An exemption from the rules may be applied for for individual species. An allergy may be grounds for being granted permission to bring a tortoise into Norway. The application will then be handled by the Norwegian Food Safety Authority in cooperation with the Norwegian Environment Agency.
Applications must be made through the Norwegian Food Safety Authority's forms service. There is a link to this service in the right-hand column. If you need help completing this electronic application, please call +47 22 40 00 00.
The Norwegian Food Safety Authority works closely with the customs and police services at various border stations. Confiscated animals will primarily be returned to their country of origin. Where this is not possible, they may alternatively be put down or rehomed in zoos.
But then why are exotic pets sold in pet shops? Is it possible to legally import such as animals from abroad?
The regulations for introducing and keeping exotic animals are administrated by various government agencies. The Norwegian Food Safety Authority is one of these agencies and administrates some of the regulations.
Here we have collected information on legislation regulating exotic animals, which hopefully will provide answers to frequently asked questions. This information does not include legislation on fish and marine animals.
Regulations prohibiting the introduction, sale and keeping of exotic animals
Under Regulations no. 3 of 20 November 1976, it is prohibited to import, sell or keep alien (exotic) animals as livestock, pets or otherwise in captivity. Some of the animals sold in pet shops, such as aquarium fish, spiders, parrots and chinchillas, are in principle alien/exotic. § 1 of these Regulations, however, specifies that the prohibition only relates to alien mammals, reptiles, toads, frogs and salamanders. Birds, fish and invertebrates, such as crustaceans, arachnids, myriapoda (centipedes/millipedes) and insects, are therefore not covered by the Regulations.
Furthermore, § 2 states that, in special cases, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority may allow exemptions to the prohibition in § 1 and set conditions for such exemptions. Applications for exemptions from Regulations no. 3 of 20 November 1976 must be submitted to the district office of the Norwegian Food Safety Authority in the district where the applicant resides.
The Wildlife Act
In addition to the Regulations prohibiting alien (exotic) animals from being imported, sold or kept as livestock, pets or otherwise in captivity, all introduction of new wild species and the keeping of illegally introduced animals are regulated by Act no. 38 of 29 May 1981 relating to wildlife and wildlife inhabitants (the Wildlife Act). Under § 47, it is prohibited, without the permission of the Norwegian Environment Agency, to introduce to Norway, or to release to an area, species or subspecies of wildlife not previously occurring in the area. § 2 defines the Act as applying to all wild terrestrial mammals and birds, amphibians and reptiles. (Fish are therefore not included here either). Applications for permission in accordance with § 47 of the Wildlife Act are dealt with by the Directorate for Nature Management.
The Norwegian Food Safety Authority and the Norwegian Environment Agency have prepared a list of species that are traditionally kept in Norway and which are not to be considered as wild in relation to the processing of import applications (the "pets list"). Animals on this list can be freely imported in respect of the Wildlife Act. You must nonetheless submit an import application to the Norwegian Food Safety Authority. (The district office where you live).
Based on the pets list, it is therefore legal to sell certain species of mammal which are in principle alien (exotic). This applies, for instance, to rodents such as chinchillas, guinea pigs, hamsters, degus and gerbils.
Snakes and lizards
The pets list does not cover reptiles and amphibians and the Norwegian Food Safety Authority has therefore adopted an administrative practice that does not permit the import, sale and keeping of snakes and lizards. Where an applicant is able to document an allergy to furred animals, discretionary individual permission has been granted to import and keep a tortoise. Permission is accordingly never granted to sell snakes, lizards and amphibians in pet shops. If you come across pet shops which have or sell such species, you are requested to contact the Norwegian Food Safety Authority's district office (tel. + 47 22 40 00 00) and notify them.
A number of species, both on and not on the pets list, are also covered by Regulations no. 1276 of 15 November 2002 implementing the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) of 3 March 1973. These Regulations also cover invertebrates such as insects and spiders. The Appendices to the Convention, and explanations thereof, are available here:
The Regulations are administrated by the Norwegian Environment Agency, and any applications for exemptions from them must, pursuant to § 13, be dealt with by the Agency.
Animal health provisions
If you have received the necessary permissions and decide to import an animal into Norway, note that you must also fulfil the statutory animal-health regulations concerning imports and exports of the species in question. For exotic species of invertebrates and bees/bumblebees, the most relevant regulations will be Regulations no. 507 of 2 July 1991 prohibiting the import of animals and infectious objects, and Regulations no. 464 of 20 February 2004 concerning animal-health conditions for the import and export of live mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, bees and bumblebees.
In order to be granted permission to keep such animals in a private residence, all papers pursuant to all Acts and Regulations referred to above must be in order. If permission is not granted, there is a right to appeal the decision at the administrative level above the one taking the decision.
When it comes to invertebrates, such as insects and millipedes, some species are covered by Regulations no. 1333 of 1 December 2000 relating to plants and measures against pests. The Regulations are administrated by the Norwegian Food Safety Authority. In addition, regulations on foreign organisms pursuant to the Natural Diversity Act will regulate the import of invertebrates once adopted and in force.
All Acts and Regulations are available in Norwegian at www.lovdata.no. More information and any applications concerning this topic, and any regulations relating to fish, can be addressed to the Norwegian Food Safety Authority's district office in the area where you live, tel. 22 40 00 00 (standard rate) or by e-mail. Questions about information and any applications relating to the regulations administrated by the environmental protection agencies (the Wildlife Act, CITES, the Product Control Act) can be addressed to the Norwegian Environment Agency.