Work in Norway
With its thriving economy, low unemployment rate, as well as famously high living standards, and good welfare system, Norway is one of the most popular destinations among those who want to work abroad.
Our guide on “How to work in Norway” will explain how you can register for a work permit, what tax fines you must be aware of and how Cool Company could give you a hassle-free start to a life in Norway.
Are you more interested in starting your contractor career in Sweden? Read our guide “Work in Sweden“.
How Cool Company will help you
As a self-employed person in Norway, you will have to register for a work permit, take care of all bookkeeping, advance tax payments and yearly tax returns. This can be quite a lot to figure out in a short time! So, let us give you an overview of how Cool Company could make your life easier:
- We handle all client payments.
- We take care of tax payments and social contributions.
- We issue a paycheck to you every month.
- We will help set up contracts and support you 24/7.
Work permit in Norway
Though Norway is not a member of the European Union (EU), it does belong to the European Economic Area (EEA). With its departure from the EU, the UK also ceased to be a member of the EEA. There, new rules have applied for British citizens who want to work in Norway since 1 January 2021:
- You can travel to Norway for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa.
- If you want to work or stay for more than three months, you must apply for a work permit in Norway.
How to get a work permit in Norway
You will have to apply for a Norway Work Visa, or more precisely a Norwegian residence permit for skilled workers, to both live and work in Norway. As a self-employed person youcan apply for two types of permits:
- Self-employed with a company in Norway
- Self-employed with a company abroad
To apply for a work permit in Norway you will have to pay an application fee. You are further required to provide several documents (both in original form and as copies):
- Official work permit application form and checklist,
- Passport (including copies of all used pages),
- Two passport photographs,
- Degrees and certifications of your academic qualifications,
- Proof of accommodation in Norway,
- Business plan with budget details
If you are applying for yourself, all documents will have to be handed in in person to the VFS Global visa application centre in London or Edinburgh. They operate as an official partner to the Royal Norwegian Embassy, which in turn will forward your information to the Norwegian immigration administration. If your client is applying for you, they can submit your application and all documents (as copies) to the police or a Service Centre for Foreign Workers (SUA).
Once you arrive in Norway you will have to register with the local police to receive your Residence Card.
For further information on the application process, we recommend checking with the official website of the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI).
Self-employed person with a company
To qualify for this work permit in Norway you must fulfill the following requirements:
- You must have the intention to set up a long-term business in Norway.
- You must have a business; it should be your own sole proprietorship and cannot be a limited company. You cannot take another work.
- You must have expertise and special qualifications in your field of work.
- You must have a university degree or a certificate of a completed vocational training programme of at least 3 years at upper secondary school level.
- You must have all necessary permits from public authorities required for your type of business.
It can take up to 15 weeks for you to receive the work permit. It will be valid for one year and can be extended; after three years you can apply for a permanent residence permit. Your partner or children (under 18) may apply for family immigration with this permit.
Self-employed person with a company abroad
To qualify for this work permit in Norway you will have to fulfill the following requirements:
- You must be self-employed with an established business in the UK; it should be your own sole proprietorship and cannot be a limited company.
- You must have entered a service contract with a client in Norway.
- You must have a degree from a university or completed a vocational training programme of at least 3 years at upper secondary school level.
- You must have special qualifications relevant to your assignment.
- You must have a professional recognition or authorisation if it is required in your field of occupation.
- You must meet normal Norwegian salary levels.
You might need to wait up to 15 weeks for your work permit to be processed. It will be valid for two years and can be extended afterwards (up to six years). If the assignment is longer than six months, your partner or children (under 18) may apply for family immigration.
Paying Norwegian taxes as a contractor
As a self-employed person who operates a sole proprietorship in Norway, you are required to pay taxes on your complete wealth and income, regardless of whether you earned it in Norway or abroad. This also applies when you live in the country for 183 consecutive days or more within a twelve-month period.
You are personally responsible for fulfilling all obligations, paying advance taxes within their respective instalments, and submitting a yearly tax return. Sounds complicated? An umbrella company such as Cool Company can make it much easier for you to work in Norway. By acting as your employer, we will take care of all taxation and paperwork so you can fully focus on your business.
Paying advance tax
It is your responsibility to inform the Norwegian Tax Administration (Skatteetaten) about the profit you expect to make within the year. In doing so you “apply for advance tax”.
If you have already worked in Norway as a self-employed person, you will be sent a tax deduction notice with the amount of advance tax you will have to pay. These calculations are based on your income and tax return from the previous year.
If you are just starting with contracting in Norway, you must register your business with the Norwegian Tax Administration and apply for advance tax. You will then receive a notice with the amount of advance tax you have to pay.
The advance tax is paid in four instalments; the deadlines for paying advance tax can be found on the site of the Norwegian Tax Administration. You will receive payment forms before each due date.
Note: If you are late with one of your payments or fail to pay at all, the complete or remaining advance tax can be charged immediately.
Submitting the Norwegian tax return form
At the end of the income year, all Norwegian sole proprietorships will have to submit a tax return. This informs the tax authorities about the year’s actual profit.
This means: The advance tax you pay is not final! Based on your tax return, the Norwegian Tax Administration will calculate if you are due a tax refund or must pay underpaid tax.
First, you will receive a pre-filled tax return from the Norwegian Tax Administration. This form includes information that the administration has already received about you from banks, insurance companies, etc.
You are then required to check the pre-filled information for correctness. Your tax return must include all details regarding your wealth and income, as well as deductions and otherwise relevant information to your tax assessment. Any missing information must be added to your tax return.
If you do not hand in your tax return within the given deadline, you may be charged an enforcement fine for non-submission. This fine increases daily until the missing information has been submitted.
Note: As a self-employed person in Norway, you are no longer allowed to submit your tax return on paper. All documents must be turned in electronically.
How to register in the Value Added Tax Register
If your turnover within a twelve-month period exceeds NOK 50,000 and you sell products or services that are liable for VAT, you must be listed in Norway’s VAT register. In your tax return to the Tax Administration, you will have to declare how much VAT you have collected as well as paid when buying and/or selling goods and services.
How to get a job in Norway
Many job vacancies as well as contract opportunities in Norway can be found online. The Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration’s job database “Arbeidsplassen” provides one of the country’s most complete and up-to-date listings. Here you can also register your CV as well as job searches (service only in Norwegian).
Norway’s most in-demand skills
Foreign workers will face a tough competition on the Norwegian job market, with fluency in English not being a decisive advantage. Occupations that are in high demand and where you might find a chance to work in Norway as a contractor are:
- Healthcare and nursing
English-speaking jobs in Norway
While many Norwegians speak English with perfect fluency, securing assignments as a contractor will be a lot easier with some knowledge of the Norwegian language. You may find that large companies use English as their working language. However, the local language is still quite common in the workplace.
What is it like to work in Norway?
When contracting in Norway, you may want to keep in mind that Norwegians work a standard 40-hour week; everything that exceeds these hours is defined as overtime and will usually be paid at a higher rate. On top of that, Norwegians are entitled to at least 25 annual vacation days. Most companies have a flat hierarchy; the dress code is casual.
1. Can I work in Norway after Brexit?
Yes, you can work in Norway after Brexit. However, as a non-EEA national you must most likely apply for a work permit in Norway. For more information, read the UK government’s guide on “Travel to Norway for work” or go to the official site of the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI).
2. Can I work in Norway as a British citizen?
Yes, you can work in Norway as a British citizen. As a non-EEA national you most probably need to apply for a work permit in Norway, though. For more information, have a look at the UK government’s guide on “Travel to Norway for work” or check out the official site of the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI).
3. Do I need a Norwegian work permit as a contractor?
To work in Norway coming from the UK, you may need a work permit. Please check all changes due to Brexit on the Norwegian authorities’ official sites.
4. Can I work in the country without speaking Norwegian?
English is widely spoken in Norway. However, being fluent in Norwegian will provide you with better chances in your job search.
5. What are Norway’s most in demand jobs?
Skilled workers in IT, construction or healthcare are in high demand in Norway. For more information see above (“Skills in demand in Norway”).