Cruise Northern Norway & Svalbard

18 Jul Regulations governing cruise traffic in Norwegian waters

From:
Norwegian Directorate of Customs and Excise Our ref.: 13/66107 l Sheet no.:333
Department of Customs, VAT and Movement of Goods Our date: 17.06.13 l Your date: 13.06.13
Customs and VAT Section Your ref.:Wenche Nygård Eeg
___________________________________________________________________________________________________
Translated from the official Norwegian letter to English June 2013, by Cruise Norway AS

Regulations governing cruise traffic in Norwegian waters

We refer to your email of June 13 2013 concerning the above. You state that the request relates solely to passengers on cruise ships in Norway and who will proceed to an international port, or the international port is part of a cruise that also includes Norwegian ports. Purely domestic traffic within Norwegian customs territory is therefore not deemed to be covered by your request.

In the light of the above, you have asked for answers to a number of specific questions. The replies to these questions are provided by the Norwegian Directorate of Customs and Excise after each question, as shown below.

1. As travelers, are these cruise passengers treated in the same way as other travelers in Norway?

At the outset and as a general rule, yes. These passengers are treated in the same way as other travelers to/from Norway. The Customs Act and Customs Regulations pursuant to the Act apply to any importation and/or exportation of goods to/from Norway.
Among other things, this means that if a traveler brings ashore goods not cleared for free circulation they are required to be presented for inspection by the customs authorities, cf. Customs Act, sections 3-1 and 4-10. The provisions concerning exemption from customs duty and tax apply correspondingly, such as, for example, the right to the quota-regulated exemption from customs duty and tax on the importation of alcohol and tobacco following a stay abroad, or on Svalbard or Jan Mayen, cf. Customs Regulations, sections 5-1-1 to 5-1-6.
The customs authorities are broadly empowered to exercise control, cf. Customs Act, chapter 13. For example, controls may be carried out related to persons travelling towards or from a customs area in order to determine whether goods have been withheld, or an attempt has been made to withhold goods, from the control procedures of the customs authorities, cf. Customs Act, section 13-1. In performing their control procedures the customs authorities shall have unhindered access to port areas, cf. Customs Act, section 13-2. The customs authorities may also stop and search vessels located in the customs area, cf. Customs Act, section 13-3.
The customs authorities’ legal controls and scope of action mean that it is up to each customs area to organize its control activities as it thinks appropriate. There are large differences in practice from one customs area to another, also geographically and in terms of the volume of traffic. It is therefore up to each customs area to determine the level of resources to be allocated for control purposes, including what are considered to be appropriate and practical times and places to carry out controls.
In addition, some shipping companies apply for special control-related procedures for their passengers (generally related to the transportation of luggage between port and airport) which may be permitted by the customs region to which this relates.
It follows from the above that, in this area, individual shipping companies may have received and receive varying feedback from the different customs regions.

2. Can post and pre trips in Norway be arranged for these passengers before and after they have been or go onboard the ship?

It is the Directorate’s understanding of your question that this relates to day trips arranged on the same day that the cruise ends, and day trips arranged on the same day that the cruise starts. As long as the customs authorities are able to carry out adequate and simple practical controls of each passenger and his/her luggage the answer is yes. The same rule will apply on overnight stays. However, this must be clarified with the respective customs regions well before the planned call(s). Please refer to the special control-related arrangements mentioned above under point 1.

3. Is it a requirement that the passengers shall travel together and board the ships together?

No. As mentioned, it is essential that the customs authority is able to check the passengers and their luggage, see clause 1.
This assumes that, on their arrival in Norway by plane, the passengers go through the customs zone in the normal way just as other passengers do when arriving from abroad. This means that each passenger is responsible for looking after all of his/her luggage until the customs has been able to check each person and his/her luggage. The same applies at the end of a cruise: It must be possible to check all passengers who leave the vessel on the termination of a cruise in same way and manner as applies to all other travelers on their arrival in Norway. This means that the passengers with their luggage are taken into a temporary customs zone when they leave the vessel.
There may be an exception to this if the shipping company in question has been given special permission by the relevant customs region. Please refer to the section on special control-related procedures above under clause 1.

4 Can the vessels with the above-mentioned routes sail with goods that have not been given customs clearance between Norwegian ports (assuming that there is an international port on the itinerary)?

Section 5-2-1, first paragraph, of the Customs Regulations states that food, drink and tobacco products (provisions) may be taken on board the vessel free of duty for use by the crew and passengers.
However, the exemption of duty terminates if the vessel engages in domestic trade, is laid up, goes to a shipyard or is otherwise berthed in the customs area and less than one third of the crew have signed on or will be in the customs area for more than 30 days, cf. Customs Regulations, section 5-2-1 (4).

5. Sale of tax-free goods is only permitted after the vessel has left Norwegian waters or must terminate before the first Norwegian port when the passengers are to go ashore.
Own provisions
The sale of alcohol and tobacco products to be taken ashore is not permitted when the vessel is berthed in a port or is in internal waters, with the exception of Oslofjorden, cf. Customs Regulations, section 5-2-1 (5). By internal waters is meant the area that lies within the baselines, i.e. a line that forms the starting point for the calculation of the territorial sea (territorial sea = 12 nautical miles beyond the baselines).
Cruise Norway AS P.O. Box 169 Sandviken, N-5812 Bergen Visiting address: Slottsgaten 3, N-5003 Bergen
Phone (+47) 55 31 80 21 Fax (+47) 55 31 80 24 Email post@cruise-norway.no cruise-norway.no
Provisions allocated in Norway
The following applies to provisions allocated to the vessel in Norway and which have not been cleared for free circulation: the use and sale of provisions whose purchase has been permitted can only take place after the means of transportation has left the last port or landing area in Norway, cf. Customs Regulations, section 4-23-4 fourth paragraph.

6. The use of provisions which have not been cleared for free circulation is permitted only after passing the Norwegian border (for sale in restaurants, cafes, bars etc. for use on board)
Own provisions
Food, beverages and tobacco products (provisions) may be taken on board the vessel free of duty for use on board by the crew and passengers, cf. Customs Regulations, section 5-2-1- first paragraph.
Provisions allocated in Norway
The following applies to provisions allocated to the vessel in Norway and which have not been cleared for free circulation: the use and sale of provisions whose purchase has been permitted can only take place after the means of transportation has left the last port or landing area in Norway, cf. Customs Regulations, section 4-23-4 fourth paragraph.

7 Luggage can be released when the control zone on the quay is passed through?
Does this mean that the travelers can travel around Norway freely?
As a general rule and at the outset, the answer is yes.
There may be an exception to this if the customs district has granted special arrangements for the shipping company. Please refer to section on special control-related procedures under section 1, above.

8. The ships sail largely under foreign flags. Would other rules apply if they sailed under the Norwegian flag?
The customs authorities’ legal controls and scope of action are the same, regardless of whether the ships sail under foreign flags or the Norwegian flag.

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