Norway Market Entry
- Market entry
- Forms and conditions of operation on the market
- Marketing and Communications
- Issues of intellectual property protection
- Public procurement market
- Payment terms, payment ethics and resolution of commercial disputes
- Visas, fees, specific conditions of travel to the territory
- Employment of citizens from the Czech Republic
- Fairs and events
The very solid structural level of the Norwegian market is ensured by a dense and fully compatible network of private law institutions of importers, exporters, wholesalers, retailers and sector-specific units, ensuring the direct implementation of trade flows of goods and services. The role of an umbrella organization is fulfilled by the association to support the activities of Norwegian business entities Virke. The Norwegian market is basically open. Protection rules are applied in trade with agricultural products (especially foodstuffs) and alcohol. Passenger cars are also a monitored commodity with a high tax burden. Another sensitive area of the local market is the trade in fish and fish products. However, even in these areas, within the framework of the EEA Agreement, there is a gradual liberalization and unification of trade rules in accordance with EU legislation and WTO principles. Check smber for agriculture and fishing facts of Norway.
Most of the more important business contacts of companies from the Czech Republic in Norway are realized through contractual representatives. With regard to the specifics of the Norwegian market and the Norwegian mentality, the representative (mostly exclusivity is required) has a significantly easier position when placing goods of foreign origin on the market than a foreign manufacturer without knowledge of these specifics and without locally verified prestige. The standard forms of finding a business partner include meetings at exhibitions and fairs, participation in business seminars and maximum use of information resources. Direct assistance in searching for business partners is provided by the PaulTrade representative office. Absolutely serious behavior, punctuality, honest fulfillment of obligations, professional quality and language skills are taken for granted. Violation of these standards is associated with the risk of losing a good name and, given the size of the market, usually also the possibility of continuing to do business in Norway. In an attempt to make a large profit, some foreign entities, especially small and medium-sized companies, based on general information that Norway is a country of high prices, unwisely calculate the amount of their profit into the bid prices, which then become above average high and lead to the loss of Norwegian interest in the bid. On the other hand, for the Norwegian client/customer, the quality of the offered product or service is more important than the price itself. which then become above average and lead to a loss of Norwegian interest in the offer. On the other hand, for the Norwegian client/customer, the quality of the offered product or service is more important than the price itself. which then become above average and lead to a loss of Norwegian interest in the offer. On the other hand, for the Norwegian client/customer, the quality of the offered product or service is more important than the price itself.
The following regime applies to the export of Czech goods to Norway: customs duties on the export of industrial products and textiles are abolished; quantitative restrictions on the export of industrial products are abolished; quantitative restrictions on the export of agricultural products are abolished; for the export of processed agricultural products, a regime applies within which the principle of the agricultural component is applied as the basis for calculating the duty based on the value of the agricultural raw material used; for the import of processed agricultural products, the duty is applied only to the agricultural component, and the tariffication of all existing import fees is cumulated into the duty; quantitative restrictions are essentially abolished, only the generally applicable restriction on the import of uranium ores, natural and enriched uranium and spent and unspent fuel cells for nuclear reactors remains in force.
Decisions on Norwegian import and export licenses for sensitive items belong to the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Defence, Economy and Fisheries or the Oil Industry and Energy according to the relevant commodity. In foreign exchange, there is generally an increased emphasis on ecological aspects and the protection of consumer and animal health. The customs office issues a customs tariff annually, which is processed according to the Norwegian system of marking and coding goods and is divided into 21 sections and 97 chapters. The regime for importing goods into Norway is generally governed by the “Act on Customs and the Movement of Goods” and related regulations. Based written request the geographically competent customs office can provide binding information on tariffs and import (or export) conditions for a specific type of goods. For imports into Norway, certain protective measures are applied to agricultural products (food, live animals, animal and plant products) in the form of import duties. Norway applies the highest agricultural import tariffs in the world at an average of 49%. Alcoholic beverages are burdened with particularly high customs duties, and it is required to indicate the maximum amount of alcohol content per unit of quantity sold (in contrast to the Czech standard, which requires information on the minimum amount). The state exercises its monopoly not only in the production of alcoholic beverages, but also in their sale. Protection measures in Norway also include direct state subsidies to selected sectors. The sectors with the highest subsidies include agriculture, fishing, mining of certain mineral resources and the area of services related to coastal shipping. A hidden form of subsidy policy is also regional preferences and a system of concessions, which are provided to companies and organizations with a permanent seat in the Arctic regions.
Forms and conditions of operation on the market
More than 6,400 joint ventures with foreign participation (most often from Sweden, Denmark and Great Britain) are registered in Norway. Licensed business activities include imports of alcohol (including beer with an alcohol content higher than 4.75%) and food of all kinds. Both categories are gradually liberalized under the pressure of international obligations. Every new business entity in Norway must be officially registered in the Norwegian Registration Center (Brønnøysundregistrene), which performs a function corresponding to the Commercial Register of the Czech Republic. It is also possible to obtain common property law information about registered companies here. The registration center assigns entities a unique registration number, serving the needs of various authorities. The information provided by the center is legally binding. The introduction of this system significantly contributed not only to reducing the duplication of required information, but also to reduce economic crime through greater transparency. The registration period has been shortened to 1-7 days.
The Norwegian Commercial Code allows the establishment of the following types of companies:
- limited liability company, “aksjeselskap” – AS, with share capital of NOK 30,000;
- a company with unlimited liability (company of unlimited liability, “ansarval selskap” – ANS – each owner has personal responsibility for all debts, or “delt ansvar” – DA – collective responsibility for all debts, individual owners only up to a certain amount);
- self-employed business, “enkeltpersonsforetak”;
- cooperative or partial ownership and other types of companies (eg associations, non-profit NGOs, etc.);
- possibly also a branch of a foreign company (so-called NUF – popular especially for foreign entities in the initial phase of activities on the Norwegian market, or with a lower number of contracts; the establishment of a foreign branch is not limited by any minimum threshold for initial capital and in some specific cases taxation is possible in the country of origin; the main disadvantage of NUFs is that they enjoy less trust from Norwegian entities than classic types of business companies).
The form of a joint-stock company, due to the demanding legal and tax conditions, requires the assistance of specialized commercial-legal offices. When setting up a company, the state agency Invest in Norway can provide informational support. Entrepreneurs who sell goods or services as part of their business must be registered in the register of VAT payers. Information on establishing legal entities and starting a business in Norway is published on a special Altinn portal in English. The portal can be used as a guide for starting entrepreneurs in Norway.
Marketing and communication
With regard to its limited size and customer mentality, the Norwegian market prefers goods supplied by a traditional supplier and of proven quality. Despite this fact, however, it is not closed to new products and new business connections. The condition for penetrating the market is above all seriousness, decent presentation and, of course, quality. Promotional and advertising campaigns are a normal part of business activities. All means that are used for this purpose in the economically developed world can be used for promotion. One of the most effective forms of presentation in Norway is company participation in specialized fairs and exhibitions, supplemented by a suitable media campaign or a specialist seminar. However, a condition for success is sufficient preparation for such an event, including prior contact with potential partners.
The possibility of using billboards and other advertising surfaces in public space is rather limited. On the other hand, printed materials and advertising leaflets are popular and are often delivered directly to mailboxes or distributed in larger shopping centers. Roughly 2/3 of the population are used to regular shopping online (mainly clothes, electronics, sports equipment, furniture and food) and that is why social media such as Instagram, FB and LinkedIn are gaining ground in the field of marketing. For marketing purposes in Norway, the use of negative stereotypes or criticism directed at others is completely inappropriate.
Issues of intellectual property protection
The protection of intellectual property is the responsibility of the Norwegian Patent Office, the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Justice and (when negotiating international agreements) also the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Norwegian Intellectual Property Office also acts as a government patent office under the Ministry of Economy. By signing the EEA Agreement, Norway acceded to many important agreements in the field of intellectual property protection. As a result of WTO membership, Norway has also amended its legislation in line with the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. Norway is a signatory country to the Patent Cooperation Treaty and has acceded to the European Patent Convention. There is currently no known case of infringement of intellectual property rights in relation to Czech entities in Norway.
Public procurement market
The public procurement system in Norway is governed by the Public Procurement Act, through which the EU Public Procurement Directive 2014/24/EU is transposed into the Norwegian legal order. The law applies to public contracts for the purchase of goods, the provision of services and construction works that exceed the value of NOK 100,000 without VAT (approx. CZK 260,000) and are not subject to other rules resulting from Norway’s international obligations. In general, the contracting authority may not discriminate against individual competing suppliers on the basis of nationality or territorial jurisdiction. With exceptions, contracting authorities submit all documentation related to public procurement in Norwegian and may require suppliers to submit bids and other relevant documents also in Norwegian.
There are approximately 3,000 public entities at the central and local level in the country that can tender public contracts. The value of listed public tenders ranges between 10-20% of GDP every year. Foreign entities were awarded up to 5% of the total number of public contracts in the last 2-3 years. The most successful are entities from Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Great Britain. Since 2019, a specific public procurement system for innovations has also been gradually introduced in Norway. Its specificity is an in-depth market dialogue between the contracting authority and a potential supplier in the initial phase of the tender procedure with the aim of contributing to the search for effective solutions to increase the productivity, quality and sustainability of public services.
A specific selection system exists for the oil sector, or for selected individual actions of strategic industrial importance (construction of aluminum plants, cement plants, etc.). The manager of these tenders is the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Oil and Energy. The most complex tenders are issued for the exploration and exploitation of oil and gas deposits in the submarine shelf. Concessions are granted for a period of ten years with an option to extend to thirty years. A similar selection mechanism through the granting of licenses is also in place for the purpose of building offshore wind parks from the beginning of 2021 . Public information is provided about each such tender.
Most public tenders are implemented from the budgetary costs of regional and district state authorities, which publish this information in the electronic public procurement database Doffin. It is a purely Norwegian web database of public contracts, which is managed by the Agency for Public Administration and e-Government. Jobs can be searched by title, publication date, expiration date, title (keywords). Using filtering, you can also select a specific region in Norway and, above all, the area of requested services, which is further specified by the selection options offered. All contracting authorities must register in the database before entering a public contract. The same goes for suppliers. Registration for suppliers is free. The first person who registers the company in the database automatically also becomes the administrator of the company profile.
According to the law, public services are divided into so-called “priority” (CPC-ref. nr. 84, appendix 5) and “non-priority” services, which include, for example, transport, legal advice or health care and social services. This qualitative division of services into two categories, together with the estimated price of the public contract, subsequently determine the exact procedure for the implementation of the tender procedure. In terms of price, the key value is NOK 1.75 million without VAT (approx. CZK million) for the purchase of goods and provision of services, i.e. NOK million (approx. CZK million) without VAT in the case of, that the contracting authority is a government agency. Orders exceeding these values (the so-called EEA limit) must be listed in one of the official EU languages in addition to Norwegian, and in addition to the Doffin database, they must also be announced in the European TED database. The information provided by the contracting authority for this type of contract must be identical in both databases. As regards priority services above the EEA border, the contracting authority may in some cases use a competition with negotiation after the announcement of the public contract to select the best offer. Priority services are also subject to specific rules on deadlines for submitting individual offers, e.g. shortened deadlines can only be used for orders exceeding the value of NOK 6 million.
The database of EU and EEA tenders (including Norway) can be found in the online version of the Supplement to the Official Journal of the EU.
Payment terms, payment ethics and resolution of commercial disputes
Norwegians generally try to avoid potential trade disputes as much as possible and are open to finding an agreement. If settlement of the dispute through negotiations is not possible, a standard system of commercial legal offices, chambers of commerce and consulting firms is available. However, the costs of even a relatively simple legal dispute are considerable. As in other EEA countries, the Czech SOLVIT center helps domestic entrepreneurs and citizens informally and free of charge to solve problems in the internal market of Norway. Entrepreneurs and citizens can turn to the SOLVIT center if they feel they have been harmed by a bad application of European law by some of Norway’s state authorities. Entrepreneurs can turn to the center, especially when they run into difficulties with the access of goods and services to the market in another EU member state, or EEA, also in the case of the right to settle in another member country for the purpose of doing business, in the recognition of diplomas and professional qualifications, but also in the matter of taxes, public procurement or border control.
Entrepreneurs abroad may also encounter problems with social security or with motor vehicle registration. Apart from the usual business risks, there are no special risks in the field of investment or trade with Norway. The rating assessment of banking and investment risks is high in class “A” values. Norway’s credit was not questioned even during the global financial and subsequent economic crisis of 2008-2012. The payment terms used in business exchange with Norway do not differ from the terms normally used in developed European countries.
Visas, fees, specific conditions for traveling to the territory
The Czech Republic and Norway are part of the Schengen area. To travel to Norway, a citizen of the Czech Republic needs a passport or identity card valid for the entire period of stay. There is no special registration requirement in Norway. However, facilities providing mass accommodation (hotels, guesthouses, campsites) must register visitors and send a report to the police. Citizens of the Czech Republic can work in Norway without a work permit since May 2009.
Norway is a member of the EEA Agreement, but not a member of the EU, so customs conditions when importing to Norway are not subject to the Union system. Vehicles with a Czech license plate can only be driven by persons without permanent residence in Norway. For stays exceeding 6 months, the car must be registered in Norway. A fine is assessed for non-compliance. During a tourist trip, it is possible to import goods duty-free for a maximum of NOK 6,000 and to report cash transfers of more than NOK 25,000 to the Norwegian Customs Administration in advance. In Norway, it is not allowed to possess even a minimal amount of drugs. More detailed information on import and export limits and customs rates is published by the Norwegian Customs Office.
For the use of selected roads (motorways, selected bridges and tunnels, entrance to the centers of larger cities), variable fees are charged when passing through the toll gate. Chips are installed in residents’ vehicles and tolls are charged automatically. Registration plates of unregistered vehicles (including foreign-branded cars) are photographed when passing through the toll gate. The driver has the option of paying the toll with a payment card, which he registers with the AutoPASS collector before the trip. Otherwise, after returning from Norway to the home address, they will receive an invoice by post, plus a manual processing fee. To travel from the international airport in Gardermoen to the center of Oslo, you can use a regular train connection, which is provided directly from the airport by the company Flytoget or regional train carriers. The train journey takes about 30 minutes. Around 45 min by car on the highway. according to the traffic situation.
In Norway, foreigners do not face any extraordinary risks from a political or security point of view. In larger cities, it is advisable to apply the rules of general vigilance (keep your own luggage under permanent control and divide documents, money and valuables into several places).
In the event of a worsening of the epidemic situation, the Norwegian authorities tighten the conditions for entering the country. Therefore, before traveling to Norway, we recommend that all Czech citizens and residents inform themselves about the currently valid conditions of entry to the country on the website of the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Oslo or at the Norwegian Immigration Directorate.
Employment of citizens from the Czech Republic
Information on labor law conditions in Norway can be found on the Integrated Portal of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.
There is no special registration requirement. If a citizen of the Czech Republic is looking for work in Norway, he can stay in the country for up to six months without a permit. If he intends to stay longer in Norway, he does not need to apply for a work permit, but he needs to register with the police or the Service Center for Foreign Workers. Those who meet the conditions for registration will now receive a certificate of registration, which is issued with an unlimited period of validity, instead of a residence permit.
Conditions for posted workers are largely described in the Norwegian Labor Code, which sets minimum standards for all employees in Norway. Posted workers must appear at the territorially competent tax office for mandatory identification (workers from EEA countries, including the Czech Republic, do not need to apply for a residence permit, but must register electronically with the UDI – Immigration Directorate) and register with the Skatteetaten based on the RF form -1199/8. Their stay in Norway must be further “legalized” by signing an employment contract, registering with the Office for Foreign Tax Affairs (see above) and sending a so-called a-melding report (if the salary exceeds NOK 1000). All Norwegian and foreign workers working on construction sites must also be equipped with a so-called HMS card. Regarding salary requirements, there is no official minimum wage in Norway, but in a number of sectors the minimum level of financial remuneration is determined by collective agreements valid for one year at a time. If workers are employed as a hired force, their income is taxed in Norway from the first day of their work activity. If they are employed on a fixed price contract, employees can be exempted from paying tax if they do not spend more than 183 days out of 12 months in Norway.
More detailed information about the most current working conditions, whether from the point of view of the Czech company or the posted worker, can be found on the website of the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Oslo.
Fairs and events
The main trade fair organizer in Norway is Norges Varemesse AS, which offers 39,000 m2 of exhibition space in Lillestrøm, near the capital Oslo. The exhibition complex includes 55 meeting rooms and the Thon Arena hotel. Around two to three dozen trade fair events covering almost all important economic sectors will take place in the area every year. A list of planned events can be found here.
Successful and regularly held trade fairs include, for example, Oslo Design Fair (the design and interior industry trade fair, at which more than 350 entities exhibit each year and which is visited by approx. 11,000 people), Eliaden (one of the most important electrotechnical trade fairs, which is open and foreign entities; attendance is around 20,000 participants and 300 exhibitors) or SMAK (a food fair, part of which is traditionally also reserved for producers of alcoholic beverages; usually around 400 exhibitors and up to 30,000 visitors participate).