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What you need to know about setting up as a freelancer in Norway

What you need to know about setting up as a freelancer in Norway
Photo: Ewan Robertson on Unsplash
The option to work as a freelancer is a popular choice, and often the route chosen by newcomers in Norway. If you are considering this as an option for yourself, here are the basics you should know.

How to register

The two most used methods to register your freelance work or self-employed business is as an enkeltpersonforetak, or as an AS, which is an acronym for aksjeselskap. In English, an enkeltpersonforetak means Sole Proprietorship, and an aksjeselskap means Private Limited Company.

If you are going to register as an enkeltpersonforetak you must be planning on carrying out a commercial activity, have a Norwegian business address, and be over 18 years of age, according to Altinn, an official portal connecting businesses, private individuals and public agencies.

Some enkeltpersonforetaker must also register with the Register of Business Enterprises. The electronic register fee for this is 2,250 kroner. For more on the registration process, click here

According to Altinn, to register your business as an AS you must have a starting capital of minimum 30,000 kroner. This must be set up in a bank account and used for only expenses for the business.

The AS registering fee to the Register of Business Enterprises is 5,570 kroner. One or more persons can be the founder of an AS. And the name of your company must incorporate the AS abbreviation or Aksjeselskap, either at the beginning or the end of the name.

Registration is done electronically and you have three months from the day the company was founded to sign the official start up documents from the Register of Business Enterprises.

The positives and negatives: enkeltpersonforetak versus AS 

According to website Enkeltpersonforetak.no, the positives of registering your freelance work or own business in this way is that there is no minimum start up capital needed, and the registration process is faster than with an AS. 

You can tax the profits from your business on your own private tax return, meaning you can withdraw money for your own use without it being considered a salary or dividend. You also need to submit only one tax return for yourself and your business. 

Remember, though, that you have sole economic responsibility so it is often recommended to start an enkeltpersonforetakk alongside having another job. 

Advantages of starting an AS include the option of being allowed to consider owners as employees in their own company.

There can be food, travel, and transport allowances, and holidays and sick days can be expensed by the company. Starting an AS is also considered to be a lower risk with no personal responsibility.

However, you will need to file separate tax returns for yourself and your company. You need start-up capital, and the registration process is not as swift as for an enkeltpersonforetak.

Weigh your options

Ask yourself, why do you want to freelance? In the United States and in many other countries, people choose to work for themselves to enjoy the perks of a more flexible schedule and freedom to pick the projects they want to work on. Granted, being your own boss has its benefits, but being an employee in Norway does as well. Job security, good wages, and your pension and taxes will be sorted out for you. 

READ ALSO: What are the perks of working in Norway?

As Altinn notes, a freelancer will have fewer social rights than traditional employees of a company. The client will not be liable to pay you sick pay, but you will be entitled to sick pay from the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV) from the 17th sick day. You can take out voluntary supplemental insurance.  

You are also not entitled to holiday pay or occupational injury insurance. Injury insurance can be voluntarily taken out through a private insurance company.

Depending on certain circumstances, freelancers are entitled to unemployment benefits.

The administration side 

If you are considering freelance work, it is important to remember the administration side of your business. Managing your own accounts and taxes can be overwhelming. Luckily, these modern times we are living in have given us some options.

Managing your own accounts with an accounting programme is cheaper than hiring an accountant and a great way to keep a 24/7 overview of your business. Even if you are frightened by addition, the newest programmes have a reputation of being easy to learn and user friendly. 

Here is a list of the top accounting programmes recommended for small business in Norway. 

There is peace of mind in letting a professional handle your accounts but you will have to pay for it. The average price for an accountant in Norway is around 500 kroner per hour plus VAT (value added tax). 

If you choose to hire an accountant to manage your firm’s books, here is a list of what the average accounting services can cost you. 

Consider a co-working space

Networking seems to be a common theme when writing about life in Norway, and with good reason — it shouldn’t be undervalued. Networking is a huge part of the integration process and in your own professional development in Norway. 

If you are considering freelancing, try being a part of co-working spaces that have been established in many cities and towns across Norway. It can be a great way to make profitable connections. Co-working spaces offer both private and public working areas and other services that your business might need. Even if you are around other freelancers working in a different field, they could possibly help you out and answer questions about the administration side of your business.

Here is a list of all the co-working spaces in Norway.

Helpful vocabulary and facts

  • Regnskasfører: accountant 
  • Skatt: tax 
  • Årsavgift: annual fee

Sales documentation, or invoicing, has specific requirements in Norway. According to Altinn, it must be impossible to manipulate invoice numbers. Electronic invoices must be a data file that can be imported directly into the invoice recipient’s system. This means invoices made in PDF or a Word document can not be considered an electronic invoice. 

Look out for hidden fees when you start a business. For example, banks may be charging you a monthly fee for having a business debit card. 

Know your rate! Do the necessary research before or at the very beginning of starting your freelancing work to see the pricing used by others in similar fields. It can work to offer a better price than the rest of your competitors, but do not undervalue your work or the time it takes to get it done. Remember, your rates are a sign of your reputation and confidence to possible future clients. 


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