Exploring Spitsbergen: The Truth about Alcohol in Svalbard

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Is there alcohol in Svalbard?

When planning a trip to Svalbard, many people wonder if there is alcohol in this remote archipelago located in the Arctic Ocean. The answer to this question is not as straightforward as one might think.

The Legal Status of Alcohol in Svalbard

First, it is necessary to understand the legal status of alcohol in Svalbard. The archipelago is part of Norway, but it is subject to a special treaty called the Svalbard Treaty.

According to this treaty, anyone can live and work in Svalbard, regardless of their nationality. However, the treaty also states that Svalbard is a demilitarized zone, and that Norway has sovereignty over the archipelago.

When it comes to alcohol, the Norwegian law applies in Svalbard. This means that the import, sale, and consumption of alcohol are strictly regulated.

However, there are some differences between the mainland and Svalbard. For example, in Svalbard, individuals over the age of 18 can bring up to six litres of wine or spirits, or 27 litres of beer, without paying duty. This is more than what is allowed in mainland Norway.

Where to Buy Alcohol in Svalbard

If you are planning to visit Svalbard and enjoy a drink, you must know where to buy alcohol. There are two places where you can purchase alcoholic beverages in Svalbard: the Vinmonopolet and the Svalbardbutikken.

The Vinmonopolet is a Norwegian state-owned chain of stores that sells wine and spirits exclusively. There is a Vinmonopolet store in Longyearbyen, the largest settlement in Svalbard. However, the selection is limited, and the prices are higher than in mainland Norway due to the cost of transportation.

The Svalbardbutikken is a grocery store that sells beer, wine, and spirits, as well as food and other supplies. It is located in Longyearbyen, and it is the only store in Svalbard that sells beer. However, the selection of wine and spirits is limited.

Drinking Culture in Svalbard

Alcohol is a part of the social life in Svalbard, but it is not as prevalent as in many other places. The harsh climate, the small population, and the remote location contribute to a different drinking culture.

In Svalbard, it is common to have a drink or two after work or on weekends, but excessive drinking is frowned upon. This is partly due to the fact that getting drunk in Svalbard can be dangerous, especially during the polar night when there is no daylight for months.

The Bottom Line

So, is there alcohol in Svalbard? The answer is yes, but it is strictly regulated and not as readily available as in many other places. If you plan to visit Svalbard, you can bring your own alcohol or purchase it from the Vinmonopolet or the Svalbardbutikken. However, you should be aware of the drinking culture and drink responsibly.

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