Import guide for newbies
This guide is intended for people representing a company that wants to import goods into Norway. It provides the main rules for import and is a guideline towards detailed information regarding different topics. All links in the article points to Norwegian articles for the time being, a lot of them are however also available in English. There is also an online course available at tolletaten, this is however also only available in Norwegian.
It is important to note that anyone who enters into Norway is obliged to report at the Customs Office at the border and inform about what and how much they are importing. This also applies to goods mported intended for private use.
How to import and pay customs for your wares?
When you order goods from abroad, they usually arrive with a carrier who puts the goods in customs warehouses when they arrive.
Please note that Svalbard, Jan Mayen and Norway’s other bylands are considered as “abroad” and goods from those areas are treated as such. Customs warehouses are not a possesed by the Customs Office, but are warehouse approved by the Customs Office, where goods are stored until they are approved by them. Most frequently a speditor owns the facility.
To be able to get the goods released from customs warehouses and thereby utilize them, they must be declared for use. The most common form of expedition is through customs clearance.
Clearance of goods
Usually a freight forwarder can put the goods trough for customs on your behalf. A freight forwarder is a person or company that can arrange for transportation, customs clearance and the like at the expense of others. The freight forwarder declares goods electronically by sending information to the Customs Customs Customs System called ‘TVINN.’
Both the declaration from the freight forwarder and the feedback from the Customs Office will be made electronically. Neither the importer nor the freight forwarder needs to meet physically at the Customs Office to declare the goods. Even if you use a freight forwarder, you as the importer is however responsible for import and customs clearance being carried out in accordance with the regulations. You are free to connect to TVINN on your own behalf instead of using a freight forwarder.
It is also possible to import goods even without being connected to TVINN. Then you have to fill out the Device Document (also called the SAD form) and meet up at a Customs office. In addition to the Device Document, you will need tp provide the required documentation, such as the invoice, shipping documents, any permissions and the like.
You must report and pay these fees
Anybody who import goods are required to report imports to the Customs Office.
There are essentially three types of fees that may be pertinent to imports:
- Specificic dutiies
All goods are classified with a part number in the customs tariff.
Any customs, fees, and other duties and restrictions are always linked to this item classification.
Customs exception for goods of little value
If you receive an item from abroad with a value of less than NOK 350 including transport and insurance costs, it is exempt from tolls.
Payment and reporting of customs and fees
It is you as an importer who is responsible for paying or reporting customs duties.
If you are registered in the VAT Register, you must calculate and report the import value added tax in the new tax report to the Tax Administration. If you are not registered in the VAT register (private individuals, foreign companies, etc.), you pay the import value added tax to the Customs at the time of import.
If you have been granted a customs credit with the Tax Administration, you can charge your account as an alternative to paying immediately
Goods that are subject to duty
Most goods are duty free. Simply put, it’s only customs on textiles (for example, clothes) and food items (food and drink). If there is a customs duty on the goods, this will be paid to the customs authorities upon importation. For food products, rates may vary through the year (aka protecting local produce). When it comes to clothes, the rate of tolls are depending on several factors. To determine the toll tariff, you must look up the item number in the Customs Tariff in order to know how the individual item is classified.
As a general rule, you must report or pay value added tax (VAT/MVA) on all goods imported to Norway, even if customs duties are not attached to the goods.
The parliament determines the rate of VAT on an annual basis. The rate for the value added tax is 25 percent. An exception is for food where the rate is currently at 15 percent.
You must be aware that customs duties and any shipping charges that are payable on customs clearance are weirdly also included in the basis of the value added tax.
- examples and further inmformation from the tax authority
- More on taxes
- More on exemptions regarding imports
On some items there are special charges. The parliament determines the rates annually. Rates and how to calculate the special tax vary. If there is a special tax on the item you are importing, you must enter the regulations for this special tax.
There is, among other things, a special tax on
- non alcoholic beverages
- alkoholic beverages
- Chocolate- and sugar
- One time fee on vehicles
- View all special charges.
Possibility of reduced duties or exemptions
Norway has free trade agreements with a number of countries. This means that customs-related goods can obtain reduced duty exemptions if the goods are covered by a free trade agreement. Mainly, there are foods and textiles that are subject to customs duties on imports into Norway.
Free trade agreements do not apply to value added tax and special fees.
read more about
Goods with restrictions and prohibitions
Some items may have bans and restrictions on import. Norwegian authorities may require documentation or permits for import of these goods to Norway. You must check the regulations of the responsible authority in Norway before you trade in such goods.
|Overview of restricted goods|
|Restricted goods||Responsible Authority|
|Alcohol||Skatteetaten og Helsedirektoratet|
|Tobacco||Skatteetaten og Helsedirektoratet|
|Nutrients, plants, seeds, animals||Skatteetaten og Mattilsynet|
|Endangered species (CITES-goods)||Miljødirektoratet|
|Explosives, fireworks etc||Direktoratet for samfunnssikkerhet og beredskap|
|Cultural heritage, antiques||Riksantikvaren/|
There may also be restrictions in the exporting country, which means that you need an export permit. You must investigate this with the seller or authorities of the country you are buying from.
Exceptions and facilitations from the declaration obligation and the notification and disclosure obligation of goods upon import
Everyone who enter Norway is usually obliged to report to the Customs Office at the border and to inform about what and how much they bring with them. All goods will as a rule also be declared to the Customs office upon import, upon submission of a customs declaration. There are some exceptions and easements in these duties. This applies, among other things to
- Customs-free travel goods
- temporary import of foreign registered motor vehicles
- temporary import of professional equipment of lesser value when the importer and owner are foreign residents
Under certain conditions, the Customs Service may provide you with a relief in the declaration obligation by declaring multiple consignments on the same declaration. This applies to, among other things, when importing wood.
In some cases you may use a preliminary declaration. That is to say, you get the goods freed by giving you less information to the Customs Office than you do at a complete customs clearance. This must be made up for with a complete customs clearance within a time limit set by the Customs Office.
The requirements for using preliminary declarations are strict, and the Customs Office assesses whether the requirements are met in each case.
There are separate rules for declaring goods that you want to temporarily import to Norway.
Refund of customs and fees
In some cases, you may apply for a refund of customs and fees. You may need to trade a lot, return your purchase, or you have received broken items.
Transport of goods through third party countries
Some goods are transported through several countries on their way to Norway. Through a transit, customs authorities allow transport from the seller in one country and to a destination office in another country where the transport can pass several countries along the way. A transit shall ensure that the goods arrive at the destination in the recipient country. Upon arrival at the destination you must either declare the goods before you can use them or submit them to customs warehouses.
Transport of goods from the border to another location in Norway
If you are missing documents or for other reasons do not want to declare the goods at the border, you must ship the goods onwards under “Customs control” to a destination in Norway. This is what we call passing of goods. If the goods are not already in transit, you can ship the goods either by giving the Customs clearance or a freight forwarder on the border to start the process. The Customs Tariff sets a deadline for when you must contact the Customs at the place of destination of the goods. You can not use the goods before they are cleared. Alternatively, you submit the goods to a customs warehouse at the destination.
In case of passing items in this manner, the Customs Office may require you to provide a form of security which will be refunded once the goods have arrived and has gone through customs clearance.