Americans with business interests in Norway benefit from ease of communication as most Norwegians speak English very well. American culture, including movies and TV series, is pervasive and there is not extensive use of dubbing. Nevertheless, having marketing and training materials in Norwegian language will give companies a competitive advantage. News coverage about Norway in English is sparse, limited to a few Internet services and other media, which provide only brief summaries of major events.
A few useful words on selling techniques in Norway: Norwegian companies are generally willing to pay for quality. They are also willing to switch suppliers to get better terms or better quality. Do not over promise, and make sure that you keep your deadlines and schedule promises - otherwise, Norwegians quickly lose interest. To Norwegians, “new” is not necessarily better. You need to present a convincing case – not based on emotions, but on usefulness and technical quality. New concepts must be proven as high quality, practical and already well tested. Hard selling techniques will typically not be effective in Norway. Avoid bragging and exaggerations and attempt to make well-documented presentations that get your counterpart involved and let him/her buy from you rather than you selling through one-way communication. Norwegians are usually very straightforward, in the sense that they are typically not overtly tactical negotiators. If they say your product is too expensive, they probably mean it. If you have made a proposal, you should stick to it. To your Norwegian counterpart, trust is important, and the use of written documents to establish agreements is common. Turning around and changing or adding surprising new elements is generally not popular. It is also hard to renegotiate terms after an agreement has been made, even if circumstances have changed.
Trade Promotion & Advertising
All major types of advertising media are available in Norway. Except for the state-controlled Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation’s (NRK) TV and radio stations, advertising on radio and television is fully developed, and many nationwide and local commercial radio stations compete. City radio stations that broadcast during morning and evening commute times are useful advertising vehicles. Introduction of digital radio frequencies (DAB) has marginalized radio channels on FM bands and fragmented the market. Podcasts are popular and growing fast, and advertising on this platform is catching up.
Norway has high newspaper readership, with circulation figures audited by the newspaper publishers’ association. Extensive demographic information concerning readership is available. Distinctions are drawn between the four major metropolitan areas and other, so-called trade districts, which number around 100. Practically all newspaper companies and media houses are undergoing a digital transformation, trying to follow readers and attracting advertisers to digital platforms.
Major Norwegian business newspapers in print and online include:
- Dagens Naeringsliv
Norwegian tariffs on industrial goods are generally quite low. Most of Norway’s trade with EU countries is conducted on a duty-free basis under the provisions of the EEA Agreement.
Norway’s corporate tax rates are lower than the EU average. Both companies and branches are subject to income and capital tax. An income tax of 22% applies generally to all forms of income of corporate bodies and other entities liable to taxation. No tax allowances are provided.
Please note that because of the extraordinary returns on production of petroleum resources, the oil companies are subject to an additional special tax. On top of the ordinary company tax rate of 22 %, there is a special tax rate of 56%. This gives a marginal tax rate of 78 %. In general, only the company’s net profit is taxable. Deductions are allowed for all relevant costs, including costs associated with exploration, R&D, financing, operations, and decommissioning.
The Norwegian personal income tax system has two bases for income. The ordinary income base is a net base (after allowable deductions) and is taxed at a rate of 22% in 2022. In addition, Norway has the personal income base, which serves as a gross base for taxation. A step tax (marginal income tax) and social security contributions for employees are based on this.
The step tax (marginal income tax) rates are progressive, and are as follows for 2022:
· Income from NOK 190,350-267,899: 1.7%
· Income from NOK 267,900-643,799: 4.0%
· Income from NOK 643,800-969,199: 13.4%
· Income from NOK 969,200-1,999,999: 16.4%
· Income above NOK 2,000,000: 17.4%
In addition, the social security contribution for an employee is 8.2% of gross income.
The value-added tax (VAT) is 25% on most goods and services, but is 15% on food items and non-alcoholic beverages, and 8% for personal transport services, movie theater tickets and hotel rooms.
There are high taxes on automobiles (except for electric cars, which are tax free), gasoline, real estate, financial assets, and other items. Overall, government revenues equal half of GDP. Disposable income is much lower than apparent income per capita, but this is offset to some extent by generous state benefits such as mostly free health care, free tuition at public schools and universities, grants for children, high state pensions (social security), etc.
A revised convention for the avoidance of double taxation between the United States and Norway came into force in 1972. It applies to national income taxes in the United States and Norway as well as local income taxes in Norway. The law covers both individuals and corporations in the two countries. For Norwegian taxation purposes, the key is whether an American enterprise operates in Norway through a permanent establishment (article 4 of the convention), defined as a fixed place of business through which a resident of one of the contracting states engages in individual or commercial activity. If so, then all industrial and commercial profits made in Norway are taxable by the Norwegian government (and exempt from taxation by the United States). The identical rule applies to Norwegian-operated permanent establishments in the United States.
Sales Service/Customer Support
Conscious of the discrepancies among European countries and EU Member States in product labeling, language use, legal guarantee and liability, the redress of which inevitably frustrates consumers in cross-border shopping, the EU institutions have launched a number of initiatives aimed at harmonizing national legislation. Suppliers within and outside the EU should be aware of existing and upcoming legislation affecting sales, service, and customer support.
Under the 1985 Directive on liability of defective products, amended in 1999, the producer is liable for damage caused by a defect in his product. The victim must prove the existence of the defect and a causal link between defect and injury (bodily as well as material). A reduction of liability of the manufacturer is granted in cases of negligence on the part of the victim.
The 1992 General Product Safety Directive introduces a general safety requirement at the EU level to ensure that manufacturers only place safe products on the market. It was revised in 2001 to include an obligation on the producer and distributor to notify the Commission in case of a problem with a given product, provisions for its recall, the creation of a European Product Safety Network, and a ban on exports of products to third countries that are not deemed safe in the EU.
In 2020 the European Commission announced its intention to revise the aging General Product Safety Directive following an evaluation of the current system. Following a round of public consultations in 2020 the Commission published its proposal for a revised Directive in June of 2021. Amongst other things, the new proposal looks to update rules to reflect technological progress, to ensure better enforcement, and to improve the recall process of dangerous products. Importantly, the modified Directive would extend manufacturers’ obligations to companies selling their products in the European Union through distance sales and would create the possibility of appointing an authorized representative for fulfilling these legal obligations. The proposal needs to go through the EU’s legislative process and will require the approval of the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union.
Legal Warranties and After-sales Service
Under the 1999 Directive on the Sale of Consumer Goods and Associated Guarantees, professional sellers are required to provide a minimum two-year warranty on all consumer goods sold to consumers (natural persons acting for purposes outside their trade, businesses or professions), as defined by the Directive. The remedies available to consumers in case of non-compliance are:
- Repair of the good(s)
- Replacement of the good(s)
- A price reduction; or
- Rescission of the sales contract
Although it may not be required by law, marketing, sales service, customer support, user manuals, and training materials in the Norwegian language will give a company a competitive advantage. Other issues pertaining to consumers’ rights and protection, such as the New Approach Directives, CE marking, quality control and data protection are dealt with in the Trade Regulations, Customs and Standards chapter in this report.
Local Professional Services
Following is a sample list of contacts and resources available in Norway to help U.S. businesses wishing to explore the country’s investment climate or compare it with other European countries.
Major international accounting firms:
- Ernst & Young
For other local professional services, including legal services, please contact the U.S. Commercial Service in Oslo for qualified lists of providers.
Principal Business Associations
Norway - Resources:
- U.S. Commercial Service, Oslo
- U.S. Commercial Service, European Union
- U.S. Embassy Oslo
- Market Research Reports
- EU Tenders Website
- European public procurement tenders open to U.S. companies
- American Chamber of Commerce in Norway
- Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise
- Federation of Norwegian Industries
- Federation of Norwegian Commercial and Service Enterprises
- Abelia - Association of Norwegian ICT- and Knowledge-based Enterprises
- ICT Norway
- Norwegian Defense & Security Industry Organization (FSi)
- Norwegian Oil and Gas Association
- Norwegian Shipowners’ Association
Limitations on Selling U.S. Products and Services
Private individuals are banned from importing certain items. Other items are bound by restrictions. This entails that you must have a special permit or license to import the item. More information on restrictions for such items at the authority responsible for the regulations:
- Medicines; contact the Norwegian Medicines Agency
- Weapons; contact the Norwegian Police Authority
- Plants; contact the Norwegian Food Safety Authority
- Foods/Supplements; contact the Norwegian Food Safety Authority
- Alcohol; read more about private import of alcohol at the Norwegian Customs