How to check a company from Norway?

How to check a company from Norway?

After the attack on Ukraine, Norway has decisively joined the EU sanctions imposed on Russia as a result. Companies there must adhere to trade bans on certain types of goods and services, as well as entities from Belarus and Russia blacklisted. Violating the sanctions can lead to imprisonment penalties. Norway treats sanctions evasion as a crime. Therefore, Polish entrepreneurs must exercise caution when engaging with Norwegian counterparts to avoid being subjected to sanctions themselves. How to check a company from Norway?

Exercising due diligence when verifying a business partner

In today’s world, setting up a company is very easy. In many countries, this can be done without even leaving home, via the Internet. Therefore, one can never be sure who is really hiding behind a created name and entry in the registry until it is checked. Verification involves actions commonly used in business intelligence, starting with checking the reliability and currency of the counterparty’s documentation, such as the National Court Register (KRS), Tax Identification Number (NIP), Statistical Number (REGON), as well as permits and certificates necessary for conducting a specific type of activity.

Verification can be done by obtaining information from the relevant individuals and institutions, such as registry courts, Social Insurance Institution (ZUS), tax offices, national and international chambers of commerce. It is worth delving into the history of the business and its owners, including opinions about the company, by searching the Internet or asking other entrepreneurs, contractors of this entity, as well as the interested party directly. It should be remembered that failure to exercise due diligence in selecting a business partner carries legal consequences, such as being accused of knowingly participating in irregularities, and the resulting further tax and legal sanctions.

Economic Cooperation with Norway

Despite not being a member of the EU, Norway is heavily economically connected with EU member states, including Poland. This is primarily due to Norwegian imports, which come from the EU in over 90%. Since Poland’s accession to the European Union on May 1, 2004, economic cooperation between Poland and Norway has been conducted based on the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA) with amendments resulting from the expansion of the EEA by 10 newly acceding countries, and the Agreement between the European Economic Community (EEC) and the Kingdom of Norway on free trade, signed on May 14, 1973. Under the EEA, Poland receives funds from the so-called Norwegian Financial Mechanism (aid to the poorest EU countries in exchange for free access to the EU market). Additionally, the most important aspects of economic exchange between both countries include: the convention on the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to income taxes (which came into force on May 2, 2010), and the agreement on the promotion and mutual protection of investments dated June 5, 1990.

By the end of 2020, Norway was the 21st importer from Poland and the 23rd export partner. The shipbuilding sector is the most significant point of bilateral cooperation. Poland exports mainly: iron or steel structures and parts, buses and minibusses, ships and ferries, furniture, cigarettes, and trucks. The primary imports from Norway include: fish, unprocessed aluminum, crude oil, iron alloys, sheets, ships, and ferries.

In 2020, Norwegian capital participation in Poland amounted to 1.654 billion euros, making Norway the 18th largest foreign investor in Poland. Conversely, Polish companies invested 777 million euros in the Norwegian market. Potential areas for future cooperation include: the shipbuilding industry, steel constructions, hydrocarbon extraction, petrochemical industry, as well as sectors encompassing rail vehicles, electromobility, and fish processing.

National and EU Sanctions

In connection with the violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, the European Union imposed 11 sets of sanctions on Russia by June 23, 2023. Poland also imposes additional sanctions, targeting key individuals in Russia, as well as companies from both Russia and Belarus. Trade in goods and services with Russian and Belarusian companies is prohibited. Polish entrepreneurs face fines of up to 20 million PLN and up to 15 years of imprisonment for violating these sanctions. However, Russian and Belarusian entrepreneurs have learned to circumvent international bans by utilizing complex holding structures established in other countries, making it difficult to detect the true ownership structure.

Both Norway and Russia harbor mutual animosity toward each other. Norway continues to tighten sanctions in response to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, while in August 2023, Russia officially declared Norway as an unfriendly state. How do Russians navigate the economic barrier erected by the governments of both countries? In February 2023, the portal Money.pl reported that Russians use northern Norway as a gateway, a green border, to enter Finland, from where they import Western products that are difficult to access in Russia. Norway, by honoring visas, allows Russians to enter the Schengen Area (“Shopping through Norway. Russians have found a way around sanctions,” money.pl).

Detailed information regarding the types of transactions covered by EU sanctions against Belarus and Russia can be found on the European Council’s websites: https://www.consilium.europa.eu/. The Official Journal of the European Union at the address: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A02014R0269-20220721 contains a list of individuals and entities subject to sanctions. The Polish Ministry of the Interior and Administration also maintains an updated register of entities subject to sanctions, where one can check a counterparty, its connections, reasons for inclusion in the register, and applied sanctions: https://www.gov.pl/web/mswia/lista-osob-i-podmiotow-objetych-sankcjami.

Therefore, the first step in verifying a Norwegian company can be to check if it is listed in any of the aforementioned registers. Useful information can also be found in Council Regulation (EU) 2022/576 of April 8, 2022, amending Regulation (EU) No 833/2014 concerning restrictive measures in relation to Russia’s actions destabilizing the situation in Ukraine.

On August 3, 2023, the European Union expanded the scope of sanctions imposed on Belarus to combat circumvention of regulations. The new measures amend Regulation (EC) No 765/2006 concerning restrictive measures in relation to the situation in Belarus. The changes ensure a tighter alignment of EU sanctions targeting Russia and Belarus and help ensure that Russian sanctions cannot be circumvented by Belarus. These measures expand the export ban to Belarus on a range of highly sensitive goods and technologies that contribute to the military and technological strengthening of Belarus. The Council also imposes an additional export ban on firearms and ammunition, as well as goods and technologies suitable for use in aviation and space industries. The changes also align sanctions against Belarus with the sanctions system against Russia. These restrictive measures were introduced in an expedited manner due to the urgent nature associated with combating circumvention of regulations concerning certain highly sensitive goods and technologies.

Economic Intelligence: How to Verify a Contractor from Norway?

Verification of a contractor can be entrusted to a professional economic intelligence agency, specializing in such assignments. A private detective in Warsaw, Poznań, Wrocław, or other cities will know how to obtain the necessary verifying information about a current or prospective contractor.

The most crucial way to verify a contractor and their potential connections with Belarus or Russia is to determine the entity that is their ultimate beneficial owner and then check if they are listed on the aforementioned sanctions list maintained by the Ministry of the Interior and Administration (MSWiA). This can be done in the Central Register of Ultimate Beneficial Owners maintained by the Minister of Finance: https://crbr.podatki.gov.pl/adcrbr/#/wyszukaj

Social Intelligence

An easily accessible method of gathering information about a contractor is to search the Internet. Verifying the company, checking if it has a website, what opinions are there about it, perhaps we will come across some publication about it. If we don’t want to do it ourselves for certainty, we can entrust the research to a detective agency specializing in professional economic intelligence. Because there are many more sources of information than just the World Wide Web. For example, you can contact the Polish Embassy in Oslo with a specific inquiry about a given entity, whether there have been complaints from other entrepreneurs, or perhaps according to the knowledge of the diplomatic mission, the Norwegian contractor has a bad reputation? Similar information may be provided by the Polish-Norwegian Chamber of Commerce.

Direct Inquiry to the Contractor

In case of difficulties in determining the ownership structure of a business partner through available registers, another method of verifying them within the scope of economic intelligence is to directly ask them to confirm who their ultimate beneficial owner is. Of course, to authenticate the response, you can ask the Norwegian entrepreneur to provide documents confirming their declarations.

Polish and EU Registries

In the Public Information Bulletin of the Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Technology, as the minister responsible for the economy, a registry of representations of foreign entrepreneurs is maintained. If we find the representation of our contractor in this registry, we can assume that they themselves still exist and are conducting business.

Another such registry where a contractor can be checked is the European registry of VAT UE taxpayers and the EORI registry. Companies and individuals wishing to carry out commercial activities within the Union must use the EORI number as the identification number in all customs procedures. The VAT Information Exchange System (VIES), a search engine run by the European Commission, allows you to check if a particular entity is registered as conducting intra-community transactions. This is necessary, among other things, to apply a 0% VAT rate to a given transaction. If VIES does not confirm the registration of the contractor, you can request verification from the tax office of the country where they are based. It is also worth checking if the company has the necessary permits and certificates, if required in a particular country. The EU Business Register (http://www.eubusinessregister.org/) allows you to search for companies worldwide.

The Registry of Insolvent Debtors allows you to check if a particular contractor is not listed. There are also economic information bureaus that have detailed information about the activities of companies. BIK, the Credit Information Bureau, established by the Polish Bank Association, collects data on the credit history of bank, credit union, and para-banking loan company customers.

Norwegian Business Registries

Brønnøysund Register: The Brønnøysund Register Centre, governed by the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Fisheries, oversees the Norwegian Register of Business Enterprises among 14 national registries. Responsible for registering all Norwegian and foreign companies operating in Norway, it offers legal protection, financial data overview, and serves as a crucial resource for those needing precise information about individuals in the Norwegian industry. Key data available includes organizational number, company name, addresses, incorporation date, partnership agreements, roles within the company, and bankruptcy information. The register provides free updates on significant company events like new registrations, significant changes, dissolution, or deletion. The announcement database dates back to November 1, 1999, accessible in Norwegian and English. Additional transcripts and certificates, like registration certificates or annual financial reports, can be obtained for a fee.  https://w2.brreg.no/enhet/sok/

INFOLAND: A commercial register containing information on companies, cadastral data, etc., accessible only in Norwegian. It operates via address search, offering information on real estate and registered companies. https://infoland.ambita.com/#/

PROF: This register creates a map of connections between board members, managing directors, shareholders, etc. Basic information about companies, such as management, address, and sector, is available without registration, in Norwegian.  https://www.proff.no/

Norwegian Patent Office Database: Contains trademarks, patents, and registered designs. Search results provide basic information about companies owning patents. https://search.patentstyret.no/advanced/#/

It is worth thoroughly checking the counterparty

It’s worth thoroughly checking your Norwegian business partner before engaging in any transactions or collaborations. Conducting an economic background check is essential, especially to ensure they have no ties to Belarus or Russia. Violating sanctions imposed on specific trade with these countries, individuals, or entities can lead to hefty financial penalties of up to 20 million PLN and imprisonment ranging from 3 to 15 years. Additionally, verifying your counterpart and exercising due diligence in their selection are always necessary when conducting business activities, as it is a requirement for entrepreneurs as professional market participants.

Do you know how to check a company from Norway? If not, or if you need more detailed information, we can assist you. Feel free to contact us.

Scroll to Top