Photo: Sten- Andreas Grundvåg

New in Tromsø?

Have you just arrived in Tromsø? Are you about to start your PhD studies at the Department of Geosciences?

Below you will find useful information about the start and daily life at the department.
PDF version of this guide can be downloaded from here (English version) and here (Norwegian version).

Starting a PhD at the Department of Geosciences (Institutt for Geovitenskap – IG)

This guide is aimed towards new PhD students at the Department of Geosciences (Institutt for Geovitenskap) at UiT. It serves as a brief introduction to starting life and work in Tromsø, with references and links to resources which will hopefully make the transition into your work/project a bit easier. This document should be regularly updated, and if links no longer work, people are no longer employed at UiT, or any other information is no longer correct, please inform the distributor of this guide.

Getting started

Setting yourself up for life and work in Tromsø isn’t always simple, and often requires multiple visits to the tax office, appointments with several banks, and several meetings with the police, amongst other ‘life-admin’ tasks. If you begin to grow frustrated, you can always find a friend amongst your peers and colleagues that will understand and will be willing to help.

Registering with the police and receiving a residence card

When you are a non-Nordic or non-EU/EEA citizen arriving to Tromsø, you will need to apply for a residence visa/permit to work in Norway (this includes British citizens). All non-Norwegians (including those from EU/EEA) must attend an appointment with the police to register your move so that you can receive a national identity number. If you have come from outside the EU/EEA you will also apply for a residence card connected to your residence permit(visa). If you are applying for a work visa, you cannot book an appointment with the police until the visa has been approved. Book an appointment with the police in the UDI application portal (https://www.udi.no/en/) as soon as possible. The wait times for receiving an appointment with the police can be up to three months, and the consequences for not having your residence card and national ID number can be quite frustrating.

For further information on receiving a residence card, see the UDI page Residence cards at: https://www.udi.no/en/word-definitions/-residence-cards/

Further information can be found at the UiT web page Registration with the police and residence card (after arrival): https://en.uit.no/education/studentportal/new/art?p_document_id=638842

National Identity Number

The National Identity Number/ fødselsnummer (a.k.a. Norwegian identity number, National ID, etc.) is a temporary (D-number) or permanent identification number for Norwegian citizens and anyone with a Norwegian residence permit. If staying in Norway for more than 6 months you will receive the permanent Norwegian identify number/fødselsnummer, and if less than 6 months the D number. Depending on nationality you may need to meet with the Tax Administration (Skatteetaten) after you have registered with the police to receive your identity number, or it may come in the post after the police meeting – check when you meet with them. For more information visit the UDI page National identity number (https://www.udi.no/en/word-definitions/national-identity-number/):

It is important to register with the police as soon as possible, as you will need a national ID number before you can apply for many other important things.

Tax Deduction Card

You will need a tax deduction card if you are working and paying tax in Norway. The following description is from the page What is a tax deduction card? On the official Norwegian Tax Administration (Skatteetaten) website:

A tax deduction card is an electronic document that shows how much tax your employer must deduct before they pay your salary. The amount that your employer deducts is known as a “tax deduction”, “withholding tax” or “advance tax payment”.

Practically, the tax deduction card allows your employer (UiT) to know how much tax to deduct from your salary. Until you get this card you will be taxed at a rate of 50%. You will automatically receive the extra taxed amount back at a later date once you have your tax card. You automatically receive a tax deduction card after receiving your identity number which is visible on your profile with Skatteetaten.

For more information, go to the Norwegian Tax Administration Website: https://www.skatteetaten.no/en/person/taxes/tax-deduction-card-and-advance-tax/i-am-a-foreign-employee/tax-card/

Getting paid

You will receive your salary from UiT in Norwegian Kroner, and for this you will want a Norwegian bank account. However, you will likely not be able to open an account at a Norwegian bank before you get a national ID number. For your first few salary payments, you can:

  • Receive direct deposits into a pre-existing (foreign) account – this will most likely incur conversion and transaction fees, but is the simplest option.
  • Receive salary cheques into a prepaid Visa card.

Opening a Norwegian Bank Account

When you first start at UiT you will likely not have a Norwegian bank account. To open a Norwegian bank account, you will need:

  • National identity number (permanent) or D-number (temporary). Note: some banks will not accept D-numbers
  • Passport
  • Passport photo (in some cases)
  • Employment contract
  • Housing contract (in some cases)

Some popular Norwegian banks with branches in Tromsø are: Handelsbanken, Sparebank 1, DNB, Nordea, Danske Bank, S banken (online only)

You will often have to book an appointment in advance, and some banks have a waiting time. Its easy to switch banks once you have an account open.

Working at UiT: Rights and Obligations

When starting at UiT, the first thing you should do is familiarise yourself with the Employee Handbook (medarbeiderhandbok): https://cp.compendia.no/uit/employee-handbook/#all-content

The handbook contains information about your rights and obligations as an employee at UiT. However, only parts of the handbook are available in English, and much of it is written in dense and difficult to understand legalese. The handbook thoroughly outlines many formal requirements of employees at UiT, but often skips over the practicalities (for example you can find information on when you may take holidays, and how many days you are eligible to take off, but not how to apply). If you have any doubts or further questions about something in the handbook, make sure to contact your immediate supervisor, the Head of Administration, or – even better – the central university administration sending an e-mail to personal@uit.no.

The second thing you should do is follow and complete all the tasks on the attached document Guidance routines for new employees with your supervisor. Together with this guide, the transition to work at UiT will be smooth as silk.

Duty work (pliktarbeid)

If you have a four year contract as a PhD candidate at UiT, you will also have compulsory duty work of 25% of the total working time. This duty work often consists of assistant teaching, such as running practical exercises or helping with a fieldtrip, but can be any work that helps IG such as community outreach, lab work, or writing up a PhD guide.

For questions regarding duty work at IG, contact Anders Schomacker (anders.schomacker@uit.no).

Working hours: General working hours in the public sector are 37.5 hours per week. Working hours vary during the summer and winter:

  • 15 May to 14 September, 08.00–15.00
  • 15 September to 14 May, 08.00–15.45

See General working hours in the Employee Handbook: https://cp.compendia.no/uit/employee-handbook/209978

Employee interview

Every employee has the right to be offered an appraisal interview (medarbeidersamtale) once per year. The purpose of this appraisal interview is to focus on the working conditions of the individual colleague. Topics addressed include the working environment, work results, leadership and any other topics. The Head of Department or your nearest team leader, or somebody who this task has been delegated to by the Head of Department, should approach you each year to offer this interview. It is not compulsory, but is an important opportunity to let your voice be heard.

The faculty

The Department of Geosciences belongs to the Faculty of Science and Technology (Fakultet for Naturvitenskap og Teknologi, also known as NT-fak - https://uit.no/enhet/ntfak)

The faculty is responsible for approving final admission to the PhD program, courses you want to take, granting travel grants, etc.

The contact persons for doctoral students are Jakob Holden Hansen and Gabriela Sirbu.

Hemis – health service at UiT

Hemis offers services for companies to create a health-promoting work environment. UiT has an agreement with Hemis, which means that employees at UiT are entitled to, among other things, physiotherapy for up to 2 hours in acute conditions and support and follow-up interviews for up to 5 hours per employee, as well as advice and assistance with ergonomic matters and possible follow-ups.

Overview of employees at Hemis: https://hemis.no/ansatte

Contact by email at: tromso@hemis.no

IT

IT services

IT at UiT has compiled a list of services which new employees should become familiar with: https://en.uit.no/om/orakelet/tema?p_document_id=318363

The official IT support service at UiT is Orakelet, which has offices at Teorifagbygget house 2 (near the Mix kiosk). For IT support, contact orakel@uit.no, phone 77644544, or go to: https://en.uit.no/om/orakelet

For more information: https://en.uit.no/om/orakelet/frag?p_document_id=486406

IT-user accounts

Employee accounts are created upon arrival to UiT—contact IG’s studiekonsulent (Margrethe Lindquist) to organise this.

Once an employee account is created, an IT-user account is automatically created—contact Orakelet for the username and password.

IT-user accounts grant access to a wide range of services, including WiFi, E-mail, Feide-login, PagaWeb and so on. For more information see: https://en.uit.no/om/orakelet/frag?p_document_id=319392

File Services

For information on the availability of file storage services and disk quotas, go to: https://en.uit.no/om/orakelet/frag?p_document_id=551332

UiT Intranet

The UiT intranet coexists with the UiT internet pages, and contains a lot of helpful information for new PhD students and employees at UiT. The intranet is predominantly in Norwegian, but some information can be found in English. Log in using your username and password at https://intranett.uit.no/, and make use of the search function.

DFO (SAP)

DFO (SAP) is a personnel portal where employees can register absence and holidays, apply for leave, register travel expenses and overtime, etc. To access SAP:

  1. Go to http://login.dfo.no
  2. Log in with your username and password

FEIDE

FEIDE (Felles Elektronisk Identitet) is an identity management service used by the Norwegian education sector to store user information for simple identification via a common login. Most IT services at UiT use FEIDE as a means of identification, so it is important to set up an account. You can read more at: https://www.feide.no/om-feide

Studentweb

Studentweb (https://fsweb.no/studentweb/) is a service used to manage personal information as a student. Here you will be able to apply for courses, access your study plan, and submit a yearly progress report.

PhD Progress Report

All PhD students must submit a yearly progress report. The report consists of brief answers to questions about the current state of your project/studies. If you do not submit your progress report, you could potentially lose your right to study. You will be reminded each year to complete the progress report, which is done through email.

Midway evaluation

All PhD students must undergo an evaluation midway through their project. The purpose of the evaluation is to assess the status and progress of the project. The evaluation will be assessed by a committee, which will aim to help motivate PhD students towards completion of their projects. For more information, see: https://uit.no/Content/675456/version=1/cache=1585597411000/Retningslinjer+for+midtveisevaluering+NT-fak+Realfag+-+engelsk+%28003%29.pdf

Going abroad

Travel grants are available for PhD students that are employed by UiT, and students who are financed from sources without the possibility of travel grants. These grants are for research stays abroad of duration between 2 to 6 months. For more information on the rules and regulations of the grant see: https://uit.no/Content/520820/cache=20173105114003/Ny%20orientering%20om%20utenlandsopphold_engelsk.pdf

The deadline for application is on the 1st of October every year, so it is important to organise travel abroad early in your PhD to make sure not to miss out. For more information on grants at UiT, visit: https://uit.no/phd-en#v-pills-675452

Annum

Every new PhD candidate not funded by an external project receives a yearly sum of money to cover expenses related to your work, referred to as an annum. The annum is tied to a project number, which you can get from the IG finance consultant (André Pedersen). The amount of money left in your annum can be seen by following this link and logging in: https://okonomi.uit.no/

Booking a room for teaching or meetings

If you need to book a room for teaching, you must contact Margrethe Lindquist at IG, or Anne Marit Wilhelmsen at the Naturfag Faculty.

Further information (in Norwegian only) on room reservation at UiT can be found at the UiT web page Romreservasjon: https://uit.no/om/orakelet/frag?p_document_id=419149#dropdown1

You can book meeting rooms using the Outlook calendar function (through the process of making a meeting), although not all rooms (particularly teaching rooms) will be available for booking using this method. The step-by-step instructions can be found at: https://en.uit.no/om/orakelet/frag?p_document_id=382930.

In brief: in Outlook, go to New Items > Meeting, to create a meeting invitation. In the right hand panel in the new window, you choose the room list for the building you wish to book a room in, and then select the desired room.

Campus Map

You can find a detailed map of UiT campus at: https://uit.no/campustromso

Fieldwork and work related travel

Before and after you embark on fieldwork or work related travel, there are a few tasks you need to complete.

Work insurance

To be fully insured through UiT for work related travel, you must notify administration and submit the Registration of work related travels for employees form before you leave for fieldwork or a stay abroad. The form can be found at the following link: https://uit.no/Content/571560/cache=20180904231744/Travel-form.pdf

Safety courses

You will have to complete relevant safety courses before you are allowed to do fieldwork. There are different courses for different types of fieldwork, so make sure to contact your supervisor and/or administration at UiT to make sure you have completed all appropriate safety courses. For more information, including the list of mandatory courses, see the page Sikkerhetskurs – Safety training on the UiT intranet (got to https://intranett.uit.no/, login with your UiT username and password, and search for Sikkerhetskurs – Safety training).

Compensation

Any costs associated with fieldwork can be reimbursed. For travel within 15 km of UiT (fuel, bus ticket etc.), you can use this form: https://en.uit.no/intranett/vis-skjema?p_document_id=450729

For any other travel costs, you must register a travel claim in PAGA.

When buying work related flight tickets, it should be done through Berg Hansen travel agency. For that, personal profile needs to be created first. See: https://cp.compendia.no/uit/medarbeiderhandbok/208686

For more info or help you can contact Lone Abrahamsen Smelror or Margrethe Lindquist.

Lab work

You will also need to complete safety training for lab work at UiT. The compulsory courses are listed together with fieldwork and cruise safety training at the page Sikkerhetskurs – Safety training on the UiT intranet. In addition, each lab will have its own specific hazards and safety regulations, so you must contact the particular lab manager to organise safety training for the lab you plan to work in.

For more information about IGs lab, see: https://uit.no/infrastruktur/enhet?p_document_id=675771

Marine Cruises / Seagoing Expeditions

Before going on board a Norwegian vessel, you need a valid medical certificate (Sjømannsattest). The certificate is valid for two years. Approved seafarer’s doctors who can issue the certificate can be found here: https://www.sdir.no/sjofart/sjofolk/godkjente-sjomannsleger/

Before embarking on a seagoing expedition on RV Kronprins Haakon, you should take a survival suit/personal rescue techniques course. Let your supervisor/institution administration know that you are interested so they can sign you up. Courses are organized from time to time every year by Arcticus. On RV Helmer Hansen there will be an introduction to using survival equipment upon boarding the ship.

Use of lab/storage/cruise/fieldwork after defending

Your student status ends when your diploma is awarded, thus meaning you are no longer insured should an accident occur while working, for example, at the lab/storage, on a cruise, in the field etc, after the defence. In some cases however there will still be a need to continue work in these locations after the final defence, such as finalising a publication. Permission to continue working in these locations can be granted via three different ways:

  1. Extension of student status. The candidate must apply to the faculty before the official end date of the original student status. In other words, there must not be a break between the original student status and the extension. This is the simplest solution.
  2. Should the previous not be possible, the candidate should apply to take a single PhD short course. The normal application deadline for single courses is the 1st June for the Autumn term or the 1st December for the Spring term. It can take several months between application and acceptance on the course.
  3. A final option is for the applicant to have a valid employment contract with the university, which covers the time the candidate will be working at the aforementioned locations.

Sending post

For sending mail within UiT, brown envelopes are used, and are placed in the local drop-off point for “internpost” at Modulbygget.

For sending mail nationally and internationally, white university envelopes are used. They must also be sent through the university mail system, as the postage cost needs to be validated. (i.e. don’t use an official mailbox in town).

Parcels are placed at the local mail pick up point, and must be marked clearly with the name of the sender and receiver.

For sending parcels abroad (for example instruments for repair) a “proforma invoice” must be included in a plastic envelope. More information can be found at www.bring.no.

Mail is forwarded internally and externally twice a day at 9:00 and 13:00.

Life in Tromsø

Turbo

If you are a resident of Tromsø you can borrow outdoors and sports equipment for free at Turbo. To borrow equipment, you must create a loan profile (låneprofil) at http://bua.io. For step by step directions (in Norwegian), follow this link: https://www.tromso.kommune.no/laan-av-fritidsutstyr-turbo.346724.no.html

The available equipment includes skiis, tents, bikes, snow shoes and more. Turbo is run by the municipality (Tromsø Kommune) and local Red Cross (Tromsø Røde Kors). The opening hours are usually Tuesday—Thursday 14:00—19:00, however changes can occur so make sure to check the above link before you plan to visit.

Turbo is located in the city between Aurora kino Focus (Tromsø’s main cinema) and the library, in the town hall building (Tromsø Rådhuset).

TODOS

TODOS is an organisation centred around the general welfare of PhD students and postdocs at UiT. TODOS acts as a link between university administration and permanent staff, and the PhDs and postdocs at UiT. If you have any issues, concerns or questions related to your life and work at UIT, you can contact TODOS at todos@uit.no or: https://todos.uit.no/?page_id=553

And you can find more information about TODOS at: https://todos.uit.no

Where you can find information about monthly social events. TODOS also provide information for new PhDs and postdocs at: https://todos.uit.no/?page_id=256

And provide useful information about life in Tromsø at: https://todos.uit.no/?page_id=1497


This guide was created by Vårin Trælvik Eilertsen and Jack J. Percival.

The guide was updated in March 2022 by Freya Sykes and Adele Westgård.