Boat tourists protest local taxes

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Foreign boat owners who sail into Norwegian harbours are unhappy about special Norwegian taxes and regulations that greatly restrict how much time they can spend in Norway. They’re lobbying for a change in the law, so they can extend their visits beyond just six weeks.

Foreign boat owners would like to spend more time in Norwegian harbours, like here in Oslo, but are stopped by punitive taxes. PHOTO: Views and News

The Royal Norwegian Boating Federation (Kongelig Norsk Båtforbund, KNBF) reports that The European Boating Association (EBA) has written a letter (external link) to Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg on behalf of its members, asking that the “rigid” Norwegian regulations be harmonized with EU rules regarding length of stay in guest harbours.

The current Norwegian regulations only allow a non-Norwegian boat owner to stay six weeks or less in the country. After that, they’re subject to paying VAT on their boat and other fees are unleashed as well.

That means few if any foreign boat owners can sail the entire length of the Norwegian coast, because it’s hardly possible to make a round trip in just six weeks.

The Norwegian laws also prevent boat owners from leaving their boats in a Norwegian harbour over the winter. Some boat owners want to sail up or down the coast for one summer, for example, and then return the next summer to continue the sailing trip. That’s not possible without getting hit with punitive taxes that would kick in with a winter lay-up.

Several boating associations and harbors in Norway also welcome more foreign tourists, and wish they could stay longer. KNBF wrote on its website that longer stays can provide “nice business” for small towns and villages along the Norwegian coast, not least if winter storage would be allowed.

EU regulations allow much longer visits in foreign harbours, and the EBA thinks Norway should as well. The EBA has members in 23 European countries.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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