Commercial Driving Regulations of Photography Workshops and Other Tours in the Lofoten Islands and Norway

Beginning on November 1, 2020 changes to Norwegian transport laws require all small scale tourism operators (photo workshops, northern lights tours, climbing/kayak/ski guides, etc) to be in possession of a taxi license – løyve / drosjeløyve, for the transport of commercial clients.

This article will be a brief summary of the rules and regulations for Norway. As most of the information is only available in Norwegian, I thought I would provide an overview in English, as I think many (international) commercial guides are not aware of the rules which exist in Norway. These regulations are mainly for the driving and transport of paying commercial clients, in which photography workshops are considered a part, even the smallest of groups.

In Norway, all persons offering (paid) commercial transport of clients must have two things:

Kjøreseddel – Commercial Driving License

    This applies to the driver of the vehicle. All drivers must have a valid Kjøreseddel when transporting clients.

    In Norway, the Kjøreseddel is obtained from the police after filling out some paperwork and submitting a health check from the doctor. From Nov 1, 2020, obtaining a kjøreseddel also includes completing education and exams as a taxi driver. However, as a guide offering small scale group tours, the taxi training is not required, and must be stated in the application. It is my understanding that a commercial driving license from the EU is also valid within Norway.

    A kjøreseddel has no fee to receive.

    Further information can be found at: www.politiet.no/tjenester/forerkort-og-kjoreseddel/kjoreseddel-for-yrkessjaforer

    Løyve – Transport/taxi License

    This applies to the vehicle/business used for transport of paying clients. All vehicles must have a valid Løyve, and follow a series of other regulations as well, such as being registered as a taxi and yearly EU control tests.

    A løyve can only be given to a vehicle owned by the guiding company or person if self employed. Due to the requirement for police and financial checks within Norway, a løyve can only be obtained by a Norwegian registered business/person using a Norwegian vehicle. Rental cars/vans cannot be used. Further, the vehicle can only be driven by the owner or an employee of the business. ie. one cannot rent out a vehicle with a valid løyve for someone else to use. In new regulations going into effect in 2026, a new løyve will only be given to electric vehicles. Additionally, a tour guide/business must then also apply ‘not to be a taxi,’ so as to not need the otherwise required taxi meter. So yes, it is as it sounds: You need to apply to for a taxi license, and then an exemption not to be a taxi.

    In summary, only a Norwegian registered business with a Norwegian registered vehicle can offer transport of commercial clients within Norway. And the driver of said vehicle must be an owner/employee of the business with the løyve for that specific vehicle. **

    The processing fee for a løyve from the county is 3700 NOK (2023)

    The løyve is obtained from the county in which one lives or operates their business. In the case of Lofoten, this is Nordland county.

    Further information can be found at: www.nfk.no/tjenester/kollektiv-og-veg/transportloyver/drosjeloyve

    More information from the Norwegian road agency here: www.vegvesen.no/kjoretoy/yrkestransport/transportloyver-og-tillatelser

    All persons/companies possessing a valid transport løyve can be found here: www.transportloyve.no

    In the (somewhat rare) event of a traffic control, the lack of either of these two documents will result in the immediate loss of driving privileges within Norway.

    Unfortunately, these regulations make it difficult, if not more or less impossible, for non-Norwegian based guides/businesses to legally operate photo workshops, hiking tours, skiing trips, etc., within Norway, unless additionally utilising a licensed transport company. Furthermore, there are very few licensed operators within the greater Lofoten area; much less than current demand would be during the height of the photo workshop season in February and March. With expected increased enforcement in the coming years, it will have a very negative effect on tourism in Lofoten – especially during winter, when a majority of tourists are via photography workshops.

    As I wrote above, this article in mainly so these Norwegian rules can be found in English and to bring attention to new rules which kind of slipped by while the world was focused on Covid and most photo guides saw a complete collapse of their business. And, as I’ve experienced over multiple contacts with the responsible authorities, even they are not always fully understanding their own regulations. So this is just a basic summary of how the rules currently exist in January 2023.

    An additional reason for this article is that a member of Lofoten’s photography and guiding community has taken it upon themself to search via social media and websites for photographers and other guides offering workshops in Lofoten. With this, they have made multiple reports to the police and Nordland county. I’m aware of several local guides who have received ‘information’ letters from the police, as well as a German workshop leader who has been contacted by Nordland county. And I’m sure there are many more which I haven’t heard about. Rules and regulations should be followed, but a fellow guiding business spying on and reporting unsuspecting people to the police, especially after several years of Covid travel restrictions and financial difficulties in the travel industry, is not the way I would go about having a greater awareness and adoption of licensing by guiding businesses. A better idea would have been to offer information of help, such as I’m attempting with this article.

    **There are exceptions if a vehicle like a tour bus which has more than 16 passengers, but that is different than the purpose of the explanation here.

    BANFF Mountain Film Festival Lofoten

    Banff Mountain Film Festival 2017 Norway

    BANFF Mountain Film Festival – Saturday November 11, 2017. Meieret Kino, Leknes, Lofoten Islands.

    Just a final reminder that the BANFF Mountain Film festival is just a few days away.

    Come join the fun and help support outdoor initiatives on Lofoten. Beyond the films themselves, we also have some fantastic prizes to give away, including a weekend surfing package for two (including accommodation) from Unstad Arctic Surf.

    For more info and online tickets, see:

    BANFF FESTIVAL LOFOTEN

    Maybe I’ll see you there…

    Exploring Lofoten With Arctic Campers

    Arctic Campers Lofoten Islands

    While preparing for my June trip to Lofoten to grab a couple last photos for my eBook, I decided to get in contact with a new company renting out camper vans on the Islands: Arctic Campers. I often try and promote the flexibility of sleeping in a car while on Lofoten and also giving support to the local companies on the Islands, so it is good to see camper vans now added to the travel options.

    And quite frankly, I’m really surprised it has taken this long. Some of you might know, that at the start of my travels 10 years ago, I spent my first year living in a van in New Zealand, where camper vans were one of the most popular forms of transport – I bought my own, but there were many rentals available as well.

    Though Arctic Campers have a couple different models available, I used one of their VW Caddys – the Comfort Camper. Sleeping two (all bedding included) on a comfortable bed platform with plenty of gear storage underneath, the van also included free Wifi, a fridge, 2 stoves + cookware, water and sink area, a table and chairs. For those of you worried about cold, the vans are all equipped with heaters, strong enough to keep the vans toasty even in winter while you’re hunting for northern lights.

    For more info, visit Arctic Campers at: arcticcampers.no or call at: +47 410 17 430

    Arctic Campers Lofoten Islands

    Photo: Even summer rain can’t keep the popcorn away! Austvågøy, Lofoten Islands. June 2015

     

    Arctic Campers Lofoten Islands

    Photo: Beach view at Unstad, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands. June 2015

     

    Arctic Campers Lofoten Islands

    Photo: Waiting for the midnight sun, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands. June 2015

    Disclosure: I was given a modest discount for the week I rented my van so I could have the opportunity to test it out for future usage. All opinions my own as always.

    New eBook – Seasons On Lofoten Summer

    Seasons On Lofoten: Winter

    I’m super happy to announce that the second eBook in my ‘Seasons on Lofoten’ series is now available: Seasons On Lofoten – Summer

    Available as PDF, 125 pages, 98 images, and over 14,000 words. $10

    BUY THE BOOK HERE

    Building upon the same theme as the Winter edition, Seasons On Lofoten – Summer is a photography and travel guide focused on the Specifics of the summer season on the Islands.  Also included is the info for 6 of my favorite hikes and camping locations on Lofoten: Bunes beach, Horseid beach, Kvalvika beach, Ryten, Reinebringen, and Mannen.

    Hiking and Camping Gear for Lofoten

    spectacular view over mountains and fjords from Reinebringen, Lofoten islands, Norway

    Photo: Reinebringen Autumn views, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  September 2011

    If you’re interested in what hiking, camping gear and clothing I’ll be carrying with me during my Lofoten travels in August and September (plus a week or so in Sarek national park, Sweden), I’ve done a pretty extensive writeup over on my main website:

    Cody Duncan – 2013 Gear List