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What you need to know about setting up as a freelancer in Norway

The option to work as a freelancer is a popular choice, and often the route chosen by newcomers in Norway. If you are considering this as an option for yourself, here are the basics you should know.

What you need to know about setting up as a freelancer in Norway
Photo: Ewan Robertson on Unsplash

How to register

The two most used methods to register your freelance work or self-employed business is as an enkeltpersonforetak, or as an AS, which is an acronym for aksjeselskap. In English, an enkeltpersonforetak means Sole Proprietorship, and an aksjeselskap means Private Limited Company.

If you are going to register as an enkeltpersonforetak you must be planning on carrying out a commercial activity, have a Norwegian business address, and be over 18 years of age, according to Altinn, an official portal connecting businesses, private individuals and public agencies.

Some enkeltpersonforetaker must also register with the Register of Business Enterprises. The electronic register fee for this is 2,250 kroner. For more on the registration process, click here

According to Altinn, to register your business as an AS you must have a starting capital of minimum 30,000 kroner. This must be set up in a bank account and used for only expenses for the business.

The AS registering fee to the Register of Business Enterprises is 5,570 kroner. One or more persons can be the founder of an AS. And the name of your company must incorporate the AS abbreviation or Aksjeselskap, either at the beginning or the end of the name.

Registration is done electronically and you have three months from the day the company was founded to sign the official start up documents from the Register of Business Enterprises.

The positives and negatives: enkeltpersonforetak versus AS 

According to website, the positives of registering your freelance work or own business in this way is that there is no minimum start up capital needed, and the registration process is faster than with an AS. 

You can tax the profits from your business on your own private tax return, meaning you can withdraw money for your own use without it being considered a salary or dividend. You also need to submit only one tax return for yourself and your business. 

Remember, though, that you have sole economic responsibility so it is often recommended to start an enkeltpersonforetakk alongside having another job. 

Advantages of starting an AS include the option of being allowed to consider owners as employees in their own company.

There can be food, travel, and transport allowances, and holidays and sick days can be expensed by the company. Starting an AS is also considered to be a lower risk with no personal responsibility.

However, you will need to file separate tax returns for yourself and your company. You need start-up capital, and the registration process is not as swift as for an enkeltpersonforetak.

Weigh your options

Ask yourself, why do you want to freelance? In the United States and in many other countries, people choose to work for themselves to enjoy the perks of a more flexible schedule and freedom to pick the projects they want to work on. Granted, being your own boss has its benefits, but being an employee in Norway does as well. Job security, good wages, and your pension and taxes will be sorted out for you. 

READ ALSO: What are the perks of working in Norway?

As Altinn notes, a freelancer will have fewer social rights than traditional employees of a company. The client will not be liable to pay you sick pay, but you will be entitled to sick pay from the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV) from the 17th sick day. You can take out voluntary supplemental insurance.  

You are also not entitled to holiday pay or occupational injury insurance. Injury insurance can be voluntarily taken out through a private insurance company.

Depending on certain circumstances, freelancers are entitled to unemployment benefits.

The administration side 

If you are considering freelance work, it is important to remember the administration side of your business. Managing your own accounts and taxes can be overwhelming. Luckily, these modern times we are living in have given us some options.

Managing your own accounts with an accounting programme is cheaper than hiring an accountant and a great way to keep a 24/7 overview of your business. Even if you are frightened by addition, the newest programmes have a reputation of being easy to learn and user friendly. 

Here is a list of the top accounting programmes recommended for small business in Norway. 

There is peace of mind in letting a professional handle your accounts but you will have to pay for it. The average price for an accountant in Norway is around 500 kroner per hour plus VAT (value added tax). 

If you choose to hire an accountant to manage your firm’s books, here is a list of what the average accounting services can cost you. 

Consider a co-working space

Networking seems to be a common theme when writing about life in Norway, and with good reason — it shouldn’t be undervalued. Networking is a huge part of the integration process and in your own professional development in Norway. 

If you are considering freelancing, try being a part of co-working spaces that have been established in many cities and towns across Norway. It can be a great way to make profitable connections. Co-working spaces offer both private and public working areas and other services that your business might need. Even if you are around other freelancers working in a different field, they could possibly help you out and answer questions about the administration side of your business.

Here is a list of all the co-working spaces in Norway.

Helpful vocabulary and facts

  • Regnskasfører: accountant 
  • Skatt: tax 
  • Årsavgift: annual fee

Sales documentation, or invoicing, has specific requirements in Norway. According to Altinn, it must be impossible to manipulate invoice numbers. Electronic invoices must be a data file that can be imported directly into the invoice recipient’s system. This means invoices made in PDF or a Word document can not be considered an electronic invoice. 

Look out for hidden fees when you start a business. For example, banks may be charging you a monthly fee for having a business debit card. 

Know your rate! Do the necessary research before or at the very beginning of starting your freelancing work to see the pricing used by others in similar fields. It can work to offer a better price than the rest of your competitors, but do not undervalue your work or the time it takes to get it done. Remember, your rates are a sign of your reputation and confidence to possible future clients. 

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For members


EXPLAINED: What is a Norwegian collective bargaining agreement? 

Workers in Norway will undoubtedly have heard about collective bargaining agreements, especially if they are unionised. But what is meant by the term, and how do they work? 

EXPLAINED: What is a Norwegian collective bargaining agreement? 

A good work-life balance, high wages, and generous vacation time are some of the many benefits that lure foreign workers to Norway. 

However, a lot of these rights aren’t protected by Norwegian laws. Instead, worker’s regulations are a mixture of agreements between the country’s trade unions and employers, and government legislature. 

Working life in the country can best be summarised as a system of tripartite cooperation where employers, employee organisations and the government work together on matters regarding employment in the country. This is also referred to as the ‘Norwegian Model’.

“Norway is a pretty unionised country, and the regulations surrounding working life in Norway are mainly based on a mixture of laws and collective agreements,” Jan Olav Andersen, union leader for the Electricity and IT Association (ELogIT Forbundet), explained to The Local.

READ MORE: What foreign residents in Norway should know about workers’ unions

To decide on the rules and regulations that will govern working life, trade unions negotiate with employers’ organisations every few years to develop collective bargaining agreements which determine everything from wages to parental leave. In Norwegian, these are called tariffavtale.

Collective bargaining agreements are negotiated throughout the spring, and negotiations for some of the most prominent sectors will regularly make the domestic headlines. Before the negotiations, unions will typically announce what they expect from the talks. This year, employee organisations have said that solid salary growth is expected, due to a high cost of living, inflation and low wage rises throughout the last few years. 

The agreement itself is a contract which regulates employment conditions, for example, stipulating that all employees with a particular job title must receive a salary within a specific pay band, as well as holiday allowance, overtime pay, working hours, and other benefits.

The breakdown of these negotiations leads to strikes and lock outs. Industrial action is a legal part of the Norwegian working model, provided they are announced and not unsanctioned. 

As a result of the strength of the collective bargaining agreements, more than two million people are part of unions. However, some unions have much higher membership rates than others. For example, the service industry has a much lower union membership than the municipal sector, which is heavily unionised. 

Workers in unions do not need to negotiate over salaries, and if a worker is in a union, their contract will be regulated by a collective bargaining agreement. Unions cover both the public and private sectors in Norway. 

“We negotiate collectively at both a national and a company level. If you are not a member of a union, then you will have to act on your own, as we used to say, ‘alone we beg, together we negotiate’,” Andersen said.