Commuting and commuter expenses_ML

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

What is a commuter?

For tax purposes, you are considered to be 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.

As a main rule, expenses related to commuting from abroad are not deductible. However, the EEA agreement ensures that citizens of EU/EEA who work in Norway have the same rights as employees commuting within Norway.

Download free guide: Individual income tax return to Norway

Commuting to countries outside of EU/EEA area

If you are commuting from a country outside of EU/EEA, you cannot claim deductions related to upkeep, accommodation or visits to your home country. Note that if your employer covers such expenses on your behalf, this will be considered as a taxable benefit for you.

Exemptions exist if the following conditions are fulfilled:

  • You don’t claim the standard deduction
  • Your actual home is abroad
  • You make enough home visits

In such cases, your employer can cover the above-mentioned expenses without you being taxed.

Are you a family commuter or a single commuter?

To claim commuter deductions, your home must be situated within another EU/EEA country. 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 as long as your home is situated in an EU/EEA country.

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. 

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.

Single commuters are required to have at least three home visits with overnight stays every third week, as long as your home is situated in an EU/EEA country.

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

News for the income year 2020:

The important changes:

  • The rates for additional expenses for food (board) depend on your type of accommodation:
    • Hotel with breakfast: Tax free amount of NOK 471 per day
    • Hotel without breakfast: Tax free amount of NOK 589 per day
  • Commuters’ deduction for board and lodging will only be given for a period of 24 months. The period applies from the day the first deduction is given. The 24-months period can be extended if the commuter gets a new place of work and place of living in another municipality. Employers can cover or refund your living and cost expenses according to the set rates without being liable to tax.
  • 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, this amounts will be taxable when on the PAYE scheme.
  • Those already qualified as a commuter, and who claimed deduction for the income year 2018, may not be able to claim deduction in the income year 2020.

Visit our website to find out how we can assist with your tax return to Norway.

Make sure you include all deductions and earnings on your annual income tax return to Norway. Download our guide:

Download free guide Individual income tax return Norway

This article was first published 29 March 2018. Latest update: February 2020.