Scandinavia Money Transfers: Sweden, Norway, Denmark & Iceland

By 
Russell Gous
Last Edited Oct 20, 2023

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.

This markup has a proportionately higher impact when transferring large amounts, or receiving large amounts of currency.

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.

But they are going to offer better if you are transferring money to the USA, France or Spain because these countries use major currencies.

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.

A specialist money transfer service such as a currency broker will be much cheaper.

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:

  1. Transfer money from Sweden internationally (and exchange SEK to Euro, Dollar, Pound Sterling or 100+ currencies)
  2. Transfer money from Norway internationally (and exchange NOK to Euro, Dollar, Pound Sterling or 100+ currencies)
  3. Transfer money from Denmark internationally (and exchange DKK to Euro, Dollar, Pound Sterling or 100+ currencies)
  4. 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 🇩🇰 🇮🇸

#1
UK EU USA Currencies Direct: Best Overall for International Money Transfers
Headquarters:
1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5AA, UK
97.8% Editorial rating
7,500 Client Reviews
Minimum transfer:
£100 / €100 / $100 or equivalent
Why Them?
  • 96% Positive Feedback from Customers, Since 1996
  • Service Oriented - Specialising in Large Transfers - Friendly Dealers
  • Very Competitive Rates, No Wire Fees
+Read more
1
Currencies Direct
Currencies Direct: Best Overall for International Money Transfers
97.8%
Editorial rating
#2
UK Australia EU TorFX: Strong Guidance and Staff
Headquarters:
Pz360, St Mary's Terrace,Penzance, Cornwall, TR18 4DZ, UK
93.4% Editorial rating
5,500 Client Reviews
Minimum transfer:
£100 / €100 / $100 or equivalent
Why Them?
  • HQ Outside of London - Lower Staff Costs Rolled Over to the Client
  • Quick Onboarding Process and Highly Professional
  • Trading Desk with 100+ Years of Experience
+Read more
2
Torfx
TorFX: Strong Guidance and Staff
93.4%
Editorial rating
#3
UK EU USA UAE moneycorp: Oldest and Most Reputable Foreign Exchange Service
Headquarters:
Zig Zag Building, 70 Victoria St, Westminster, London SW1E 6SQ, UK
93.2% Editorial rating
7,000 Client Reviews
Minimum transfer:
£50 / €50 / $50 or equivalent
Why Them?
  • Providing FX Services since 1979
  • Very Recognisable Brand with Excellent Reputation - £36.9in Transfers Annually with Offices in Every Continent
  • Business Specialists
+Read more
3
Moneycorp
moneycorp: Oldest and Most Reputable Foreign Exchange Service
93.2%
Editorial rating
#4
UK EU USA Australia NZ Xe: Biggest Name in Currency Since 1993
Local UK Offices:
Maxis 1, Western Road, Bracknell, Berkshire, RG12 1RT, UK
91.3% Editorial rating
62,000 Client Reviews
Minimum transfer:
£50 / €50 / $50 or equivalent
Why Them?
  • Excellent Sign Up Process
  • Global Company with Strong Presence in the UK (HiFX, one of the best known UK brokers, was merged into Xe)
  • Combination of Work-Of-Art Online System with Brokerage for Large Transfers
+Read more
4
Xe
Xe: Biggest Name in Currency Since 1993
91.3%
Editorial rating
#5
UK Spain Key Currency: Up and Coming Currency Broker with Local Presence UK/Spain
Local British Offices:
St Piran House, Technology Park, Heron Way, Truro TR1 2XN, United Kingdom
90.8% Editorial rating
800 Client Reviews
Minimum transfer:
€250
Why Them?
  • Fastest Growing UK Currency Transfer Provider
  • Strong Onboard Team, Get an Immediate Callback
  • Recipient of Multiple Industry Awards
+Read more
5
Key Currency
Key Currency: Up and Coming Currency Broker with Local Presence UK/Spain
90.8%
Editorial rating
#6
UK EU Canada Corpay: 99% Positive Client Feedback
Headquarters:
20 Wood St, London EC2V 7AF
90.6% Editorial rating
4,400 Client Reviews
Minimum transfer:
£1,000/€1,000 or equivalent
Why Them?
  • 99% of its Past Clients Gave the Firm a Positive Review
  • Strong Global Reach with Offices in UK, Europe, and Canada
  • More than Two Decades of Experience
+Read more
6
Corpay
Corpay: 99% Positive Client Feedback
90.6%
Editorial rating
#7
UK EU Brazil Currency Solutions: Best Money Transfer on TrustPilot
Headquarters:
21 Queen Elizabeth St, London SE1 2PD
90.4% Editorial rating
1,900 Client Reviews
Minimum transfer:
£1,000
Why Them?
  • Best Customer Satisfaction Score on TrustPilot
  • Welcoming and Clear Website, Easy to Sign Up
  • Excellent Currency Transfer Rates
+Read more
7
Currency Solutions
Currency Solutions: Best Money Transfer on TrustPilot
90.4%
Editorial rating
#8
Australia UK EU USA New Zealand OFX: The Publicly-Traded Money Transfer Company from Down Under
Headquarters:
Level 19, 60 Margaret St, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia
90.4% Editorial rating
1,500 Client Reviews
Minimum transfer:
£100 / €100 / $100 or equivalent
Why Them?
  • Traded Publicly in Australia
  • £20bn Turnover per Year
  • Ultra Professional
+Read more
8
OFX
OFX: The Publicly-Traded Money Transfer Company from Down Under
90.4%
Editorial rating
#9
UK Halo Financial: Excellent Online Platform and Support
Headquarters:
Battersea Studios 2, 82 Silverthorne Rd, Nine Elms, London SW8 3HE
87.3% Editorial rating
100 Client Reviews
Minimum transfer:
£1,000
Why Them?
  • Feefo 2020 Platinum Trusted Provider
  • Excellent Website and Online Flow
  • Highly Professional
+Read more
9
Halo Financial
Halo Financial: Excellent Online Platform and Support
87.3%
Editorial rating
#10
EU UK USA Australia Wise (Previously TransferWise): Valued at £10bn
Headquarters:
17 Avenue Marnix, 1000 Brussels, Belgium
86.8% Editorial rating
32,000 Client Reviews
Minimum transfer:
No Minimum
Why Them?
  • Largest Money Transfer Provider of its Kind
  • Fully-Online Journey
  • Transparent Pricing
+Read more
10
Wise / TransferWise
Wise (Previously TransferWise): Valued at £10bn
86.8%
Editorial rating

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.

Final Say

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.