A place in the world where guns are recommended by the Governor
By angelamontana

Posted: September 18, 2020

Have you heard of Svalbard?  The Governor of Svalbard recommends people carry firearms while there.

Due to the polar bear threat in Svalbard, anyone travelling outside the settlements must be equipped with appropriate means of frightening and chasing off polar bears. The Governor of Svalbard also recommends having firearms with you.

It is forbidden to carry loaded firearms within settlement areas in Longyearbyen. The firearm should be carried so that everyone can see that there is no ammunition in it. You are not allowed to carry firearms in shops or public buildings.

As you can see, it isn’t a free-for-all old school western shootout, but it is interesting to know a place like this exists.  If you’re planning on traveling there, then here are the importing/exporting regulations:

Norway has its own national firearms register. If you have purchased a firearm while living in Svalbard, the firearm will be registered here, and it is considered a Norwegian firearm. When moving from Svalbard to the mainland, you do not need a separate import permit from the police district you are moving to. The firearms permit is considered an import permit in this case.

If the firearm is for protection against polar bears, this will be written at the bottom of the firearms permit. You cannot bring this firearm to the mainland.

If you send firearms to the mainland in a separate shipment, e.g. in a container, you must attach a copy of the firearms permit.

You cannot take large quantities of ammunition to the mainland without import permits, cf. Section 64–65 in the Firearms Regulations (våpenforskriften).  You can obtain this by contacting the police district that you are moving to.

Private individuals cannot buy or sell ammunition.  Ammunition that you are not taking with you to the mainland can be delivered to The Governor of Svalbard for disposal.

Information on rules for the import and export of firearms to/from overseas countries can be found on the Norwegian Customs Service’s website.

As a matter of fact, the polar bear threat is so serious that they actually rent guns, too.

Firearms for protection against polar bears can be rented from authorised firearms dealers in Svalbard. Processing of applications for renting firearms can take up to one month. The following requirements apply:

Private individuals over the age of 18 must apply to the office of the Governor of Svalbard for permission to rent a rifle for protection against polar bears.

Foreign nationals who have not lived in Norway for the last five years must submit a certificate of good conduct from their home country. The certificate must be translated into Norwegian or English. The certificate of good conduct must not be older than six months old and must be translated by a certified translator.

Private persons over the age of 18 who have a valid firearms permit or European Firearms Pass can rent a rifle without applying for permission from The Governor of Svalbard.

A valid photo ID and firearms permit must be shown to the firearms dealer you are renting from. Foreign firearms permits/licences must be translated into Norwegian or English.

The application must contain all the necessary documentation. Incomplete applications will not be processed.

General requirements for applicants:

  • sober and responsible

  • at least 18 years old

  • must be proficient in handling and using a rifle

  • foreign nationals must submit a certificate of good conduct from their home country. The certificate must be translated into Norwegian or English

The firearm cannot be left with anyone else, even in connection with the delivery of the firearm from the firearms dealer or the return of the firearm.

Tour operators and research institutions can also hire firearms for protection against polar bears. In this case, one person must take responsibility for the rental. This person must meet the same criteria as for private persons renting a firearm.

People over the age of 18 can rent emergency signalling equipment without applying for permission.

So, there are definitely regulations involved, but it is still interesting.  You can check out all of Svelbard’s firearm information by clicking here.