Getting started

So you've decided to set up a company in Norway. Exciting times!

We realize that starting a new business can seem like a daunting prospect, so we've produced this guide to help you all the way through the process.

We'll cover:   

  • How to register your new company
  • Your legal obligations and responsibilities
  • What to do if you're moving here from abroad
  • Understanding Norwegian business culture

We do not offer business registration services ourselves, but our team at Invest in Bergen has helped many people and companies to get started in Norway over the years. Believe us, it's not as complicated as you think...

Registering a company

The way to register a company 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 company. 

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 on its board, 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). 

Public limited company (ASA)

A public limited company is similar to a private limited company in many ways. Shareholders will have limited liability, which is restricted to the amount of capital that they have paid in.

However, unlike an AS, the shares in an ASA can be traded publically on the stock market. There are a couple of other differences to be aware of:

  • A minimum of 1 million kroner in capital is required to establish a public limited company
  • The company must have at least three directors, two of whom must be resident in Norway.

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. 

Here is more information about applying for your D-number.

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".

 

Legal obligations and responsibilities

TAXES IN NORWAY

Value-added tax

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).

 

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. 

See an overview of the national insurance contribution rates across different parts of Norway.

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. 

Read a more detailed overview of the different obligations you have as an employer in Norway.

Moving to Norway

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. 

Nordic countries

If you are a Nordic citizen, you only need to meet up with the Tax Administration for ID verification and change of address notification.

EU/EEA

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.

Begin the registration process for EU / EEA citizens here.

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.

Begin the registration process for non-EU / EEA citizens here.

Understanding Norwegian business culture

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 employer and employee and between manager and subordinate is vital.

Gender equality is important in Norway, and women doing business in Norway will receive the same treatment as men.

To summarize 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

 

Find out more about business life in Bergen