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Works of art and value added tax

The general rule is that you shall pay value added tax on works of art you import to Norway. In certain cases you may receive approval for a full or partial exemption from value added tax.

Two requirements must be met in order to receive full exemption from value added tax:

  • the work of art must be regarded as a work of art in the Norwegian Value Added Tax Regulations
  • the work of art has been created by a living artist who imports the work of art himself.

Definition of a work of art

You can find the definition of a work of art with a view to value added tax in Section 1-3-2 of the Regulation to the Value Added Tax in Norway

Works of art by living artists

Living artists can import their own original works of art exempt from taxes. The exemption also applies when an intermediary is used, if the importation takes place under the name of the artist. We regard persons, institutions, businessmen or art or antiques dealers, acting on behalf of the artist in connection with the importation of the work of art, as an intermediary.

If you live in Noway and buy a work of art directly from the artist abroad or through an intermediary, from a gallery for example, you are not required to pay value added tax either.

This exemption from taxes applies regardless of who is stated as the consignee on the declaration, as long as the importation takes place directly from the artist or from the intermediary to the artist.

If the work of art was purchased from a party other than the artist, from a gallery that does not represent the artist, for example, Norwegian Customs will not grant exemption from value added tax. In other words, the requirement for Norwegian Customs to grant exemption is that the sale/importation takes place from the person who has created the work of art, or from an intermediary representing the artist. In this context, the gallery is not regard as an intermediary on behalf of the artist.

Started works of art

You will not pay value added tax on started works of art either, provided the requirements mentioned in the section on “Works of art by living artists” have been observed. On the other hand, materials that are imported separately and are to be used to display a work of art in Norway are not exempt from value added tax.

Works of art by deceased artists

If you want to import works of art by deceased artists to Norway, the exemption does not apply and you must pay value added tax.

Partial exemption – lower calculation basis – full obligation to pay tax

If the work of art has not been imported by the artist or an intermediary, but is nevertheless regarded as art based on the definitions in Section 1-3-2 of the Regulation to the Value Added Tax in Norway, the calculation basis will be set at 20% of the value of the work of art, including shipping costs and insurance. This calculation basis applies correspondingly as for works of art by deceased artists.

If the work of art cannot be regarded as art in accordance with the definitions in Section 1-3-2, you must pay value added tax on the full value, including shipping costs and insurance. This applies to works of art by both living and deceased artists.

The  Norwegian Tax Administration took over the administration responsibility for VAT on imports from 1 January 2017.