FAQ for Norway in English

The advice below is for general guidance only. You should check all information before acting on it.

What type of business (business format) can you set up in this country and what are the differences? 

In Norway the most common business formats are:
  • Sole proprietorships (Enkeltpersonforetak)
  • Private limited companies (Aksjeselskap AS)
  • General partnership (Ansvarlig selskap (ANS/DA))
  • Co-operatives (Samvirkeforetak (SA))
  • Foundations (Stiftelse)
Norwegian branch of a foreign company (Norsk avdeling av utenlansk foretak (NUF)). More information Here you find some more information about the most common business formats in Norway:
  • Sole proprietorships (Enkeltpersonforetak) A sole proprietorship is often the simplest way to set up a business if you are planning to start up a business on your own. This organisational form has some advantages, but also some disadvantages. It will give you a lot of freedom, but it could also entail considerable risk for you because you will be personally liable for your proprietorship’s finances. The key features of a sole proprietorship are as follows:
    • Unlimited personal liability (the more financial risk your enterprise takes on, the more you should consider choosing an organisational form with limited personal liability)
    • Owned by a natural person, i.e. you will run the business on your own account and at your own risk (corresponding starting point where spouses run a joint business together)
    • Owner cannot be an employee of their own sole proprietorship (But you can have employees).
    • Owner has inferior social security rights compared with employees.
    • Not a separate legal person.
    • Not very investor-friendly.
  • Private limited companies (Aksjeselskap AS) A private limited company may be an appropriate organisational form for you if you plan to start up a business on your own or together with other people, and the business entail commercial risk, and you want rights as an employee, and the opportunity for others to invest in your company. The key features of private limited companies:
    • Limited personal liability.
    • Rights as an employee.
    • Separate legal person.
    • Investor-friendly.
  • General partnership (Ansvarlig selskap (ANS/DA)) You should consider establishing a general partnership if there are at least two people who want to start up their own business, and you work well with the person or people you want to set up a business with, and the business will entail few investments and little financial risk. The key features of general partnerships:
    • Unlimited personal liability. The business is carried out on the owners’ own account and at their own risk.
    • Owned by at least two people. (Natural and/or legal persons).
    • No requirement for invested capital.
    • Partners cannot be employees of the partnership. (But it is possible to have employees).
    • Partners have inferior social security rights compared with employees.
    • Not very investor-friendly
  • Co-operatives (Samvirkeforetak (SA)) A co-operative may be the best organisational form for you if two or more people want to run their own business, or you are already an established business and want to work together in order to improve your products or services, and you need to carry out shared tasks. The key features of a co-operative:
    • No requirement for contributed capital, but the co-operative must have adequate equity.
    • User benefits and cooperation more important than return on capital.
    • Separate legal person.
    • Possible to be an employee.
    • The co-operative’s wealth belongs to the co-operative and not the owners.
    • Not very investor-friendly.
    • Surpluses are shared between the members according to their transactions with the co-operative.
    • Democratic – one member normally only has one vote.
    • Cannot be bought out by external parties
  • Foundations (Stiftelse) A foundation may be the most appropriate organisational form for you if you want to donate or give money to a particular non-profit, humanitarian, social or other purpose, and you want to transfer the rights to your assets to a foundation and its purpose.
  • Norwegian branch of a foreign company (Norsk avdeling av utenlansk foretak (NUF). Foreign companies wishing to carry on commercial activity in Norway either in the form of individual assignments or on a more permanent basis must have a Norwegian organisation number. In order to obtain a Norwegian organisation number, the enterprise must establish a branch of the foreign company in Norway or alternatively separate Norwegian company.
As soon as you have registered a business name with organization number, this name cannot be used by others. Business names are unique in Norway. Logos, domain names, etc. must be registered in addition to the business name.

What type of refugee business exists in your local community? 

Goods transport.

More information

Restaurants – examples:
A well-known Italian restaurant in Trondheim since 1973 is Frati: https://www.frati.no/

Eritreisk restaurant in Trondheim: https://www.trondheim.no/mesob-restaurant

Courier / transport: Khaled Trans Khales Alheib

A company that convey polish artisans for all types of housework like, carpentry, painting, walling, etc. This website is an example of an offer where Norwegian customers can reach polish workers without speaking English or polish. http://www.polskjobb.no/om-oss/

There are more than 25 immigrant shops in Trøndelag:

Asian grocery store in Trondheim: https://bamboo-dagligvare.business.site/ is one of them.

What is a mobile business? 

Shoppers carry mobile devices everywhere they go, and they’re using their phones to research products, and pay for things online and offline.

More information
A mobile business is a business that are not located to a particular place or address. This type of business is a sub-type of e-commerce. Examples of mobile business may be amazon, holiday autos or airbnb. The business is using services available through internet or through an app. In Wikipedia you will find a wide range of e-commerce types and examples: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-commerce


Where should my business be located? 

For a physical store:

  • Close to your customers and your target group.
  • Closer than your competitors.
  • High-end products must be sold from a “high-end” location.

For an internet store:

  • Online, spend your money on advertising, not on a fancy location.

More information
The location of your business should be decided based upon what you are going to sell and who your target group is. In general, it is a good idea to be close to your customers. Many people consider it a great negative cost if they must travel far or spend a lot of time to buy the product they want. If your target group is in the city of Trondheim, you probably will not sell anything if people must travel outside the city to get your products.

A good advice is to be equally close or closer to your customers than your competitors. Often it is better to have a smaller more expensive location close to your customers, than a bigger and cheaper location further away.

I you are offering a service where you are going to the customers, the location is not that important. In that case you should rather spend your money on marketing, rather than on a fancy located office.

If you are only going to sell products through the Internet the location of the actual office is not that important, just remember to think about logistics if you are sending products from your office location.

Where do you plan to get your financial resources to start the business? 

The short answer to this question is:

  • Personal savings.
  • Loan from bank (need security).
  • Crowd funding.
  • Public help or funding programs.

More information
To start a business, you need access to start-up capital. There are different possible financial resources, but many of the may not be available would be entrepreneur. Most people starting a small business must use their own savings to get a business started. If you have financial security, you can go to the bank and try to get a loan.

It is also possible to try to get start-up capital from crowd funding through a web site where you can present your business idea. If enough people see the need for your company, service or product you may get funding from the “crowd”.

In Norway we also have some government agencies and initiatives that can help “would be” entrepreneurs get some financing help or funding.

A good idea is to make a realistic budget and take contact with Innovation Norway or your local bank.

You can read more about start-up funding in Norway at this link: https://www.innovasjonnorge.no/no/tjenester/finansiering/

How do I increase the reputation of my refugee-owned business?

The short answer is that you should:

  • Be friendly.
  • Always deliver what you have promised.
  • Listen to your customer needs.
  • Give precise and accurate information about what product or service you can offer.
  • Love your customers, not your product.
  • Handle complaints whit a smile and try to help the customer.

Use complaints to get avoid similar complaints in the future.

More information
To get a good reputation is all about delivering the best value to your customer segments/target group. The customer will always choose to buy from the company that delivers the highest perceived customer value (PCV). To build a good reputation you must find out what adds value to your customers and what is seen as a cost to your customers. Many things can help create value, the product, the service, the persons selling it or the brand or image. On the cost side comes from the price, the time spent, the use of energy and psychological cost related to the product or service.

To get a good reputation it is important that you can deliver what your customers wants and that you deliver what you have promised. You should also look at your competitors and see what their weaknesses are. If you can deliver something that are important to your target group, better than the competitors, it will help to build a good or better reputation.

It is important that you talk to your customers to find out what they like about your company and product because this will help you enhance the positive sides and your reputation. Equally important it is to find out what the customers does not like, because this will be areas you need to improve.

A good rule is to take really good care of existing customers. You should love your customers, not the product. A satisfied customer spread the word to other potential customers and helps you build a better reputation day by day.

What cultural differences should I be aware of? 

Norway has a democratic working life, with a flat structure. The authorities are there to help you. It is not dangerous to ask questions to the authorities in Norway, but you must follow the rules and regulations.

More information
Here are some statements that describe cultural characteristics in Norway, which are collected from the website links below:

  • Research shows that Norwegian society has unusually high levels of trust.
  • Norway is considered to be a world leader when it comes to gender equality, with many measures taken to redress imbalances.
  • The Norwegian approach to work/life balance emphasize the value of free time rather than giving high status to those working long hours.
  • Norwegians tend to value safety and security above all else, likely a result of developing as an agrarian society in tough conditions.
  • Over 70% of people are members of the Protestant Church of Norway which happens automatically(!) at birth if one of their parents is a member.
  • Norway has allowed same-sex registered partnerships since 1993. Actual same-sex marriage became legal in 2009.
  • Norway is more diverse than many expect, with over half a million immigrants from Europe and beyond, making up 1/3 of Oslo’s population.
  • Labor unions are strong in Norway. Around one in four are a member of a union. Parties on the left receive heavy financing from unions.
  • Norway is among the countries with the lowest level of income inequality in the world, despite also being one of the richest overall.
  • There is little personal touching in public in Norway unless you are a really close friend or a member of the family, and even then, touching is kept to a minimum. A hearty handshake in greeting is expected, but a kiss is not.
  • Norwegians view themselves as ‘egalitarian’ and their culture is based on mutual respect and interdependence. They do not puff themselves with individual achievements, and they have simple tastes. The Jante Law attitude may be a bit dated but is still found in many places in Norway. The Jante Law as a concept was created by author Aksel Sandemose and it states:
    • You shall not think you are special.
    • You shall not believe you are smarter than others.
    • You shall not believe you are wiser than others.
    • You shall not behave as if you are better than others.
    • You shall not believe that you know more than others.
    • You shall not believe that you can fix things better than others.
    • You shall not laugh at others.
    • You shall not believe that others care about you.
    • You shall not believe that you can teach others anything.

In modern-day Norway, this law is no longer considered modern and just used as tongue in cheek, but its basics survive. It should give immigrants quite a clear idea of what is expected of you in Norway.

Some links for more information about cultural differences: https://www.meganstarr.com/30-things-you-should-know-before-moving-to-norway/

or here https://medium.com/@sethpiper_/100-things-you-probably-didnt-know-about-norway-ba152cb91082

or here https://www.tripsavvy.com/things-to-avoid-while-in-norway-1626518

What kind of bureaucracy do I have to be aware of? 

As an employer, you have several obligations towards your employees.

More information
As an employer, you have several obligations towards your employees. The key obligations in your relationship with your employees are laid down in the Working Environment Act, the National Insurance Act, the Act on obligatory occupational pension (OTP Act) and the Annual Holidays Act. https://www.altinn.no/en/start-and-run-business/working-conditions/employment/what-obligations-do-you-have-as-an-employer/

Can I start right away? 

Yes, but legal requirements must be fulfilled. Foreign nationals and enterprises intending to operate a permanent business in Norway must comply with the same regulation as Norwegian enterprises.

More information
Altinn – Start and run business is the official website providing all the information you need to start and operate a business in Norway. This website has information on relevant topics, document templates, guides and forms you will need to be able to register and operate a business in Norway. https://www.altinn.no/en/start-and-run-business/

What are the legal requirements? 

The legal requirements varies for different types of business (see Q7 for different types of businesses).

You have to figure out whether an auditor is needed.

You have to register the enterprise.

You must consider how you should finance the start-up phase?

More information
Which type of business (form of incorporation) you choose to start is of great importance regarding liability, risk, tax, rights and duties. https://www.altinn.no/en/start-and-run-business/planning-starting/

To register a sole proprietorship, you must choose a business name and describe the business you intend to run. You can find what the requirements for starting a sole proprietorship are, and how to proceed with the registration of the enterprise here. https://www.altinn.no/en/start-and-run-business/planning-starting/registration-of-the-enterprise/starting-and-registering-a-sole-proprietorship/

You can find the requirements for starting a Private limited companies (AS), and how to proceed with the registration here. https://www.altinn.no/en/start-and-run-business/planning-starting/choosing-form-of-incorporation/private-limited-companies/

You can find the requirements for starting a General partnerships (ANS/DA), and how to proceed with the registration here. https://www.altinn.no/en/start-and-run-business/planning-starting/choosing-form-of-incorporation/general-partnerships-ansda/

Figure out whether an auditor is needed:
Any organization that is obliged to submit audited its annual accounts must have an auditor. Whether or not you are subject to the audit obligation will partly depend on your organizational form and the size of your enterprise. https://www.altinn.no/en/start-and-run-business/accounts-and-auditing/do-i-need-an-auditor/

Registration of the enterprise:
How to register your business depends on which company you want to start. You can find more information about the type of company and what is required here: https://www.altinn.no/en/start-and-run-business/planning-starting/registration-of-the-enterprise/

Financing the start-up phase:
Financing a business means obtaining enough capital to set up and run your business. Appropriate financing will help make the start-up period and the early period of the business easier for you, enabling you to meet your payment obligations. https://www.altinn.no/en/start-and-run-business/planning-starting/before-start-up/how-can-i-finance-my-start-up-phase/

How do you set up or register a business? 

You can set up a sole proprietorships (enkeltpersonsforetak), a private limited company (aksjeselskap), a general partnership (ansvarlig selskap) or a foundation (stiftelse). All business should be registered in a Coordinating register (enhetsregister). The Brønnøysund Register Centre is a place to start.

More information
All business must to be registered in a Coordinating register (enhetsregister). The Brønnøysund Register Centre is a place to start, see: https://www.brreg.no/home/.

The registration may be done electronically.

You need to have some initial capital to start and there will also be a small fee for the registration process.

Innovation Norway offer a list of services, including financial support for start ups: https://www.innovasjonnorge.no/en/start-page/our-services/start-ups/

What are general business taxes to pay? 

Advance tax.

Value added tax.

Taxes in connection with purchases of goods from abroad.

Excise duties.

Employer’s obligations

  • Tax deduction cards and tax deductions.
  • Employer’s national insurance contributions.
  • The a-melding.
  • Obligatory occupational pension (OTP).

More information

Advance tax:
Anyone who runs a business must pay an advance tax. How many times a year you must pay depends on the type of organization you have. https://www.skatteetaten.no/en/business-and-organisation/tax-for-businesses/advance-tax/

Value added tax (VAT):
Value added tax (VAT) is a tax which your business collects from your customers on behalf of the government. VAT must be added for most goods and services when you sell them (output VAT). In the same way, you are entitled to deductions for VAT for most goods and services you purchase for the business (input VAT). https://www.altinn.no/en/start-and-run-business/direct-and-indirect-taxes/indirect-taxes/value-added-tax/

Taxes in connection with purchases of goods from abroad:
You must pay customs duties and taxes when you import goods. The way in which you should make payments depends on whether you are an enterprise which is registered in the VAT Register and whether or not you are registered for excise duties.

In most cases, you must pay VAT when you import goods into Norway.

  • If you are not registered in the VAT Register you must pay all taxes and duties to your goods carrier or to Norwegian Customs.
  • If you are registered in the VAT Register, you must calculate the VAT yourself.


Excise duties:
Report and pay excise duties on chocolate, sugar, alcohol, etc. https://www.skatteetaten.no/en/business-and-organisation/vat-and-duties/excise-duties/

Employer’s obligations:
Tax deduction cards and tax deductions:
As an employer, you must retrieve your employees’ tax deduction cards and deduct tax on their salary payments. There are two types of tax deductions that can be made from salary payments: withholding tax and garnishments. https://www.skatteetaten.no/en/business-and-organisation/employer/tax-deduction-cards-and-tax-deductions/

Employer’s national insurance contributions:
Employer’s national insurance contributions are taxes which employers must pay for their employees as part of the financing of the National Insurance scheme.

What happens to the integration payment when I start a business?

It is important to work out realistically how much it will cost you to set up your business. You should find out set-up costs and also how much it will cost to run the business in the first few months, not forgetting to pay yourself a salary. Knowing this information will help you when you set up a business bank account. Even if you do not need a commercial loan, you will still need to set up a dedicated business bank account that the tax authorities can use to give you tax refunds or from which you will pay tax. You must not use your private bank account to run a business.

More information
The support amount during the 2 year start up program:


The social assistance is means-tested and other income may lead to less social assistance.

What will be the costs to set up the business and run it for the first few months?

It is important to work out realistically how much it will cost you to set up your business. You should find out set-up costs and also how much it will cost to run the business in the first few months, not forgetting to pay yourself a salary. Knowing this information will help you when you set up a business bank account. Even if you do not need a commercial loan, you will still need to set up a dedicated business bank account that the tax authorities can use to give you tax refunds or from which you will pay tax. You must not use your private bank account to run a business.

More information
The costs of starting a business and run it for the first few months might not be very high, but that is not always the case. The formal costs are related to registering the company. If you choose to start a private limited company you will need to have minimum 30 000 nkr for share capital. Other typical costs when you run your business are related to:

  • hire a location for your business
  • inventory (buying what you are going to sell)
  • salaries to the employee/employees (and taxes)
  • advertising/marketing
  • taxes

Would it be a good idea to get a mentor to help me in my plans?

Yes, your main focus should be on the core business. Everything else to do with tax, licensing and so on you can get help with. It is a good idea anyway to get yourself a trusted accountant who will know many of the answers to the questions in this FAQ.

More information
There are own organizations that can help start up businesses. E.g. https://oppstart.no/

Furthermore, there are several banks that also offer this kind of help e.g. Sparebank 1 SMN, Danske Bank or DNB.

How important is it to know the local language?

It is very important to speak either Norwegian or English if you are going to be in contact with Norwegian customers.

More information
The importance of knowing the local language comes down to who your target group is. If you are going to sell products or services to Norwegians, you will need to speak Norwegian or English. It does not have to be fluently but well enough to understand and be understood. This question also depend on which sector your start-up will be in. If you start a small grocery market selling exotic fruit the language skills are not that important. If you are starting as a carpenter, you need to understand what the customer actually would like you to do.

Either way you need to understand Norwegian or English well enough to report taxes and take care of other legal and practical issues.

Which local organizations can help free of charge? E.g Business clubs, business advisory organizations etc.?

Qualification Centre for Immigrants

More information
Qualification Centre for Immigrants – INN
Phone: +47 72 54 00 00
Email: tk.postmottak@trondheim.kommune.no
WEB: https://www.trondheim.kommune.no/org/helse-og-velferd/kvalifiseringssenteret-for-innvandrere/

INN’s mission is to help participants in the compulsory 2 yearly Introductory course to work or follow Norwegian based regular education, in a way that they become active in the local community as soon as possible.
Trondheim Adult Education Centre – EVO
Phone: +47 72 54 49 30
Email: voksenopplaring.postmottak@trondheim.kommune.no
WEB: https://www.trondheim.kommune.no/voksenopplaring/

EVO is a unit for Adult Education belonging to Trondheim municipality, and whose purpose is to give Norwegian language education to refugees, and immigrants, and elementary education for adults, including special education. The unit uses job-oriented Norwegian in their education and cooperates with Trondelag county and with the Norwegian National Welfare Organisation (NAV).

What is the Business Model Canvas (BMC)?

The Business Model Canvas or BMC is a way of telling the story of your business in a handy A4 sized diagram. The diagram shows 9 sectors that anyone starting a business should be able to describe. That is why we called the project 9 Conversations. The word model is used because you should be able to explain how each sector of the picture relates to the others.

More information
Find out more about what the Business Model Canvas is in this video (German and Italian subtitles are available by clicking on the cog icon in the bottom right hand side).


FAQ for Denmark in English
FAQ for Denmark in Danish
FAQ for Greece in English
FAQ for Greece in Greek
FAQ for Italy in English
FAQ for Italy in Italian
FAQ for Lithuania in English
FAQ for Lithuania in Lithuanian
FAQ for Norway in English
FAQ for Norway in Norwegian