Denmark - Guide to Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette

 denmark capital

What will you Learn?

You will gain an understanding of a number of key areas including:

• Language
• Religion and beliefs
• Culture & society
• Social etiquette and customs
• Business protocol and work culture

Gain an Expert Understanding

Once you've read this guide, ensure the success of your Denmark business venture by:

  • Purchasing a detailed Denmark profile, which explores Demark and Danish business culture in detail. 
  • Taking part in a two-hour live webinar, customised to meet your unique needs, with one of our Danish country and culture training experts or;
  • Contacting us in respect to our consultancy services.



Remember this is only a very basic level introduction to Danish culture and the people; it cannot account for the diversity within Danish society and is not meant in any way to stereotype all Danish people you may meet!



Facts and Statistics

  • Location: Northern Europe bordering Germany 68 km
  • Capital: Copenhagen
  • Climate: temperate; humid and overcast; mild, windy winters and cool summers
  • Population: 5+million (2019 est.)
  • Ethnic Make-up: Scandinavian, Inuit, Faroese, German, Turkish, Iranian, Somali
  • Religions: Evangelical Lutheran 95%, other Protestant and Roman Catholic 3%, Muslim 2%
  • Government: constitutional monarchy
  • Business Culture: Ranked 1 in The Business Culture Complexity Index™


The Danish Language

Over 98% of the population speak Danish.

  • German is recognised as an official regional language in the Nord-Schleswig region that borders Germany, where it is spoken by 23,000 people, about 0.4% of the 5.2m Danish population. Greenlandic, an Inuit language, is spoken by 0.1% of the population.


Danish Society & Culture


Egalitarianism in Danish Society

  • Denmark is an egalitarian society.
  • Interestingly this is reflected in their language, which employs gender-neutral words.
  • Most Danes are modest about their own accomplishments and are more concerned about the group than their own individual needs.
  • Maternity and paternity leave provisions are particularly generous in Denmark.
  • Men are more actively involved in child-rearing activities than in many countries, although the division of domestic chores is similar to other developed countries.


Women in Danish Society

  • Women are highly respected in business and generally receive equal pay and have access to senior positions.
  • Working mothers can easily arrange flexible hours so that they can maintain both a career and a family.
  • Danish women expect to be treated with respect in the office.


Proper Public Behaviour

  • Danes believe there is one proper way in which to act in any given circumstance.
  • If someone is not following the rules, be they written or merely understood, someone will generally speak up and admonish them to obey the accepted protocol.
  • They expect courteous behaviour from everyone.
  • Talk in moderate tones and do not do anything to call attention to yourself.


Danish Family Values

  • Most families are small.
  • The nuclear family is the centre of the social structure.
  • Children are raised to be independent from an early age.
  • Most are put in day care centres at about 1 years old.
  • Marriage is not a prerequisite to starting a family. Many couples live together without legalizing the arrangement with marriage.



Tipping is generally not expected in Denmark, due to a combination of good wages for service staff and laws that govern service billing.  Laws in Denmark dictate that restaurant, hotel and taxi bills must include service charges and tips. As such, tipping is neither common, nor expected, in Denmark.  However, if you feel that you would like to tip waiting staff, then a tip is always appreciated. The only exception, in reality, relates to taxis as most people round their bill up as a gesture of thanks.



Etiquette & Customs in Denmark

Meeting Etiquette

  • Greetings are casual, with a firm handshake, direct eye contact, and a smile.
  • Shake hands and say good-bye individually when arriving or departing.
  • Shake hands with women first.
  • Danes tend to introduce themselves with their first names.


Gift Giving Etiquette

  • Danes give gifts to family and close friends for birthdays and Christmas.
  • If invited to a Danish home for dinner, bring flowers, good quality chocolates or good quality wine. A bouquet of mixed wildflowers makes an excellent gift.
  • Flowers should be wrapped.
  • If you are invited to dinner or a party, it is polite to send flowers in advance of the event.
  • Red wrapping paper is always a good choice.
  • Gifts are opened when received.


Dining Etiquette

If invited to a Danish home:

  • Arrive on time. Danes are punctual in both business and social situations.
  • Check to see if you should remove your shoes before entering the house.
  • Contact the hostess ahead of time to see if she would like you to bring a dish.
  • Offer to help the hostess with the preparation or clearing up after a meal is served.
  • Danes enjoy showing off their homes since they have usually done the decorating themselves and are proud of their accomplishments. Therefore, they are happy when you ask for a tour of their house.
  • Do not discuss business.


Watch your table manners!

  • Wait to be told where to sit. There may be a seating plan.
  • Table manners are Continental -- hold the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right while eating.
  • Always keep your hands visible when eating. Keep your wrists resting on the edge of the table.
  • Try everything.
  • Expect to be offered second helpings. You may refuse without offending your hosts.
  • Finish everything on your plate. Danes do not like wasting food.
  • When you have finished eating, place your knife and fork across your plate with the tines facing up and the handles turned to the right.
  • The man seated to the left of the hostess generally offers a toast of thanks during the dessert course.
  • Do not begin eating until the host toasts with 'Skol'.
  • When toasting, raise your glass about eye level and make eye contact with the people seated closest to you.


Business Etiquette and Protocol in Denmark

Meeting Etiquette

  • Appointments are necessary.
  • Confirm appointments in writing.
  • Initial correspondence should be made to the company and not an individual.
  • Do not try to schedule meetings from mid June through mid August as many Danes are on vacation.
  • You should arrive at meetings on time. The Danes you are meeting will be punctual.
  • Telephone immediately if you will be detained more than 5 minutes.
  • Shake hands with everyone upon arriving and leaving. Handshakes should be very firm and rather short. Maintain eye contact while being introduced. Always shake hands with women first.
  • Business cards are exchanged. Your business card should have the physical address of your company and not a post office box.
  • Danes use their professional title and their surname. If someone does not have a professional title, use Herr (Mister), Fru (Misses) or Froken (Miss). Danes move to first names quickly. Nonetheless, wait to be invited before using someone's first name.


Business Negotiation

  • Send an agenda before the meeting and work from it without deviation.
  • Decisions are made after consulting with everyone involved.. Presentations should be well-organized and factual. Use facts, figures and charts to back up statements and conclusions.
  • Maintain eye contact while speaking.
  • There will be a minimal amount of small talk. Danes prefer to get down to business quickly.
  • Communication is direct.

Blogs about Denmark 

Denmark Management Guide 

Can you score 85% or more on our Denmark quiz?


Buy an In-Depth Country Report for Denmark

For those needing a more detailed and comprehensive overview of Denmark we have published an expert Report on Danish Society, Culture & Business.

The 49-page document has been authored by one of our  country specialists and provides readers with much more detail that our free guide above.

Topics include:

  • An introduction to the country, its history, politics, people and culture
  • Insights into the country’s values, customs and etiquette
  • Tips on preparing to work with new colleagues from Denmark
  • Expat-orientated information on daily life
  • Guidelines and tools on adapting and dealing with cultural differences


All for only £4.99.

Order via the button below to receive your Denmark Insight in seconds or read more before buying!


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