Order from abroad: – Christmas gifts from abroad? Remember this!

Previously, it was a little easier to comply with the rules when ordering things and pliers from foreign websites.

From 1999, goods with a value of less than NOK 200 could be imported duty-free and VAT-free. As long as what you ordered cost less than 200 kroner (regardless of what the shipping cost), in other words, there would be no surprises on the bill.

We had to fast-forward until 1 January 2015 before the 200 kroner amount was changed – to 350 kroner. At the same time, this 350 kroner limit then included shipping, ie the value of the item + shipping costs had to be less than 350 kroner in order to avoid extra expenses.

From 1 January 2020, however, the 350 kroner limit was removed, and basically there is now VAT from the first kroner on things you order from abroad. But depending on what you order, how much the item costs and which online store you order from, there will be slightly different rules of the game to abide by.

The VOEC scheme

When the 350 kroner limit was removed, the Norwegian authorities introduced the VOEC scheme (Vat On E-Commerce).

Online stores and marketplaces that register in this scheme take on the responsibility for collecting the Norwegian VAT at the time of payment. They can do this on goods that cost less than 3,000 kroner.

The advantage then is that the package slides right through the customs and arrives faster, and you do not have to get a bill afterwards on VAT, customs and customs clearance fees. The last fee in particular often constitutes a significant part of the sum you have to pay if it is an affordable product.

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Check the list

You can check which online stores are included in the scheme with the Tax Administration. At the time of writing is list, a 31-page PDF file, last updated November 3, but you will find a link to the latest version at The Tax Administration’s website. The easiest way is to open the list, press ctrl + f / cmd + f (Windows / mac), or select “find on page” in the browser on the phone, and search for the online store you want to order from.

LONG LIST: Well over 1,000 online stores from around the world can now be found in the Tax Administration's VOEC register.
LONG LIST: Well over 1,000 online stores from around the world can now be found in the Tax Administration’s VOEC register.
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In other words: If the website you order from is on this list, the price you pay at the time of purchase should be all you need to pay to get the package home in the mailbox – as long as it is goods that cost less than 3,000 kroner. There may be several items in the same shipment, but none of them alone can be worth more than 3,000 kroner.

Goods worth more than NOK 3,000 are excluded from the VOEC scheme and are therefore cleared through customs in the usual way, ie where you must anticipate VAT, any customs duties and taxes, as well as a fee for the customs officer. Note that this fee is often higher than it is on cheaper packages. For example, Norway Post charges a fee of NOK 299 for all goods worth more than NOK 3,000, while cheaper packages cost NOK 149.

If you order from online stores that are not VOEC-registered, the item must in principle be cleared through customs when imported into Norway. But even though this was actually introduced from 1 April, a transitional arrangement still applies, where there are exceptions for the most affordable goods – ie those under NOK 350.

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Here is what applies as of November 2020:

Food, sweets and drinks become expensive

Do you plan to order food (food, drink, vitamins, supplements…), items with restrictions (alcohol, tobacco, weapons, drugs…) or items with excise duties (candy, soft drinks, packaging, lubricating oils…), they were already from January 1 taxed from the first krone.

When importing such goods, you must pay VAT, any customs duties, excise duties and customs clearance fees – regardless of what the goods cost, and regardless of whether the online store is VOEC-registered or not.

For example, if you order Christmas sweets from another country, you will be charged VAT, sugar tax and customs clearance fee. For such shipments, Norway Post charges NOK 299 for customs clearance, which comes at the top – other freight forwarders may have other prices.

The calculation below is made by the Customs, where a kilo of chocolate for 98 kroner suddenly ends up on the 500 note before it is in your hands:

Christmas gifts from abroad?  Remember this!

Value below 350 kroner

If you order something for less than NOK 350, the transitional scheme that was introduced on 1 April still applies. It allows packages with a value of less than NOK 350 to pass through customs as before without incurring additional costs, even if the store is not VOEC-registered.

In other words – as long as it is not a question of product types as described in the previous section, in practice the old 350 kroner rule applies until further notice.

Norway Post is working on a customs service that will be launched for goods with a value of less than NOK 350 when the transition period is over, but the solution is not ready yet, and it is not known what the fee for using it will be.

Value from 350 to 3,000 kroner

If you order things that cost between 350 and 3,000 kroner, Norwegian VAT must be paid.

If you order from a VOEC-registered online store, they will collect the Norwegian VAT when you pay, and the package will thus arrive to you without you having to pay anything extra.

Is the online store not included in the VOEC scheme, you must be subject to customs clearance as before, ie where you receive an extra invoice for Norwegian VAT and customs clearance fee. At Norway Post, this fee is NOK 149 for goods with a value of between NOK 350 and 3,000.

Note that textiles with a value of less than NOK 3,000 are not subject to customs duties in the new scheme, so if you, for example, order trousers (which are basically subject to customs duties), they will in fact be cheaper than they were with the old 350 kroner limit, as long as they cost between 350 and 3,000 kroner.

The tax authorities also state that if you should be double charged for Norwegian VAT (ie both by the store and in the country where it arrives), you must contact the online store to correct it.

Value of more than 3,000 kroner

If you order more expensive things, with a value of more than 3,000 kroner, the rules are the same as before. The VOEC scheme, where online stores collect VAT at the time of purchase, does not apply to such expensive goods, so here you must anticipate both VAT, any customs and fees as well as customs clearance fees.

For goods whose value is more than NOK 3,000, Norway Post charges NOK 299 in customs clearance fees. Other freight forwarders may have different rates.

The reason why this fee is higher is that there are greater requirements for product declaration and information about the recipient, which makes customs processing more resource-intensive for the freight forwarder.

In summary

Goods that cost less than NOK 350 will, while the transitional arrangement still applies, cross the border as before, at no extra cost. The exception is food, as well as goods with restrictions or excise duties, as described above.

If you order something for 350-3,000 kroner, you should check if the online store is included in the VOEC scheme. Then you avoid extra costs when it is introduced to Norway. VAT is paid when you buy the item, so you avoid the customs fee. In addition, the package arrives faster.

Goods worth more than 3,000 kroner must be cleared through customs as before.

Also remember that it may already be in the latest order to order goods from abroad if you have to have them before Christmas, especially since many also operate with longer delivery times than usual due to the pandemic, but faster delivery is typically something you can in many online stores pay extra for.

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