Obligations for importers of foods to Norway

Published 11.11.2013     Modified 02.08.2016

Any food imported to Norway must comply with Norwegian food regulations. Due to the EEA-agreement, Norwegian food legislation is harmonized with the EU, and Norway is obliged to follow the EU legislation on the food and veterinary area.

In order to import foodstuffs to Norway, you need to have a responsible person/consignee in Norway. If not, importers are required to cooperate with a business operator in Norway. The business operator in Norway shall be registered as the recipient/ consignee of the foodstuffs and shall perform the required control of the goods. According to Norwegian legislation, the first recipient/consignee shall perform the control necessary to ensure that the consignment comply with Norwegian food regulations.

Registration of the importer

Any food business operator that wishes to import foodstuffs to Norway must be registered with the Norwegian Food Safety Authority (NFSA). Importers who use another business operator as the first recipient must ensure that this business operator is registered at the NFSA and that they are aware of their obligations. Registration is done through Mattilsynets skjematjenester. Mattilsynets skjematjenester is accessed through Altinn which is a portal used for electronic communication between business operators and the public sector. A Norwegian personal identification number is required to logon to the portal. The form to use is called 'Ny importør av næringsmidler” and can be found under the menu "Andre skjema" after logging into the form service. You must also register the first recipient and customs tariff numbers (CN-codes) for all items you want to import.

Questions about customs tariff numbers must be addressed to the Norwegian Customs. Changes in import activities must be reported to the NFSA on the form "Endre informasjon om import av næringsmidler".

The first recipient

The first recipient is the first company or person who after import directly receive or make a complete breakdown of a consignment. This can be forwarder / customs warehouse keeper, importer or other business receiving the goods. The importer must ensure that the registered first recipient are aware of their obligations and take responsibility for the requirements described for the first recipient.

Obligations and requirements of the importer and the first recipient are described in the Import Control Regulations (Importkontrollforskriften is only available in Norwegian).

General requirements

Regulations about requirements, prohibited substances not allowed for use in these products, quality requirements etc. are mostly the same as in the EU. It is the responsibility of the importer that the imported foodstuff is safe for human consumption and that the labelling and the content comply with Norwegian food regulations.

The products must be labelled in Norwegian or in a language that resembles Norwegian (Swedish or Danish in general).

Both importers and first recipients must carry out internal controls  and have procedures that ensure compliance with food legislation and the Norwegian national regulation concerning internal control (internkontrollforskriften).

The importer must have procedures to check if the food product they want to import is permitted to sell in Norway. For the importer it is necessary to know which regulations apply to the particular foodstuff.

Examples on thing to consider before import:

  • Are there restrictions on imports of the product?
  • Are there required health certificates or analysis certificates for the product?
  • Is the supplier reliable? Should it be performed analyzes to ensure that the quality is as agreed?
  • Is marking/label correct? The label's purpose is to provide consumers with adequate and accurate information. It should not mislead consumers.
  • What hazard might be in connection with the importation of the product?
  • Examples: Pathogenic microorganisms, illegal additives, pesticide residues, illegal content of genetically modified organisms (GMOs)

The first recipient/consignee shall keep a register of received consignments specifying the name and country of origin of the consignor, country of production, amount of goods, the Norwegian customs tariff code and the date the consignment was received, as decribed in Importkontrollforskriften. The relevant local department of the NFSA where the first recipient/consignee is located can give more information and guidance on Norwegian legislation and registration of business operators.

If the product does not comply with Norwegian food regulations, the NFSA can refuse import to Norway and sale on the Norwegian market.

Duty to report import of foods

The NFSA should have advance notice of all consignments which are imported from countries outside the EU / EEA. The Import Control Regulation provide exemptions for some types of fresh fruit and vegetables. Animal foodstuffs and non-animal risk products must be notified in TRACES, while other non-animal products must be reported to the Mattilsynets skjematjeneste. Food business operators or their representatives shall give prior notification of the estimeted date and time of physical arrival  no later than 24 hours before the goods arrive at the first recipient. The purpose of notifying 24 hours in advance is to give the NFSA the possibility to conduct random checks of the consignment.

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