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flag Norway Norway: Selling and Buying

In this page: Market Access Procedures | Reaching the Consumers | Distributing a Product | Organizing Goods Transport | Identifying a Supplier


Market Access Procedures

International Conventions
Member of World Trade Organisation
Member of OECD
Party to the Kyoto Protocol
Party to the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
Party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer
Party to the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls For Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies
Party of the International Coffee Agreement 2001
Main International Economic Cooperation
Norway is a Member of the EEA (European Economic Area) and applies the whole EU acquis except for agriculture and fisheries. Norway seeks to conclude bilateral trade agreements in the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) framework.
Non Tariff Barriers
Norway is a member of the European Economic Area and applies the European Union trade policy rules, except for agriculture and fisheries. Norway does not have many import restrictions, except for agricultural sector, which remains highly protected with high tariffs, quantitative restrictions and technical barriers. Goods containing animal products require a certificate from the competent authority in the country of origin. A sanitary or health certificate is required for animal products, live animals and plants. For most vegetables, fruit and plant material a phytosanitary certificate is required. Fishery products need to show a catch certificate.

Numbers of products require an import license, for example clothes and textiles. Genetically modified products and biotech products face more restrictive legislation than in EU countries.

Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports
Norwegian tariffs for industrial goods are low, usually between 3 % and 6 %. Goods imported from an EEA country are free from import duty. Any import of products is subject to Value Added Tax, which is currently levied at 25%. The VAT is deductible if the goods are intended for use in a VAT chargeable business. Before sending a shipment of considerable value, it might be wise to obtain an official ruling on customs treatment from the Norwegian Customs and Excise Authority.

Customs Classification
Harmonized custom system.
Import Procedures
The Norwegian Customs Authority collects the import duties and taxes for goods from abroad. Commercial invoice plus a bill of lading or an airway bill are required general import documentation. A certificate of origin is not required unless specified. For long-term contracts or expensive shipment a official ruling is needed.

Non-agricultural goods entering into the territory must adhere to customs formalities (summary declaration). This declaration must be carried out by the person bringing the goods to the territory. In the case of non-EU goods this procedure could take:

- 45 days in the case of goods carried by sea;
- 20 days in the case of goods carried other than by sea.

For more information, please contact the Norwegian Excise and Customs Authority.

Modernised Customs Code of the EU will be into place by 2013.Check the EU’s Customs website periodically for updates.

Importing Samples
Norway is a member of the international convention to facilitate the importation of commercial samples and advertising matter. Samples and advertising materials without commercial value are duty and tax free if they are useless for sale. These samples must be used in the country for demonstration purposes only. They must also be declared on arrival in the country. Samples for obtaining orders in Norway may be temporarily exempted customs fees if a bond is posted upon entry. Upon re-exportation, this bond is cancelled.
For Further Information
Customs and Excise Service
Norway Trade Portal
Ministry of Trade and Industry

Learn more about Traders, Agents in Norway on, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

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Reaching the Consumers

Marketing Opportunities

Consumer Behavior
Norwegians are very patriotic and often choose domestic products. Environmental issues are also important for consumers. Norwegian consumers are interested in new products (especially ICT-products and consumer electronics) and are willing to pay for quality. Compared with the Danish or Swedish consumers, Norwegians are not as price sensitive and are willing to spend more, especially when buying durable goods. The right price-quality relationship is usually more important than just the low price. In many regards, the consumer behavior is similar to other West-European countries
Consumer Profile and Purchasing Power
Norwegians are wealthy and purchasing power is very high. Norway's own production consists mostly of raw materials and semi-manufactured products, so many consumer products are imported. The wealth in Norway is also evenly distributed, so every Norwegian is an enabled consumer. Due to these opportunities, the competition is strict, especially with Scandinavian businesses. Norwegian consumers pay for quality not for novelty.

Three quarters of Norwegians live in the southern parts of Norway. The rest of the population is dispersed to small centers around the country. Therefore, because of the long distances and high transportation costs, it might be wise to focus the sales efforts to the southern areas of the country.

Consumers Associations
Forbrukerportalen , The Consumer Council of Norway
Consumer Ombudsman
Main Advertising Agencies
Nett Invest
Norway Car Rental - Europcar

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Distributing a Product

Evolution of the Sector
In 2008, turnover for the 38,678 retail stores in Norway totaled NOK 380.5 billion, while the number of employed persons was 214,989. Mass market sales accounted for 84% of total turnover, the service sector represented 13%, and the grocery trade represented 3% of total turnover.

Norwegian retail trade is focused around main commercial centers, such as Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, and Stavanger. Mergers or close collaborations between two or more companies have driven the structural change over the past few years, mostly in the grocery sector. Retailers aim to enlarge their operations in order to gain more negotiation power at the expense of producers and wholesalers. Because of the small domestic market, the Norwegian retailers are small compared even with other Scandinavian countries, and are not very active internationally.

Price levels in Norway are infamously high: groceries cost 50 % more than what is the EU average. Prices of alcohol and tobacco are even higher.

Market Shares
The Norwegian distribution system is quite organized and consolidated. It is characterized by a fewer number of intermediaries, sensible margins, a diversity of trends, and dynamic professional syndicates. Distribution chains dominate the market, and some chains have strengthened their position by taking on the role of wholesaler as well, such as NorgesGruppen. The German discount chain Lidl decided to pull back from Norway and sell all its shops to Rema 1000 chain after poor results.

The principal Norwegian stores are:
- NorgesGruppen with 2,760 retail outlets and a 32% market-share with a turnover of 4,43 billion euros in 2004. It is Norway's largest trading enterprise and the leader in the distribution market.
- Coop with 910 retail outlets, a 19,9% market share, and turnover of 3,3 billion euros.
- ICA is a Swedish company with 1032 retail outlets, 19,5% market-share, and turnover of 2,85 billion euros.

Shopping centers have also known great success, reaching a total turnover of 1,5 billion euros in 2004 in 4 principal zones: Oslo, Akershus, Osdtfold and Vestfold; thus registering a growth of 6,3% as compared to 2003.

Organizations in the Retail Sector
The Federation of Norwegian Commercial and Service Enterprises (HSH)

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Organizing Goods Transport

Main Useful Means of Transport
Sea transport is the dominant form of international transport: about 90 % of freight volume to and from Norway is done by shipping. Port of Oslo is the Norway's largest cargo port and the main gateway for containers and passengers. The port is located at the end of the Oslo Fjord with good transport connections to the rest of the country. Cargo throughput of the port of Oslo is 6,3 million tons. Overall Norway's merchant fleet is the fifth largest in the world


Road transport accounts for almost 50 % of cargo transport in Norway. 44 percent is done by ships and the rest occurs in railways. The road and rail infrastructure is mostly in very good condition. A list of Norwegian cargo agents can be found here.

Port of Oslo
Port of Bergen
Port of Stavanger
Oslo International Airport (Gardermoen)
Bergen Airport
Stavanger Airport
Sea Transport Organizations
Norwegian Coastal Administration
Norwegian Ports Federation
Air Transport Organizations
Road Transport Organizations
Norwegian Public Roads Administration
Rail Transport Organizations
Norwegian National Rail Administration

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Identifying a Supplier

Type of Production
Industry accounts for 41,4 percent of the GDP. Oil and gas field machinery, food processing, offshore industry, fishing, shipbuilding, metals and mechanical engineering are the most significant forms of industry. Of the 50 largest companies in Norway, 10 are oil companies and numerous others are associated with the offshore industry.


Mechanical engineering is a major sector in terms of turnover, number of employees and exports. The sector has about 4000 firms and produces about 6 % of the GDP. Forest Industry employs over 20 000 people and is a major exporter. The biggest companies are Moelven and Norske Skog. Food processing industry produces about 2 % of the GDP and mostly sells its products in domestic markets. Firms are mostly small or mid-size. Metal industry is dominated by few big corporations, such as HydroStatoil, Elkem and Fesil, and exports over 80 % of its production.

Norway is one of the leading countries in the world in shipbuilding. Norwegian corporations have a 25 % market share in cruise ship production and a 20 % market share in the production of liquefied gas tankers and chemical tankers. 30 % of all publically traded shipping companies in the world are listed in the Oslo stock exchange.

Business Directories

Multi-sector Directories
Gule Sider - Norway's Yellow Pages.
Largest Companies - Database of the largest Nordic companies.
Nordicnet - Industry's trade engine for the Nordic countries. - Directory of companies in Norway.
Yellow Pages - Find a business in Norway.
Manufacturers Associations of the Main Industries
25 professional associations listed for Norway.
Trade Agencies and Their Representations Abroad
Oslo Chamber of Commerce
Ministry of Trade and Industry
Innovation Norway
GIEK (en inglés)
Enterprises Federation
The Confederation of Norwegian Business and Industry
The Federation of Norwegian Commercial and Service Enterprises

Learn more about Service Providers in Norway on, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

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Learn more about Sales in Norway on, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

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Last Updates: October 2014