This is a piece I wrote up and partly stole from Wikipediaand some other sources about the right to roam in Norway for my blog. Sweden also have similar laws...putting it here as I understand some of you plan to get here or go now and then :-)
What some visitors to Norway may have noticed is the lack of signs with texts like “Keep out!” or “No trespassing”. The reason is that for most places such signs would be illegal.
Yup, you do not need to clean your glasses, you read it right. In Norway, a landowner has no right to keep people off his land. Of course there are some rules governing this. And you may not roam around in someones garden, or trample across a cultivated field. But other than that, you are more or less free to go where you please.
You may even pick berries and mushrooms, and otherwise harvest from natures produce at your leisure. However fishing in freshwater lakes and rivers is not included in this. But saltwater fishing is. And in most places it’s is very easy to buy a fishing licence.
The freedom to roam is set in what we call the “all men’s right”. Here as explained by Wikipedia:
Everyone in Norway enjoys the right of access to, and passage through, uncultivated land in the countryside. The right is an old consuetudinary law called the allemannsrett (lit. all men’s right), that was codified in 1957 with the implementation of the Outdoor Recreation Act. It is based on respect for the countryside, and all visitors are expected to show consideration for farmers and landowners, other users and the environment. In Norway the terms utmark and innmark divide areas where the right is valid and where it is not. The law specifies innmark thoroughly, and all areas not covered by this definition are defined as utmark, generally speaking uninhabited and uncultivated areas. Cultivated land may only be walked on when it is frozen and covered in snow.
In later years the right has come under pressure particularly around the Oslo Fjord and in popular areas of Southern Norway. These areas are popular sites for holiday homes and many owners of coastal land want to restrict public access to their property. As a general rule, building and partitioning of property is prohibited in the 100m zone closest to the sea, but local authorities in many areas have made liberal use of their ability to grant exemptions from this rule. Even though a land owner has been permitted to build closer to the shore he can not restrict people from walking along the shore. Fences and other barriers to prevent public access are not permitted (but yet sometimes erected, resulting in heavy fines).
Canoeing, kayaking, rowing and sailing in rivers, lakes, and ocean are allowed. Motorised boats are only permitted in salt water. All waters are open for swimming.
Hunting rights belong to the landowner, and thus hunting is not included in the right of free access. In freshwater areas such as rivers and lakes, the fishing rights belong to the landowner. Regardless of who owns the land, fresh water fishing activities may only be conducted with the permission of the landowner or by those in possession of a fishing licence. In salt water areas there is free access to sports fishing using boats or from the shoreline. All fishing is subject to legislation to among other things protect biological diversity, and this legislation stipulates rules regarding the use of gear, seasons, bag or size limits and more.
This is allowed:
Roaming by foot on uncultivated land and in boats along the coast and on lakes year round.
Wander and bike on paths and roads.Most of the beach zone is considered uncultivated , and here you can walk freely allong the beach, but show consideration to people in the many cabins, and keep your distance when making stops.
On cultivated land you can roam from 14th October to 30th April, but only if the ground is frozen or covered in snow. Cultivated land also include grass fields for animal fodder, and grazing land.
You can pick berries, flowers, and mushrooms, but note that there are special rules for picking cloud berry in northern Norway (if you wish to live, stay away from them).
Picking nuts, if eaten on the spot.
Camp in a tent for two days without permission from the landowner or user. The distance from the nearest house or cabin however must not be less than 150 meters (165 yards), and the right to privacy must be respected. In the mountains and in remote areas, you may stay as long as you please, as long as you do not damage the natural environment. (pick up your garbage, move your tent now and then to prevent plant life under it from dying etc.)
Bathe and swim in the sea and in lakes
Light a campfire in the winter half of the year (15th Sep – 15th Apr.).
In the sea fishing is free. For freshwater lakes and rivers children under the age of 16 will get the fishing licence free of charge (except in lakes and rivers with salmon and sea-trout)
This is NOT allowed:
In built up areas (residential areas) and in a “privacy zone” near cabins and houses (ca 25 meters) the “all men’s right” does not apply. The same is true for tree plantations.
Do not leave garbage of any kind in nature.
Break off branches, or damage tree’s, and bushes that are growing.
Walk across or loiter in cultivated areas in the summer.
Light fires in wooded areas in the summer (15th Apr. – 15th Sept.)
Disturb animals and birds, including nests.
Take birds eggs from nests.
In areas protected by law there could be regulations that limit or ban roaming or gathering to protect the plant and animal life.
Show consideration, take responsibility!
Even if the all mans right gives you many rights, a positive dialogue with landowners is encouraged. If you plan to set up camp on someones land, ask the landowner for permission. He may even give you some advice on where the best camping grounds are.
A living cultural landscape needs active agriculture. Respect the landowners work and care taking.
Pay your road toll and buy a fishing license.
Keep your dog on a leash, know the rules governing this where you are.
Close the gates!