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Why Norway will hit you with a customs fee for small online purchases from abroad

Robin-Ivan Capar
Robin-Ivan Capar - [email protected]
Why Norway will hit you with a customs fee for small online purchases from abroad
A recent experience shared by a reader of The Local Norway illustrates the impact of Norway's new customs rules. Photo by: The Local Norway, Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash

Readers of The Local Norway have reported being hit with fees for small online purchases they made abroad.

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Previously, items costing under 350 kroner were exempt from import duties, thanks to an exception that allowed such goods to bypass customs.

However, this changed on January 1st, 2024, when all items entering Norway became subject to VAT and duty unless purchased from retailers participating in the VOEC (VAT on E-commerce) scheme.

That means that VAT and customs duties now apply to all imported goods, regardless of their value. The change mainly impacts foreign retailers not registered in the VOEC scheme.

Norway's parliament removed the exemption to promote fairer competition between Norwegian shops and foreign online stores.

Reader slapped with fee for minor purchase

A recent experience shared by a reader of The Local Norway illustrates the impact of these changes.

Unaware of the new rules, the reader ordered a small collectable item from a UK online shop, priced at ca. €1 (with an additional payment of approximately 3 euros in shipping).

The item arrived without issues within two weeks, but a few days later, the reader received a notification of a customs fee.

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The notification detailed the following charges:

  • Total item value, including shipping: 54 kroner
  • Duty: 4 kroner
  • Additional tax (25 percent of goods value and customs duty): 15 kroner
  • Customs clearance price: 45 kroner
  • Total amount to pay: 64 kroner

Despite the small purchase amount, the total fees amounted to more than the item's value!

"I was a bit shocked... I did expect to pay a customs fee, but I thought it would be around 25 to 30 percent of the order, not two times the order. That feels wrong," the reader told The Local.

"To be honest, this is the smaller out of the two shipments that I recently ordered. The second one amounts to around €30, so I'm a bit scared of the fee that I'll get for that one," they added.

This example shows that no purchase is too small to trigger customs fees under the new regulations.

It also proves that the Norwegian customs authorities are strict when implementing the new rules, so don't expect to avoid fees even on the smallest purchases.

As these changes have taken effect both legally and in practice, shoppers should be prepared for additional costs on purchases from abroad.

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By using tools like the import calculator and checking the VOEC registry, you'll be able to find out if the store you want to order from is VOEC-registred so that you can avoid unexpected charges.

If you plan to order items from overseas or bring goods into Norway, make sure to check out The Local's guide on the rules, taxes, and procedures involved.

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