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VAT Expert in Europe

Selling in Europe with Incoterm DDP. Eurofiscalis handle your VAT registration & declarations | I want to learn more

Selling in Europe with Incoterm DDP.

Eurofiscalis handle your VAT registration & declarations

I want to learn more

VAT on sanitary products in Norway

The International Women´s Day is celebrated the 8th of march every year to honor women and their achievements throughout the history and across nations.  

In Norway, as in many other countries, this day is being marked with different demonstrations, activities and events – where all of these is meant to direct attention to women’s rights, challenges and achievements.  

Table of Contents

VAT on sanitary products in Norway

Historically Norway has had a strong tradition in promoting equality and women´s rights. But, the International Women´s Day is not only a celebration of women´s contribution to society, but also a reminder that there is still room for improvement when it comes to equality. It reminds us to reflect over the progress already made as well as pointing forwards to overcome remaining obstacles for equality around the world.  

 

In the light of this day – we, as international VAT-experts want to bring up the discussion about VAT on sanitary products. Norway, as a country with a great tradition for equality and women´s rights – is it fair to pay 25% VAT on tampons and pads 

Necessity or luxury goods?

In Norway the standard VAT rate is 25%. This rate applies to most of products and services. Nourishments as food and drinks has a VAT rate of 15% and for example a ticket to the museum has a reduced rate of 12%. These rates can vary from year to year, and it is the Norwegian authorities that set the rates.

  

In Norway we pay 25% VAT on sanitary products – such as tampons and pads. Compared to a package of candy, where we pay 15% VAT, we can ask ourselves if it is fair to pay 25% VAT on something that such a big percentage of the country needs to buy every single month?  

In Eurofiscalis we are not alone bringing this topic in today´s light. There has been many debates and articles on several platforms about this – where there have been some strong opinions on how much money women pay the authorities during a life time because of menstruation.  

 

To make our point even clearer we can imagine 1 million women spends 50 NOK on sanitary products a month. If 10 NOK of this is VAT,  the authorities will earn 10 million NOK on women´s consumption of necessary products.  

Even Barack Obama stated that he does not agree that sanitary products should be categorized as “luxury products”.  

VAT on sanitary products: Measures taken

However, there are certain measures that have been taken to reduce this problem. Certain Norwegian schools have made all sanitary products free at school, but this is only done by their own initiative and will vary from school to school. If we look to New Zealand the prime minister Jacinda Arderns decided that all girls who attend to school should get tampons and pads for free.  

But, even if there is certain schools in Norway who´s done this, there is still the same price to pay.  

The debate focuses on why sanitary products are classified as luxury goods in Norway, unlike books and artworks which are exempt from VAT, and cinema tickets which have a reduced rate of 12%. Sanitary products face a much higher VAT rate. These products are not considered necessities by Norwegian authorities, but rather as luxury items, which raises questions about equality in a country known for its strong tradition of equality. Many argue that sanitary products should not be considered a luxury, given their necessity, suggesting a reevaluation of their VAT classification. 

Moving forward

Is it right that Norway makes money on women menstruating? Students and low-income families will especially be the most affected by this rate. It’s an involuntary expense women incur, simply for menstruating several days each month.  

We think that the time has come to follow countries as Canada, New Zealand, Australia, France and India. Canada has reduced the VAT rates on pads and tampons and in Australia and India its removed completely. Is it really fair to pay extra for something so natural as menstruation?  

 

We’re not aiming to remove the importance of paying taxes to maintain a well-functioning welfare system like Norway’s. However, we want to highlight that we pay more VAT on sanitary products than on items like candy and soda. 

FAQ: We answer all your VAT questions about sanitary products in Norway

The VAT rate is 25%, the standard for most goods and services, with few exceptions deemed necessities. 

They haven't been granted a special exemption to reduce the VAT, following general tax regulations, though there's debate on reevaluation due to their essential nature. 

Many countries have reduced or eliminated VAT on these items for accessibility, making Norway's rate one of the highest. 

No, all types are taxed at the standard rate (25%), without exceptions for product type, a topic for potential future policy discussions. 

Lowering the rate would alleviate financial burdens, promote equality, and recognize these products as basic necessities. 

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