FAQ: Traveling to Svalbard
Get to know Svalbard before your voyage with our overview of frequently asked questions.
WHAT ARE THE CUSTOMS REGULATIONS IN SVALBARD?
At ”Nordpolet” visitors can buy a certain amount of tax-free alcoholic drinks. Tourists have to show their airline ticket when shopping and are allowed to buy in total:
2 bottles containing more than 21% alcohol
1 bottle of wine containing 14-21% alcohol
6 cans/bottles of beer
Wine (up to 14%) can be bought without producing an airline ticket. Not all of the above can be taken from tax-free to the mainland. Each person is only allowed to buy 2 liters, e.g.:
1 liter of liquor/spirts (more than 21%) and 1 liter wine (14 to 21%)
2 liters of wine (14 to 21%)
2 liters of wine (less than 14%)
It is possible to buy more but you will have to pay duty on it. In total, visitors are allowed to shop for NOK 6000 of goods without paying taxes.
WILL I GET SIGNAL ON MY PHONE?
Mobile phones can be used in Longyearbyen and Barentsburg only. There is no mobile coverage during the voyage at sea.
WHAT IS SHOPPING LIKE IN SVALBARD?
Svalbard is a tax-free area which means that many commodities are cheaper here than on the Norwegian mainland. Longyearbyen has a variety of shops selling everything from perfumes to outdoor- and sports equipment, gifts and souvenirs. Norwegian Kroner (NOK) is used all over Svalbard, also in the Russian settlement of Barentsburg. Credit cards are accepted in Longyearbyen. There is also an ATM in the center of Longyearbyen. In Barentsburg credit cards are accepted as well as Norwegian Kroner (NOK), USD, and Euro. In Ny-Ålesund credit cards and Norwegian Kroner are both accepted. However, we do recommend our guests to bring cash in NOK for use ashore.
DO I HAVE TO TAKE OFF MY SHOES INDOORS?
On Svalbard it is a tradition to take off your shoes when entering private houses, hotels and certain shops and public offices. Aboard the ship you may wear ordinary shoes or tennis shoes. Shoes with good soles are recommended for use outdoors on deck and for excursions ashore. On board the ship as well as in the hotel we advise you to bring a pair of shoes to use indoors. It is important that the shoes have a good grip (no slippery sole).
WHAT ARE THE SEASONS IN SVALBARD?
From April 19th through August 23rd Longyearbyen has Midnight Sun. From October 26th through February 16th it is dark, and from November 14th through January 29th it is what we call the polar nights which means that it is still dark but the sun is lower than 6º below the horizon.
DO I NEED A WEAPON FOR PROTECTION AGAINS POLAR BEARS?
On all Hurtigruten voyages and activities safety is maintained by experienced guides carrying weapons, and giving warning shots if necessary. The authorities on Svalbard, together with the travel industry advise facts and make recommendations to travelers taking part in organized activities in order to protect both visitors and the polar bear population. If you are going outside Longyearbyen on your own, it is recommended that you take a weapon because of the polar bear danger. On organized trips the guide will always be responsible for safety and will carry a weapon and equipment.