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How to do business in Norway

Legal considerations

A combination of EEA legislation and Norwegian Government legislation forms the basis of Norwegian law for trade and commerce. It is therefore worth seeking professional legal advice to determine the correct legal framework.

Contact the DIT team in Oslo at: comsec@online.no to help find tax and legal advisers before entering into agreements.

The Oslo Business Region gives free advice to anyone looking to do business in the region. See: http://www.oslobusinessregion.no/.

Export licences for Norway

You will need a licence to supply any goods to Norway that are on the UK strategic export control lists. You can find out more at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/beginners-guide-to-export-controls

Some other products may need certification and licensing.

To find out which other products may need certification or licensing before they can be exported, contact Standards Norway at: http://www.standard.no/en/toppvalg/about-us/contact-us/#.WmwVEvnyj
IU
.

Law on marketing and selling in Norway

Through the EEA agreement, Norway applies the same legal framework as other EU countries. If you are selling to consumers (rather than businesses) you must therefore comply with EU consumer protection law. You can find out about consumer rights in the EU at: http://europa.eu/european-union/life/consumer-rights_en.

The Norwegian Consumer Council at: https://forbrukerombudet.no/english is the main authority for supervising the implementation of consumer protection law in Norway.

Customers in Norway have various consumer rights when you sell at a distance (without meeting the customer face-to-face).

The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides further information on the incorporation of EU consumer protection law into Norway’s consumer legislation. See: https://www.regjeringen.no/en/
topics/european-policy/areas-cooperation/consumer-issues/id685826/
.

Business and human rights

In Norway, human rights are protected under the Constitution, the Human Rights Act and specific legislation in certain areas. In the event of conflict with domestic law, the provisions of the UN conventions incorporated through the Human Rights Act prevail over other Norwegian legislation.

The Norwegian Anti-Discrimination Act prohibits direct and indirect discrimination based on ethnicity, national origin, family background, skin colour, language, religion and belief. Norwegian society is characterised by a high level of gender equality, coming 3rd in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2016: http://reports.weforum.org/global-gender-gap-report-2016/economies/#
economy=NOR
.

Trade union membership is common in Norway (52%), and two thirds of employees are covered by a collective agreement. Norway has been the destination for large-scale labour migration from EU countries in Eastern and Central Europe, presenting some challenges for authorities to ensure foreign workers enjoy wages and labour conditions that are in accordance with Norwegian legislation and collective agreements. There is no statutory minimum wage in Norway.

Norway is a member of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPs): http://www.voluntaryprinciples.org/, an initiative involving governments, companies, and non-governmental organisations that promotes implementation of a set of principles that guide oil, gas and mining companies on providing security for their operations in a manner that respects human rights. Norway is also a Member State of the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers Association (ICoCA): http://www.icoca.ch/en/the_icoc, an initiative working with private security companies to set out international principles and standards for the responsible provision of private security services.

Norway hosts the secretariat of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI): https://eiti.org/. This organisation works for good governance and transparency in the oil, gas and mining industries, and the countries benefiting from them. The focus of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is as prominent in Norway as in the UK.

[Source –  FCO Overseas Business Risk/DIT/gov.uk (May 2017)]
 

Standards and technical regulations in Norway

Suppliers and manufacturers have an obligation to make sure products are safe. Products must meet relevant safety standards, have clear instructions for proper use and include warnings against possible misuse.

Local product laws vary. The Norwegian Standards Authority has responsibility for standardisation, certification and assessment. See: http://www.standard.no/en/.

For details on regulations concerning food products and food packaging regulations contact the Norwegian Food Control Authority (Mattilsynet), at: http://www.mattilsynet.no/language/english/.

Norway has requirements for country of origin marking. Norway has adopted the EU’s CE mark on some products sold in the EU market, which indicates that they meet EU legislation.

Packaging for export to Norway

Packaging must conform to EU/EEA legislation on the prevention of health risks to consumers and the protection of the environment, especially with regards to waste treatment. However, depending on the business sector, there may be local considerations. You should check by:

  • seeking appropriate legal advice

  • consulting relevant national agencies

  • consulting the DIT team in Oslo at: comsec@online.no

Read also, the guidance on packaging regulations which implement EU legislation, at: http://exporthelp.europa.eu/thdapp/display.htm?page=rt%2Frt_TechnicalRequirements.html&docType=main&languageId=en#Packaging.

You also need to be aware of requirements for using wood packaging in the EU. See: https://www.gov.uk/wood-packaging-import-export.

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority provides up-to-date advice on procedures and regulations on food packaging, at: https://www.mattilsynet.no/language/english/.

Product requirements in Norway

Product standards are the same in most EU and EEA states. If you sell products in the UK it is likely that you already comply with standards in other EU countries.

Many products require a CE marking (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/ce-marking) before they can be sold in the European Economic Area (EEA). This marking proves your product has been assessed and meets EU safety, health and environmental protection requirements.

If your product requires testing before obtaining certification, consult the EU’s designated authority list at: http://ec.europa.eu/growth/tools-databases/nando/index.cfm?fuseaction=na.main for the relevant bodies on specific product procedures, and you can find out more about CE markings at: http://europa.eu/youreurope/business/product/ce-mark/index_en.htm.

You should consider taking out product liability insurance if you manufacture or supply a physical product that is sold or given away for free. See: https://www.abi.org.uk/Insurance-and-savings/Products/Business-insurance/Liability-insurance/Product-liability-insurance.

Labelling your products for Norway

Labelling should be translated into Norwegian. It is considered common practice to also label products in a similar language to Norwegian – normally Swedish and Danish – with guidance from a Norwegian importer.

 Certain products, such as foodstuffs and textiles, have specific labelling requirements.

You can choose to use the e-mark (https://www.gov.uk/weights-measures-and-packaging-the-law/labelling-packaged-goods) on packaging when exporting food products to Norway, or use Norway’s rules on weights and measures.

 

Tax and customs considerations in Norway

The UK and Norway have signed a double taxation agreement ensuring the same income is not taxed in more than one country. See: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/norway-tax-treaties.

Value Added Tax (VAT)

The general VAT rate in Norway is currently at 25%. Only services explicitly mentioned in the VAT legislation are exempt from VAT. There has been a reduced VAT rate on sales of food.

VAT is zero rated if your Norwegian customer provides their VAT registration number and you have proof of export.

You will need your Norwegian customer’s VAT registration number (from the invoice) for your VAT return and paperwork proving that the goods have been sent within certain time limits (usually three months).

You can check to see if a Norwegian VAT number is valid, at: https://www.brreg.no/home/, and check with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) regarding VAT refund of business expenses incurred in Norway, at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/vat-notice

Excise duty in Norway

You should check you have paid excise duty on any alcohol, alcoholic drinks, energy products, electricity or tobacco products you send to Norway.

For more about Norway’s excise duty charges, see the Norwegian Tax Administration site at: http://www.skatteetaten.no/en/business-and-organisation/duties1/excise-duty/.

Company and corporate tax in Norway

The basic corporate tax rate starts at 27%.

The Norwegian tax administration at: http://www.skatteetaten.no/en/International-pages/Tell-me-about/Forms-Tax-topics-and-brochures-1/Forms-Tax-topics-and-brochures-/ can provide further information and advice about corporate tax.

Contact the DIT team in Oslo at: comsec@online.no, to help find local tax advisers before entering into agreements in Norway.

 

Customs and documentation in Norway

Free movement of goods is the general rule within the EEA, but the agreement applies primarily to industrial goods. Only certain farm products and specific species of fish are included.

On goods not covered by the agreement, duties are levied in the same way as on goods from countries outside the EEA. For details contact the Norwegian Customs Authority at: http://www.toll.no/en/.

Under the EEA Agreement goods that satisfy the origin rules can enter Norway at a reduced or zero rate of duty. To claim this, goods manufactured in the UK and exported to Norway should be accompanied by a movement certificate EUR1: http://www.londonchamber.co.uk/lcc_public/article.asp
?aid=105
, which must be endorsed by the issuing customs office.

You can find out more about import tariffs in the Market Access Database at: http://madb.europa.eu/madb/indexPubli.htm.

Information on reporting VAT on goods is available via Norwegian customs. See: http://www.toll.no/en/corporate/import/reporting-vat-on-import-to-the-norwegian-tax-administration-in-2017/.

Norway, as a member of the EFTA, has virtually the same documentary requirements as the EU. Customs declarations are not generally required, and traders must raise VAT invoices showing the VAT registration number of their customers and obtain evidence of shipment.

You have to:

Read HMRC’s guidance on dispatching your goods within the EU, at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance
/dispatching-your-goods-within-the-eu
.

Documentation in Norway

Import licences are not generally required for British industrial products, but licences are required for some other goods, mainly:

  • agricultural products

  • textile items

  • alcoholic beverages

  • pharmaceuticals

  • fish nets

  • raw materials

Special certificates are required for the following products:

  • plants and plant parts (including fresh vegetable and fruit)

  • live animals

  • animal products (including pickled meat and milk products)

  • seeds

Sample goods with a value will need to be imported under an ATA Carnet, see: http://www.london
chamber.co.uk/lcc_public/article.asp?aid=100
. This is an international customs document that permits duty-free and tax-free temporary import of goods for up to one year.

The Norwegian Customs Authority can provide further details about Norway’s import regulations. See: http://www.toll.no/en/.

Further information on certificates can be obtained from the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) at: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-environment-food-rural-affairs.

Norway trade agreements

Norway is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA): https://www.norway.no/en/eu (full access to the European Single Market) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). Goods manufactured in the UK are exempt from import duties.

Although Norway is not a member of the EU, it has signed up to the Schengen Agreement: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/borders-and-visas/schengen/index_en.htm.

Norway’s free trade agreements are explained by Norway’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries at: http://www.regjeringen.no/en/dep/nfd/selected-topics/free-trade/Norways-free-trade-agreements
.html?id=457017
.

Contact the SOLVIT team at: https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/uk-single-market-centre if you have market access issues relating to the operation of the single market.

 

Shipping your goods to Norway

You can usually send samples of your goods through the postal system. Your local post office can also be used to export small orders to Norway which can be easily packaged and are within the current weight restrictions.

If you are sending goods by post you must check that the items are not prohibited or restricted by mail services in the UK and in Norway. You can find out more about prohibited or restricted items in Norway on Royal Mail’s website: http://www.royalmail.com/norway.

When using postal services on a more commercial basis you must complete the required customs form with the commodity code that relates to your goods. You can find your commodity code in the UK Trade Tariff: https://www.gov.uk/trade-tariff.

You can contact the HMRC Tariff Classification Service for more help, at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/notice-600-classifying-your-imports-or-exports/notice-600-classifying-your-imports-or-exports#list-of-useful-contacts.

You must get a Certificate of Posting (form C&E 132) from the post office branch and you should ensure it is date-stamped. This supports the VAT zero-rating of your goods. If you are exporting UK duty-paid excise goods, you will need the certificate of posting form to support a claim for reimbursement of the UK excise duty. See: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/374167/ce132.pdf.

A pro-forma invoice (and licence, if you need one) must be attached to your consignment. Records of pro-forma invoices must be kept for four years.

For bigger orders, most businesses use a courier or freight forwarder. A forwarder will have extensive knowledge of documentation requirements, regulations, transportation costs and banking practices in Norway.

You can find freight forwarding companies to help you transport your goods to Norway via the British International Freight Association (BIFA) at: http://www.bifa.org/home, or the Freight Transport Association (FTA) at: http://www.fta.co.uk/.

Find out more about shipping your goods to international markets, at: https://www.exportingisgreat.
gov.uk/shipping-and-logistics/
.

Terms of delivery to Norway

Your contract should include agreement on terms of delivery using Incoterms. See: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/international-trade-paperwork-the-basics#international-trade-contracts-and-incoterms.

UK Export Finance

The government can provide finance or credit insurance specifically to support UK exports through UK Export Finance (UKEF) – the UK’s export credit agency. See: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/uk-export-finance.

For up-to-date country-specific information on the support available see UKEF’s cover policy and indicators for Norway at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/country-cover-policy-and-indicators#norway.

[Source – DIT/UKEF/gov.uk]


 

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