From 2017, the Norwegian Customs Authorities has had the authority to impose administrative violation fines in connection with violations of the Customs Act. The violation fine is intended to contribute to an efficient application of sanctions, and ensure compliance the Customs Act and Regulation.
The legal basis for violation fines is the Customs Act section 16-17 and the Customs Regulation section 16-17-1. Section 16-17 of the Customs Act states, inter alia, that violations of the obligation to declare goods, cf. section 4-10, and the obligation to give notice, notify and present goods etc., cf. section 3-1, can be sanctioned with violation fines. Furthermore, illegal disposal of goods not cleared for free circulation, or incorrect or incomplete transit (internal or external), may also lead to violation fines. This list of examples is not exhaustive.
Pursuant to the Customs Regulations section § 16-17-1 sub-section (1), an imposed violation fine may be up to 75 Court fees (R). Per January 1, 2020, one Court fee amounts to NOK 1 172.
Who can have a violation fine imposed on them?
Pursuant to the Customs Act section 16-17, "any person" who violates the enumerated obligations, can be subject to an imposition of a violation fine. Thus, the person who violates the obligations may vary, depending on which obligation is violated. It can either be a natural or a juridical person. For example, a declared consignee, freight forwarder, carrier and/or a representative may be charged. If a single situation comprises of several violations committed by multiple violators, a violation fine may be imposed on each of the violators. For example, if the driver of a vehicle does not comply with the obligation to declare goods upon importation, and thereafter brings the goods to the consignee who disposes of the goods not cleared for free circulation, both parties may be subject to a violation fine.
Violation fines are imposed on a strict liability basis. This means that a violation fine can be imposed as long as it is proved that a violation of the obligations occurred. There is no requirement to prove fault, negligence or intent in order to impose the violation fine.
Assessment of the violation fine
The Customs Regulations only stipulates the outer limits of the fine. However, there are several types of violations of the different obligations for each provision of the Customs Act, with varying degrees of severity. In order to assure proportionality, the fine rates must be differentiated according to the different violations of the individual provisions.
The Directorate of Norwegian Customs has compiled a list of fixed rates for the assessment of violation fines.
At the initial breach, i.e. the first time a violation fine is imposed, the fine is set to a modest level. In the event of a repeat of the violation, the imposed fine is doubled. At the event of another repeated violation, the fine is tripled.