Norway might be a small country, but it presents some unique opportunities for European e-commerce businesses. As the third richest country in the EU (as measured by GDP per capita), it has more than enough spending power to make it an interesting target market. And with nearly universal internet usage, Norway’s consumers are well-versed in the world of online shopping. This article will give you some of the facts and details you should be aware of if you are considering expanding to reach the Norwegian market.

Statistics and facts about the country

Norway is located on the western side of the Scandinavian peninsula and has an area of approximately 385,000 km². However, with just over 5.3 million residents — approximately the same number as the city of Barcelona, Spain — it is sparsely populated. 80% of the population live in urban areas, and a total of 1.2 million people — one-fifth of all Norwegians — live within the city of Oslo or the surrounding metropolitan area.

 Norway borders Sweden to the east, Finland and Russia to the north-east. In addition to mainland Norway, the Kingdom of Norway includes the Svalbard archipelago and the Jan Mayan island.

Norway is a constitutional, hereditary monarchy which, until 2020, was divided up into 19 administrative counties. In 2020, this was restructured and there are now 11 counties (fylker, in Norwegian). Each county, with the exception of Oslo, manages multiple municipalities, of which there are a total of 365 in Norway. The most populous are Oslo (699,800), Bergen (286,900), Trondheim (210,400) and Stavanger (144,600).

Norway is a wealthy land whose social system is highly developed. For several years, it has been listed number one in the UN’s Human Development Index (HDI). The GDP is 482 billion USD in total, or approximately $89,000 pro capita.

Norway is not a member of the European Union, but it is well-integrated into the European economic area. It is also a member of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) and the EFTA (European Free Trade Association). Norway’s currency is the Norwegian Kroner (NOK). One kroner is divided into 100 Øre, but these are no longer used as physical currency. Prices are written in full kroner. In recent years, one euro has been equivalent to roughly 10 kroner, give or take a bit.

Language and localization

The Norwegian language is a North Germanic language and is closely related to Danish and Swedish. There are two variations of Norwegian in common use: Bokmål (roughly translated to “the book language”) and Nynorsk (which translates to “new Norwegian”). Bokmål comes to us from the Danish-Norwegian literary tradition. It developed into a language distinct from Danish, which had previously been used as the official administrative language, as a result of language reforms. Nynorsk was developed by the linguist Ivar Aasen in the 19th century in order to create a standard form of the dialects spoken in the south-west of the country.

Bokmål is used primarily in the area surrounding Oslo, as well as in the north and east of Norway. It is spoken by 85 – 90% of the population. Nynorsk is spoken by around 10 – 15% of the population, primarily in the south-west. Both of these languages can be viewed as variations of the written language. In daily life, a multitude of dialects and regional languages are spoken, which should be regarded as fully developed variations of the Norwegian language with the same status as the written language.

For e-commerce businesses, it’s interesting to note that around 90% of the Norwegian population can speak English well or very well — nearly 4.8 million people. English is taught as a foreign language in practically all Norwegian schools. Many Norwegians also have moderate-to-good knowledge of an additional language such as German, French or Spanish, which are also taught in many schools. The fact that so many residents speak English comfortably makes it an attractive target for e-commerce businesses in central Europe.

Economy, Import and Export

Norway may be small, but it beats out many, many countries — in Europe and throughout the world — in terms of prosperity and human development. The high GDP per capita is just one of many indicators of this.

The Norwegian economy is based largely on the services sector (60.41%). Cross-border trade with western Europe, particularly the export of raw materials and crude oil, accounts for a significant portion of the gross domestic product. Additional exports are machines and transportation, metals and metal products, and fish. Norway’s most important imports are motor vehicles, ships, chemicals and chemical products, as well as food — particularly fruits and vegetables. Germany is one of Norway’s most important trading partners: 11.7% of Norwegian exports go to Germany, and 11.5% of Norwegian exports come from Germany. Additional important partners are the United Kingdom, Sweden, China and the Netherlands.

Internet Usage Trends

The internet penetration rate in Norway is extremely high. Of the 2,000 survey participants between the ages of 9 to 79, 98% say that they use the internet at least once per week, and 95% of them report using it daily. On average, each Norwegian household has 8 digital devices that are capable of accessing the internet.

Nearly all users (93%) use the internet to make payments via e-banking and to send emails. Between half and one-third shop online, and somewhat less than one-third (31% use the internet to sell products or services.

It is also worth noting that there is very little difference in internet usage among the different age groups in Norway. Nearly all users between the ages of 9 and 79 use the internet, which means that businesses can reach a very large audience. The most active age groups are from 9 – 15 (92%) and 16 – 44 (97%), followed by the 45 – 66 year-olds (90%) and 67 – 79 year olds (61%).

The most popular social network by page-views in Norway is Facebook (69.09%), followed by Pinterest (14.86%), Twitter (5.92%), YouTube (2.64%) and Instagram (4.68%).

Trends in Purchasing Behavior

Norwegian e-commerce generates around 12 billion USD in turnover, and over 81% of consumers shop online. According to predictions by Statista, digital commerce should grow by 13.28% per year through 2025.

Approximately one-third of transactions are completed using desktop computers. The number of transactions that are completed on mobile devices is expected to increase slowly. There is no indication that this tendency will reverse.

The most popular product categories for digital commerce in Norway are clothing and fashion items, as well as electronics and furniture. Films, music, and media in general are purchased frequently. Groceries are also commonly sold online in Norway.

Contactless payments using cards are the most popular option for digital purchases in Norway. Consumers use both credit and debit cards for payments. Bank transfer is seldom used as a payment method, while E-wallets, which make it possible to pay easily via smartphone, are gaining in popularity.

The most popular local marketplace is, which had a net revenue of 372 million EUR in 2020. (230 million) and (172 million) are other popular options.

Important Notes about Customs and Tariff Regulations

Norway is not a member of the European Union. Although it is part of the OECD and the EFTA, it has strict customs and tariff regulations. All shipments valued at more than 350 Kroner must be declared, and may be subject to any of the following three types of tax: duty, VAT, or excise duties. Most types of products, with the exceptions of textiles and foodstuffs, are free of customs duty.

Norwegian VAT is set at 25%, except for foodstuffs, which are taxed at 15%. If you have a foreign company, you will pay VAT on all products that you import. As a VAT-registered Norwegian company, you will need to collect and pay VAT at the time of sale.

Excise duties are charged for certain types of products such as:

  • non-alcoholic beverages
  • alcoholic beverages
  • chocolate and sugar products
  • sugar
  • tobacco products

Alcohol, tobacco, and some other types of products such as weapons, waste, etc. are subject to import restrictions.

The VOEC scheme (VAT On E-Commerce) allows foreign-owned online shops and marketplaces to collect up to 25% Norwegian valued-added tax (VAT) when they sell to private persons. This gives consumers the benefit of knowing up-front how much they will pay in total. Full details on the program are available at the official website.


Norway ticks all the boxes when it comes to e-commerce. Although it is not a member of the EU, it is part of the European economic area, the OECD, and the EFTA. Norwegians are prosperous, use the internet almost universally, and frequently shop online. Their knowledge of the English language also lowers the barrier to entry in the marketplace. The only negative is that they are not members of the EU, so that the customs and import regulations may vary from what European businesses are accustomed to. Nonetheless, the country has great potential as a new target market for European e-commerce businesses who are looking to expand.