Getting to Longyearbyen
When you have accepted a course of study at UNIS, you should arrive on, or a few days before the deadline specified in the acceptance letter.
You can use your local travel agency or the internet when booking the flight. There are two airline carriers that fly to Svalbard: Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) and Norwegian. The travelling time is about 1.5 hours with plane from Tromsø and about 3 hours from Oslo (if direct flight).
Important: Identity control of travellers to and from Svalbard
The identity of all travellers to Svalbard will be checked both upon entry and departure. This applies to both Norwegian citizens and foreign nationals (i.e. both individuals covered by the EEA agreement or the EFTA convention and third country nationals).
Passports, or national identity cards, satisfy Schengen regulation requirements for identity verification. Norwegian citizens can also prove their identities by presenting driver’s licenses issued after 1998, bank-issued identity cards, or the Norwegian Armed Forces’ identity card.
Visa for foreign students
No visa is required for staying in Svalbard. If you are an international student from outside the European Union and travelling to Svalbard through Norway, you are required to obtain a transit visa if citizens of your country need a visa to go to Norway.
Please see the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration’s webpage for more information about visa regulations.
More important public information about coming to Norway can be found here: Norway.no
More important public information about coming to Svalbard can be found here: Entry and residence in Svalbard.
Information for foreign citizens
The Governor of Svalbard (Sysselmannen) has produced an information pamphlet with useful information for foreign citizens living in Longyearbyen. The pamphlet contains basic information about important rights and obligations of everyone living in Svalbard. It is translated into English, Thai and Russian, and we recommend you read through this before your arrival. The pamphlet can be downloaded as PDF from the Governor’s webpage.
What to bring
Longyearbyen’s location in the High Arctic at 78º N requires proper gear. The high latitude results in a generally colder and more severe climate than on the mainland of Norway, with an average temperature ranging from -14° C to +6° C. UNIS courses are to a great extent based on fieldwork and excursions. Thus, proper clothing is essential.
In the summer a hiking/mountain outfit will do, while in the winter, when occupied with outdoor assignments, you should wear warm and wind-proof clothing (for example a down anorak/coat and warm, windproof trousers) and woollen underwear. It is important that the winter clothing is easy to take off and on, because you have to change frequently between indoor and outdoor activities.
A good rule of thumb is to remember the 3 W’s: Wool, Windproof, Waterproof.
Regarding footwear, you can use ordinary walking shoes (city shoes) in Longyearbyen during the summer. In winter time, or if you are planning to hike in the country, it is important that you wear warm, heavy boots/mountain boots.
Please note that it is customary to take off your boots and slip into a pair of slippers when coming indoors at UNIS. This does also apply when entering some of the other public buildings in Longyearbyen.
There is a lot of sport activity in Longyearbyen; both indoors and outdoors, so bring also sports clothing (and swim wear) if you are interested. It is possible to buy suitable outdoor clothing in Longyearbyen.
Bicycles and skis
A bike is a useful means of transportation, even in the winter, as the distance from UNIS to Nybyen is about 3 kilometres. You can bring your bicycle along on the plane or you can buy a new or used bike in Longyearbyen.
If you enjoy Nordic skiing, we recommend to bring your ski gear with you. Although there are no ski facilities in Svalbard apart from a short ski trail, many enjoy skiing in the areas around Longyearbyen (just be aware of possible avalanche dangers). Skis can also be bought in Longyearbyen.
Arrival in Longyearbyen
To get from the airport to the student housing in Nybyen you have to take the airport shuttle bus (costs approx. NOK 60) or a taxi.
Please note: if you arrive in Longyearbyen on a Sunday, the grocery shop is open but has limited opening hours: 15:00–18:00 (3 PM–6 PM).
All new students will receive an envelope, in the UNIS reception, with information about UNIS and Longyearbyen. This envelope will also contain the username and password for the UNIS e-mail account.
Your address in Longyearbyen
If you will be living at the student accommodation in Nybyen or Sjøskrenten, your postal adress will be: Your name, P.O. Box 394, N-9171 Longyearbyen, Norway.
If you live in private accommodation you will have to contact the Longyearbyen Post Office (+47 79 02 39 90), tell them that you are a UNIS student and that you want a post office box. Arrangements for post office box can also be organized after your arrival.
All full spring semester students must participate in the Arctic Survival and Safety Course; AS-101. All other students join a mandatory safety course the first day(s) of the UNIS course period.
All students must participate in UNIS safety training in the initial phase of their stay at UNIS. The students will be introduced to some of the safety guidelines that apply in Svalbard. The safety guidelines form a foundation, upon which the students may continue to build.
UNIS has no responsibility for activities during leisure time. Students must make necessary preparations and safety precautions for private trips. In preparation of your UNIS stay you can have a look at the UNIS Health, Safety and Environment webpages concerning safety issues.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the appropriate types of insurance, and that your insurance is valid in Svalbard. This applies to travel, accident and health insurance. UNIS students are not insured while in the Svalbard Science Centre (UNIS building) taking classes or studying, or during leisure time.
All UNIS students are covered by a UNIS accident insurance during UNIS field activities, when properly registered in the field log before leaving UNIS. The insurance covers a single payment of 15G (G=Norwegian National Insurance Scheme basic amount, currently NOK 90 068) in case of 100 % invalidity. For those who are members of the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme (Norsk Folketrygd), this insurance also covers treatment cost up to NOK 50 000.
The UNIS campus
UNIS is the core institution of the Svalbard Science Centre, an international Arctic centre of expertise in research and education, inaugurated in April 2006. Other professional and scientific institutions in Svalbard, such as The Norwegian Polar Institute and Svalbard Science Forum, are also located in the building.
UNIS can offer new modern lab facilities, PC labs, wireless network all over the building (Eduroam), study rooms and a modern library.
There are four to six desks in each study room. There are a limited number of study rooms that have individual computer network connection for all desks. Subject to availability, students may connect their personal computers to the UNIS computer network and the Internet in these rooms.
Students also have access to computers in the PC labs, which should be used for educational purposes only. Everyone will have their own personal quota for copying and printing at UNIS. Additional copies and printing can be bought in the reception. Note that students are responsible for all other required study materials.
Students who stay in Longyearbyen for more than one week will obtain a key to the building. This gives the students access to the building 24 hours a day.