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A secret paradise for gun rights and residency

Svalbard Norway

August 2, 2012
Bergen, Norway

High up above Scandinavia about 75 degrees north latitude is an obscure archipelago that few people in the world know about, and even fewer have been to.

It’s called Svalbard, population ~3,000. And while the islands are technically part of Norway, they come with some incredibly unique benefits that I’ll explain in a moment.

For centuries, Svalbard was completely lawless, devoid of any government authority. It attracted whalers, hunters, merchants, and fishermen from all over the world– the UK, Russia, France, Netherlands, North America, and Scandinavia.

Amazingly enough, they were all able to co-exist for hundreds of years without a sovereign authority or central government telling them what to do or how they could live.

Of course, it all got screwed up eventually. In time as word got out about Svalbard, a number of countries tried to claim the islands. Peace turned to conflict very quickly.

Various nations began sending their navies to fight other navies. It was absurd. When they discovered substantial coal deposits, even more conflict ensued.

Svalbard’s fate was ultimately decided because of World War I. The utter devastation that was wracked across Europe led many war-weary politicians to consider a compromise.

Obviously the option of simply pulling out of Svalbard and letting the islands go back to being governmentless was off the table. So in 1920, a group of 14 nations got together and signed the Spitsbergen Treaty, effectively awarding Svalbard to Norway.

Over time, over forty nations (including the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, India, and most of Europe) became party to the treaty, recognizing Norway’s authority over the territory.

It all seems rather mundane… except for a few key provisions in the treaty:

1) Travel and Residency. Citizens from countries who are signatories to the treaty can travel to Svalbard and reside there. No visa or residence permit is required. You just show up. This makes Svalbard a unique, albeit unlikely escape hatch.

In practice, it will be difficult to get to Svalbard if you don’t have at least have a visa (or visa-free travel) to Norway. Unless you travel by boat, it’s a three hour flight north from Oslo.

Furthermore, according to the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration, if you eventually apply for permanent residency on the Norwegian mainland and are accepted, your time on Svalbard will count towards citizenship.

Citizenship in Norway is granted after seven years of permanent residency; you can be out of the country for up to two months of each calendar year during that seven year period.

2) Tax. There is no VAT in Svalbard, compared to 25% in Norway. This makes things noticeably cheaper. It also means that there are no social services, public welfare, etc. People are expected to take care of themselves. Crazy idea, I know.

3) Gun rights. If you already have a permit to carry firearms in your home country, you can use your existing documentation to ‘rent’ a rifle for up to six months from the moment you arrive on the island.

In the meantime, you can apply for a license to purchase firearms through a very straightforward, abbreviated process. Qualification standards include, and I’m not kidding, (a) being sober, and (b) being over the age of 18.

Understandably, most people aren’t going to hop the first plane to Svalbard… but it’s definitely a place to be aware of, especially if you need to hit the escape button quickly.


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About the author: Simon Black is an international investor, entrepreneur, permanent traveler, free man, and founder of Sovereign Man. His free daily e-letter and crash course is about using the experiences from his life and travels to help you achieve more freedom.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Steven

    Isn’t that also where they’ve set up a doomsday seedvault?

    • StuckInUK4Now

      Yes, it is. More information about it at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svalbard_Global_Seed_Vault

      Probably the best starting point for anyone with an interest in Svalbard is the guide-book ‘Spitsbergen’, by Andreas Umbreit, published by Bradt Travel Guides and currently in its fourth edition. Amazon and most other booksellers should be able to supply it.

    • Soelvreven
  • Macdale

    what does visa free travel mean? Does USA have it and to all countries or a limited list? Which ones?

  • David E. Bell

    ah… interesting place. Odd ideas, such as self-reliance. 

  • David E. Bell

    ah. Interesting insight; expected self-sufficiency, low taxes, RKBA(their form)…. this is the 21st century. Surely the US or another socialist/progressive nation-state will fubar…

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/4LQ2WK3PI4UPLUXNETL4D53SZM CalinB

    Thanks for the heads-up, Simon, but I would not conclude that Svalbard is a paradise for gun rights from your description.  Though one can rent a rifle, I suspect that only bolt action rifles are available and hand guns are verboton.  I’d also be surprised if semi-auto firearms are permitted.  A place that requires people to obtain a permission slip to possess firearms is also hardly a firearms paradise, in any case.

    • Laughing_As_I_Bleed_To_Death_2

      you could try Somalia…

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_S5NXLMNUAVBR3HCVHUHKZCFVXA big red sun

      Funny that you could comment on this article but not open another window on your computer to answer your suspicions.

    • Petter Rejer

      Handguns are allowed, but strongly discouraged: try to stop a 800 pounds polar bear galloping towards you at 30 mph with your 9mm… Even a .45 seems puny…

      • gordythreehorses

        how about 400mag weatherbee? is that to puny for you or do you use a howitzer?

  • Greg

    Lol ;) You maybe forgot some little points:

    + You just can’t find any real estate there. It’s like Lichtenstein (The comparaison stops at real estate)

    + It’s a very special place to live. Almost nobody “choose” to live there for something else than working at one of the very few local company there. And usually those commpanies take care of finding you a place to live (they own some real estate for their workers)

    + There is almost nothing to do, exept seeing some snow, some ice and some bears. About firearms, in fact, you even HAVE TO have a firearm when you go out of town (I guess there is even a law telling this). It is if you get attacked by a bear …

    + They speak Norvegian. Just try to hear some norvegian one day.

    + Temperatures can get to lower than -40° CELCIUS (according to a converter, it is -40° Farenheit too …). That’s … cold

    Except this, seems to be a great place.

  • John Pitt-Rivers

    Stay away from the hellhole Svalbard!

    • Steven Guttman

      Yo,Pitt-Rivers,why do you say that with no explanation of your statement ?

      • John Pitt-Rivers

        I know tHE PLACE: It is icy cold. In the summer it may be 10 degrees celcius. (i.e. In the summer!!!) Extremely pricy. Very few people. ZERO freedom as everything is state controlled. It is not really any place for freedom.

  • geepers

    This might be an option for those with less cash to flash around. But am wondering if you got something a bit warmer for the $2000-$5000 range?

  • Davees

    Better yet, restore America to its orignial glory.  States rights, free markets, no income tax, very limited govt. and mostly, NO FED.

    • Karlquimmer

      That aint gonna happen. People will F it up all over again.

    • LocalheroG2

      There is no glory in America to return to unless you mean the cartoon-version of history that we are taught.

      • Gary

        Please enlighten those of us who weren’t there!

    • Lkm85

      That my friend would take guts and we have spineless corrupt leaders that have none.

    • Sbford313

      Too bad RP lost to MR.  Will people every wake up?  Give me a place like that to go to, and I’ll leave in a heart beat.

  • varis

    Why not just move to a Latin American backwater with a weak, incompetent “Government”, obtain a gun “illegally” sans permit, or use bribes to get one “legally”. Then if you get caught with the gun just bribe your way out of the mess.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/IL2VPZ3DZYKO4NTE4TIRSJHDDI James

      Other than the words “Latin American backwater”, your description sounds just like most states in the US.

  • http://twitter.com/DoktorJeep Paranoid OPSEC ☠

    There is nowhere to run. America is full of people descended from peopel who “ran from somewhere” and now look at what a collection of spinless sheep it has become.
    We have liberty over this planet, or tyranny, but no more “little pockets” destined to become the next target for the banksters, oligarchs, and fearful Americans who are told “Al Queda might be there” (while we openly support them in Syria and Egypt)

  • http://www.salescopywriter.net/ Alan

    Simon, so often we’ve asked for somewhere cheap and simple. Great find!

  • Soelvreven

    The low restrictions on licence to carry firearms on Svalbard is given because people are expected to take care of their own safety, due to the fact that polar bears are present. Some times polar bears visits town. I’m Norwegian and been to Svalbard. Exotic place in the arctic, beautiful light (blue), when there is light. You dont see the sun for almost four months between oktober and february. Overall, Svalbard is very cold (wintertime) but the nature and landscape are unbeliveble. Personally, I dont want to live there, but I would absolutely recomend a visit to the island.


    • gordythreehorses

      well, kiss my yupinyimity

  • jimmyh452

     escaping chaos to what?..Purgatory on Earth?  No thanks.

  • Jai

    Minor problem – Norwegian govt owns 95% of the land & privately owned housing is nearly non-existent.  For a place to stay, you need to work for a company which has company housing.  I.e. like a Norwegian govt company.  800 jobs, plus one souvenir shop in the old Russian mining settlement for the cruise ship tourists’ few hours in port doesn’t sound like there’s much hope for jobs – only about 1/4 of the population can find any work there.

    Still, it does have its intriguing aspects. . .

    • Soelvreven

      Airport, Hospital, Hotels, Shops, Restaurants, Pubs, Safari, Adventure, Sight Seeing, Coalmine, University Faculty, Seed Vault, Library, Pharmacy, Sports Centre, Bank, Wilderness Centre, and more….

      You’re probably right, no prospect for jobs.

      • Oldtex

        This sounds like quite alot for a population of only 3000 with only 800 jobs.

  • Douche

    Rather go to Belize and not have 11 months of winter.

    • Boomer

       You used to be able to buy full citizenship in Belize for $10,000 — not sure if this is still the case.  I would probably opt for Suriname or Montevideo instead.

  • Antibubba

    As an American, I don’t have or need a permit to own firearms.  What must I provide should I apply?

    • Gotsunmaui

      Unless you live in Hawaii!!!!

  • Your_solution1

    I like British Columbia the best after I compared the rest of the world. Canada has the best banking system as well.

  • Anderson1774

    I’d take Nicaragua or a Carribean Island paradise over that climate any day. Just bought a 51′ boat to retire on after sailing my past 47 years, it’s the better alternative for me.

  • justin

    Rural Georgia is about the same, and alot warmer, and real estate is cheap.
    Getting concealed carry permit in Ga is easy and painless if you;re not a convicted felon.

  • grere

    VAT tax may not exist but cost of transporting everyday needs to a remote place with only 3,000 population means prices are definitely not cheap.

  • Skattesnylter

    “2) Tax. There is no VAT in Svalbard, compared to 25% in Norway. This makes things noticeably cheaper. It also means that there are no social services, public welfare, etc. People are expected to take care of themselves. Crazy idea, I know.”

    This is not entirely true. We do have a welfare system going here. Hopsital and dentist, also unemployment office which gives you benefits if you loose your job. Our current taxes is 16.2%. 8% goes to mainland norway for social benefits while 8.2% goes to Svalbard community itself.

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