Passenger Lists and Other Records

The majority of emigrants travelled indirectly via English or German ports before continuing on other vessels across the Atlantic to the America. So there is a good chance of finding Norwegian emigrants in the Hamburg and/or New York passenger lists on There are no passenger lists for the feeder ships neither as departure lists in Norway nor as arrival records in England or Germany. There is however another register which enables the tracking down of Norwegian emigrants: the Police emigration lists.

Sample New York Passenger List Sample New York Passenger List
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The Norwegian government made an effort to protect the emigrants which mainly travelled in “steerage”. Ship owners took advantage of the passengers’ desperation and tried to make even more money by reducing the food rations or comfort and safety standards aboard during the crossings. In 1869 a law was passed in which all emigration agents had to sign a written contract with the emigrants. To validate the contract it had to be presented to the police commissioner and it was signed by both the commissioner and the agent. Violation of this law would result in the loss of their license or even being sentenced to pay a fine.

Every contract was recorded in the police register of emigrants and this register included personal information of the emigrant as well as the name of the agent or shipping line. The "Emigrasjonsprotokoll" "Emigration Protocol" or " Police emigration lists" are not passenger lists for specific vessels. They only recorded those persons who had the intention to emigrate from Norway. The dates recorded in the registers are not the dates when a person emigrated, usually the contract was signed a day or two prior to departure.

The Police Emigration lists include the following details: name of the emigrant, last place of residence/ home town, age, occupation, final destination and gender. This is followed by administrative information on the agent, the shipping line and name of the vessel on which an emigrant departed from Norway. This is usually the name of the feeder ship and not the name of the vessel used to cross the Atlantic. The records also display how much the emigrant paid for the voyage plus some other administrative information. Please note that the records vary over time and from the different ports.

Norwegian police emigration list that have survived in the Norwegian National archive "Statsarkiv":

  • Christiania (Kristiania, Oslo): 1867 - 1966; original is kept by Oslo Statsarkiv
  • Fredrikstad 1883 - 1890; original is kept at Oslo original
  • Christiansand (Kristiansand): 1873 - 1961; original is kept by Kristiansands Statsarkiv
  • Arendal: (1903 - 1919) original is kept by Kristiansands Statsarkiv
  • Bergen: 1874 - 1960; original is kept by Bergen Statsarkiv
  • Ålesund: 1879 - 1925; original kept by Trondheim Statsarkiv
  • Kristiansund 1882 - 1959; original is kept by Trondheim Statsarkiv
  • Trondhjem (Trondheim): 1867 - 1926; original is kept by Trondheim Statsarkiv
  • Larvik: 1887 - 1970; original kept at Kongsberg Statsarkiv
  • Sandefjord: 1904 - 1921; original kept at Kongsberg Statsarkiv
  • Stavanger 1925 - 1956, The Stavanger emigration records pre 1929 were lost in a fire.
  • Stavanger 1903 - 1925 "Utvandrersenteret" in Stavanger is working to reconstruct some of the lists.


In order to be allowed to move away from their home town emigrants had to present an identification paper, which was issued by the local church. If a person could not present any identification they could be put in jail. The churches kept records of those person who left their parish and strangers who came to their parish. However, there are no name indexes to these records so a search is tedious. The records contain the name and age of the person moving away, sometimes also the destination and the intended date of departure. These records, too, can be viewed on Digitalarkivet. (skannede kirkeboker).

From 1803 to 1860, people who wanted to leave the country needed to possess a passport, which was issued by the police. The still existing registers of passport applications are located at the regional State Archive and can be viewed at Digitalarkivet.

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Reasons for Emigration