Etiquette in Denmark

Once the seat of Viking raiders and later a major north European power, Denmark has evolved into a modern, prosperous nation that is participating in the general political and economic integration of Europe. It joined NATO in 1949 and the EEC (now the EU) in 1973. However, the country has opted out of certain elements of the European Union's Maastricht Treaty, including the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), European defense cooperation, and issues concerning certain justice and home affairs.

Information from the CIA World Factbook. For more information, please click here.

The Kingdom of Denmark is located in Northern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, and Germany. Its total area is 43,094 square kilometers (most of it in the form of land). Denmark's total population is 5,556,452 (as of July 2013), most of which are Scandinavian, Inuit, Faroese, German, Turkish, Iranian, and Somali ethnic groups.

Information from the CIA World Factbook. For more information, please click here.

Danish people are highly regarded in a wide variety of fields including as science, art, and architecture. They are also extremely proud of well-structured educational system. While stable family life is something Danes value, Denmark has one of the highest divorce rates in Europe.

Material adapted from eDiplomat. For more information, please click here.

Because of the wide variety of ethnic, Danish, Faroese, Greenlandic (an Inuit dialect), and German are all commonly spoken languages in Denmark. However if you speak English, you don't have to worry - it is the predominant second language here.

Information from the CIA World Factbook. For more information, please click here.

In Denmark, it is a convention to shake hands with everyone present when you meet them and before leaving - this includes men, women and children. Shake hands with women first!

Material adapted from eDiplomat. For more information, please click here.
  • Danes take punctuality in business environments very seriously, and would expect you to do so likewise; make sure call with an explanation and apologize if you are delayed.
  • Danes generally engage in 15 minutes of small talk before getting down to business.
  • Agendas are clearly set for meetings with a stated purpose to brief, discuss or decide an issue.
  • Decisions are made after consulting with everyone involved in a project, but accountability lies with the individual.
  • Danes are infamous for informality.
Material adapted from eDiplomat. For more information, please click here.
  • Danes insist on punctuality for social occasions.
  • Dinner is generally long and slow (can be as long as 4-5 hours) with much conversation. Plan to stay at least one hour after a meal ends.
  • At a formal dinner, name cards may be presented to each man with the name of his female dinner partner, who will be seated to his right. He should escort her to the dinner table.
  • Toasting can be a very formal process. Never toast your hosts until they have toasted you, and never toast anyone senior to you in rank or age.
  • The guest of honor or the oldest male makes a short speech of "thank you" to the hostess.
  • Guests are expected to eat everything on their plate.
  • Spouses are not commonly invited to a business dinner.
Material adapted from eDiplomat. For more information, please click here.
  • Never dress sloppily.
  • Black-tie events are common for the business community.
  • Jeans (clean and neat) are acceptable for casual wear.
Material adapted from eDiplomat. For more information, please click here.
  • Gifts are opened immediately upon receipt.
  • When invited to someone's home, always bring a small gift for the hostess. Gifts should not be lavish. Give: bouquets of flowers (wrapped), liquor (very expensive in Denmark). Do not give: sharp objects.
  • Gifts are normally not exchanged at business meetings, but small gifts may be appropriate at the successful conclusion of negotiations. Give: liquor, wine, chocolates, whiskey, gifts with company logos.
Material adapted from eDiplomat. For more information, please click here.
  • Danes may have an ironical way of expressing themselves. They may say, "It's wonderful weather," when it is pouring rain, or "It is a trifle chilly," when it is stifling hot.
  • Danes say "thank you" for everything--anytime, anywhere.
  • Danes do not use the expression, "How are you?", as loosely as Americans. Do not ask this question unless you have developed a personal relationship with someone and truly wish to know.
  • Use proper etiquette with Danes. Relaxed, polite manners are appreciated.
  • Refrain from abundantly complimenting or commenting on anyone's clothing.
  • Never call a Dane a Swede or Norwegian.
Material adapted from eDiplomat. For more information, please click here.
  • It is acceptable for a foreign woman to invite a Danish man to dinner, but his wife may come along. A traditional Danish man may insist on paying, but the younger generation has no problem with women paying.
  • It is better for a woman to schedule business lunches with men rather than dinners.
  • Women do not smoke in the streets in Denmark. However, they do smoke elsewhere.
Material adapted from eDiplomat. For more information, please click here.