Norway flag Norway: Business Environment

Business Practices in Norway

Opening hours and bank holidays

General Information
Norwegian business culture
Commisceo Global, Norwegian business culture as per Commisceo Global
Services for business, Global Affairs Canada
Opening Hours and Days
The working-day is generally 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., from Monday to Friday. A 30-minute lunch is usually taken between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.

Public Holidays

New Year's Day January 1st
Palm Sunday The Sunday before Easter Sunday
Holy Thursday The Thursday Before Easter Sunday
Good Friday The Friday Before Easter Sunday
Easter Sunday March-April
Easter Monday The Day After Easter Sunday
May Day 1st of May
Ascension Day 40 days after Easter
Constitution day May 17th
Whit Sunday 50 days after Easter
Whit Monday 51 days after Easter
Christmas Day December 25th
Boxing Day December 26th
Note Banks, shops and offices usually close early on Christmas Eve and December 31st.
Holiday Compensation
Holidays falling on a week-end day are not compensated.

Periods When Companies Usually Close

Christmas Holiday From Christmas
Summer Holiday From July-August
Note: Many Norwegians like to take time off between Palm Sunday and Easter Monday

Business culture

The Fundamental Principles of Business Culture
Norwegian business culture is similar to that of other Scandinavian countries and has been historically shaped by the Law of Jante, a code of conduct that describes how Norwegians (as well as other Scandinavians) should behave: putting society ahead of the individual, not being overtly ambitious and blending into a conformist homogeneity. According to the same law, humility, respect, simplicity and equality are also a priority. People are valued for their honesty and goodness and their professional role is not necessarily used to determine opinions and make judgements.

Most firms have a flat organisational structure and, as such, decisions are usually taken in groups and staff is consulted during the process. Thus, they may take a while to be reached. Unions are commonplace in all industries, have seats on boards and are quite involved in the decision-making process. Nevertheless, managers can also force decisions on others if they know their staff will not support them in a particular effort.

Relationships are usually only transactional and business contacts are not expected to build close ties over time. That being said, trust, honesty and transparency are crucial for Norwegians, who may be reluctant to do business with foreigners lacking these values. It is important to be open and discuss all aspects of your business. Being late, unreliable or displaying lack of professionalism will likely mean trust is broken and the relationship is over.

First Contact
Appointment for a first meeting should be made over the phone or by e-mail as far in advance as possible. It is also recommended to send an agenda in advance to allow Norwegian business contacts to prepare for the first meeting. It is best to avoid scheduling meetings during the holiday season: in July and August, during the two weeks before and after Christmas and during the week before and after Easter.
Time Management
Punctuality is highly valued and it is best to be always on time in business situations. Being late is usually considered to be a lack of professionalism. If foreign contacts realise they will be late for more than 10 minutes, they should definitely inform their Norwegian counterparts with an apology and explanation, saying when they expect to arrive. Sticking to a strict meeting agenda is quite common and foreign contacts are expected to respect time limits. Agendas should also be sent in advance to allow Norwegian business partners to prepare for the meeting.
Greetings and Titles
A firm but brief handshake is the norm both for greeting someone from the same sex and the opposite sex. Maintaining eye contact is particularly important. Norwegians care about their personal space and touching or gestures are not common in conversation or greetings. As equality is the norm, titles are seldom used. Business partners are most likely to address each other by their first name. It is considered old-fashioned to use honorific or professional titles.
Gift Policy
Gift giving is not a part of Norwegian business culture, except for Christmas presents or logo items. Gifts, especially imported liquor, may be appreciated upon completion of a successful negotiation. If invited to a Norwegian's home it is advisable to bring a nice bottle of wine, imported liquor, good chocolates/sweets and flowers. Carnations, lilies or white flowers are to be avoided as they are reserved for funerals. Gifts should be nicely wrapped and are usually opened right away. Excessive gift giving is also to be avoided as it might be perceived as a bribe.
Dress Code
Work culture is rather informal and business casual attire may be accepted in most industries. Depending on the sector, more informal clothing such as t-shirt and jeans may also be accepted. Nonetheless, the dress code is more conservative in the capital city of Oslo where dark or medium coloured suits with shirt and tie are common for men and dresses/trousers and blouses are common for women.
Business Cards
There is no specific protocol surrounding the exchange of business cards. Cards are usually exchanged at the end of a first meeting. As English is widely spoken in Norway, business cards do not necessarily have to be in Norwegian on a card.
Meetings Management
There is usually not much time allotted for small talk and it is commonplace to delve directly into negotiations. While most Norwegians are fluent in English, subtle details of the language may be lost on some. It is best to ensure that your counterpart fully understands nuances in your proposals.

Norwegians are known as open and direct communicators. There is no place for excess emotion, small talk or exuberant body language. Periods of silence are common and it is not recommended to try and fill in the gaps. Interruptions are not appreciated and all questions should be left after your counterpart's presentation.

It is important to be ready for every meeting with prior research, extensive preparation and timely communication. It is recommended to use a fact-oriented presentation form. Bargaining is usually kept to a minimum and discounts are uncommon. A realistic and solid price quote is therefore likely to be more successful. Hard selling, conflict and confrontation are also to be avoided. Norwegians respond much better to the honest straightforward approach. There is usually very little flexibility in prices and specifications and an offer stands as tendered.

Business entertaining is mostly reserved for lunch or dinner, rarely over breakfast. It is important to keep alcohol at a minimum. The party that extends the invitation is expected to pick up the bill. If the lunch/dinner takes place at a Norwegian’s home rather than at a restaurant it is most likely that business will not be discussed, as Norwegians draw a very strict line between their work and family lives.

Sources for Further Information
Innovasjon Norge - Norwegian Business Culture Norway Exports - Norwegian Business Meeting Culture Culture Crossing - Norway Business Etiquette

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Latest Update: April 2024

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