Starting a Business in Norway: English Guide 2024


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Norway, with its breathtaking fjords, innovative spirit, and forward-thinking economic policies, is not just a beautiful country to live in; it’s a promising land for entrepreneurs from around the world. In the age of global connectivity, Norway stands out as a beacon for business development, having cultivated a reputation for its stability, progressive ideals, and open-mindedness to global talents. Its thriving economy and pro-business stance create a fertile ground for startups and established businesses alike.

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As an expat or international entrepreneur, you might be drawn to the prospect of building a legacy amidst the Northern Lights. Yet, as enticing as it may seem, starting a business in Norway comes with its set of challenges, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the local landscape and language.

Key Takeaways

  • Norway offers a robust business ecosystem, rich with both challenges and opportunities.
  • Mastery of Norwegian is not vital but can deepen cultural and business ties.
  • Trust, punctuality, and transparency are cornerstones of Norwegian business culture.
  • Financial planning and understanding local regulations are critical.
  • Networking in Norway is a blend of traditional values and modern platforms.
  • Numerous resources support international entrepreneurs, from government initiatives to co-working spaces.

Reasons to Start a Business in Norway

If you’re an expat or an international entrepreneur, the allure of the Norwegian business scene might have already captivated you. But if you’re still on the fence or merely curious, let’s delve into the heart of what makes Norway a veritable haven for global trailblazers like yourself.

Stable Economy and Political System

The Norwegian Kroner isn’t just a currency; it’s a testament to Norway’s robust economic stamina. Norway boasts one of the world’s most stable economies, underpinned by a wealth of natural resources, notably oil and gas. Furthermore, its political system is a paragon of transparency and efficiency, ensuring businesses operate in a secure and predictable environment.

Highly Educated Workforce

Dive into Norway’s talent pool; you’ll find it brimming with educated, skilled, and multilingual individuals. The country’s emphasis on education and lifelong learning ensures that businesses can access top-tier talent, ready to innovate and drive success.

Supportive Environment for Startups and Entrepreneurs

Norway rolls out the red carpet for its entrepreneurs. Through various initiatives, grants, and incubation programs, the Norwegian government actively fosters a culture of innovation. As an international entrepreneur, you’ll find a support system tailored to your needs, ensuring that your dreams aren’t just dreamt but realized.

Strategic Location with Access to European Markets

Nestled in the heart of Europe, with neighbors like Sweden, Denmark, and Finland, Norway is your gateway to the vast European market. Its strategic positioning facilitates seamless trade and collaboration, making it a nexus for businesses aiming for a pan-European reach.

Quality of Life

While focusing on bottom lines and business metrics is essential, let’s not forget the human side of the equation. Norway consistently ranks high in global quality of life indices. As an entrepreneur, you’re not just investing in a business; you’re investing in a lifestyle that promises clean air, unparalleled natural beauty, and a society that values work-life balance.

A Commitment to Sustainability

Norway leads the charge in an age where sustainability isn’t just a buzzword but a business imperative. If you’re passionate about eco-friendly initiatives and green technology, you’ll find Norway to be a kindred spirit, championing sustainable practices and encouraging businesses to do the same.

Understanding the Basics

starting a business in Norway

Whether you’re a seasoned businessperson or a fledgling startup enthusiast, understanding the fundamentals of the Norwegian business ecosystem is the first step in ensuring a seamless transition to this new terrain.

Types of Business Entities

Navigating the Norwegian business environment starts with selecting the right vessel – your business entity.

  • Sole Proprietorship (Enkeltpersonforetak): Perfect for solo adventurers, this structure is ideal for individuals who wish to start a business without the formality of incorporation. It offers simplicity but also places personal liability on the business owner.
  • Limited Liability Company (Aksjeselskap – AS): A popular choice among entrepreneurs, an AS provides the safety net of limited liability. It requires a minimum share capital but offers more structured management and operations.
  • Public Limited Company (Allmennaksjeselskap – ASA): The ASA is the way to go for those dreaming big and looking to invite the public aboard. A higher capital requirement allows companies to be listed on the Norwegian Stock Exchange.

Cultural Considerations

Embracing Norway isn’t just about numbers and regulations. It’s about understanding the pulse of its people and practices.

  • Trust: In Norway, trust is the cornerstone of all business interactions. Be genuine, deliver on promises, and you’ll find doors opening for you.
  • Punctuality: Time is revered in the Norwegian business world. Whether it’s a meeting or a deadline, punctuality is paramount.
  • Transparency: Norwegians value openness and directness. Clarity in communication, be it good news or challenges, is always appreciated.

Language and Communication

While Norwegian is the official language, English proficiency is exceptionally high. Nonetheless, learning a few Norwegian phrases can endear you to locals and show respect for their culture.

Regulations and Compliance

Norwegian business operations are streamlined, but they’re also bound by stringent regulations. It’s essential to be aware of local laws, industry-specific norms, and taxation requirements. Aligning with these ensures smooth sailing in the long run.

Digital Infrastructure

Norway boasts top-tier digital infrastructure, making it a breeze for businesses to operate online. Familiarize yourself with local digital platforms, payment gateways, and e-commerce trends to stay ahead of the curve.

Steps to Start a Business in Norway

Here’s your roadmap to planting your business flag firmly on Norwegian soil:

1. Registration Process

The first chapter in your Norwegian business story.

  • Choose a Unique Name: Begin with a name that’s distinct and not already in use within the Brønnøysund Register Centre.
  • Official Registration: Register your business with the Brønnøysund Register Centre once settled on a name. They’ll provide a unique organization number, marking your official entry into the Norwegian market.
  • DUNS Number: If you’re an international entity, obtain a D-U-N-S Number – a global business identification system.

2. Permits and Licensing

The key to unlocking many business doors in Norway.

  • Sector-Specific Licenses: Depending on your industry – be it food, travel, or tech – ensure you have the necessary permits to operate legally.
  • Work and Residence Permits: If you’re relocating to Norway, ensure you and any foreign employees have the required permits.

3. Finding a Location

Your base from where you’ll conquer the business world.

  • Market Research: Identify regions with the highest demand for your product or service.
  • Lease Agreements: Understand and negotiate lease terms that suit your business model and growth projections.
  • Virtual Offices: For those not needing a physical space immediately, consider virtual office services, prevalent and efficient in Norway.

4. Hiring Employees

  • Job Portals: Platforms like NAV,, and others are treasure troves for talent hunting.
  • Employment Laws: Familiarize yourself with Norwegian employment regulations, ensuring fair and legal treatment of your team.
  • Integration: Encourage a blend of international and local talents, fostering a culturally rich and innovative workplace.

5. Banking and Financial Setup

  • Open a Business Bank Account: Essential for managing finances and ensuring smooth transactions.
  • Understand Currency and Exchange: Get a grasp of the Norwegian Krone (NOK) and its standing in the global market for international transactions.

6. Marketing and Brand Presence

  • Digital Presence: Set up a website and engage in social media tailored to the Norwegian audience.
  • Network: Attend local trade shows and business events, and join chambers of commerce to forge valuable connections.

Related: Best Banks in Norway (How to Open a Bank Account 2023)

Financial Considerations

Norway, with its unique blend of rich traditions and modern economy, offers an intriguing and favorable financial landscape. But as with any epic quest in unfamiliar territories, having a reliable financial map is crucial.

Initial Investment

Startup Costs

Depending on the business type, estimate initial costs, ranging from licensing fees, and office rent to inventory. Remember, Norway, though prosperous, can also be expensive.

Funding Options

Explore the array of grants, loans, and investment options available in Norway. Numerous initiatives support startups, especially those with an innovative or sustainable edge.


  1. Value Added Tax (VAT): In Norway, most goods and services are subject to a 25% VAT. However, food items attract a lower rate, while some services like education are exempt. Registration for VAT is mandatory once your business surpasses a specific revenue threshold.
  2. Corporate Income Tax: Norway has a competitive corporate tax rate, which might vary based on annual updates. Ensure you’re abreast of the latest rates and implications.
  3. Double Taxation Agreements: Lucky for globe-trotting entrepreneurs, Norway has numerous double taxation treaties with countries worldwide. This ensures that the income you earn isn’t taxed twice.

Payroll and Employee Benefits

Salary Structures

Norwegian salaries are competitive, reflecting the high standard of living. Familiarize yourself with industry-specific averages to remain competitive and fair.

Mandatory Benefits

Norway is renowned for its strong welfare system. Employers need to contribute to social security, ensuring benefits like healthcare, parental leave, and employee pensions.

Import and Export Duties


Although not a member of the EU, Norway is part of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), impacting import and export duties. Research specific tariffs for your goods to avoid financial surprises.

Customs Declarations

Necessary documentation and procedures must be in place for smooth international trade operations.

Currency Management

The art of handling the Norwegian Krone.

Exchange Rates

With a dynamic global market, staying updated with exchange rates, especially if dealing internationally, is crucial.

Protection against Volatility

Consider financial instruments that protect against sudden currency fluctuations, especially for large transactions.

Related: Types of Loans in Norway: Understanding the 5 Basic Loans

Challenges and Opportunities When Starting a Business in Norway

Let us define the challenges and opportunities that await future business owners in Norway:


Language Barrier

While many Norwegians speak impeccable English, understanding and integrating some local language nuances can prove invaluable, especially in niche markets or rural areas.

High Cost of Living

Norway is known for its high living standards, which also translates into elevated operational and living costs. Budgeting efficiently becomes paramount.

Seasonal Differences

Norway’s unique geographical location means stark differences between summer and winter months, affecting industries like tourism, agriculture, and retail.

Regulatory Rigidity

The stringent Norwegian regulations, while ensuring quality and fairness, can sometimes feel cumbersome for new entrants.


Green Initiatives

Norway is at the forefront of sustainable solutions and green technology. Investing or innovating in this sector can yield profits, respect, and admiration from the community.

Tech Hub

Oslo, the vibrant capital, is rapidly becoming a hotbed for tech startups and innovation. The digital wave offers countless avenues for those ready to ride it.

Tourism and Experiences

Norway is a tourist’s dream, from the bewitching Northern Lights to scenic fjord cruises. Curating unique experiences or services for this sector can be golden.

Healthy Work-Life Balance

Norway places significant emphasis on the well-being and satisfaction of its workforce. A happy team can translate to heightened productivity and innovation.

Global Trade

Norway’s strategic positioning and robust trade agreements mean a plethora of opportunities for businesses aiming to go global or source globally.

Networking and Building Business Relationships

Here’s your guide to networking in Norway:

Embrace the Norwegian Approach

  • Trust and Integrity: In Norway, a handshake and one’s word carry weight. Uphold your commitments, and you’ll find trust to be your greatest asset.
  • Punctuality: To Norwegians, time is a testament of respect. Being on time signifies your dedication, whether a casual meet-up or a formal gathering.
  • Direct Communication: The Norse folk appreciate straightforwardness. While always polite, getting to the point and valuing transparency is encouraged.

Networking Platforms and Events

  • Business Associations: Join organizations like the Norwegian Chamber of Commerce or various industry-specific associations. These offer networking events, seminars, and workshops tailored for budding entrepreneurs.
  • Meetup Groups: Platforms like feature numerous groups dedicated to business networking in Norway, catering to both locals and expatriates.
  • Conferences and Trade Shows: Regularly held in cities like Oslo, Bergen, and Trondheim, these events can be goldmines for forging new connections.

Embracing Digital Connections

  • LinkedIn: With a high digital literacy rate, many Norwegian professionals are active on LinkedIn. It’s a vital tool for online networking and getting introductions.
  • Norwegian Business Forums: Websites and online communities specific to various industries can offer insights, partnerships, and collaboration opportunities.

Nurturing Relationships

  • Follow-ups: A simple email or a ‘thank you’ note post-meeting can set the stage for a lasting business relationship in Norway.
  • Joint Ventures: Collaborate on projects, participate in local initiatives, or even sponsor events to showcase your commitment to your Norwegian counterparts.
  • Social Gatherings: Norwegians value work-life balance. Invitations to casual gatherings, be it a ski trip or a cozy ‘hytte’ weekend, can solidify your bond.

Learning Norwegian: Is it Essential?

Is mastering Norwegian essential for your business venture? Let this guide be your answer.

The Linguistic Landscape

Widespread English Proficiency

Norwegians are among the top English speakers globally. From the bustling streets of Oslo to the quaint villages dotting the fjords, you’ll rarely find yourself lost in translation.

Business Conducted in English

In the urban hubs and among the younger generation, business dealings, meetings, and negotiations often unfold seamlessly in English.

The Case for Norwegian

Cultural Connection

Speaking even a smattering of Norwegian can open doors to deeper cultural immersion. It’s a bridge to understanding age-old traditions, folklore, and the soul of the nation.

Local Market Appeal

Norwegian can be a boon for businesses targeting local audiences or specific niches. It signals respect, commitment, and a desire to belong truly.

Building Trust

Remember the Nordic emphasis on trust? Speaking the local tongue, even imperfectly, can be heartwarming, forging stronger business relationships.

Learning Avenues

Language Schools

Numerous institutions, from universities to private tutors, offer courses tailored for different proficiency levels and business needs.

Digital Platforms

Websites and apps like Duolingo, Babbel, or Memrise can be your trusty steed in the quest for linguistic mastery.

Local Language Cafes

Engage in ‘Språkkafé’ (Language Cafes) – delightful gatherings where locals and foreigners exchange languages over a cup of hot coffee or tea.

The Verdict

Is learning Norwegian the key to the success of your business?

In truth, while not essential for immediate survival, learning Norwegian can elevate your business journey from mere success to legend.

Additional Resources

  • Innovasjon Norge (Innovation Norway): Your first port of call! This entity offers advice, support, and various funding options to innovative startups and entrepreneurs aiming to expand globally.
  • The Brønnøysund Register Centre: An invaluable resource for official registrations, be it a new business, trademarks, or partnerships.
  • Oslo Business Region: A hub that aims to elevate Oslo’s startup scene, offering various events, programs, and mentorship opportunities.
  • Mesh Norway: A vibrant co-working space, fostering community and collaboration among the business-minded in the heart of Oslo.

DnB Bank: One of Norway’s largest banks with advisory services tailored for startups and international businesses.


Born in Trondheim and armed with a degree in International Relations, Sofia is our go-to Relocation Expert. She combines local know-how with international experience to offer tailored, empathetic advice for a seamless move to Norway.

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