A Guide to the Euro, the Currency of Finland

It was the markka until 2002, when the euro replaced it.

Helsinki cityscape at night in Finland capital city.
Helsinki, Finland's capital city, at night. Didier Marti / Getty Images

Unlike Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, Finland never formed part of the old Scandinavian Monetary Union, which used the gold-pegged krona/krone from 1873 until its dissolution at the start of WWI in 1914. For its part, Finland continued to use its own currency, the markka, uninterrupted from 1860 until February 2002, when the markka officially ceased to be legal tender.

Finland had acceded to the European Union (EU) in 1995 and it joined the eurozone in 1999, completing the transition process in 2002 when it introduced the euro as its official currency. At the point of conversion, the markka had a fixed rate of six markka to one euro. Today, Finland is the only Nordic country to use the euro.

Finland and the Euro

In January 1999, Europe moved toward monetary union with the introduction of the euro as the official currency in 11 countries. While all other Scandinavian countries resisted joining the so-called eurozone, Finland embraced the idea of converting to the euro to stabilize its floundering monetary system and economy.

The country has incurred substantial debt in the 1980s, which came due in the 1990s. Finland lost important bilateral trade with the Soviet Union after its collapse, concomitantly suffering depressed trade with the West as well. This led to a 12 percent devaluation of the Finnish markka in 1991 and the severe Finish depression of 1991–1993, resulting in the markka losing 40 percent of its value. Today, Finland's main export partners are Germany, Sweden, and the United States, while its main import partners are Germany, Sweden, and Russia, according to the EU.

Finland and Global Financial Crises

Finland joined the Third Phase of the Economic and Monetary Union in in May 1998 before adopting the new currency on January 1, 1999. Members of the union didn’t start using the euro as hard currency until 2002 when euro banknotes and coins were introduced for the first time. At that time, the markka was completely withdrawn from circulation in Finland. The euro is now one of the world's most powerful currencies; 19 of 28 EU member countries have adopted the euro as their common currency and sole legal tender.

 

So far, the Finnish economy performed relatively well after joining the EU. The country received much needed financial support, which, as hoped, formed a buffer against the trade effects of the Russian financial crisis of 1998 and the severe Russian recession of 2008-2009. 

But these days, Finland's economy is again floundering, unable to recover completely from the 2008 global financial crisis, the euro crisis that followed, and the substantial loss of high-tech jobs after failing to keep pace with the innovations of Apple and others.

Finland and Exchanging Currency

The euro is denominated as € (or EUR). Notes are valued in 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 euro, while coins are valued at 5, 10, and 20, 50 cents, and 1 and 2 euro. The 1 and 2 cent coins used by other eurozone countries were not adopted in Finland.

When visiting Finland, amounts exceeding EUR 10,000 must be declared if you are traveling to or from a country outside the European Union. There are no restrictions on all major types of debit and credit cards, which means they can be used freely. When exchanging currency, consider using only banks and ATMs for the best rate. In general, local banks are open from 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. weekdays.

Finland and Monetary Policy

The following, from the Bank of Finland, describes the broad framework of the country's euro-centered monetary policy:

"The Bank of Finland acts as Finland's central bank, national monetary authority, and member of the European System of central banks and the Eurosystem. The Eurosystem covers the European Central Bank and the euro area central banks. It administers the world's second largest currency, the euro. There are over 300 million people living in the euro area....Therefore, the Bank of Finland's strategies are related to both domestic and Eurosystem objectives."