Accounts - before start-up

Everyone who runs their own enterprise must keep accounts. The best approach is to start from day one. You can keep your own accounts, but if you are not familiar with the relevant regulations, it is better to seek the advice of an accountant.

Do I have to keep accounts?

Under the bookkeeping rules, most businesses are obliged to keep accounts (bookkeeping obligation). In very simple terms, this means that you must document all purchases and sales and enter them in an accounting system. The accounts can then be used as a basis when you submit tax returns, tax returns for VAT and any other statutory statements.

In addition to keeping accounts under the bookkeeping rules, some enterprises, for example, private limited companies, are also subject to the annual accounts obligation. They must therefore submit both a tax return and annual accounts to the Register of Company Accounts.

The Brønnøysund Register Centre – Who has accounting obligation?

Do I have to have an accountant?

If you have the necessary knowledge, you could consider keeping your accounts yourself if you wish. At least during the start-up phase. In any case, it can be a good idea to get help from someone who knows about accounts in order to set up good routines. The big leap comes when you take on employees. You will then have to pay their salaries and comply with several extra regulations. It is at this point that many people decide to outsource their accounts to an accountant.

Choosing an accounting system

There are many good accounting software programs available on the market. Ask other people what they use and are satisfied with. Check out different suppliers before deciding which one to go for. 

Your own bank account

Do not mix your personal finances with your business finances. Open a separate bank account and use it for your business only. In a sole proprietorship it may also be a good idea to set up a separate account where you can set aside money for payment of taxes and VAT.

How should the customer pay?

Different requirements apply concerning documentation depending on whether you make a cash sale or issue an invoice. It is therefore important that you determine what your needs are as soon as possible so that you are ready to issue invoices or receive cash payments when you start trading.

Cash sales

If you make cash sales, you must have a cash register system which fulfils the requirements set out in the bookkeeping rules. Anyone who uses a cash register system must ensure that the system comes with a product declarationthere must be a declaration from the supplier confirming that the cash register system satisfies the requirements in the Cash Register System Act and Regulations. Cash sales are sales where the buyer pays for goods or services on delivery. Cash payments include payments made by cash, credit/cash card and various payment applications (for example Vipps).


The Norwegian Bookkeeping Regulations specify clear requirements regarding the information that you must include in invoices. Invoices must, among other things, contain an invoice number which is automatically assigned by a program. Alternatively, you must arrange for invoices to be printed by a printing firm. The invoices should contain consecutive invoice numbers in addition to the name, address and organisation number of your business.

A good management tool

In addition to the fact that you are obliged to keep accounts carefully prepared accounts are also the best management tool you have at your disposal. If you have a good overview, you will be able to correct your course at a much earlier stage if necessary.

If you apply for state aid or a loan from your bank, your accounts will be a valuable source of information about your business.

Spend time in the beginning familiarising yourself with the rules that apply to you.

Would you like to know more?

The Norwegian Tax Administration arranges courses for entrepreneurs who have just started a business. These courses are free of charge, and you can attend either digital webinars or physical courses in Oslo.

You can choose between courses tailored for sole proprietorships or limited liability companies. The courses are also available in English.

The Norwegian Tax Administration has also created instructional videos covering many of the topics from the course. These can be useful when, for example, you need to pay taxes, register for VAT, or submit your tax return.

The Norwegian Tax Administration - Courses for new businesses

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