While Denmark’s economy and high standard of living make it a popular destination for foreigners, it’s an expensive and bureaucratic place to live — and the same principles apply to Danish bank accounts. And, similar to opening a bank account in Poland, Spain, or other parts of Europe, there are challenges to overcome.
But bureaucracy aside, banking in Denmark attracts attention from foreign non-residents for a few very good reasons. For example…
During the last financial crisis, Denmark (and other Scandinavian countries) were relatively unaffected compared to their European peers.
Denmark also offers diversification for those overexposed to EUR, GBP, or USD.
Finally, while Denmark is not an offshore banking hub by any stretch of the imagination, banks here are well-managed and offer solid products and services.
So what’s the problem?
The largest bank in Denmark, Danske Bank, was at the epicenter of the largest money-laundering scandal in Europe… ever.
And at the heart of this scandal were foreign bank accounts.
So it’s no surprise that Danish regulators (and the banks themselves) are apprehensive when it comes to non-residents wanting to open bank accounts.
But there is still a handful of account opening options available for motivated foreigners who really want to open accounts here.
- Opening bank accounts in Denmark requires proof of residency
- It is nearly impossible to open an online bank account in Denmark
- If you live or work in Denmark, you will want to open a local bank account
- A Civil Registration (CPR) Number is an important requirement for all Danish residents
In today’s article, we’ll shed light on the account opening process, explore differences between resident and non-resident accounts, and dig into some of the obstacles non-residents face.
Feel free to use the table of contents to jump ahead to the sections most relevant to you.
Table of Contents
- How to Open a Bank Account in Denmark
- Things to Keep in Mind About Danish Banking
- Final Thoughts on Danish Bank Accounts
- Ready to Explore Your Options?
How to Open a Bank Account in Denmark
Danish bank account opening can be complicated. Many banks will charge you for most of their services, but once you get your ducks in a row, banking here can often make your life easier.
First, let’s take a look at who can open an account and the steps involved.
Can Foreigners Open a Bank Account Online in Denmark?
Not just anyone can open an account in Denmark. To be eligible, you need to be a resident of the country (staying in Denmark for at least three months and having a residence permit or EU residence document).
Even if you’ll be a resident in the near future, you won’t be able to open a Danish account until you’re there in person. Some banks let you start registering a bank account online, but you’ll have to go in person to a branch to finalize your paperwork.
But if you’re a resident who lives and works in Denmark, you need to open an account as soon as possible. Since your employer must deposit your paychecks into a Danish account, you can’t get paid until you have one.
Register for a CPR Number
First, register for a civil registration (CPR) number, a ten-digit registration number that’s a unique identifier for all Danish residents.
Once you’re registered in the CPR system, you’ll receive a yellow health card called a sundhedskort, which gives you access to medical treatment in Denmark.
This number is mandatory for all Danish residents, so it’s a good idea to get one as soon as possible. You’ll need it to open an account, pay taxes, access your health insurance, and do anything else involving interaction with government agencies.
Get Your Documents in Order: Common Challenges to Opening a Danish Bank Account as a Foreigner
Once you’ve got your CPR number, the process to open an account in Denmark looks much the same as anywhere else. But, there are many documents you’ll need to get in order.
You must present your yellow health card as proof of your CPR number, plus proof of identification and residence. Check with your chosen bank for a list of required documents, but here are a few things to note:
- It can take weeks to receive your yellow health card (sundhedskort). If you’re in a hurry, ask your bank if they’ll accept the official document showing your CPR number instead.
- You might need a notarized copy of your photo ID or passport.
- Some banks may ask for a copy of your employment contract, if applicable.
Get a NemID for Online Banking
Next, set up your NemID, which is the secure login information that lets you access your account and other financial records (like your tax information) online.
You’ll receive a username, password, and a “code card.” Once you have a NemID, you can access your bank from any internet-enabled device.
Link Your Danish Bank Account to NemKonto
A NemKonto, or “Easy Account,” is your designated account for public sector payments like tax refunds, subsidies, and child benefits.
Denmark introduced the NemKonto to help digitize the Danish public sector. It’s an easy way for individuals to receive money from public institutions without visiting a bank in person.
The easiest way to set up NemKonto is to use your NemID to log into the self-service site. You can then assign your account as your NemKonto, free of charge.
Dankort and Credit Cards in Denmark
Once you’ve created an account, obtained your NemID, and linked it to NemKonto, you should be ready to bank in Denmark!
As a general rule, there are no longer checks in Denmark, so you won’t get a checkbook with your new account. Danish banking takes place digitally or in cash.
You can request a Dankort (a Danish debit card), and you can also request a credit card, which will take several more months to arrive.
Before diving in further, if you’re interested in opening non-resident bank accounts that meet your specific needs, we encourage you to download a FREE copy of the Non-Resident Banking Starter Guide.
Things to Keep in Mind about Danish Banking
There are two broad categories of banks in Denmark: national and international. Of the national banks, many offer free accounts, but Danish banks have a reputation for charging fees for many services.
Once you’ve opened an account here, you probably won’t need to visit often, since most transactions are digital. If you do need to visit a branch, keep in mind that banks here are open from 10:00 to 16:00, with some branches staying open to 17:00 on Thursdays.
Also, remember that while most branch employees speak English, not all online banking is available in English. Be sure to ask about online language options before setting up an account.
Don’t Forget the Negative Interest Rates
While central banks everywhere are considering low-rate and negative interest rate policies to encourage lending and economic activity, a few countries have led the charge. Among them, Denmark and a handful of other European countries, and Japan.
In Denmark, it all comes down to where you bank, whether it’s your primary personal (NemKonto) account, and how much money you have in the account.
For example, Danske Bank announced in June 2020 that customers with over 1.5 million DKK (approximately 200,000 EUR) in a NemKonto will pay interest of negative 0.75%. And the same rate will apply to non-NemKonto accounts of more than 750,000 DKK (approximately 100,000 EUR).
But Danske Bank isn’t the only culprit. Four other banks in Denmark have also introduced negative interest rates, making them a mainstay of banking here.
Who Could Benefit from Banking in Denmark
If you’re working in Denmark, it’s worth your while to open a Danish account as a foreigner, since you’ll need one to receive your paychecks.
And once you set up your account, you can enjoy the many benefits of Danish banking.
Thanks to the NemID’s universality, you’ll have the same secure login information not only for your bank but for engaging with public authorities and dealing with other companies that use the NemID. And with the NemKonto system, you’ll have an automatic location for public sector funds to be deposited into your account.
Final Thoughts on Danish Bank Accounts
While it can be complicated to open a bank account as a non-resident here, it is possible. But you’re not going to be able to walk into a branch off the street.
Though the benefits of doing so are questionable given the prevalence of negative interest rates and the sector-wide disdain for non-resident foreigners.
Make no mistake, the process is tedious — from registering your CPR number, to setting up your NemID, to designating a NemKonto, and negotiating your way into an account — but in the long run, you might find a bank account here is exactly what you’re looking for. Or not?
Much like the nation itself, it can be expensive and bureaucratic to get open an account in Denmark. But, once you finally get situated, you can enjoy streamlined efficiency and the benefits of banking with solid banks.
Ready to Explore Your Options?
If you still want to open a bank account in Denmark, we can help you find and open bank accounts in Denmark (or elsewhere) that meet your objectives.
But, if you want to know which specific banks will accept you, which account opening strategies to use, how to avoid high fees, and overcome tough paperwork requirements, then we’d be happy to help you on your journey.
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