Contrary to popular belief, not all European countries have converted to using the euro as their currency. In fact, all but one of the Scandinavian countries are still using their own currencies. Scandinavia includes Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland (though some quibble about Iceland). There is no “universal currency” to be used in these countries, and their currencies are not interchangeable, even if the currencies have the same name and local abbreviations.
In 1873, Denmark and Sweden established the Scandinavian Monetary Union to merge their currencies to a gold standard. Norway joined their ranks two years later. This meant that these countries now had one currency, called krona, with the same monetary value, with the exception that each of these countries minted their own coins. The three central banks acted as one Reserve Bank.
However, with the outbreak of World War I, the gold standard was abandoned and the Scandinavian Monetary Union disbanded. After the fallout, these countries decided to keep the currency, even if the values were separate from one another. And this remains the state of things. For instance, a Swedish crown, as it is more commonly known in English, cannot be used in Norway, and vice versa. Finland is an exception because it never joined the SMU, and it is the only country among its Nordic neighbors to use the euro.
The Danish kroner is the currency of both Denmark and Greenland, and the official abbreviation is DKK. Denmark abandoned the Danish rigsdaler when the Scandinavian Monetary Unit was established in favor of the new currency. The domestic abbreviations of kr or DKR can be seen on local price tags.
Technically, Iceland was also part of the Monetary Union since it fell under Danish dependency. When it gained independence as a country in 1918, Iceland also decided to stick to the krona currency, attaching its own value to it. The universal currency code for the Icelandic krona is ISK, with the same local abbreviation code of its fellow Scandinavian countries.
Sweden also uses the krona currency. The universal currency code for the Swedish krona is SEK, with the same “kr” abbreviation as Iceland and Denmark.
Norway replaced the Norwegian speciedaler to join up with the rest of its neighbors and use the krone. The currency code for the Norwegian krone is NOK. Again, the same regional abbreviation applies. This currency has been regarded as one of the strongest in the world since it reached impressive highs against the equally strong euro and U.S. dollar.
Finland opted to adopt the euro, taking a solo route from other countries in the Nordic region. It was the only Scandinavian country to openly embrace the change-over. Finland used the markka as its official currency from 1860 until 2002, when it officially accepted the euro.
Exchanging Money in Scandinavia
If you are planning a trip to more than one of these countries, it is not necessary to buy foreign currency from home. You will usually get a very good exchange rate at the banks in the arrival terminals. This eliminates the need to carry bulk loads of cash on you. You can also exchange money at any of the numerous ATMs for a nominal international handling fee. This will still be a more economical option than making use of an exchange office or kiosk. You should double check with your bank before you leave on your trip to be sure that your current ATM or debit card can be used outside the United States.