in greater numbers for the party of which Anders Brevik was a member shows a rightward, anti-foreigner trend.

In the UK, Nigel Farage and UKIP have made fine political capital rallying xenophobic dullards unaware why everything in their supermarket trolley is so cheap. If UKIP actually got into power and carried through their policies, I wonder how many UKIP voters would take jobs under gangmasters rinsing and packing salad for supermarkets formerly done at less than minimum wage by migrant workers? .... or maybe they'd prefer cleaning hospitals at 4am?

Something also begins to stink when a country that makes such a big deal of apparently "caring" makes it clear it doesn't care .... I suppose what worries me ... on Norway's behalf ... is that once it's got a reputation for being a place you don't go to, how do you get people to come when you need them? We know the UK and so many other countries are frauds but Norway was always a country you could take seriously and look to with affection and admire for what it had achieved in such an inclement climate. Now, it's beginning to look a bit like a lottery winner lacking class but trying very hard.

I got this from a bloke who worked in Norway .... he doesn't anymore as far as I know ... "Finally I will not contact KPMG again because I have no desire to pay 1,750kr an hour fot their services especially when Stavanger won't even talk to them so I will not use a penny more than the 12,000kr I used already on nothing to be honest"

""The Norwegian tax authorities have now accepted the majority of my business expenses and have credited me with the majority of the tax which has been taken from me at source. As you're probably aware, tax is deducted from workers' income by their employer. In accordance to Norwegian law, the employer is responsible for deducting tax from the worker's gross income and is responsible for payment of the tax to the Norwegian authorities. However in my case, some employers have either not filled in the correct paperwork or not paid the  tax which has been taken from my gross income. The Norwegian tax department will not credit me with these amounts which effectively means that they expect me to pay it twice! I have already paid these amounts in accordance to contracts with my employers and Norwegian law. I find it completely unfair to be "double taxed" for something which is out of my control.
This is the only "main" issue I have left outstanding with them... But I have hired a Norwegian tax consultant at great time and financial cost to myself in order to be treated fairly!"

and then there's this from the same book ...

""Hello, My name is ******* ********** / 3/77 working in Norway since 2002.
Here are the facts in my case:
Last year, the Norwegian Tax Office took 7500 Nok from my bank account claiming I have to
pay taxes that have been deducted already from my pay by a former employer who went
bankrupt and didn't pay my taxes for 2007,2008 and some of 2009 when the company declared
The Norwegian Tax Office are still claiming I owe them money...due to penalties and money
imposed for not paying the taxes that were "stolen" by the now bankrupt Norwegian firm..
So if you can help, please let me know,
My kind regards, ****** *******"

There's more of this kind of stuff in the book .. in the UK you occasionally get headlines like this .... yet in Norway, it seems you get your taxes "stolen", Skatteetaten add interest and fines and then you're denied benefits .... so where will that lead?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Why do you have to read stuff like this here and not in your newspaper?

.... because what you really NEED to know doesn't sell newspapers. If you buy and read newspapers full of guff you don't need to know, whose fault is that?

I've been following for some time this story about an English couple, Paul Hodgkinson and his wife Andrea who tried settling in Norway. It's tragic. The URLS below will tell you most of what you need to know about their plight  ...... my situation is briefly summed up after that ...

If you're new to this blog, a quick summary of my situation in Norway is :

Worked and paid taxes in Norway for 23 years
Owned a house in Norway (only house I've ever owned) for 15 years
Have a 14 year old Norwegian son of whom I have shared custody

UDI (Norwegian Immigration Service) refused to renew my Norwegian residence permit 6 months after my son was born because my work sometimes (146 days work in Norway, 53 at sea) took me aboard Norwegian registered boats sailing out of Norway which they interpreted as me not being in Norway for more than three months at a time and therefore, I didn't need a residence permit so they wouldn't give me one (which is where this piece of information from the Skatteetaten ... Norwegian tax ministry ... web site is pertinent)
"Persons who are resident in Norway are as a rule obliged to be members of the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme, cf. the National Insurance Act section 2-1. A person is deemed to be resident if his/her stay in Norway is intended or has lasted for at least 12 months. It is a condition that the person in question has a residence permit in Norway. Membership applies irrespective of the employee’s citizenship and the employer’s nationality.”
Of course, National Insurance Contributions are still included in my tax assessments so I am regarded as a tax resident of Norway, National Insurance Contributions are taken from me but I am entitled to nothing in return ... no regular doctor, no social security, no "dagpenger" (dole), "sykpenger" (sickness benefit) or even money to look after my son if he lives with me permanently.
The EFTA Surveillance Authority ruled Norway's administration of benefits to foreign workers illegal in this 2011 ruling 
Since then I have kept my presence in Norway legal by not being here more than 3 months at a time
After my unsuccessful attempt to renew my residence permit, I was obliged to sign off the Norwegian "folkregister" turning the only house I owned into my "holiday home" as far as the Norwegian state was concerned.. I then spent years trying to deal with the tax implications of running a business from "a holiday home" (not necessarily legal)
440,000-+ Norwegian Krones (about £50,000) worth of taxes deducted from my gross turnover (30%) paid to Norway between 1989 and 1997 were awarded ZERO pension points. Bear this in mind if you're thinking of being self-employed in Norway. 30% of your GROSS turnover ... not your wages or income AFTER EXPENSES.
Just after that, my application for a tax card was refused because I didn't live in Norway. This put me onto a special tax regime for foreign workers where taxes were deducted at source even though I still "lived" in between contracts with my son at my Norwegian house on what I'd managed to save.
In 2009 I was one of about 20 foreign workers  working in Norway through a Norwegian firm based in Sarpsborg called Elite Music run by Elise Høvik and her daughter Ywonne Skjønnhaug (also uses variations on that name .. "Yvonne" ).  The hotel in which I worked in April 2009 paid Elite Music the appropriate fees and Elite Music didn't pay me. The same thing happened for the May 2009 contract. It was then I contacted NAV (the Norwegian Social Security / benefits department with this email ....

"I have not been paid by Elite Music for work done at ***********  Hotels who say they have paid Elite Music. Elite Music's contracts say "Godkjent av Arbeidsdirektoratet".
It seems about 16 workers are owed about 1,000,000,00,- by Elite Music. Elite Music staff are now working at *******  Booking who have been appointed exclusive booking agents for workers into ********* Hotels.
I have a 10 year old son in Norway and have a bolig lan (mortgage) I have to pay every month as well as money to support my son who lives with his mother who is depressed and long term unemployed through sickness.
Can you help me and the other artistes get paid? We are all just getting deeper and deeper into debt."
This email was ignored. I re-sent it to them a year later .... this generally how things work in Norway ....

I visited the NAV office near to where I was working. They told me to contact the police in Ostfold (Sapsborg area) . This achieved nothing. 

By September 2009 I was owed a total of 100,000,- Norwegian Kroner and had been living in Norway by drawing money out of Norwegian cash points using a British credit card and using that to pay my maintainance (due even though my son chose to spend most of his time with me when I was "home")

By February 2010, I'd eventually got my hands on papers and deciphered them and forensically worked out Elite Music had been "creaming off" some of my tax deductions for years and doing the same with the other foreign artistes. This created an accounting nightmare since I couldn't produce a Norwegian tax return for 2007 until I had INCLUDED into my Norwegian tax return the expenses included in the invoices to Elite Music which they HADN'T declared to Skatteetaten.

I notified Skatt Vest of the months work in 2007 Elite Music had not declared to them and waa told it was too late to appeal against the tax assessment for 2007 (including National Insurance Contributions of course) they'd imposed on me. However, in November 2010, they sent me a letter (confidential) telling me how to manage the debris of the accounting chaos Elite Music had created with advice on how to fill in my tax returns for 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Not only can I not find any evidence of Elite Music or the people who ran the business being prosecuted for stealing foreign workers wages and taxes, I can't find any evidence of ANY Norwegian company being prosecuted for stealing foreign workers taxes and / or wages.

If you have any evidence of this, please send it.

I have never recovered from 2009's eventa which, of course, were ultimately set in motion by me being stupid enough to accept work on a Norwegian boat in 1999 which justified my residence permit not being renewed..

This is why I am about to lose my house as the fines and interest due for late or non submission of accounts combined with the loss of work to regular customers who themselves were obliged to use future budgets to deal with the trouble Elite Music caused for them .....has proved fatal to my business. My ex can live on benefits in Norway where there is no work forever. If I am not to abandon my Norwegian son to a depressed Mum and try and avoid being "an absent father", I have to keep a house where I have never worked to keep contact with him and try and live of what I've saved. The reality is, without access to any benefits, I've been living on money I should have saved to pay my restskatt and it's the tax department taking my house.

Of course, I don't have any right to live in Norway to collect what's left of my Norwegian pension anyway so I would have to leave soon anyway.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Why you shouldn't be a foreigner in Norway

This is similar to another post. I thought this one had been lost due to a PC failure ... if you read the other post and think this is too similar, sorry to waste your time .....

OK, let's simplify this ... apart from the fact that foreigners are rarely welcome unless they're tourists spending money (you're always going to be seen as a foreigner taking a native's job ... unless you are unique ... like Bruce Springsteen ...) how will you actually be administered, even somewhere like Norway.

1. You work in Norway and have national insurance contributions deducted from your income which entitles you to benefits when you are ill or out of work ... ahh, no ... not in Norway because ...

" . A person is deemed to be resident if his/her stay in Norway is intended or has lasted for at least 12 months. It is a condition that the person in question has a residence permit in Norway." ...

but what if you don't have a residence permit?

At the moment, you may not "need" a residence permit (EU - EAA citizens etc.) and are merely required to "register" ... if you apply for a residence permit because you are having national insurance contributions deducted from your earnings and don't have a residence permit .... you are paying into a scheme of which you cannot be a member. If you are merely "registered", are you classed as having a residence permit? Superficially, not being required to have a residence permit may seem a "bonus" and attractive ... you can just turn up in Norway, register and get a job cleaning dishes in a hotel ... but what happens if you ever need anything in return for you national insurance contributions?

After 23 years of paying tax in Norway, after my wages and tax deductions were stolen by a Norwegian firm (Elite Music, Sarpsborg) selling me to clients, I found myself broke, with my son living with me (his Norwegian Mum was particularly depressed) and with no work because the Norwegian companies I'd worked for had also lost most of their next year's budget because  of Elite Music. I got Social Security payments for about 6 weeks because my Norwegian son needed to be warm and fed. That's all I've had in 23 years of paying taxes here.

This is how Norway does it ... one department (Skatteetaten) takes the money from you or your employer takes taxes from your wages. If they don't pass it on to Skatteetaten, will they be prosecuted? Ask Skatteetaten ... don't take my word for it .... ask them who they have prosecuted for not passing on to Skatteetaten tax they have deducted .. ... go on ...

So, that's it ... special rules for non-Norwegians .... they're everywhere ... I can only assume if you think coming to work in Norway is a good idea you really haven't done your homework.

Why do you want to come to Norway? It's beautiful? You can come for a holiday .... you like the people (they ARE nice people) ... you can come for a holiday ...... like many other places, they can be friendly to foreigners but it's a delicate country and society in many ways and just one or two foreigners moving into a small community makes a difference and, of course, you're presuming the local government know how to administer foreigners trying to settle in Norway .... you might be the first they've seen ... they'll be more used to foreigners in the cities in Norway but can you afford to live there?

So you REALLY want to move to Norway?

You have to understand 1. Why do you have to read this here? 2. There must have been a lot of complaints from foreign workers in Norway denied benefits to trigger the EFTA Surveillance Authority's cases against Norway regarding the way the foreign workers' work, taxes, national insurance contributions and "residency" was being administered by the Norwegian State and 3. Norway can continue creating new rules that apply only to foreign workers that, even though they may ultimately be ruled "illegal" by the EFTA Court, will have served their purpose by helping Norway subsidise the cost of the 1.2 million Norwegians residents on some kind of benefit by taking national insurance contributions from foreign workers whol will be forever denied benefits.

First of all read this ..

then understand this ....

" . A person is deemed to be resident if his/her stay in Norway is intended or has lasted for at least 12 months. It is a condition that the person in question has a residence permit in Norway."

Now you may have already learned the UDI web site says if you are an EU / EAA citizen you "don't need" a residence permit and merely need to register so, if you apply for a residence permit, you'll be smilingly told "oh, you don't need one". Despite me having a son in Norway, my only house in Norway and most of my work in Norway, my application to RENEW my existing residence permit failed because my work took me out of Norway occasionally meaning I was in Norway less than three months at a time so I therefore didn't NEED a residence permit even though refusing to renew my residence permit stopped dead in its tracks any progress I'd made towards permamnent residence in the nation of which my son was a citizen but I wasn't.

Obviously, to merely assume that Norway could, even if it wanted to, assimilate you, as a foreign worker, into it's welfare, health, tax and civil systems is wildly unrealistic. If laws were merely being badly or wrongly interpreted by Norwegian civil servants, it might be another matter but looking at official Norwegian web sites and the ways the laws are drafted and worded shows quite clearly the intent and thinking behind them. 

So one part of the Norwegian government (Skatteetaten) takes tax and national insurance contributions from you ... or authorises your employer to do that then UDI makes sure you don't have a residence permit so you cannot be part of the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme ... (see above) and just to make sure, NAV has the rules mentioned by the EFTA Surveillance Authority ruling you should have read above ..

If your tax deductions are stolen, will the Norwegian firm that took your taxes and didn't pay them to Skatteetaten be prosecuted by Skatteetaten? Ask Skatteetaten for examples of Norwegian companies they have prosecuted for taking foreign (and Norwegian) workers' tax deductions and merely stuffing them into their pockets ... go on!!! ...... ask them here ...

So, if you think you're going to be protected by international or EU laws that forbid Norway from having rules that stop foreign workers getting benefits in return for the National Insurance Contributions deducted from their wages, think again ... even if the current rules are rescinded by the Norwegian State, other laws that can also ultimately be ruled illegal by the EFTA Survaillance Authority can be drafted which will take a few years of operation to generate complaints to the EFTA Surveillance Authority who will then spend a few years going through their procedures by which time yet more laws designed to serve the same function will exist and so it will go on ...

Now if you are refused benefits after the bar in Ibiza in which you have been working goes bust, you can sleep on the beach. When you're refused benefits and haven't been paid in Norway, where do you sleep, even in the height of summer, where, if you're lucky, you may wake up with hypothermia? Outside of summer, you may not wake up at all.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Stuff that doesn't reach the media

More to come .....

Thinking of moving to Norway? Here's my story ...

My story is incredibly convoluted and boring to this just taking a passing interest so, here’s my story in Norway as briefly as is workable.

I worked in Norway, legally, with work permits for 9 years, paying tax in Norway and obliged to stay out of Norway for 3 months each time I left the country. Then the rules changed and I worked in Norway for more than 6 months in a year and an attempt was made to move me off the foreign workers’ tax scheme onto the main tax regime for Norwegian citizens and residents. That failed when Trondheim kommune simply refused to accept me as a resident. By this time, I had a tax card and had met a Norwegian girl and we’d bought a house in the Norwegian countryside (it was affordable), I got a residence permit, registered myself as a business, still had a tax card and was still moving things over to Norway from the UK so I may not have been in Norway for more than 3 months at a time.

The next year started with me flying to Bodo north of the Arctic Circle to work the day my son was born in Norway. The label on the suitcase of receipts from the previous year I’d mailed to myself in Bodo (I needed to work on my tax return) came off before it had travelled far from my “home” and was returned back to the sending post office. They phoned “home” to tell me it had been returned but the house was empty as my girlfriend was still in hospital with my son. The local post office then remembered I was working in Tromso and sent the suitcase there.

I’d given up having my post forwarded by the post office since it seemed it wasn’t anyones’ job at the local post office to attend to such things and what after a month’s worth of post had been forwarded to the very disorganised place I’d just left, I never had my post forwarded by the Norwegian post office again (they also “lost” another suitcase about four months previous to the one going to Bodo). It seemed the routine was to ignore the forwarding instructions for a month then realise the post should have been forwarded, panic, send the post without looking at the date forwarding was supposed to end and decide it was best to just leave it in the postboks. Even if post DID reach where I was working, it then had to run the gauntlet of perhaps well meaning bosses who would collect post for me but, before they could give it to me, end up going out for a night on the tiles and forgetting they ever collected my post. On a couple of occasions, I was in bosses’ offices and recognised the envelopes my Mum in the UK used to forward post amongst a pile of papers and would ask if that was post for me. They usually say “no” and have look and say “oh, it is! How did that get there?”

The problem with owning a house where it transpired there was no work for me and no business renting out to tourists is that, even though national insurance contributions were included in my tax bill, I wasn’t entitled to unemployment or social security so I had to keep working and that meant travelling further and further away from the house.

February, a month or so after my son was born, my residence permit was due for renewal. I filled out the form enclosing the only contracts I had showing how I was going to support myself in Norway. These were three contracts on a Norwegian registered boat covering 68 days. As usual, all the contracts for the land based jobs covering 146 days arrived after the application was sent. April came and there was no reply to my residence permit application and I was aware I may have been “living” in Norway illegally and I signed off the folkregister. The application to renew my residence permit was refused on the grounds that I didn’t need one since I wasn’t in Norway more than three months at a time. My work and circumstances didn’t change for the next 14 years so I kept my time in Norway legal by not being in the country for more than three months at a time yet somehow juggling being a Dad with having no work where my son and girlfriend lived.

This didn’t actually do the relationship with my girlfriend much good. She became depressed and went onto high doses of anti-depressants (50% of all Norwegians will suffer from depression and / or anxiety) and eventually we broke up but she, being Norwegian could carry on living in the middle of nowhere in Norway as a sick single mother on welfare benefits. I now had to :-

  1. Not be in Norway more than 3 months at a time
  2. Work more to cover the cost of paying a mortgage on my own
  3. Pay child benefit
  4. Somehow manage to find time and money to be “home” and have shared custody of my son living on “savings” since I had no entitlement to social security or unemployment benefits

I was blissfully unaware at this time that £50,000 worth of tax deducted from my wages had not been awarded any pension points in Norway and that a Norwegian company had been deducting taxes from my wages and only paying some of them to Skatteetaten. As far as I know, the people running Elite Music, Sarpsborg, Ywonne Biering Diana Skjønnhaug and her mother Elise Høvik were never prosecuted but the consequences of their “administration” of foreign workers taxes has been disastrous.

In my own case, since I’d signed off the folkregister when my un-renewed residence permit expired, I wasn’t registered as “living” in Norway and was on a foreigners’ tax schedule, all my mail was going to a PO Box in the UK I had kept after I “moved” to Norway. Mail from that PO Box went to my 80 year old Mum in the UK who did a much better job of forwarding mail to me than the Norwegian post office ever did.  She forwarded post to the postboks I had in Norway which I eventually collected when I went back “home” to my house in Norway to enjoyed some of my shared custody of my son.

The Norwegian tax return is, of course, designed for people who “live” in Norway. Since my residence permit renewal had been refused, I hadn’t had any idea where I had “lived”. The only thing I knew was that I owned a house in Norway, worked there, paid taxes there, had a son there but had a British passport and wasn’t supposed to be in Norway more than three months at a time (as an EU citizen, I was at least entitled to that).

The Norwegian Tax return asked me to enter the km travelled between “home” and work. Work was rarely the same place more than twice in a year and keeping in Norway less than three months at a time meant I sometimes went to jobs in Norway from the UK after one of my scheduled trips out of Norway to avoid being there illegally. This made me worry my distance calculations might be challenged as being fraudulent but, quite apart from that, since “travel expenses” were included in the invoices I sent to Elite Music, until I knew which months of work in Norway Elite Music had declared to Skatteetaten, I couldn’t know which travel expenses to declare and which to exclude.

About a year after I’d told Skatt Vest to send paperwork regarding my taxes to the postboks in Norway, papers where still being sent to the UK (I had to keep on paying for the PO Box in the UK just to make sure I didn’t miss any post from Skatt Vest, it was the only post arriving in it) and that included the papers showing what tax and work HAD been declared to Skatteetaten / Skatt Vest and what taxes HAD been paid to them. In February 2010 I finally managed to understand these papers and wrote and email to Skatt Vest (in which I told them I was travelling that day 7 hours away from my postboks to work) saying I had found details of the months Elite Music hadn’t declared and paid tax on enabling me to know which travel expenses could be entered on the 2007 tax return. They replied by letter to my postboks whilst I was in Sandefjord telling me I had three days to appeal against the 2007 tax assessment AT MY LOCAL OFFICE (where on earth was that? I didn’t even “live” in Norway?) and the Elite Music issue might be something I’d should bring up with the tax collector. 9 months later, I finally got a letter from Skatt Vest telling me how I should accommodate some of the chaos created by Elite Music in the 2007, 2008 and 2009 tax returns.

This chaos continued for years (and is still ongoing) and in the summer of 2010, I finally managed, when I was “home” to visit, 40 minutes away, my “local tax office” (Skatt Vest … I never work in the Skatt Vest area but I have to visit their offices .. I went into a Skatt Ost office and was told they couldn’t help me because I was a “Skatt Vest customer”) for advice on how to fill in my tax return for 2009 since I had no idea how much of the tax deducted from my wages by Elite Music had actually been paid to Skatt Vest. I was in the office for about 2 minutes whilst the receptionist told me they know nothing about foreign workers’ taxes and I needed to contact the office that had told me to contact my local tax office. I was literally being sent round in circles.

I am far from being alone in experiencing these problems. Over 20 foreign workers were unpaid by Elite Music in 2009 (including me … by September 2009 I was owed about £12,000 for work I’d done through Elite Music who had also been underdeclaring my work to Skatteetaten and not paying all taxes they’d deducted from me for a few years). On top of this, a neighbour who wanted to build a mini hydro electric plant had brought a case to “rationalise” the rights to water in the area which somehow involved me and produced kg of paperwork in legal Norwegian Nynorsk and Bokmal I couldn’t afford to have professionally translated and, the tax return asks if I have an income from water rights / hydro-electricity, a question to which I don’t know the answer until I get all the paper translated.

On top of this, every year, lightning fries my ADSL modem meaning I come “home”, collect my post then find I’m not online. I get online just as it’s time for me to go to work again. My house suffered water damage whilst I was away at work in 2009 and 2010 (20 months later, I am still waiting for the insurance company to organise someone to come and fix the open pipes to the septic tanks where toilets used to be. A snow plough drove through my broadband and phone intake one year then the next Hurricane Dagmar wrecked the telecommunications infrastructure so I am now dealing with a backlog of tax problems and a backlog of insurance cases on top of a load of paperwork surrounding the building of a hydro-electric plant I need to decipher.

A Norwegian could cite stress as a reason for taking a year off on benefits to plough through this stuff but, after paying tax to Norway for 23 years and owning a house here for 15, I’m still not even entitled to a regular doctor let alone any benefits even if I’m ill. Norwegian friends kindly suggest I’m of an age now where I should be going to see “my doctor” to get this and that checked. I’ve never had a doctor in Norway. I don’t say anything. I’d be wasting my breath. They can't do anything to change the system that governs my life here. I miss the UK!

I’m posting this “as is”. Sorry for any typos!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Getting English TV in Norway

You need a free to air satellite receiver, the best LNB you can get and a fairly large dish.

If you look at, you can see the footprints of satellites and the dish sizes needed to receive transmissions. Err on the side of better too big than too small. Too small may simply be a waste of time. The signal will be weak enough with a big dish overpowered by neighbouring satellites and will need careful adjustment. If you're handy with concrete or drilling into rock, fix your dish that way. Forget motorised systems. They're too prone to wear and tear. Set your dish up perfectly then set it in stone!

The dish needs to be pointed at 28.2 degrees east to get the transmissions from the cluster of Astra and Eurobird satellites there. When you have BBC World, Bloomberg and CNN, you're close (or pointing at the 19 degrees E Astras). Tune the satellite dish until the signal for these is as strong as possible then look for BBC1 (stronger than BBC2, 3 & 4). If you're getting shopping channels like paversshoes, you're also pretty well tuned in. You'll also get some free, mild porn or swingers / gay chat sites. It's a pain but if you have kids, spend a bit of time deleting these. It won't take long. If you don't, it's a bit like using the top shelf of a newsagents as a babysitter.

If you're into techy stuff and have the right gear (old PC with a serial port, right cable, popular receiver etc.) you can sometimes download firmware hacks and flash your receiver to get scrambled premium channels until codes change. I've only updated the firmware on my receivers to make them as up to date as possible so I know nothing about getting paid for channels.

Get a smaller dish pointing towards the Sirius and Thor sats to get Norwegian radio and SOME TV content.

In theory, if you're sick of Norwegian broadband venders, you could get your broadband from the UK via satellite, again, with a big enough dish.

If you want to watch BBC iPlayer outside of the UK, there's some buggy software that gives you a UK based IP address. I've tried it but thought it allowed too much garbage to come through the portal it opened in the firewall so I undinstalled it. I think it's called expatshield or something like that.

Good luck!