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What freelancers in Norway need to know about tax

If you’re ready to venture out on your own as a freelancer, then it is essential to brush up on the tax rules and regulations in Norway.

People going over their taxes and finances.
Here's what freelancers in Norway need to know about taxes. Pictured are people going over their finances. Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

Are freelancing and being self-employed the same thing?

According to the Norwegian website for government dialogue, Altinn, “A freelancer receives payment for individual assignments without being a permanent or temporary employee of the organisation he or she is carrying out work for, but does not need to be self-employed.”

This is helpful to clarify. Because when you decide to work for yourself in Norway, you can do this in a matter of two ways. The two most common 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”. 

Both enkeltpersonforetak and AS come with their own set of positives and negatives. Technically, you are NOT considered a freelancer if you have set up an AS. 

If you have set up an AS, then you are considered an employee of your own company. 

The two may often be compared to one another. But in the eyes of tax law and the rules that apply to your freelance work, they are very different. If you are setting up an AS, it is highly recommended that you hire an accountant as the tax rules are intricate and very specific to what type of business you run.

If you are a freelancer working as an enkeltpersonforetak 

For a sole proprietorship, you need to pay advance tax quarterly – or four times a year in Norway. This is done by the freelancer calculating how much profit they expect their work to earn within the taxing quarter. 

It may be difficult to predict, which is why you shouldn’t worry if you make more or less than your original registered claim.

For example: Let’s say freelancer Petter registered with skatteetaten, the Norwegian Tax Administration, that he would make 50,000 kroner in the first quarter of the year. Suddenly, Petter unexpectedly gets five new clients and happily makes double, earning 100,000 in the first quarter instead, all Petter has to do is log into his skatteetaten account and adjust his original tax claim so the amount he pays in taxes will be accurate. 

The Norwegian Tax Administration determines how much tax is to be paid based on the expected profit. 

In addition to quarterly registers, freelancers are responsible for sending invoices, keeping track of their accounts, and creating their own pension scheme. They are also responsible for the value-added services, or VAT.

What is VAT?

This is where it can get a little confusing with the terms. The Norwegian VAT officially uses the acronym MVA, for merverdiavgift. And if that wasn’t confusing enough, Norwegians have developed a slang word for this type of tax called moms

So, VAT = MVA = merverdiavgift = moms. All four terms refer to the same type of tax.

For freelancers that have earned more than 50,000 kroner over the course of a year, they need to register their VAT, which is the sales tax on goods and services.  

Again, this is when you should double-check to see if your line of work can be VAT exempt. Specific industries, such as education and arts and culture, are exempt from registering their VAT. This is because they don’t have to pay VAT. But most importantly, they are not allowed to charge their clients VAT for their services or goods.

However, freelancers who work in VAT exempt industries can electively register their VAT so they can both charge VAT and receive VAT deductibles. 

The VAT tax rate has held steady at approximately 25 percent over the past decade. When you have registered the tax on your goods and services, it is possible to request a VAT refund on purchases made up to three years back in time.

This is, again, a really good time to know what you can deduct or get back with VAT. 

For example: Let’s say Anna works as a freelance PR agent and takes a potential new client out for a “working lunch”. Unfortunately, she cannot register the lunch receipt as a work-related deductible as it is not allowed to apply for a VAT deductible on foods. 

However, let’s say Anna bought a printer that was necessary for her PR services. She could apply for a 25 percent VAT deduction on the printer’s costs as it is deemed necessary work equipment.

To register VAT for your goods and services, look here

Programmes and accountants can help with this.

Accounting programmes and actual accountants can help ensure you are managing the administration side of your business correctly. And even if you have both of these helpful options, you should still give yourself enough time each week, or month, to keep your accounts up to date if you are a freelancer. 

Managing your own accounts and taxes can be overwhelming. Luckily, there are some different options available.

Having an overview of your accounts with an accounting programme is cheaper than hiring an accountant and a great way to keep a 24/7 overview of your business.

If you are intimidated by the math side of things, or worse, making an honest tax mistake that is still illegal, don’t worry. 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 businesses in Norway. 

Remember, Google Docs and Word are not an option for creating your own invoices, as all invoices must be auto-numbered. 

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. 

If you’re still unsure

Learning your adopted country’s tax laws is both time-consuming and filled with small intricacies and loopholes. If ever you come across a new billing or taxing situation you’re not completely sure about. You can reach out to the Norwegian Tax Authority for more clarity.

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For members


Taxes and shipping: The rules for sending and receiving items in Norway

When ordering items from overseas or bringing goods into Norway, it's essential to understand the rules, taxes, and procedures involved so you don't end up with a nasty shock or unexpected bill.

Taxes and shipping: The rules for sending and receiving items in Norway

Whether you’re looking to buy something for the holiday gift-giving season, thinking of treating yourself by making a purchase from a, online store abroad, or travelling back to Norway after a shopping spree in a foreign country, having a good overview of your responsibilities is essential.

READ MORE: When is the deadline for sending Christmas gifts from Norway to other countries?

In fact, understanding the rules and procedures for sending and receiving goods in Norway, including taxes, tolls, and shipping, is the only way to avoid hassle and complications in the process.

By doing your homework and familiarising yourself with the rules, you will reduce the chance of unpleasant surprises (in terms of additional fees or delays) to a minimum.

Shopping from online stores located abroad

When you shop from foreign online stores, you may encounter import duties – fees you must pay.

The amount and payment process depend on whether the online store is registered in the VOEC scheme (referring to value-added tax on e-commerce), as well as the type and value of the item you’re buying.

You can find more details about VOEC-registered stores on the Norwegian Customs website.

If the online store isn’t VOEC-registered or you’re buying from a private person abroad, you can use the customs import calculator to find the information you need for customs clearance.

Shopping abroad and travelling back to Norway

When you travel to Norway, you can bring goods up to a specific value limit without paying duty or VAT.

You can find more information about the value limit for items bought abroad – set at 6,000 kroner at the time of writing, or 3,000 kroner if you have been outside of Norway for less than 24 hours – in this guide by Norwegian Customs.

Separate quotas exist for alcohol, tobacco, meat, and cheese. So, if you’ve been abroad and are returning to Norway or visiting as a tourist, you should make sure to check these limits.

Limitations are also in place for carrying animals, medicines, currency, and more.

Customs clearance for shipments from abroad 101

For most international shipments (such as electronics or clothing), you’ll be required to pay VAT and any other applicable taxes (customs and special taxes) when you make a purchase.

If these duties aren’t paid in advance through the online shop, the postal service will usually collect customs duties on goods exceeding 350 kroner.

Importantly, customs duty applies from the first krone for specific items like foodstuffs, dietary supplements, and restricted goods.

Gifts sent to you can have a value of up to 1,000 kroner before you need to declare them. Remember, all purchases from abroad are subject to VAT, and some items like textiles, foodstuffs, and restricted goods may have additional costs like customs and special duties.

What about gifts?

Gifts valued at less than 1,000 kroner are exempt from import duties if they are sent from a private person abroad to someone in Norway.

However, if you order gifts from abroad and have them directly shipped to the recipient, they may be subject to import duties. In most cases, it’s more cost-effective to order the items yourself and then send them as gifts.

READ MORE: How to send parcels to and from Norway this Christmas

If you’re sending multiple gifts in a single package, like for various family members, you can avoid import duties and taxes as long as the value of each gift remains under 1,000 kroner.

For instance, if your family comprises four members, the total value of the gift shipment can reach up to 4,000 kroner. To qualify for this exemption, each gift should be clearly labelled for different family members, with each gift’s value not exceeding 1,000 kroner.

Ensure this information is visible on the outside of the shipment and in the transport documents.

Specific rules govern what can and cannot be sent as gifts. Some items, such as alcohol, are subject to taxes regardless of whether they are intended as gifts. Additionally, tobacco products cannot be sent as gifts.

If you plan to send food products like cakes, cookies, biscuits, or chocolates, you should also remember that meat or dairy products from outside the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA), including the UK, cannot be sent to Norway.

If you have any questions or concerns in relation to regulations for specific food items, make sure to check the Norwegian Food Safety Authority’s website.

What happens if your shipment is missing customs-related information?

Clearing customs can sometimes require detailed information about the goods and the recipient. If the information provided with the shipment is insufficient, the postal service will usually contact you.

They’ll inform you about what’s missing and what you should do to enable the customs declaration. It’s crucial to promptly provide the necessary details to avoid further delays.

If you fail to respond within 14 days, your package may be stored at the post service’s customs warehouse, and there’s even a risk it might be returned.

There is also age verification in place for certain items, such as tobacco products and alcoholic beverages, for which the postal service will verify your age upon delivery – and charge a fee of 49 kroner.