Denmark is regarded by many independent observers as one of the world’s most attractive business environments and is characterized by political, economic, and regulatory stability. It is a member of the European Union (EU) and Danish legislation and regulations conform to EU standards on virtually all issues. It maintains a fixed exchange rate policy, with the Danish Krone linked closely to the Euro. Denmark is a social welfare state with a thoroughly modern market economy, heavily driven by trade in goods and services. Exports account for about 55 percent of GDP. Economic conditions in its major trading partners – Germany, the United States, Sweden and the UK – have substantial impact on Danish national accounts.
Denmark is a net exporter of food, fossil fuels, chemicals and wind power, but depends on raw material imports for its manufacturing sector. Within the EU, Denmark is among the strongest supporters of liberal trade policy. Transparency International regularly ranks Denmark as having among the world’s lowest levels of perceived public sector corruption.
Denmark’s underlying macroeconomic conditions are healthy, and the investment climate is sound. Denmark is strategically situated to link continental Europe with the Nordic and Baltic countries. Transport and communications infrastructures are efficient. Denmark is among world leaders in high-tech industries such as information technology, life sciences, clean energy technologies, and shipping.
In mid-March 2020 Denmark committed up to 18% of GDP in fiscal stimulus to blunt the worst of the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. A protracted recovery is likely, and some business leaders are calling for longer-term measures to stimulate inward investment and support the export sector.
The entrepreneurial climate, including female-led entrepreneurship, is strong. Denmark expects to enact a Foreign Investment Screening mechanism in the fall of 2020 to ensure the integrity of critical infrastructure.
Note: Separate reports on the investment climates for Greenland and for the Faroe Islands can be found at the end of this report.
|TI Corruption Perceptions Index||2019||1 of 175||http://www.transparency.org/
|World Bank’s Doing Business Report||2019||4 of 190||http://www.doingbusiness.org/en/rankings|
|Global Innovation Index||2019||7 of 129||https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/
|U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions)||2018||USD 13.2 billion||http://apps.bea.gov/
|World Bank GNI per capita||2018||USD 60,140||http://data.worldbank.org/
1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment
Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment
A small country with an open economy, Denmark is highly dependent on foreign trade, with exports comprising the largest component (55 percent) of GDP. Danish trade and investment policies are liberal. In general, investment policies are forward-looking, aimed at fostering and developing businesses, especially in high-growth sectors. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) ranks it as the world’s second-most attractive business location after Singapore, and the leading nation in the region. The EIU characterizes Denmark’s business environment as among the most attractive in the world, reflecting an excellent infrastructure, a friendly policy towards private enterprise and competition, low bureaucracy and a well-developed digital sector.
Principal concerns include low productivity growth, a high personal tax burden and limited competition in a small group of industries. Overall, however, operating conditions for companies should remain broadly favorable. Denmark scores top marks in various categories, including the political and institutional environment, macroeconomic stability, foreign investment policy, private enterprise policy, financing, and infrastructure.
As of January 2020, the EIU rated Denmark an “AA” country on its Country Risk Service, with a stable outlook. Sovereign risk rated “AA,” and political risk “AAA.” Denmark ranked tenth out of 140 on the World Economic Forum’s 2019 Global Competitiveness Report, fourth on the World Bank’s 2020 Doing Business ranking, and seventh on the EIU 2019 Democracy Index. “The Big Three” credit rating agencies Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s, and Fitch Group all score Denmark AAA. “Invest in Denmark,” an agency of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and part of the Danish Trade Council, provides detailed information to potential investors. The website for the agency is .
Corporate tax records of all companies, associations and foundations that pay taxes in Denmark were made public beginning in December 2012 and are updated annually. The corporate tax rate is 22 percent.
Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment
As an EU member state, Denmark is bound by EU rules on free movement of goods, capital, persons and certain services. Denmark welcomes foreign investment and does not distinguish between EU and other investors. There are no additional permits required by foreign investors, nor any reported bias against foreign companies from municipal or national authorities.
Denmark’s central and regional governments actively encourage foreign investment on a national-treatment basis, with relatively few limits on foreign control. A foreign or domestic private entity may freely establish, own, and dispose of a business enterprise in Denmark. The capital requirement for establishing a corporation (A/S) or Limited Partnership (P/S) is DKK 400,000 (approx. USD 60,000) and for establishing a private limited liability company (ApS) DKK 40,000 (approx. USD 6,000).
As of 15 April 2019, it is no longer possible to set up an “Entrepreneurial Company” (IVS). The company type was intended to allow entrepreneurs a cheap and simple way to incorporate with limited liability, with a starting capital of only DKK1 (USD 0.16). Due to repeated instances of fraud and unintended use of the IVS, this vehicle was abolished within Denmark, but is still available in Greenland. In 2019, the capital requirements to set up a Private Limited Company were lowered, bringing Denmark more in line with other Scandinavian countries, and to ensure it will continue to be cheap and simple to establish limited liability companies in Denmark. No restrictions apply regarding the residency of directors and managers.
Since October 2004, any private entity may establish a European public limited company (SE company) in Denmark. The legal framework of an SE company is subject to Danish corporate law, but it is possible to change the nationality of the company without liquidation and re-founding. An SE company must be registered at the Danish Business Authority if the official address of the company is in Denmark. The minimum capital requirement is EUR 120,000 (approx. USD 131,000).
Danish professional certification and/or local Danish experience are required to provide professional services in Denmark. In some instances, Denmark may accept an equivalent professional certification from other EU or Nordic countries on a reciprocal basis. EU-wide residency requirements apply to the provision of legal and accountancy services.
Ownership restrictions are applied in the following sectors:
- Hydrocarbon exploration: Requires 20 percent Danish government participation on a “non-carried interest” basis.
- Defense materials: The law governing foreign ownership of Danish defense companies (L538 of May 26, 2010) stipulates that the Minister of Justice has to approve foreign ownership of more than 40 percent of the equity or more than 20 percent of the voting rights, or if foreign interests gain a controlling share in a defense company doing business in Denmark. This approval is generally granted unless there are security or other foreign policy considerations weighing against approval.
- Maritime: There are foreign (non-EU resident) ownership requirements on Danish-flagged vessels other than those owned by an enterprise incorporated in Denmark. Ships owned by Danish citizens, Danish partnerships or Danish limited liability companies are eligible for registration in the Danish International Ships Register (DIS). Ships owned by EU or European Economic Area (EEA) entities with a genuine link to Denmark are also eligible for registration, and foreign companies with a significant Danish interest can register a ship in the DIS.
- Aviation: For an airline to be established in Denmark it must have majority ownership and be effectively controlled by an EU state or a national of an EU state, unless otherwise provided for through an international agreement to which the EU is a signatory.
- Securities Trading: Non-resident financial institutions may engage in securities trading on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange only through subsidiaries incorporated in Denmark.
- Real Estate: Purchases of designated vacation properties, or ‘summer houses’, are restricted to citizens of Denmark. Such properties, located in municipally designated ‘summer house area’ zones, typically coastlines, may not be inhabited year-round. EU citizens and companies from EU member states can purchase any type of real estate, except vacation properties, without prior authorization from the authorities. Companies and individuals from non-EU countries that have been present/resident in Denmark for at least five years in total and are currently resident in Denmark can also purchase real estate, except vacation properties, without prior authorization. Non-EU companies or individuals that do not meet these requirements can only purchase real estate with the permission of the Danish Ministry of Justice. Permission is freely given to people with a Danish residency permit, except for purchases of vacation properties.
Other Investment Policy Reviews
The most recent UNCTAD review of Denmark occurred in March 2013, available here: . There is no specific mention of Denmark in the latest WTO Trade Policy Review of the European Union, revised in December 2019.
Denmark ranked first out of 180 in Transparency International’s 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index. It received a ranking of 4 out of 190 for “Ease of Doing Business” in the World Bank’s 2020 Doing Business Report, placing it first in Europe. In the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness report for 2019, Denmark was ranked 10 out of 141 countries.
The World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) Global Innovation Index ranked Denmark 7 out of 129 in 2019.
The Danish Business Authority (DBA) is responsible for business registrations in Denmark. As a part of the Danish Business Authority, “Business in Denmark” provides information on relevant Danish rules and online registrations to foreign companies in English. The Danish business registration website is . It is the main digital tool for licensing and registering companies in Denmark and offers a business registration process that is clear and complete.
Registration of sole proprietorships and partnerships is free of charge, while there is a fee for registration of other business types: DKK 670 (USD 100) if the registration is done digitally and DKK 2150 (USD 323) if the registration form is sent by e-mail or post.
The process for establishing a new business is distinct from that of registration. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs “Invest in Denmark” program provides a step-by-step guide to establishing a business at https://investindk.com/-/media/invest-in-denmark/publications/business-conditions/investindk-fact-sheet-step-by-step-web.ashx, along with other relevant resources which can be found here: . The services are free of charge and available to all investors, regardless of country of origin.
Processing time for establishing a new business varies depending on the chosen business entity. Establishing a Danish Limited Liability Company (Anpartsselskab – ApS), for example, generally takes four to six weeks for a standard application. Establishing a sole proprietorship (Enkeltmandsvirksomhed) is simpler, with processing generally taking about one week.
Those providing temporary services in Denmark must provide their company details to the Registry of Foreign Service Providers (RUT). The website ( ) provides English guidance on how to register a service with RUT. A digital employee’s signature, referred to as a NemID, is required for those wishing to register a foreign company in Denmark. A CPR number (a 10-digit personal identification number) and valid ID are needed to obtain a NemID. Danish citizenship is not a requirement.
In the Danish Financial Statements Act no. 1580 of 10 January 2015 section 7(2), small enterprises are defined as enterprises with fewer than 50 employees and whose annual turnover does not exceed DKK 89 million (approx. USD 13.3 million) or annual balance sheet total does not exceed DKK 44 million (approx. USD 6.6 million). Medium-sized enterprises are defined as enterprises with fewer than 250 employees and either have an annual turnover that does not exceed DKK 313 million (approx. USD 46.9 million) or annual balance sheet total does not exceed DKK 156 million (approx. USD 23.4 million).
Danish companies are not restricted from investing abroad, and Danish outward investment has exceeded inward investments for more than a decade.
3. Legal Regime
Transparency of the Regulatory System
The judicial system is extremely well-regarded and considered fair. The legal system is independent of the legislative branch of the government and is based on a centuries-old legal tradition. It includes written and consistently applied commercial and bankruptcy laws. Secured interests in property are recognized and enforced. The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) 2019 Global Competitiveness Report, which ranks Denmark as the world’s tenth most competitive economy and fourth among EU member states, characterizes it as having among the best functioning and most transparent institutions in the world. Denmark ranks high on specific WEF indices related to macroeconomic stability (1st), labor market (3rd), business dynamism (3rd), Institutions (7th), ICT adoption (9th) and Skills (3rd).
To facilitate business administration, Denmark maintains only two “legislative days” per year—January 1st and July 1st—as the only days on which new laws and regulations affecting the business sector can come into effect. Danish laws and policies granting national treatment to foreign investments are designed to increase FDI in Denmark. Denmark consistently applies high standards to health, environment, safety, and labor laws. Danish corporate law is generally in conformity with current EU legislation. The legal, regulatory and accounting systems are relatively transparent and in accordance with international standards.
Bureaucratic procedures are stream-lined and transparent, and proposed laws and regulations are published in draft form for public comment. Public finances and debt obligations are transparent.
As of December 19, 2012, the Ministry of Taxation made all companies’ corporate tax records public, and it updates and publicizes them annually. The publication is intended to increase transparency and public scrutiny of corporate tax payments. Greenland and the Faroe Islands retain autonomy with regards to tax policy.
The government uses transparent policies and effective laws to foster competition and establish “clear rules of the game,” consistent with international norms and applicable equally to Danish and foreign entities. The Danish Competition and Consumer Authority works to make markets well-functioning so businesses compete efficiently on all parameters. The Authority is a government agency under the Danish Ministry of Industry, Business and Financial Affairs. It enforces the Danish Competition Act. The purpose of the Act and Danish consumer legislation is to promote efficient resource allocation in society, to prevent the restriction of efficient competition, to create a level playing field for enterprises and to protect consumers.
Publicly listed companies in Denmark must adhere to the Danish Financial Statements Act when preparing their annual reports. The accounting principles are International Accounting Standards (IAS), International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and Danish Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). Financial statements must be prepared annually. The Danish Financial Statements Act covers all businesses.
Private limited companies, public limited companies and corporate funds are obliged to prepare financial statements in accordance with accounting classes determined by company size:
- Small businesses (Class B): Total assets of DKK 44 million (USD 6.7 million), net revenue of DKK 89 million (USD 13.5 million), average number of full-time employees during the financial year of 50.
- Medium-sized enterprises (Class C medium): Total assets of DKK 156 million (USD 23.7 million), net revenue of DKK 313 million (USD 47.5 million), average number of full-time employees during the financial year of 250.
- Large companies (Class C large): Companies that are neither small nor medium companies.
According to the Danish Financial Statements Act, personally owned businesses, personally owned general partnerships (multiple owners) and general funds are characterized as Class A and thus have no requirement to prepare financial statements unless the owner voluntarily chooses to do so.
All government draft proposed regulations are published at the portal for public hearings, “Høringsportalen” ( ), to solicit input from interested parties. After receiving feedback and possibly undergoing amendments, proposed regulations are published at the Danish Parliament’s website (www.ft.dk). Final regulations are published at and . All ministries and agencies are required to publish proposed regulations. Denmark has a World Bank composite score of “4.75” for the Global Indicators of Regulatory Governance, on a 0 – 5 scale. With respect to governance, the World Bank suggests the following areas for improvement:
- Affected parties cannot request reconsideration or appeal adopted regulations to the relevant administrative agency
- There is no existing requirement that regulations be periodically reviewed to see whether they are still needed or should be revised.
International Regulatory Considerations
Denmark adheres to the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMs); no inconsistencies have been reported.
Legal System and Judicial Independence
Since the adoption of the Danish constitution in 1849, decision-making power in Denmark has been divided into the legislative, executive and judicial branches. The principle of a three-way separation of power and the independence of courts of law help ensure democracy and the legal rights of the country’s citizens. The district courts, the high courts and the Supreme Court represent the three basic levels of the Danish legal system, but the legal system also comprises a range of other institutions with special functions.
Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment
The government agency “Invest in Denmark” is part of the Danish Trade Council and is situated within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The agency provides detailed information to potential investors. The website for the agency is . The Faroese government promotes Faroese trade and investment through its website . For more information regarding investment potential in Greenland, please see Greenland Holding at or the Greenland Tourism & Business Council at .
As an EU member state, Denmark is bound by EU rules on the free movement of goods, capital, persons and certain services. Denmark welcomes foreign investment and does not distinguish between EU and other investors. There are no additional permits required of foreign investors, nor any reported biases against foreign companies from municipal or national authorities.
The Danish government plans to introduce legislation to establish a foreign investment screening mechanism, late in 2020. The screening mechanism would be in line with the EU investment screening framework encouraging member states to screen foreign investments in critical infrastructure and strategic sectors.
Competition and Anti-Trust Laws
The Danish Competition and Consumer Authority (CCA) reviews transactions for competition-related concerns. According to the Danish Competition Act, the CCA requires notification of mergers and takeovers if the aggregate annual turnover in Denmark of all undertakings involved is more than DKK 900 million and the aggregate annual turnover in Denmark of each of at least two of the undertakings concerned is more than DKK 100 million; or the aggregate annual turnover in Denmark of at least one of the undertakings involved is more than DKK 3.8 billion and the aggregate annual worldwide turnover of at least one of the other undertakings concerned is more than DKK 3.8 billion. Where a merger is a result of the acquisition of parts of one or more undertakings, the calculation of the turnover referred to shall only comprise the share of the turnover of the seller or sellers that relates to the assets acquired. The merger control provisions are contained in Part four of the and in Executive . Turnover is calculated in a accordance with Executive
A full notification of a merger must include the information and documents specified in the full notification form; cf. A simplified notification of a merger must include the information and documents specified in the simplified notification form; cf. From 1st August 2013 merger fees are payable for merger notifications submitted to the Competition and Consumer Authority. The fee for a simplified notification amounts DKK 50,000. The fee for a full notification amounts 0,015 per cent of the aggregate annual turnover in Denmark of the undertakings involved, however maximum DKK 1,500,000. If the merger has already been notified through a simplified notification and the payment of DKK 50,000, but the Competition and Consumer Authority has required a full notification, a full notification shall be submitted together with a fee amounting 0,015 per cent of the aggregate annual turnover in Denmark of the undertakings involved, less DKK 50,000, however maximum DKK 1,500,000.
A merger or takeover is subject to approval by the CCA. Large scale mergers also require approval from EU Competition authorities.
Expropriation and Compensation
By law, private property can only be expropriated for public purposes, in a non-discriminatory manner, with reasonable compensation, and in accordance with established principles of international law. There have been no recent expropriations of significance in Denmark.
ICSID Convention and New York Convention
There have been no major disputes over investment in Denmark in recent years. Denmark has been a member of the World Bank-based International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) since 1968. ICSID offices have also been extended to the Faroe Islands and Greenland. Denmark is a party to the 1958 (New York) Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, meaning local courts must enforce international arbitration awards that meet certain criteria. Subsequent Danish legislation makes international arbitration of investment disputes binding in Denmark. Denmark declared in 1976 that the New York Convention applies to the Faroe Islands and Greenland. Denmark is a party to the 1961 European Convention on International Commercial Arbitration and to the 1962 Agreement relating to the application of this Convention. Denmark adopted the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration in 1985.
Monetary judgments under the bankruptcy law are made in freely convertible Danish Kroner. The bankruptcy law addresses creditors’ claims against a bankruptcy in the following order: (1) costs and debt accrued during the treatment of the bankruptcy; (2) costs, including the court tax, relating to attempts to find a solution other than bankruptcy; (3) wage claims and holiday pay; (4) excise taxes owed to the government; and (5) all other claims. In the World Bank’s 2020 Doing Business Report, Denmark ranks 6th in “resolving insolvency.”
4. Industrial Policies
Performance incentives are available both to foreign and domestic investors. For instance, foreign and domestic investors in designated regional development areas may take advantage of certain grants and access to preferential financing. Investments in Greenland may be eligible for incentives as well. Foreign subsidiaries located in Denmark can participate in government-financed or subsidized research programs on a national-treatment basis.
Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation
The only free port in Denmark is the Copenhagen Free Port, operated by the Port of Copenhagen. The Port of Copenhagen and the Port of Malmo (Sweden) merged their commercial operations in 2001, including the free port activities, in a joint company named CMP. CMP is one of the largest port and terminal operators in the Nordic Region and one of the largest Northern European cruise-ship ports; it occupies a key position in the Baltic Sea Region for the distribution of cars and transit of oil. The facilities in the free port are mostly used for tax-free warehousing of imported goods, for exports, and for in-transit trade. Tax and duties are not payable until cargo leaves the Free Port. The processing of cargo and the preparation and finishing of imported automobiles for sale can freely be set up in the Free Port. Manufacturing operations can be established with permission of the customs authorities, which is granted if special reasons exist for having the facility in the Free Port area. The Copenhagen Free Port welcomes foreign companies establishing warehouse and storage facilities.
Performance and Data Localization Requirements
Performance requirements are applied only in connection with investment in hydrocarbon exploration, where concession terms normally require a fixed work program, including seismic surveys and in some cases exploratory drilling, consistent with applicable EU directives. Performance requirements are mostly designed to protect the environment, mainly through encouraging reduced use of energy and water. Several environmental and energy requirements are systematically imposed on households as well as businesses in Denmark, both foreign and domestic. For instance, Denmark was the first of the EU countries, in January 1993, to introduce a carbon dioxide (CO2) tax on business and industry. This includes certain reimbursement schemes and subsidy measures to reduce the costs for businesses, thereby safeguarding competitiveness.
Performance requirements are governed by Danish legislation and EU regulations. Potential violations of the rules governing this area are punishable by fines or imprisonment.
Performance requirements are applied uniformly to domestic and foreign investors.
The Danish government does not follow “forced localization” policies, nor does it require foreign IT providers to turn over source code and/or provide access to surveillance. The Danish Data Protection Agency, a government agency, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry for Culture are the entities involved with data storage.
5. Protection of Property Rights
Property rights in Denmark are well protected by law and in practice. Real estate is chiefly financed through the well-established Danish mortgage bond credit system, the security of which compares to that of government bonds. To comply with the covered bond definition in the EU Capital Requirements Directive (CRD), the Danish mortgage banking regulation was amended effective July 1, 2007. With the amended Danish mortgage banking regulation, commercial banks now have the same opportunities as mortgage banks and ship-financing institutions to issue covered bonds. Only issuers that have been granted a license from the Danish Financial Supervisory Authority (FSA) are able to issue Danish covered bonds.
Secured interests in property are recognized and enforced in Denmark. All mortgage credits in real estate are recorded in local public registers of mortgages. Except for interests in cars and commercial ships, which are also publicly recorded, other property interests are generally unrecorded. The local public registers are a reliable system of recording security interests. Denmark is ranked 11th in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 Report for its ease of “registering property.” Denmark ranked 13th out of 129 countries in the Property Rights Alliance’s International Property Rights Index 2019, and 7th in its region.
Intellectual Property Rights
Intellectual property rights (IPR) in Denmark are well protected and enforced. Denmark has ratified and adheres to key international conventions and treaties concerning protection of IP rights, including the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and a number of treaties administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), including the Berne Convention, the Paris Convention, the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), the WIPO Copyright Treaty, and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty. In 2019, the Property Rights Alliance ranked Denmark 13th out of 131 countries overall in their International Property Rights Index and 7th in Western Europe.
A list of attorneys in Denmark known to accept foreign clients can be found at . This list of attorneys and law firms is provided by the American Embassy as a convenience to U.S. citizens. It is not intended to be a comprehensive list of attorneys in Denmark, and the absence of an attorney from the list is in no way a reflection on competence. A complete list of attorneys in Denmark, Greenland and the Faeroe Islands may be found at the Danish Bar Association web site: www.advokatnoeglen.dk.
6. Financial Sector
Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment
Denmark has fully liberalized foreign exchange flows, including those for direct and portfolio investment purposes. Credit is allocated on market terms and freely available. Denmark adheres to its IMF Article VIII obligations. The Danish banking system is under the regulatory oversight of the Financial Supervisory Authority. Differentiated voting rights – A and B stocks – are used to some extent, and several Danish companies are controlled by foundations, which can restrict potential hostile takeovers, including foreign takeovers.
The Danish stock market functions efficiently. In 2005, the Copenhagen Stock Exchange became part of the integrated Nordic and Baltic marketplace, OMX Exchanges, which is headquartered in Stockholm. Besides Stockholm and Copenhagen, OMX also includes the stock exchanges in Helsinki, Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius. In order to increase the access to capital for primarily small companies, the OMX in December 2005 opened a Nordic alternative marketplace – “First North” – in Denmark. In February 2008, the exchanges were acquired by the NASDAQ-OMX Group. In the World Economic Forum 2019 report, Denmark ranks 11th out of 141 on the metric “Financial System”.
The Danish stock market is divided into four different branches/indexes. The C25 index contains the 25 most valuable companies in Denmark. Other large companies with a market value exceeding USD 1.1 billion (EUR 1 billion) are in the group of “Large Cap,” companies with a market value between USD 170 million (EU 150 million) and USD 1.1 billion belong to the “Mid Cap” segment, while companies with a market value smaller than USD 170 million belong to “Small Cap” group.
Money and Banking System
The major Danish banks are rated by international agencies, and their creditworthiness is rated as high by international standards. The European Central Bank and the Danish National Bank reported that Denmark’s major banks have passed stress tests by considerable margins.
Denmark’s banking sector is relatively large; based on the ratio of consolidated banking assets to GDP, the sector is three times bigger than the national economy. Before 2020, the total of Danish shares valued DKK 3,190 billion, (USD 778 billion) and were owned 51.3 percent by foreign owners and 48.7 percent by Danish owners, including 12.5 percent held by households and 5,4 percent by the government. The assets of the three largest Danish banks – Danske Bank, Nordea Bank Danmark, and Jyske Bank – constitute approximately 75 percent of the total assets in the Danish banking sector.
Denmark’s biggest systemically important bank, Danske Bank, with assets that are roughly 1 1/2 times Denmark’s total GDP, is under criminal investigation in several jurisdictions amid accusations an Estonian branch became a European hub for money launderers from Russia. The bank has admitted that a significant part of about EUR 200 billion (USD 230 billion) that flowed through the non-resident portfolio of its tiny Estonian branch between 2007 and 2015 could have illicit origins. The scandal has led to significant tightening of financial regulation, including increasing penalties by up to 700 percent and increased funding for the Financial Supervisory Authority.
The primary goal of the Central Bank (Nationalbanken) is to keep the peg of the Danish currency to the Euro – with allowed fluctuations of 2.25 percent. It also functions as the general lender to Danish commercial banks and controls the money supply in the economy.
As occurred in many countries, Danish banks experienced significant turbulence in 2008 – 2009. The Danish Parliament subsequently passed a series of measures to establish a “safety net” program, provide government lending to financial institutions in need of capital to uphold their solvency requirements, and ensure the orderly winding down of failed banks. The Parliament passed an additional measure, the fourth Bank Package, in August 2011, which sought to identify systemically important financial institutions, ensure the liquidity of banks which assume control of a troubled bank, support banks acquiring troubled banks by allowing them to write off obligations of the troubled bank to the government, and change the funding mechanism for the sector-funded guarantee fund to a premiums-based, pay-as-you-go system. According to the Danish Government, Bank Package 4 provides mechanisms for a sector solution to troubled banks without senior debt holder losses but does not supersede earlier legislation. As such, senior debt holder losses are still a possibility in the event of a bank failure.
On October 10, 2013, the Danish Minister for Business and Growth concluded a political agreement with broad political support which, based on the most recent financial statements, identified specific financial institutions as “systemically important” (SIFI). The SIFI in Denmark at the end of 2019 were Danske Bank A/S, Nykredit Realkredit A/S, Jyske Bank A/S, Nordea Kredit Realkredit A/S, Sydbank A/S, Spar Nord Bank A/S and DLR Kredit A/S. These were identified based on three quantitative measures: 1) a balance sheet to GDP ratio above 6.5 percent; 2) market share of lending in Denmark above 5 percent; or 3) market share of deposits in Denmark above 3 percent. If an institution is above the requirement of any one of the three measures, it will be considered systemically important and must adhere to the stricter requirements on capitalization, liquidity and resolution. The Faroese SIFI are P/F BankNordik, Betri Banki P/F and Norðoya Sparikassi, while Grønlandsbanken is the only SIFI in Greenland.
Experts expect a revision of the Danish system of troubled financial institution resolution mechanisms in connection with a decision to join the EU Banking Union. The national payment system, “Nets” was sold to a consortium consisting of Advent International Corp., Bain Capital LLC, and Danish pension fund ATP in March 2014 for DKK 17 billion (USD 2.58 billion). Nets went public with an IPO late 2016.
Foreign Exchange and Remittances
Exchange rate conversions throughout this document are based on the 2019 average exchange rate where Danish Kroner (DKK) 6.6703 = 1 USD (USD)
There are no restrictions on converting or transferring funds associated with an investment into or out of Denmark. Policies in place are intended to facilitate the free flow of capital and to support the flow of resources in the product and services markets. Foreign investors can obtain credit in the local market at normal market terms, and a wide range of credit instruments is available.
Denmark has not adopted the Euro currency. The country meets the EU’s economic convergence criteria for membership and can join if it wishes to do so. Denmark conducts a fixed exchange rate policy with the Danish Krone linked closely to the Euro within the framework of ERM II. The Danish Krone (DKK; plural: Kroner, in English, “the Crown”) has a fluctuation band of +/- 2.25 percent of the central rate of DKK 746.038 per 100 Euro. The Danish Government supports inclusion in a European Banking Union, as long as it can be harmonized with the Danish Euro opt-out and there is a guarantee that the Danish mortgage finance system will be allowed to continue in its present form.
The Danish political reservation concerning Euro participation can only be abolished by national referendum, and Danish voters have twice (in 1992 and 2000) voted it down. The government has stated that in principle it supports adopting the Euro, but no referendum is expected for the foreseeable future. Regular polling on this issue shows a majority of public opinion remains in favor of keeping the Krone. According to the Stability and Growth Pact, a Euro country’s debt to GDP ratio cannot exceed 60 percent and budget deficit to GDP ratio cannot exceed 3 percent. Denmark’s debt to GDP ratio was 33.2 percent by the end of 2019, down from 33.9 percent in 2018. Denmark ran a budget surplus of 3.7 percent in 2019 and of 0.7 percent in 2018, well within Stability & Growth Pact parameters.
Sovereign Wealth Funds
Denmark maintains no sovereign wealth funds.
7. State-Owned Enterprises
Denmark is party to the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) within the framework of the World Trade Organization (WTO). State owned entities (SOEs) hold dominant positions in rail, energy, utility and broadcast media in Denmark. Large scale public procurement must go through public tender in accordance with EU legislation. Competition from SOEs is not considered a barrier to foreign investment in Denmark. As an OECD member, Denmark promotes and upholds the OECD Corporate Governance Principals and subsidiary SOE Guidelines.
Denmark has no current plans to privatize its SOEs.
8. Responsible Business Conduct
As an OECD member, Denmark promotes, through the Danish Business Authority, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Denmark’s National Contact Point can be reached at:
From January 1, 2016, the largest companies, cf. the Danish Financial Statements Act section 99 a, must account for their responsible business conduct, including with respect to human rights and to reducing the climate impact of the company’s activities. At the same time, cf. section 99b target figures for the gender composition of the Board of Directors, as well as policies for increasing the proportion of the underrepresented gender at the company’s management levels, must be reported. From January 2018, the mandate also applies to medium sized businesses (exempting small- and micro- companies).
The Danish Business Authority published a National Action Plan to advance Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) in Denmark in 2012, covering the 2012 – 2015 period. It contained 42 initiatives focusing on business-driven CSR. In October 2019, the government launched a public hearing process to “to investigate how reporting can be made more comparable and create more transparency for the benefit of society and the companies themselves. The purpose is to increase transparency about whether companies are living up to their corporate social responsibility, that sustainable companies have better access to investment and that companies experience a positive value from their CSR reporting.” The government expects the process to result in recommendations by fall 2020.The government hosts , (English language version ) a free online tool that can help companies implement responsible supply chain management. The tool is targeted at small and medium-sized production, trade and service companies. The structure of the CSR Compass and its advice and guidelines are in line with national and international trends and best practice standards, including the UN Global Compact, OECD’s guidelines for multinational companies, Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI), the Danish Ethical Trading Initiative (DIEH) and the Danish Council on Corporate Social Responsibility’s guidelines for responsible supply chain management.
Denmark is perceived as the least corrupt country in the world according to the 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International, which has local representation in Denmark. The Ministry of Justice is responsible for combating corruption, which is covered under the Danish Penal Code. Penalties for violations range from fines to imprisonment of up to four years for a private individual’s involvement and up to six years for a public employee’s involvement. Since 1998, Danish businesses cannot claim a tax deduction for the cost of bribes paid to officials abroad.
Denmark is a signatory to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery, the UN Anticorruption Convention, and a participating member of the OECD Working Group on Bribery. In the Working Group’s 2015 Phase 3 follow-up report on Denmark, the Working Group concluded “that Denmark has partially implemented most of its Phase 3 recommendations. However, concerns remain over Denmark’s enforcement of the foreign bribery offence.”
Resources to Report Corruption
Resources to which corruption may be reported:
The Danish State Prosecutor for Serious Economic and International Crime,
1604 København V.
Phone: +45 72 68 90 00
Fax: +45 45 15 01 19
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark’s development assistance agency DANIDA to report any knowledge of corruption within DANIDA projects or among staff or DANIDA partners.
Transparency International Danmark
Dalgas Have 15, 2. sal, lokale 2c008
The Secretariat is manned by Julian Bøje Ekberg and Rosa Bisgaard who can be reached at email@example.com
Contact at Embassy Copenhagen responsible for combating corruption:
U.S. Department of State
Dag Hammarskjolds Alle 24, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
+45 3341 7100
10. Political and Security Environment
Denmark is a politically stable country. Incidents involving politically motivated damage to projects or installations are very rare. This is reflected in the EIU’s “AAA” rating of Denmark in terms of political risk.
11. Labor Policies and Practices
The Danish labor force is generally well-educated and efficient. English language skills are good, and English is considered a natural second language among a very high proportion of Danes. The labor market is stable and flexible. U.S. companies operating in Denmark have indicated that Danish rules on the hiring and firing of employees generally enable employers to adjust the workforce quickly to changing market conditions.
The Danish labor force amounted to approximately 3 million people at the end of 2019. Of these, 891,000 (Q4, 2019) are employed in the public sector. Denmark’s OECD-harmonized unemployment rate was 4.8 percent in March 2020, relative to the EU-28 6.2 percent and OECD 5.56 percent averages.
The public sector in Denmark is large and accounts for about 25 percent of the employment at full-time equivalence. The labor force participation rate for women is among the highest in the world. In 2019, 76.1 percent of working-age women participated in the labor force and the employment rate was 72.0 percent. The male labor force participation rate and employment rate were 82.0 percent and 78.0 percent, respectively.
The Danish labor force is highly organized, with approximately 75 percent belonging to a union. Labor disputes and strikes occur only sporadically. In general, private sector labor/ management relations are excellent, based on dialogue and consensus rather than confrontation. Working conditions are laid down in a complex system of legislation and organizational agreements, where most aspects of wage and working conditions are determined through collective bargaining rather than legislation.
The contractual workweek for most wage earners is 37 and 1/2 hours. By law, employees are entitled to five weeks of paid annual leave. In practice, most of the labor force has the right to six weeks of paid annual leave, gained through other labor market agreements.
Denmark has well-functioning unemployment insurance and sick-pay schemes, self-financed or financed by the state. Maternity leave in Denmark is 52 weeks, 18 of which are reserved for the mother (4 weeks prior to birth, 14 after) and two for the father, while the remainder may be divided between the parents as they see fit. Employers are obliged to pay salary for at least 14 weeks, while the government supports the remainder of the leave. Forthcoming EU legislation will reserve 8 of the weeks’ leave to fathers. The legislation is expected to be enacted in member states before 2022.
Danish wages are high by international standards and have prompted the use of capital-intensive technologies in many sectors. Some investors report that the high average wage level is detrimental to Danish competitiveness. Although high wages and generous benefits including time off reduce competitiveness, high productivity and low direct costs to employers can result in per employee costs that are lower than in other industrialized countries. Nominal wages increased by 2.2 percent from Q4 2018 to Q4 2019, while inflation was 0.8 percent in 2019, unchanged from 2018, enhancing real wage increases. Nominal wages were forecast to increase significantly annually towards 2022, but the current situation makes forecasts highly uncertain.
Generally, personal income tax rates in Denmark are among the highest in the world. However, foreign employees making more than an amount specified annually by the Danish Immigration Service and certain researchers may choose to be subject to a 27 percent income tax rate, plus a labor market contribution amounting to 32.84 percent income tax in the first seven years of working in Denmark. Certain conditions must be fulfilled for key employees to be eligible for the 27 percent tax scheme: for example, since January 1, 2020, wages must total at least DKK 68,100 (USD 10,2000) per month before the deduction of labor market contributions, and after Danish labor market supplementary pension contributions. There are also limits based on an individual’s previous work history in the Danish labor market. Compared with the general Danish progressive income tax system, this is an attractive incentive. Further information can be obtained from Danish embassies or from the Danish Immigration Service ( ).
Danish work permits are not required for citizens of EU countries. U.S. companies have reported that in general, work permits for foreign managerial staff may be readily obtained. However, permits for non-managerial workers from countries outside the EU and the Nordic countries are granted only if substantial professional or labor-related conditions warrant. Special rules detailed by the Danish Immigration Service in its “Positive List Scheme” apply to certain professional fields experiencing a shortage of qualified manpower. The list is updated twice annually. Foreigners who have been hired in the designated fields will be immediately eligible for residence and work permits. The minimum educational level required for a position on the Positive List is a Professional Bachelor’s degree, e.g. pedagogue. In some cases, a Danish authorization must be obtained. This is explicitly stated on the Positive List. (E.g., non-Danish trained doctors must be authorized by the Danish Patient Safety Authority.) Professions covered by the Positive List Scheme included engineers, scientists, doctors, nurses, IT specialists, marine biologists, lawyers, accountants and a wide range of other master’s or bachelor’s degree positions. As of 2020, the Pay Limit Scheme extends to positions with an annual pay of no less than DKK 436,000 (USD 65,370), regardless of the field or specific nature of the job. Persons who have been offered a highly paid job have particularly easy access to the Danish labor market through the Pay Limit Scheme. The length of work and residence permits granted under the Pay Limit Scheme depends on the length of the employment contract in Denmark. For permanent employment contracts, work permits are granted for an initial period of 4 years. After this period the permit can be extended if the same job is held. There are several other schemes meant to make it easier for certified companies to bring employees with special skills or qualifications to Denmark. These schemes vary in duration and requirements.
Danish immigration law also allows issuance of residency permits of up to 18 months duration based on an individual evaluation, using a point system based on education, language skills and adaptability.
Denmark has ratified all eight ILO Core Conventions and been an ILO member since 1919.
12. U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and Other Investment Insurance Programs
As a high-income country, Denmark does not generally qualify for DFC support for projects. However, the European Energy Security and Diversification Act of 2019 permits DFC support for qualified European energy projects, as well as projects designed to preempt or counter efforts by a strategic competitor of the United States to secure significant political or economic leverage or acquire national security-sensitive technologies or infrastructure in a country that is an ally or partner of the United States.
DFC programs may also be used by at least 95 percent U.S.-owned subsidiaries in Denmark to support their investments in qualifying countries. Denmark is a member of the World Bank Group’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA).
13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics
|Direct Investment from/in Counterpart Economy Data|
|From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions)|
|Inward Direct Investment||Outward Direct Investment|
|Total Inward||139,745||100%||Total Outward||222,159||100%|
|Netherlands #1||23,130||16.6%||Sweden #1||31,813||14.3%|
|Sweden #2||18,675||13.4%||UK #2||28,050||12.6%|
|UK #3||13,839||9.9%||Germany #3||24,043||10.8%|
|Luxembourgh #4||12,808||9.2%||Switzerland #4||19,612||8.8%|
|Norway #5||12,335||8.8%||United States #5||17,619||7.9%|
|“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.|
|Portfolio Investment Assets|
|Top Five Partners (Millions, current US Dollars) June 2019|
|Total||Equity Securities||Total Debt Securities|
|All Countries||532,250||100%||All Countries||318,853||100%||All Countries||213,397||100%|
|United States||164,386||30.9%||United States||127,655||40%||Germany||50,529||23.7%|
14. Contact for More Information
U.S. Embassy Denmark
Dag Hammarskjolds Alle 24,
2100 Copenhagen, Denmark