Commuting and commuter expenses_ML

Do you have to live somewhere else than your real home, to work? Then you may be a commuter and thereby entitled to several tax deductions in Norway.

What is a commuter?

For tax purposes, you may be considered a commuter if you:

  • due to your work, must live somewhere else than your real home, and
  • qualify for regular visits home

Commuter costs

Commuters may be entitled to claim deductions for the extra expenses related to visiting their home abroad, i.e., extra upkeep/ daily allowance, accommodation, and travel expenses.

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Are you a family commuter or a single commuter?

To claim commuter deductions, you must live somewhere else than your real home. In addition, you must be classified as either a family commuter or as a single commuter.

Family commuter

If you share a home with your children and/or a spouse in your home country, you are regarded as a commuter for tax purposes.

Documentation, such as marriage - and birth certificates, confirm this status. In addition, you must be able to document the joint residential address in your home country. It is recommended to have at least three or four home visits with overnight stays per year. 

Note that if your home is outside the EEA area, you normally must have at least three home journeys where you stay the night at home, to be considered as a family commuter.

Single commuter

If you are not a family commuter, you are classified as a single commuter. Cohabitants are treated as single commuters in this context. However, if you also live with your own children, you are classified as a family commuter.

There are other requirements for single commuters. Single persons are deemed to be resident where they have “independent housing”.

To be classified as “independent housing” the residence must:

  • be at your disposal for at least 12 months
  • be at least 30 square meters
  • have running water and drains  

If you have “independent housing” in Norway, you will be regarded as a resident in Norway, and you will not be entitled to deductions for visits to your home country. It is important to review the status of the two houses, to consider if the conditions are fulfilled.

When you spend most nights in your commuter home, you are not entitled to a deduction for commuting, however it is possible to be considered as a commuter under the “rule of comparison”. In order to be considered after this rule, you will need to comply for some additional conditions.

  • you had lived in your home in your home municipality for at least three years before you began commuting
  • your home in your home municipality is at least twice as big as the commuter home
  • you rent or own your home yourself.

Single commuters with a home within the EEA area, are required to travel home at least 4 times a year.

Single commuters with a home outside the EEA area, must, on average travel home at last every three weeks.

Exemptions for less frequent travels home may occur if certain conditions are fulfilled.

How and when to claim commuter deductions

The commuter costs can be claimed on the personal tax return for the taxpayer. This is due 30 April the year following the income year.

The costs must be split into daily allowance, accommodation, and travel expenses.

It is not necessary to forward documentation for this, but you must be able to present documentation if the tax office asks for it.

Also read: 5 tax deductions to claim in your Norwegian tax return

Changes in deduction rules for commuters

New commuter rules regarding expenses for board (food):

If your commuter accommodation has cooking facilities, you get no deductions for food expenses 

From the income year 2018 and onwards, commuters who live in commuter accommodation with cooking facilities can no longer claim deductions for food expenses of any sort.

You can only deduct extra expenses for board for up to 24 months

The new rules came into force in 2020. The time limit of 24 months is calculated first from 1 January 2018. This means you can claim the deduction up until 1 January 2020. If you change the municipality for both your workplace and your commuter residence, the deduction can be claimed for a new 24-month period.

  • The rates for additional expenses for food (board) depend on your type of accommodation (2021):
          • Hotel with breakfast: Tax free amount of NOK 487 per day
          • Hotel without breakfast: Tax free amount of NOK 609 per day
  • If you apply for the new PAYE tax scheme you are not entitled to deduct commuting expenses for board and lodging. In addition, if your employer covers expenses on your behalf related to commuting, these amounts will be taxable when on the PAYE scheme.
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This article was first published 29 March 2018. Latest update: March 2021.