When to apply for microdata

If you require access to microdata for use in statistical results and analyses, including for research purposes, you need to submit an application with the relevant attachments to Statistics Norway.

The research project must be conducted in a research institution that is approved by the Research Council of Norway or Eurostat. Other institutions can apply to Statistics Norway for approval.

New application

To obtain data from Statistics Norway, an application form must be completed and submitted along with documentation to mikrodata@ssb.no. 

All approvals must cover the entire scope of the data requested from Statistics Norway.

The following attachments must be included with the application:

  • For research projects, a research protocol or project description must be included.

  • For public administration, a description of needs and purpose must be included.

  • Attach Statistics Norway’s variable lists where these exist.

  • You could also define the population and variables in microdata.no and attach the script. Further reading.

  • If there are no variable lists, or the project includes data that are not held by Statistics Norway, this must be detailed in the application.

In accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), all projects that intend to process personal data must have a basis for processing. The data protection officer at your institution will be able to help you with this.

The following documentation must be attached to applications for projects with a valid and comprehensive basis for processing dating back to before 20 July 2018:

  • Recommendation from the data protection officer, licence from the Norwegian Data Protection Authority or prior approval from the Regional Committees for Medical and Health Research Ethics (REC)
  • Specification of the legal basis in accordance with the GDPR
  • Statement confirming that the project protects the privacy of data subjects in accordance with the GDPR

Projects that have a valid and comprehensive basis for processing after 20 July 2018 require either a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) or an assessment of why the DPIA is not necessary (negative DPIA).

  • Reasons for using basic statistical unit, post code, date of birth and date of death.

Application for change 

An application for change must be submitted to Statistics Norway for all changes that are beyond the scope of previous decisions on access.

Updated documentation must be attached.

Important information before applying 

In order to obtain microdata for research purposes, you must be a researcher affiliated with an approved research institution by either The Research Council of Norway or Eurostat.

Research projects that intend to process personal data must have a legal basis under the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). All research institutions should have their own data protection officer, who can assist you in this process. See also the information from NSD – Norwegian Centre for Research Data, which serves as the data protection officer for a number of educational and research institutions.

For research projects with a valid and comprehensive basis for processing dating back to before 20 July 2018:

Due to the introduction of the GDPR, you must:

  • specify the legal basis in accordance with the GDPR, and
  • provide a brief statement confirming that the project is in accordance with the GDPR.

For all other projects:
The project must undergo a Data Protection Impact Assessment – DPIA or an assessment of why a DPIA is not necessary (negative DPIA).

Information on the basis for processing must be given in the application.

Statistics Norway does not charge for the data itself, but does charge for the time taken to process the application and prepare the data. A 25 per cent VAT charge is also added. Much of the time is taken up on clarifying ambiguities, and it is therefore important that the information given in the application and attachments is correct.

The price covers the following activities:

  • Coordination, clarification, preparation of quote and agreemen
  • Creating a population, processing third-party data and customising data files
  • Data extraction and de-identification
  • Archiving, documentation and delivery

Further details of this are given below.

Coordination, clarification, preparation of quote and agreement

This item includes the preparatory work involved in producing quotes and agreements. The preparatory work will depend on the complexity and scope of the individual project. There are often challenges involved in establishing exactly what data can and will be included in the project, what data Statistics Norway can provide, and whether the requested data falls within the scope of the project’s basis for processing.

This item usually constitutes the largest cost variable in a project. Researchers can streamline the process by familiarising themselves with existing documentation on ssb.no.

Creating a population, processing third-party data and customising data files
The time spent creating a population depends on the number of populations included in the project and the complexity of the populations. Before the data extraction work begins, the executive officer must also prepare the files for extraction. The work can be particularly time-consuming when third-party data is included in the project. Lack of documentation, difficult file formats, and work involved in exchanging data are some of the factors that can prolong the executive work and push up the price.

Third-party data
Many projects involve the exchange of data between Statistics Norway, researchers and other registers. Receiving and adapting data and population files is sometimes a time-consuming process depending on the volume of the files and the number of registers that Statistics Norway needs to deal with. It can therefore save time if the contact persons that Statistics Norway needs to interact with when exchanging data are clarified well in advance.

Data extraction and de-identification
After an agreement is entered into and data files have been adapted, most of the remaining work concerns extracting and de-identifying data for the research project. Statistics Norway is constantly working to improve the work processes associated with this, and most of the variable lists are priced proportionally to the number ordered.

  • Extractions from FD-Trygd
    The event history database is an important data source in many research projects. The database is specially adapted for use by researchers and a fixed price is charged for extractions from individual tables.
  • Other extractions from variable lists
    Extractions of variables from the variable lists are charged according to a fixed price for each statistical area. The extractions are generated from adapted statistics files and the work is charged according to the number of statistical areas from which variables are required.
  • Extractions outside variable lists
    Clarifications, extracting data and documenting content that is not covered by variable lists can be demanding and costly.

Archiving, documentation and delivery
During the process, and when delivering the finished product, the executive officer archives the correspondence and data included in the delivery, and documents the data material included in the delivery.

You must respond to the offer letter within two weeks. In addition, you must return the offer letter for the supply of research data signed by the management of your institution.

If you are using your own or third-party data in your project, it must be in a format that Statistics Norway can read. The instructions are given here:

The files must be encrypted and sent via Statistics Norway’s secure file transfer area. Learn how to do this here:

In cases where third-party data is to be supplied via Statistics Norway, we must have receipt of this before we can start processing the data and before you can access the data.

Your executive officer will notify you when the data from Statistics Norway is available for download. Please note that data will be automatically deleted from the server after 6 months. Make sure you download the data during this period.

For project using TSD, see how to importing register data from SSB.

You must delete the data by the deadline stipulated in the decisions on access.

Institutions outside of Norway are, as a general rule, only permitted access to anonymous data. Statistics Norway may allow access to anonymous data for research purposes, when the institution responsible for the project is a research institution recognized by Eurostat.

To prepare anonymous data is usually costly, and Statistics Norway cannot make any guarantees for the research value of the anonymous data you receive. Anonymous datasets are thoroughly anonymized in such a way that even indirectly identifying anyone is impossible. These types of datasets lose a lot of information because of the measures of anonymizing. Furthermore, it is impossible to predict whether or not it will be feasible. The research project will be charged for the time we spend to process the application and prepare the data, regardless of the research value.

However researchers from institutions outside of Norway may get access to indirectly identifiable data through projects conducted by Norwegian institutions.

You may use microdata.no as a supplementary tool when ordering microdata from SSB. Here you can explore populations and variables before submitting the application. You just attach your script to the microdata application, SSB retrieves the data you yourself have compiled, and gives them a project-specific serial number.

Data retrieved from microdata.no can be merged with data from other sources.

Applying through microdata.no gives you better control over your order because you can work with data in advance. In addition, it reduces the risk of misunderstandings because you yourself produces the data set.

Further reading.




Statistics Norway's Information Centre


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