Transferring money to and from the countries of Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Iceland are a particular area of interest for us here at Money Transfer Comparison.
While these countries aren’t big in terms of population, with less than 30m inhabitants in total, there is significant demand for alternatives to traditional banks to make international money transfers.
One of the primary factors driving this demand is of course that all four of these countries are still using their own currency.
Money transfers to Iceland are denominated in Icelandic Krona (ISK)
Money transfers to Norway are denominated in Norwegian Krone (NOK)
Money transfers to Denmark are denominated in Danish Krone (DKK)
Money transfers to Sweden are denominated in Swedish Krona (SEK)
Scandinavian currencies are by no means the most exotic out there – NOK, DKK and SEK are all in the 20 most popularly traded currencies in the world – but they are traded significantly less frequently than GBP, EUR and USD.
This means banks may charge even MORE when buying or selling a Scandinavian currency
In this guide, we’ll explain what costs to look out for, and we’ll explore the different options for both sending money to Scandinavia and sending money from Scandinavia.
So whether you’re transferring money from Sweden to the UK or sending money from the USA to Norway, we’ll let you know the best way to go about it.
101 – Currency Markups
International wire transfer fees are the more obvious fee which banks charge.
You’ll see these clearly displayed before initiating a transfer.
However, there’s an added component which makes a much bigger difference to the costs of international money transfers which is the markup added to the currency exchange rate.
A high proportion of money transfers to and from Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Denmark are exactly that – large sum transfers in the tens of thousands or more.
Let’s explore a simple example.
Say the SEKEUR rate is 0.86 but if the bank is only giving 0.80 euros for each SEK.
This means each SEKEUR money transfer gets you 6.9% less than the official rate.
Verifying that you get the best foreign exchange rate on your bank transfer is crucial.
Much more costly than the annoying £10-20 fixed fees, which can admittedly start to build up if you make frequent transfers.
Higher markups for Nordic Currencies
Banks are notoriously expensive when transferring money abroad.
From our experience and independent research on bank fees, UK banks charge approximately 2.2% in currency markup to those destinations.
But when it comes to transferring money to Sweden, Denmark, Norway or Iceland this can be closer to 4-5% in some instances.
Formatting Transfers to Scandinavia
When sending money to Scandinavia from overseas, it’s really important to get the beneficiary account details right.
This avoids potential delays and crucially, it means you won’t risk losing your money if it credits the wrong account.
Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland have all adopted the IBAN formatting standard.
The IBAN standard was originally developed to make facilitating transfers within the EU easy but it is now globally recognised and used by many countries around the world.
The IBAN consists of a 2 digit country code, followed by two check digits and then up to 30 alphanumeric characters which depend on the bank and account number you’re sending money to.
The only thing to look out for is the length of the IBAN, it varies from country-to-country and it’s best to use a reputable IBAN checker to verify you’ve got the details correct.
Let’s explore how IBAN’s are structured in each Scandinavian country.
Sending Money to Sweden
Sweden’s IBAN format consists of 24 alphanumeric characters, starting with ‘SE’ and then 22 further characters depending on the account you’re sending money to.
SEkk BBBB CCCC CCCCCCCCCCCC
SE = Country Code
kk = Check Digits
B = Bank Code
C = Account No.
You may also have to supply the ‘SWIFT BIC’ of the receiving bank if the transfer is being sent on the SWIFT network – this will be 8 or 11 characters.
Be sure to get this from a reliable source (such as the recipient bank’s own website) or verify the details with your account manager if you’re working with a money transfer specialist.
Sending Money to Norway
The Norway IBAN format consists of just 15 alphanumeric characters. Starting with ‘NO’ the other 13 characters will be populated based on the account you’re sending money to.
NOkk BBBB CCCC CCK
NO = Country Code
kk = Check Digits
B = Bank Code
C = Account No.
K = Check Digits
You may have to provide the beneficiary bank SWIFT BIC (8 or 11 characters) if you’re making a SWIFT transfer.
Sending Money to Denmark
The IBAN format for Denmark consists of 18 alphanumeric characters.
DKkk BBBB CCCC CCCC CC
DK = Country Code
kk = Check Digits
B = Bank No
C = Account No
That should be all you need for transfers to Denmark.
Sending Money to Iceland
The IBAN format for Iceland consists of the highest number of alphanumeric characters (26) because it includes the National Identification number of the recipient. You’ll also need to provide extra information to complete your transfer.
ISkk BBBB SSCC CCCC XXXX XXXX XX
IS = Country Code
kk = Check Digits
B = Bank Code
S = Sort Code
C = Account No.
X = Holder’s National Identification Number
For international transfers to Iceland, you’ll also be required to provide:
- Beneficiary Bank BIC/SWIFT: 8 or 11 characters
- Beneficiary Address
International Money Transfer Providers: Scandinavia
The following list of providers support:
- Transferring money to Sweden (and currency exchange to SEK)
- Transferring money to Norway (and currency exchange to NOK)
- Transferring money to Denmark (and currency exchange to DKK)
- Transferring money to Iceland (and currency exchange to ISK)
Additionally and importantly, these providers have offices in the EU, which means they can onboard customers from anywhere in Scandinavia.
With that in mind, you can also use these providers to:
- Transfer money from Sweden internationally (and exchange SEK to Euro, Dollar, Pound Sterling or 100+ currencies)
- Transfer money from Norway internationally (and exchange NOK to Euro, Dollar, Pound Sterling or 100+ currencies)
- Transfer money from Denmark internationally (and exchange DKK to Euro, Dollar, Pound Sterling or 100+ currencies)
- Transfer money from Iceland internationally (and exchange ISK to Euro, Dollar, Pound Sterling or 100+ currencies)
We have omitted Finland, but they can certainly help Finnish customers too.
We have just covered it in another guide – transferring money between the UK and Europe.
🇸🇪 🇳🇴 Top 10 Providers for Transfers to/from Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland 🇩🇰 🇮🇸
Currencies Direct & Key Currency: Most Scandinavia Oriented
All of the best money transfer services in the UK are able to deal with Scandinavian currencies and register Scandinavian customers, but there are two particular brokerages which are Scandi-oriented.
- Currencies Direct: Swedish / Norwegian Website Translations + Swedish / Norwegian Speaking Staff
- Key Currency: Swedish Speaking Staff
One of the reasons both of these brokers are the best for money transfers to Sweden and Norway is that they are very active in Spain. A popular destination for Swedes and Norwegians to buy a holiday home.
Key Currency holds a local Spanish office and Currencies Direct boasts a whopping 18 different locations in Spain.
Looking at the statistics, Swedes are the #6 most popular nation for buying overseas property in Spain and are #2 in new home buyers (with Norwegians accounting for 1.33% of buyers).
The allure for Scandinavians is clear. The cost per metre in Spain is about a third of what the cost of property in Stockholm is.
Currencies Direct and Key Currency also offer a range of currency hedging tools which may help you to achieve a better rate, or protect you from any future movements.
A forward contract is a very popular tool when buying property overseas. It guarantees today’s exchange rate for the future, providing certainty over how much you’ll have to pay.
Using Banks in Scandinavia for Money Transfers Abroad
It is not easy to figure out how much money you are paying in both direct wire transfer fees and exchange rate markups when transferring money from Sweden or Norway.
For Denmark it appears like banks are a little more open.
Fixed Fees: To start off with wire costs, it appears like the average cost to transfer money from Scandinavian countries through a bank is approximately €35 equivalent.
This is higher than other European banks. In some cases, it’s even more than American banks, which are notorious for their hefty fixed fees. (example)
Exchange rates: It was impossible to find the actual exchange rates offered by banks for money transfers from Sweden, Norway or Iceland.
While these banks advertise their wire transfer fees, they do not advertise their foreign exchange rates. This is similar to what most UK banks do, and it normally signals very high margins.
We can look at Swedebank Estonia’s exchange rates and we can see margins hover at around 2% (on top of fixed fees).
This margin can definitely be beaten by foreign exchange specialists.
Nordea DK advertises their foreign exchange rates for transferring money from Denmark (here) showing very reasonable margins when compared to UK or American banks, which range between 2% and 5%.
They’re also very transparent, enabling customers to know exactly how much they are going to pay in foreign exchange markups.
Rates are advertised as between 0.35% – 2%, depending on the currencies involved and how much you’re sending.
This is much more akin to a currency broker or online money transfer company.
To summarise, while Scandinavian banks in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland appear to charge above average fixed transfer fees, some Scandi banks like Nordea DK do appear to offer lower foreign exchange margins than their European counterparts.
This is good, as it’s the foreign exchange margins that have a much bigger impact on your total costs.
Nevertheless, these margins can still be beaten by specialist money transfer companies who have demonstrated a long track-record of safe and low-cost international transfers from Scandinavia.
On the other end of the spectrum, these money transfer companies are most certainly cheaper than UK, US and European banks for sending money to Scandinavia.
What’s more, there are no limits on how much you can transfer and you’ll be assigned a dedicated currency specialist to assist you through the process.
You’ll only receive this treatment from a bank if you’re a high-net worth customer who holds a large pool of investments.
Registering with a money transfer company is easy and it’s certainly worth comparing the rates and service on offer from at least two non-bank providers.