The fundamental goal of Norwegian alcohol laws has been to reduce alcohol-related health and social issues. Domestic alcohol policies has strict laws and regulation. Therefore this page gives a brief information about the system of Vinmonopolet and alcohol laws. It is important for understanding of the market structure and legal requirements.

Vinmonopolet Store, Norway

Vinmonopolet (The Wine Monopoly)

It is represented by Ⓥ and is idiomatically shortened to polet. It is a government-owned alcoholic beverage retailer and the only one permitted to sell beverages containing more than 4.75% alcohol. The Norwegian government’s policy goal is to limit alcohol consumption, primarily through high prices and limited access. Vinmonopolet’s goal is to distribute alcoholic beverages responsibly while limiting the industry’s private economic profit motive. Vinmonopolet’s social responsibility is also significant. It prohibits the sale of alcoholic beverages to minors and visibly inebriated customers. Domestic alcohol policy has made four major policy proposals in an attempt to achieve this goal:

  • The fundamental priority has been to remove private economic interests to the maximum extent feasible.
  • The second fundamental has been the requirement for a license in order to sell alcoholic drinks.
  • The third principle has been the right of local governments to decide whether alcoholic drinks may be sold, what kind of beverages may be sold, and who will be granted a license to do so.
  • The fourth fundamental concept has been that alcoholic beverage costs should be kept high by substantial taxes.

The following information can be found on this page :


It is a government monopoly on the production and distribution of some or all alcoholic beverages such as beer, wine, and spirits. Monopoly can be used as an alternative to total prohibition. Vinmonopolet is the only alcohol retailer with the authority to sell alcohol (above 4.75% ABV) to consumer. Restaurants with the necessary licenses can purchase alcohol from authorized importers and sell it on their premises. It is owned by the government (since 1939).


In order to purchase and consume alcohol with an alcohol strength of 22 % alc. Vol. or lower, the age limit should be a minimum of 18 years. Apparently, in order to purchase and consume an alcohol beverage with an alcohol strength of above 22% alc. Vol, the age limit should be a minimum of 20 years.


A good regional spread ensures the best possible accessibility in all parts of the country. That is the target for network of these retail outlets. This network consists of more than 300 shops. A larger number of outlets will make access to Vinmonopolet’s products more equal around the country, and provide better service in the form of shorter queues in cities and towns. Vinmonopolet only sells wines in its self owned stores. The organization does not use any agent stores.


Vinmonopolet offers a unique range of roughly 17.000 different products today. Significantly the procurement is determined solely on the basis of price, quality and customer demand. They always operates neutral in the sense that no partiality is shown between brands, producers, countries or suppliers.


The opening hours on Monday to Wednesday-  10:00 and 17:00, on Thursday and Friday between 10:00 and 18:00 and on Saturday between 10:00 and 15:00 and is closed on Sunday.


Strong alcoholic beverages which have an alcohol content above 22 % can be served from 13:00 to 24:00. Alcohol with a lower alcohol degree can be served between 08:00 and 01:00. Local authorities can extend these hours, however it should be a local decision.


Marketing of Alcoholic Beverages for the products which are above 2.5% alc. Vol. – Forbidden


For example, in the year 2009 per capita consumption was 6,68 liters of pure alcohol (100%).


Since the year 1990 onwards, the domestic alcohol policy has been changing over time similar to the other nordic countries which are being regulated by a monopoly.

It is still a cornerstone in the domestic alcohol policy. Alcohol should have high prices as well as the distribution and availability of alcohol should be limited. The aim of the Norwegian alcohol laws has always been to keep the alcohol consumption on acceptable low levels per person. Norway achieves this goal by putting high taxes, limited availability as well as a non-profit distribution model. Norwegian alcohol tax rates for alcoholic beverages exceeding 0.7% – 2.7% ABV is NOK3.31 per litre, alcoholic beverages exceeding 2.7% – 3.7% is 12.44 per litre, alcoholic beverages exceeding 3.7% – 4.7% ABV is NOK 21.55 per litre and 4.7% – 22% ABV is NOK 4.82 per litre.

Today, Norway has the lowest alcohol consumption compared to the other Nordic countries. It has been a down turning for alcoholic beverages with a higher alcohol degree. While the wine segment has observed an increase. If we see the outcome of alcohol consumption, nearly approx. 400 people die each year of this about 80% are men.

Given its progressive reputation, Norway’s strict attitude toward alcohol sales may appear strange. However, it appears that most Norwegians are content with the current system of purchasing alcohol from a state-run store. Norwegian alcohol import limit for passengers is 1 litre of Spirit, 1.5 litres of wine and 2 litres of beer through custom check.

The governmental institution in charge of the domestic alcohol policy – Helse og omsorgs departementet.

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Questions and Answers about Domestic alcohol policy in Norway

Who owns Vinmonopolet and why Norway is so strict with alcohol?

Vinmonopolet is a state-owned wine monopoly chain run by Norwegian governmnet. The domestic alcohol policies are very strict. Although the prohibition movement began as a religious movement, it was heavily influenced by the Labour movement in the early 1900s, when the Norwegian working class was beset by alcoholism and drug abuse. The grounds for Norway’s strict regulation on free alcohol sales are driven by social, religious, and political concerns.

How much alcohol can I bring in Norway?

Based on alcohol and tobacco quota: 1 liter of spirits, 1.5 liters of wine and 2 liters of beer or 3 liters of wine and 2 liters of beer is allowed through the custom.

Can I buy alcohol on Sunday in Norway?

According to Norwegian domestic alcohol regulation, alcohol with an ABV more than 4.7% can be sold in Vinmonopolet. On Sundays, Vinmonopolet outlets are closed, however Norwegian beers and certain international brands are available in supermarkets all day.

Can I drink alcohol in public place?

In Norway, drinking in public is forbidden and punishable by fines. In many places, the police will primarily respond if alcohol is being used to cause disturbance, and drinking in parks is relatively frequent. Police will simply request that the drinker empty the bottle.

Why is beer expensive in Norway?

Alcoholic beverages with 3.7% – 4.7% ABV are subject to an alcohol tax of up to NOK 21.55 per liter, the maximum allowed under the alcohol tax backet. Another reason is that alcohol with less than 4.7% ABV can be sold in conventional stores, and Norwegian domestic alcohol policies are designed to encourage individuals to limit their alcohol intake.