Norway is a safe and easy country for doing business. The World Bank ranks Norway top 10 of 189 countries for Ease of Doing Business, a position Norway has held for several years.
Our population of 5,3 million is modest in size yet still, its purchasing power is comparable to larger economies due to high standard of living and evenly distributed wealth. Most Norwegians are fluent English speakers with French and German frequently spoken as well. Norwegians are generally well educated.
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The way to register a business in Norway is through the Bronnøysund Register Center. You will need to complete the "Coordinated Register Notification" form on this website.
The form itself only available in Norwegian, although the “Part 1 – Guide” section is available in English.
CHOOSE YOUR COMPANY TYPE
Private limited company (AS)
This type of company is one of the most commonly used by international businesses when registering a Norwegian entity.
In order to register a private limited company in Norway, you will need NOK 30,000 in capital (roughly $3,200). This must be deposited in a bank, such as DNB. The bank account will be blocked up until the company is registered. You'll also have to pay a one-off charge of NOK 5,570 ($600) for your company to be added to the Register of Business Enterprises.
Your company will need at least two directors, one of whom must be a Norwegian or European citizen. Private limited companies have an accounting obligation, and must submit annual accounts to the Register of Company Accounts (regnskapsregisteret).
Norwegian branch of a foreign company (NUF)
If you're from a foreign company, another option is to set up a branch of your organization in Norway.
A Norwegian branch of a foreign company (NUF) is both easier to set up and easier to close down than AS and ASA companies. It is not a separate entity, but instead acts as a registered office for the parent company.
There is no minimum requirement for share capital when starting this type of business. However, the parent company's assets will be included on the balance sheet of the branch, and the parent company will also be liable for any debts incurred by the branch.
The branch company must comply with Norwegian labour rules (more on these later), and must pay taxes in Norway. An exception to this is where the parent company is based in a country that has a double taxation agreement with Norway.
ESTABLISHMENT BY FOREIGN NATIONALS
If you are a foreign national who is seeking to start and operate a business in Norway, you'll need a Norwegian identification number (D-number or personal ID number) and a Norwegian business address.
You can apply for a D-number at the same time as completing your registration in the Bronnøysund register.
This D-number will also allow you to access public services while living in Norway. If you're planning to live and work here, you can also read our section below on "Moving to Norway".
TAXES IN NORWAY
Companies are required to register on the VAT Register in Norway once their yearly turnover exceeds NOK 50,000. You do not need to charge VAT on any goods and services before this point.
Once your business is registered in the VAT Register, you must:
- collect VAT on behalf of the Norwegian state
- determine how much VAT you need to pay when importing goods for your company
- report to the Norwegian Tax Administration on the amount of VAT you have paid and collected. These reports need to be based on updated figures
- pay the difference between VAT that you collect on your sales (output VAT) and the VAT you pay when importing goods (input VAT).
Good to know!
At Invest in Bergen, we would recommend that you employ a professional accountant at an early stage when establishing your company in Norway.
They can guide you on what financial information to report, when to report it, as well as helping you to avoid common pitfalls in the reporting process.
Labour laws in Norway
If you're planning to hire people in Norway, there are a number of responsibilities that you will need to be familiar with. These include:
Employer's national insurance contributions
Employers will need to pay national insurance contributions for their employees as part of the country's National Insurance scheme.
This contribution is normally set at 14.1% of the employee's salary, yet this figure can be lower depending on where in the country you are based.
Occupational pension scheme
Employers must ensure that an occupational pension plan is established for their employees, in the following circumstances:
- The company has at least two employees, whose salaries and working times are both equal to at least 75% of a full position.
- The company has at least one employee with no ownership stake in the business, whose salary and working time is equal to at least 75% of a full position.
- The company has a number of employees whose salaries and working times that are equal to at least 20% of a full position, providing that together these make up the equivalent of two full positions.
You will need to have this pension plan in place within six months after meeting any of the criteria above.
After this, you will be responsible for ensuring that all employees over the age of 20, with a position of 20% or more, are signed up to the occupational pension plan from their first day at work.
Occupational injury insurance
You'll also need to take our occupational injury insurance for your employees. This can be taken out with private insurance companies.
This occupational injury insurance must include cover for:
- Injury and illness as a result of occupational accidents
- Illness which is seen as the equivalent to an occupational injury as per the National Insurance Act
- Injury and illness as a result of harmful substances or work processes
- Compensation arising from the loss of work capacity and income
- Payments to spouses or cohabiting partners in the event of death
You are entitled to tax deductions for the costs involved, and you will not have to pay National Insurance contributions on occupational injury insurance.
Other laws and regulations
Aside from these two points, there are many other laws and regulations that Norwegian employers must pay attention to - for instance, around safe working environments and working hours. Many of these will be similar to the rules in other EU and EEA countries.
If you are planning to move to Norway as well as starting your company here, there are a few things you'll need to know.
Firstly, registering a business in Norway does not automatically give you the right to work here. The general rule is that all foreign citizens will need a residence permit in order to work in Norway. There will be different requirements for obtaining a residence permit depending on your country of origin.
If you are a Nordic citizen, you only need to attend your local Tax Administration office for ID verification and change of address notification.
If you come from a country in EU/EEA and want to run a business in Norway, you must register within three months after arriving in Norway through the registration scheme for EU / EEA citizens.
Outside EU/EEA area
Citizens who come from a country outside the EU / EEA, need to apply to the UDI in order to get a residence permit for work in Norway.
The Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA) forms the cornerstone of relations between Norway and the EU.
The agreement brings the 28 EU member states, along with European Free Trade Association (EFTA) members Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, together in an internal market governed by a shared set of rules.
This means that goods, services, capital and people can move between Norway and EU countries with very few restrictions.
There are equal conditions for businesses, through level playing fields in competitive bidding, state aid, and government procurement across EU and EEA countries. Companies can also expect to encounter similar regulations, for instance around packaging, labelling and product standards.
In short, Norway has the same rights and obligations as other EU countries when it comes to:
- Buying and selling services
For more in-depth information on legislation in Norway and the EU, please refer to the recent publication, “White Paper on Norway’s Relationship to the European Union”, by the law firm DLA Piper.
Norwegian business life means flat structure and little hierarchy.
Employees are often included in making decisions, and are used to speaking up and contributing in various circumstances. Remember to involve people in decisions and see yourself as the first among equals. It helps to see the flat structure and openness in Norway as a tool to achieve results, and not a threat.
Cooperation is highly valued and the basis for the “Norwegian model” is the cooperation between the Government, the employer federations and the employee organisations. At company level, cooperation between employers and employees, and between managers and subordinates, is vital.
Gender equality is important in Norway, and women doing business in Norway will receive the same treatment as men.
Here are some key elements of Norwegian business culture:
1. Flat structures and little hierarchy
2. Quick and informal communication
3. Focus on cooperation
4. Trust among people
5. Empowered employees
6. Balance of work and private life
7. Gender equality
8. Risk willingness
The ocean capital of Norway
In the Bergen region, we have always had close ties to the sea. The city is home to a strong shipping industry, oil and gas players, and some of Norway’s largest fish farming companies. Bergen is also a hub for ocean research, where many businesses and researchers are working to understand and protect our marine environment.
Nevertheless, the ocean isn’t the only place where Bergen is pushing boundaries. The city is home to a buzzing media technology industry, a growing fintech hub, and a vibrant health tech community.
The cost of setting up R&D activities is internationally competitive with a well-developed system to protect intellectual property rights. Norway participates fully in all EU research programmes and activities.
Learn more about setting up a business in Greater Bergen