Questions and answers about customs clearance

In this article, we address the most common questions about customs clearance of imports and exports, VAT and customs duties, tax surcharges, excise duties, restricted goods and proof of origin.

If you do not get an answer to your question, you can call the customs authorities on 22 86 03 12, or send an e-mail to .

In which situations do I not have to pay VAT and customs duties?

As a private person, you can receive a gift from another private person who lives permanently abroad. If the shipment is worth less than NOK 1,000, you do not have to pay VAT and customs duties on the goods.

You also do not need to pay VAT if the consignment is a purchase where the goods have a total value including shipping and insurance of less than NOK 350. Remember that the item value must be stated as a correct and real value. This tax exemption applies to all goods with the exception of alcohol and tobacco.

Regardless of the reason for which you receive heavily discounted goods, or free goods of any type, as a company or as a private individual, the goods must be cleared into Norway according to their actual value, regardless of what you actually pay to the sender.

Q: Do you always have to pay duty on goods from abroad?

A: Most items are duty-free. Exceptions may be items such as clothing, foodstuffs, beverages and live plants etc. If a specific item is included in a trade agreement between Norway and the sending country, and that it has been sufficiently documented in the form of an approved certificate of origin that the item has actually been produced in this country, then one can thereby obtain a reduction or total exemption from customs duties when importing such goods into Norway.

Q: Is this with a valid proof of origin the only way to avoid customs duty?

A: For certain products, especially edible products, you can apply to the Norwegian Directorate of Agriculture to have a reduced, or at best be granted, a completely duty-free import of a specific type of product from a documented country of origin, specific country groups or from any production country . For certain types of goods, you can also apply for a permit for a reduced duty rate or buy import quotas.

For all such approved applications, the customs clearance time must be within the validity period of this document. This means that you cannot apply for such a permit after a declaration has been submitted to customs.

Q: What does a certificate of origin look like?

A: In some cases, as a rule if the total value of the total shipment of such a duty-covered item is less than approx. NOK 50,000, but this can also be up to NOK 100,000 or, depending on the terms of the trade agreement that applies with the sending country, even be without an upper limit, then you must have a completely accurate and signed text included in the trade invoice from the supplier. The name of this text is invoice declaration. If the value is outside this condition, you must have a so-called goods certificate that has been approved, designed and stamped by the customs authorities in the sending country. In some cases, an exporter has been authorized to release both the amount limit and goods certificates. In such cases, this importer’s granted authorization number is included in the invoice declaration as part of this text. However, conditions according to which type of proof of origin for which type of product must therefore be fully and completely fulfilled as described in the trade agreement in question in order to be considered as valid documentation for duty-free or duty-reduced duty.

By searching the web for words such as invoice declaration and goods certificate, you will be able to find examples of different types of proof of origin.

Q: What is an excise duty?

A: Special duties are a type of taxation of imported goods. This fee is in addition to any customs duty and VAT. This may have implications for the environment, price competition for Norwegian products, health or similar desired effects, but may also be a pure contribution to the state’s income. Excise duties can also affect the level of contraband.

Q: What is a customs tariff number and what is the customs tariff used for?

A: A customs tariff number, also called commodity tariffing or commodity number, in English “HS-Code”, is a code for a description of a specific type of commodity. Here in Norway, this code consists of 8 numbers in the combination 2 numbers and a period, two numbers and a period, 4 numbers, e.g. for a pair of trousers for a woman can be: 62.04.6209

The first 6 numbers are usually, for the same type of product, exactly the same in all countries, while the rest can vary in length and type of numbers. These item numbers can be found here in Norway in an encyclopedia called Tolltariffen.

The customs tariff is used to find a correct tariff classification as well as customs rates, tax rates and any restrictions for a very specific type of product.

Q: What is meant by restriction of an item?

A: Restricted goods are a type of goods that cannot be freely imported. These can be goods that are considered weapons or ammunition, explosives, medicines, environmentally hostile goods etc

Certain goods may be subject to a total ban above, while others may only be imported by those who have acquired an authorization in the form of an import permit from the relevant ministry, this with the authority to be able to issue such a permit.

It can e.g. prove problematic to decide whether a large knife is to be defined as a weapon, which in that case requires a specific import permit granted by the police, or merely an ornamental item.

Restricted goods where such permission to import this type of goods has not been received prior to the time of import itself will generally be seized by customs.