Data for research – step by step

Statistics Norway provides microdata for research projects, and has data relating to persons, establishments and enterprises. The procedure for obtaining microdata is indicated below.

Microdata applications from outside Norway

Transfer of personal data outside the country’s borders is not allowed according to the statistics act § 2-2. This means that any researcher or institution that wishes to apply for microdata will only ever be granted access to completely anonymous data. Due to the difficulty of anonymizing data in such a small country as Norway, this will rarely be feasible.

An alternative is to gain access to a Norwegian research project and be given access at the Norwegian Institution in connection with such a project. This requires that the participating members be pre-submitted to Statistics Norway and that the formal requirements below are fulfilled.

1. Formal requirements

If you are a researcher at an approved research institution you can apply for access to data for a research project. If your institution is not on the list of approved research institutions, the institution must apply for approval to personvernombudet@ssb.no.

If you are not associated with an approved research institution, you can also apply for access to data from Statistics Norway if your research institution is conducting a specific project that is either

1) financed by The Research Council of Norway or other national or international research program, or

2) on behalf of a public body that uses the Standard agreement for research and report assignments (the research agreement) (in Norwegian).

If you are a master or PhD student, you can apply for access to data if your supervisor has research qualifications from one of the approved institutions.

In order to be able to submit an application, your project must be approved and have a project description. 

2. Report your project to the data protection officer

If your project will be processing personal data, you need a confidentiality permit. Health research projects get their permits from the Regional Committees for Medical and Health Research Ethics (REC), all others from The Norwegian Data Protection Authority. In both cases you start by reporting the project to your institution's Data Protection Officer for recommendation. The data protection officer will consider whether you only need to give a notification of the project to The Norwegian Data Protection Authority, or if it needs a special permit (license), and will help you with this.

Norwegian Centre for Research Data (NSD) is Data Protection Official for a number of universities and research institutions.

3. Data availability and required exemptions from the duty of confidentiality

Below is a list of commonly used data and variables that researchers may get from Statistics Norway. For the underlined statistics you can download a variable list where you check the ones you need. Variables in the lists are electronically linked to available metadata (definitions and code lists). Lists for the remaining statistics are under production.

Whenever available completed variable lists must be attached to your application for research data. Please note that you may only have variables covered by your confidentiality permit. Statistics Norway recommends that you also include identical variable lists in your application for confidentiality permit and exemption from confidentiality (see below).

If your research project comprises data delivered by others than Statistics Norway, you need to apply for exemptions from confidentiality from the data owner BEFORE applying to Statistics Norway. All applications and allowances must be attached to the data application to Statistics Norway.

4. Complete and submit the application and attachments

When you have

  • the confidentiality permit
  • the exemptions from confidentiality for data delivered by others than Statistics Norway
  • filled in variable lists

you can complete and submit the application to obtain data from Statistics Norway (in Norwegian).

It is important that you are precise when filling in the application form. When defining the population you want in sections 7.1 and 7.2, for example, ‘Resident in 2012’ is not sufficient information. Whether you mean ‘Resident as of 1.1.2013’ or ‘Resident 1.1.-31.12.2012’, you need to specify this in order to ensure you get the right data.

You must attach the following to your application to have it processed:

  • Variable list(s)  
  • Use the ones from Statistics Norway whenever available
  • Confidentiality permit, either
  • - Recommendation from the data protection officer
    - License from The Norwegian Data Protection Authority, or
  • - Advance approval from Regional Committees for Medical and Health Research Ethics (REC)
  • Attach applications, allowances and any relevant correspondence
  • Exemption from confidentiality for data delivered by others than Statistics Norway
    (see above, point 3)
    Attach applications, allowances and any relevant correspondence
  • Information letter and statement of consent
  • if the project includes (own) data that is collected voluntarily
  • Project description

Send the application and all attachments to mikrodata@ssb.no

You will be contacted by the executive officer assigned to your case.

5. You receive an offer with a price and delivery date from Statistics Norway

Statistics Norway sends you an offer containing a price for the service, as well as a delivery date for the data and information on how the data exchange will be carried out.

Statistics Norway does not charge for the actual data, but for the time it takes to process the application, clarifying the content and preparing and transferring the data. The total payment is subject to 25 per cent VAT.

6. Respond to the offer within two weeks

You need to accept the offer, sign and return the data agreement within two weeks. It is important that you specify the invoice address and your internal order number/reference number.

In addition you have to return the contract for supply of research data signed by the leader of your institution as well as a signed non-disclosure declaration for all project participants.

7. Data exchanges between you and Statistics Norway

If your own data or that of a third party is to be used in the project, it must be in a format that Statistics Norway can read. See the relevant guidelines:

Correct format of files sent to the microdata service in Statistics Norway

The files can be sent via Statistics Norway’s secure area for file transfer. Read how to do it here:

Secure electronic exchange of data with Statistics Norway

All data from third parties must be sent to Statistics Norway before we can start processing the data, and before we can give you access to the data.

When Statistics Norway has made the data available for downloading, you will receive notification from your executive officer. The data will be available in the area for two weeks from when you receive notification. Make sure you download the data during this period.

When you have downloaded the data from Statistics Norway, it is important that you check that the delivery corresponds to your order. Your right to complain expires after six months.

8. New project participants? Updated figures? Extended project period? Use the Project Changes Form

Complete and submit the Project Changes Form (in Norwegian) for:

Statistics Norway will issue a project change agreement for all changes. The handling costs will be charged.  

9. Confirm deletion of data

You must delete the data by the deadline specified in the agreement. When this is undertaken, sign and return the form that you received along with the agreement.