German Currency

Dealing with German currency in your German translations

Broadly speaking, the currency in most German-speaking countries is the euro.

Germany, Austria and Luxembourg are the German language speaking countries in the European Union who are also members of the Eurozone – the 16 EU countries who adopted the euro as their official currency on 1 January 1999.

The 16 Eurozone members are: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia & Spain.

Germany, Austria & Luxembourg were amongst the first EU countries to abandon their traditional currencies – the Deutschmark, the Schilling and the franc respectively - to sign up to the euro.

When they joined the Eurozone, their official set exchange rates were as follows:

Germany: € 1 (euro) = 1.95583 Deutsche Marks (DM)
Austria: € 1 (euro) = 13.7603 Austrian Schillings (ATS)
Luxembourg: € 1 (euro) = 40.3399 Luxembourgian francs (LUF)

1 euro is 100 cents.

Switzerland, another European country with German as one of its official languages, is neither a member of the European Union, nor the Eurozone.

Its currency is the Swiss franc (CHF).

1 Swiss franc is 100 centimes.

Currently, € 1 (euro) = around 1.2 CHF.

Translating German currency terms

There's one key thing you just have to remember....

German uses COMMAS (,) where English uses DECIMAL POINTS (.)

For example:

German English
€ 1.000.000,00 or EUR 1,0 Mill
(eine Million Euro)
€ 1,000,000.00 or EUR 1.0 million
(one million euros)
€ 1.000,00 or TEUR 1,0
(ein Tausend Euro)
€ 1,000.00 or € 1,000
(one thousand euros)
€ 100,00 or EUR 100
(ein Hundert Euro)
€ 100.00 (one hundred euros)
€ 1,00 or € 1,--
(ein Euro)
€ 1.00
(one euro)

The Billion problem

This is more a UK English/American English difference, but the German translation is absolute:

German UK English (traditional) American English
Eine Million
(6 zeros)
(Mill, mio)
One million
(6 zeros)
One million
(6 zeros)
Eine Milliarde
(9 zeros)
(Md, Mrd, Mia)
One thousand million
(9 zeros)
One billion
(9 zeros)
Eine Billion
(12 zeros)
One billion
(12 zeros)
One trillion
(12 zeros)

Over the last two centuries there was a difference between American and UK understanding of the term “billion”:

In the UK the “long scale” numerical system defined one billion as 1,000,000 x 1,000,000 = 1,000,000,000,000 (a million million - 12 zeros, or 10¹²).

In the US the “short scale” was used, with one billion representing 1,000 x 1,000,000 = 1,000,000,000 (a thousand million - 9 zeros, or 10⁹).

In 1974 the UK government officially adopted the “short scale” numerical system to avoid any misunderstandings with “one thousand million” becoming a “billion”. Adoption is almost complete although some residual uncertainty still remains in the UK (my Oxford Duden German dictionary still implies that the choice is optional).


If there's any chance that your translation may be misunderstood then spell it out. E.g., if your German translation includes an important, officially authorized figure, such as GDP, then you can happily say “35 thousand million euros” or “thirty-five thousand million euros” and avoid any potential confusion.

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Joanna Scudamore-Trezek

I'm a German to English translator living and working in Vienna,  Austria.  I turn German texts into clear and accessible English, allowing clients to present their stories, ideas and information to a completely new audience. My business and marketing clients rely on me to get their message across clearly and effectively.  How can I help you today?