On  11th October, 1865, a royal decree declared a national, general census in Norway. The census was to be held on the night between 31st December, 1865 and 1st January, 1866. The entire Norwegian population was included. Those absent due to travel, etc. were to be registered at their usual address of residence, while those temporarily visiting were to be excluded from the census. 

Collection of the census list started on the 8th January 1866. 

The census was nominative, ie. everyone was registered with their name and not just a number. The 1865 Census is the second national, general, nominative census in Norway, the first being the 1801 census.