New customs legislation will be introduced from 1 January 2023. Most of the existing legislation will be continued in a new form, but there will also be actual changes to the customs procedures an responsibilities. It is important for exporters to Norway to understand the new legislation and implement changes in logistical procedures and IT systems, to avoid delay and misunderstandings when shipping goods to Norway.
1. New Act on Customs Duties and Act on Import and Export of Goods
The current Customs Act will be replaced by two new pieces of legislation from 1 January 2023. Rules related to the duties will be in the Act on Customs Duties, while the customs procedures will be in the Act on Import and Export of Goods. There are also new Regulations to each of the Acts.
Most of the existing legislation is continued without changes in the new legislation. All legal references will of course be new, but these references are important mostly for the customs authorities and customs advisors.
We have commented on actual changes and some topics of interest below.
2. Certification of export by the transporter still required
In Norway, the transporter must certify that the goods are transported out of Norway, by including a stamp/signature or similar in a specific box in the export declaration. This very old-fashined and impractical rule is continued in the new legislation, even if PwC and others have urged the authorities to modernize the legislation in this respect. The rule is of particular importance to the exporters, as the certified export declaration is a condition for VAT zero-rating of export sales.
3. Corrections of import declarations due to e.g. TP adjustments
Previously, it was accepted by the customs authorities that changes to the declared information that affected a large number of customs declarations could be made by informing the customs authorities in a letter of the need for corrections, and then the customs authorities would issue one corrective declaration for the whole period. This is e.g. relevant when TP adjustments lead to changes in the customs value for goods imported throughout a whole year.
During the last few years the customs authorities have started to request that each and every one of the declarations that are submitted in the period in question are corrected, leading to increased cost and/or labour for importers with frequent imports to Norway. This administrative practice/interpretation seems to be continued in the new legislation, but the legislation also includes a provision that allows the authorities to have a more flexible approach in special cases. The term “special case” is not defined in more detail.
4. Customs representative - new requirements
In an attempt to align the Norwegian customs legislation with EU customs legislation, the rules related to customs representation have been changed and expanded. From 1 January 2023, customs brokers and other third parties acting on behalf of importers and exporters must be able to prove that the third party actually is empowered to do so by the importer/exporter, through a formal or informal Power of Attorney.
This will be challenging in many import situations, since it is very common that the foreign seller arranges the transport to Norway, and the transporter often performs the customs clearance as well. In these situations, there will be no agreement between the customs broker and the importer.
If the customs broker is not able to prove that the company is entitled to act on behalf of the importer, the customs broker may be held directly responsible for potential incorrect customs clearance, including potential additional duties and import VAT. This may indirectly also have implications for the seller abroad, since the seller has provided the customs broker with information used for declaring goods, and the customs broker is likely to hold the seller responsible for any errors in this material.
5. Big change in the import procedures
There will be big changes in the procedure for declaring goods for free circulation in Norway.
According to the existing rules, goods that are under the transit procedure can be cleared for customs within ten days after the goods have arrived the Norwegian customer. Going forward, goods must be customs cleared prior to entry into Norway. Shipping goods to Norway without having all the paperwork in order at the time of departure, will therefore no longer be an option.
The change is accompanied by a completely new electronic reporting obligation related to the physical shipments/consignments and means of transport as such. The new reporting obligation will be in addition to the obligation to clear the goods for customs and the obligation to potentially close a transit procedure in Norway.
Implementation of this part of the new customs legislation will be gradual, and at this point it is not clear when the different parts of the new import procedure will become mandatory. Transporters, customs brokers and importers have asked that the new rules are made mandatory from 2025, while the customs authorities have informed that they intend to have mandatory customs clearance prior to entry from September/October 2023.
The changes in the legislation and procedures will most likely affect both importers in Norway, suppliers abroad, transporters and customs brokers. Changes will most likely have to be made both to shipping procedures (including information exchange), documentation and IT systems.
6. Other changes
There are also some other minor adjustments to the rules, that will not affect most importers/exporters, e.g. extension of the beneficial treatment of consignments to consular authorities.
Mitt navn er Per Kirknes og jeg jobber som advokat i PwC. Mitt arbeidsfelt er merverdiavgift og toll, med særlig fokus på internasjonale forhold og cross border transactions. Jeg har arbeidet i PwC siden 2010, og har også erfaring fra tollmyndighetene.
My name is Per Kirknes, and I am an Attorney at Law working in the indirect tax team in PwC Oslo. I specialize in international trade with goods, including domestic and international VAT issues, as well as customs and excise duties. My work is often related to cross-border transactions, including structuring of supply chains and analyses of intra-group transactions. I also provide advice related to specific customs issues like valuation, origin, classification and customs procedures. I have been with PwC since 2010. Prior to that I worked ten years with development of the Norwegian customs legislation in the Directorate of Customs and Excise.