Getting to Svalbard

Although geographically closer to the North Pole than Norway, Svalbard is one of the most accessible parts of the High Arctic, and the least expensive to get to. There are daily scheduled flights from the Norwegian capital, Oslo, to Longyearbyen in Svalbard, which take around three hours. Though short, these flights can be scheduled for inconvenient times and may require an overnight stay in Oslo.

Flights book up quickly in spring and summer, so booking flights early is strongly recommended for getting to Svalbard. Prices vary and fluctuate, so we recommend that you carry out some research before booking.

Arctic ship operators are currently working with international bodies and local port authorities to define Health & Safety Policies that factor in Covid-19. Once these are shared with us we will update this guide accordingly, so you know what to expect. We anticipate that operators will require a negative PCR test result at embarkation as well as onboard testing, mask-wearing and other protocols, as we have seen throughout the course of the 2021/22 Antarctic season.

Entry requirements for mainland Norway

International travellers can currently enter mainland Norway without the need to:

  • Pre-register
  • Be fully vaccinated
  • Quarantine

Your passport should be valid for the duration of your trip and for six months following your entry, depending on your country of residency.

If you are not vaccinated, or you don’t have the digital Covid Pass/Certificate that British nationals/residents of the EU have, you may need to take an antigen test in Oslo – and provide evidence of a negative result – prior to embarkation. We will confirm this closer to the start of your voyage.

Please note that the CDC currently classifies Norway as a Level 4 country, so if you are travelling from the US, please ensure that your insurance policy covers you for this.

No special travel insurance is required, however, we anticipate that most of our ship operators will require travellers to have travel insurance that explicitly covers any expenses relating to Covid-19.

Visa requirements

On arrival, visitors will need to go through passport control.

While Norwegian authorities do not require a visa for visiting Svalbard, you will be transiting through mainland Norway, so you need to check if you are required to have a visa for Norway or the Schengen area. 

Getting to Svalbard

Entry requirements for Longyearbyen, Svalbard

The Svalbard archipelago comprises nine main islands. The largest is Spitsbergen – the only Svalbard island with a permanent population – and its beating heart is the quaint mining town of Longyearbyen, the de facto ‘capital of Svalbard’ and the base for all tourism. When it comes to Svalbard cruising, Longyearbyen is every traveller's starting point, no matter where in the world they have flown in from. 

Testing before Longyearbyen

If you are fully vaccinated or you’ve had Covid-19 recently, you do not need to test before you get into Longyearbyen. We expect that you may need to provide evidence of this so that you are not required to take an antigen test in Oslo prior to flying to Longyearbyen (as explained immediately below). Once this has been confirmed we will update this guide. 

If you are not vaccinated, or you are of a nationality that does not have access to a digital Covid Pass/Certificate, you may need to take an antigen test in Oslo – and provide evidence of a negative result – prior to flying to Longyearbyen. We will confirm this nearer to the start of your voyage. 

Health & safety

It is not yet confirmed what Covid-19 testing will be required as part of your ship operator’s health and safety policy, or how the process will work if you are heading from the airport directly to your ship. We expect to receive further updates on this in the coming weeks and will update this guide accordingly.

It is possible that the information shared in this guide will evolve as we near the start of the season. We will continue to provide updates as soon as they are available.

Getting to Svalbard

Zodiac cruising in Svalbard

Booking flights

Svalbard Flying Plane

When you are booking your flights you will need to check your trip dates carefully and ensure you are arriving in plenty of time, especially if you are joining a vessel for a cruise. If you are late, the ship will not wait for you.

Pre-pandemic, airlines would release flights 11 months to a year before the travel date, so booking early would usually secure the best availability and often the best prices. This wasn’t guaranteed as airlines price ‘dynamically' to maximise revenue. Covid-19 changed this pattern and airlines are responding to the pandemic on a more reactive basis. This makes it difficult to predict when the best flight availability, pricing and flexibility will be live.

Booking your international flights – and domestic flights, where relevant – will depend on your personal circumstances. Some of our passengers are choosing to wait to purchase flights, while others are preferring to book their flights to take advantage of current availability and pricing. We would recommend that you seek the advice of an airline or flight specialist.

Changeable/refundable tickets will give you peace of mind and flexibility should anything unexpected happen. Whatever you choose, we strongly recommend that you opt for flexible ticket options.

Pre-voyage arrangements

We strongly advise building in a minimum of two nights at the start of your itinerary to provide a buffer in case of travel delay. This allows time for any mandatory pre-embarkation arrangements, including Covid-19 testing, and ensures you’re refreshed and ready for your adventure. Some cruise packages may already include one night of pre-voyage accommodation; please check your itinerary for details.

As stated above, the cruise will not wait for you if you are delayed arriving at the start point, so it is sensible to plan in plenty of time for your travels.

Getting to Svalbard

Charter flights

Svalbard is sparsely populated and flights to Longyearbyen aren't always scheduled for convenient times. Because of this, our expedition trips sometimes include charter flights from Oslo to Longyearbyen and back. If you have charter flights included, please refer to your itinerary for more information or reach out to your Customer Experience Coordinator with any questions. Please note you will still need to arrange your international flights. 

If you do not have charter flights included in your trip, you will need to arrange your own domestic flights to and from Longyearbyen, as well as your international flights. 

Swoop does not have an in-house flights team, so you will need to book your international flights directly with the airline, or use a local flight agent.

Getting to Svalbard
Swoop Says background image

Swoop says

Swoop does not have an in-house flights team, so you will need to book your international flights – as well as domestic flights in cases where charter flights are not included in your trip – directly with the airline, or use a local flight agent.

Arranging your travel insurance

Although the Norwegian government recently declared that foreign nationals entering Norway do not need to have medical insurance that explicitly covers any expenses relating to Covid-19, we anticipate that your ship operator will require this.

You should bring your complete travel insurance policy with you when travelling in order to provide evidence of Covid-19 coverage, as needed. As well as ensuring your full policy is available on your phone or tablet, we recommend that you carry a printout and a spare copy in case you lose one.

If your insurance policy does not explicitly mention Covid-19 – for example, if it is included as standard – then you should request evidence in writing, such as an email you can print off, from your insurer.

It is your responsibility to check with your insurance provider to ensure that you have the appropriate cover in place.

SVALBARD(2)

White landscapes of Svalbard

Returning home from Svalbard

It is possible that your home country (or onward destination) may require you to test prior to travelling from Norway.

We are collating information regarding potential costs and where testing sites will be located. Once we have this information, we will share them in our guide to Returning home from the Arctic.

Getting to Svalbard

Other essential information