Norway Company Formation

DOING BUSINESS IN NORWAY

Introduction

Few countries can beat Norway when it comes to quality of life. The world's third biggest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia and Russia, Norway is a wealthy, stable democracy with an enviable ability to balance free-market capitalism and social welfare. The business climate is surprisingly benign, with a flat corporation tax rate of 28%. Setting up a company in Norway is straightforward provided you comply with the formalities.

EuroCompanyFormations.com can show you the way – check out our company formation service for details. Please contact us for further details today.

What are the main types of company in Norway?

The three most popular forms of corporate structure in Norway are as follows:

  • private limited company (AS)
  • public limited company (ASA)
  • branch office of a foreign company

What are the main features of a private limited company?

  • most popular format for small and medium businesses
  • minimum share capital 30,000 NOK (€4000 approx.), fully paid up
  • at least one shareholder; board of directors required
  • 50% of board members must be resident in Norway

What are the main features of a public limited company?

  • standard format for large companies
  • minimum share capital is 1m NOK (€128,360), fully paid up
  • at least one shareholder; board of directors required
  • 50% of board members must be resident in Norway

How easy is it to set up a branch office in Norway?

A foreign company may establish a branch in Norway provided that the foreign company is registered in its home country. Companies residing outside the EU area must obtain permission from the Minister of Industry. The branch must be registered in the Register of Business Enterprises.

To what extent is Norway a high-tax country?

Norway imposes high rates of tax on individuals – the higher rate of personal income tax is more than 53% - but companies are treated more leniently. There is a flat rate of 28% on all capital income and in addition, Norway provides a full dividend credit. This means it has the lowest combined dividend tax rate in the OECD.

Are there any restrictions on foreign investment in Norway?

Generally speaking the Norwegian government places foreign investors on an equal footing with domestic investors, but there are exceptions where the authorities feel the country's strategic interests would otherwise be threatened. For example, foreigners may own no more than 40% of a Norwegian fishing fleet. Foreign ownership of a Norwegian air transport company is restricted to 30% but the all-important oil sector is now largely free of restrictions for international investors.

How easy is it to recruit staff in Norway?

Norway has low unemployment (3.6% 2010 est) and high labor costs, a combination that can make recruitment more difficult than in many other countries. There is a shortage of workers in certain sectors such as construction, but there are recruitment agencies throughout the country and we will be happy to refer you to our network of local recruitment specialists. It is worth noting that there are restrictions on bringing in foreign personnel from abroad. Obtaining work permits, particularly for semi-skilled workers, can be problematic, so please contact us for further information and assistance.

What is the regulatory environment like?

Norway has eased its regulatory regime significantly in recent years. Foreign exchange controls were largely abolished in the early 1990s and profits and dividends can be freely repatriated subject to Central Bank reporting requirements. All companies have to file accounts with the Register of Business Enterprises and a statutory audit has to be carried out each year.

Are there financial incentives available?

Norway offers no significant general tax incentives for either domestic or foreign investors but there are exceptions for specific regions and industrial sectors:

  • companies investing in Norway's far north pay lower employee taxes
  • tax rates are minimal on the Arctic island of Spitzbergen
  • a state fund provides grants for investment in areas of low employment
  • tax deductions are allowed for research costs in key sectors such as oil

And what about banking facilities?

Norway's financial sector is highly advanced and well attuned to the needs of international investors, but opening a bank account can be a bureaucratic challenge. Please get in touch to see how we can do this for you.

How can I get more information about Norway Business?

Please contact us and we will be pleased to discuss matters in greater detail.