If you live in Norway and buy products from international online stores, there’s big changes coming to the customs rules in 2024. Here’s what you need to know.
One of the biggest frustrations of living in Norway is the lack of product availability. Although the diversity in Norwegian online stores has improved in recent years, there are still many products that are difficult to get hold of within Norway.
That means that ordering products from international stores is a key part of shopping in Norway. Whether it’s a Kickstarter project, a unique piece of furniture, or simply a bag of candy from your homeland, online shopping from abroad is commonplace.
A Broken System
It can also be expensive. Relatively cheap items have been exempt from any customs fees, with MVA (VAT) and hefty customs and processing fees applied to goods imported that are priced above NOK 350.
That uncertainty was often an absolute nightmare. Once I ordered a book and t-shirt package from Kickstarter at a value of approximately NOK 500.
Upon collection of the product, I was slapped with a bill for almost NOK 400, which included MVA (VAT), a customs fee, and a processing fee. Things are finally changing in 2024, however.
I mentioned the changes in my recent article about what’s new in Norway for 2024 and a few people queried the details. So, that’s the reason for this article.
What’s Happening in 2024
From 1 January, 2024, the exemption on goods priced under NOK 350 is removed. This means that MVA (VAT) will be charged, in theory at least, on all imported products.
However, a new register of international online stores (VOEC) plus a reduction in processing fees should remove much of the previous uncertainty. The idea is that online stores registered in the new VOEC system will collect the MVA (VAT) due and submit that to the Norwegian government, leaving private customers without a hefty bill.
When shopping from online stores not listed in VOEC, duties will still have to be paid. However, Posten says that due to a new digital system that’s been designed with online shopping in mind, fees will be “much lower” than before.
Norwegian shoppers can consult the Norwegian Tax Administration's VOEC registry or use the Norwegian Customs Authority’s import calculator to estimate total costs including VAT and customs. However, this calculator doesn't include carrier customs clearance fees.
Norway’s VOEC Explained
Norway’s new registration system for foreign online stores is called VAT on E-Commerce (VOEC). The idea is that the store collects MVA (VAT) on behalf of Norway and submits it to the Norwegian tax authorities, along with any duties owed.
You’ll notice this change as a customer of many online stores, which previously charged 0% tax. They will now charge the correct amount of MVA (VAT)—usually 25%—and submit that to Norway. While that will increase the price, it means you won’t be exposed to a big import bill upon receipt of the goods.
This simplified system applies to all shipments for private use with a value of under NOK 3,000 per item.
So, it’s well worth checking whether your favourite online stores are registered in the new VOEC system. You can do that on the website of the Norwegian Tax Administration.
Paying Import Duties
If your purchase is from a store not registered in VOEC or is above the value of NOK 3,000, it will have to be cleared through customs. As today, you’ll need to pay the relevant import duties upon collection from Posten.
Goods with a value of under NOK 500 may be exempt from this process. In these cases, goods can be sent directly to your mailbox, and you’ll receive the bill via your digital mailbox.
What About Gifts?
It is possible to receive gifts from friends and family without having to pay hefy fees. Under the new rules, gifts can have a value up to NOK 1,000 before they must be cleared through customs with import duties.
I’m not an expert on customs. Far from it, in fact! All I’ve done here is research the information and published it in a (hopefully!) easy to understand manner. I hope you understand that I cannot answer personal questions about how this new scheme will (or won't!) work.
However, for further information, check out these sources: