Moving to Denmark: A Comprehensive Guide to Living and Working in Copenhagen
19 April 2023
Moving to Denmark: A Comprehensive Guide to Living and Working in Copenhagen
Do you want to open a new chapter by moving to Denmark and Copenhagen? This short but comprehensive guide will teach you about your options for getting a residential visa and work permit in Denmark. Additionally, we will discuss the best ways to find housing, the cost of living and work.
Perhaps you have seen Denmark’s score in various lists over the happiest places on earth and considered moving here. If you are a citizen of the EU/EES or Switzerland, you can freely do so, at least for a period of time. For citizens from the Nordic countries (Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland), there are no restrictions on living, working, studying or using welfare services. For all you other nationalities, the procedure is a bit trickier.
To make this process a little bit easier for you to understand, we have divided this guide into four different sections:
We strongly suggest you read the whole guide, as many things are interconnected. For example, you will not be able to rent or buy an apartment in Copenhagen unless you have a Danish CPR number, which in turn requires a residence visa, and so forth.
Visa Requirements and Danish Immigration
Visiting Copenhagen as a tourist is something millions of foreigners do every year. However, meeting the requirements for a residence visa is something completely different. In fact, few Western countries have as tough immigration policies as Denmark, and if you want to move to Copenhagen, you must have a good reason.
Unless you want to seek asylum, you only have three options for moving to Denmark. Those are Studies, Marriage/Family and Work.
Moving to Denmark for studies
Moving to Denmark as a student is the easiest way into the country. However, it’s important to remember that a study visa is only viable for a short period. Sooner or later, you must apply for another residence permit once you finish your studies.
Have you chosen Denmark because you have heard about the free education system? Well, education is free, as long as you are a resident of an EU/EES country (including Switzerland). For everyone else, tuition fees apply. In addition to high fees, you also have to pay for your accommodation, which is generally very expensive in Denmark. On the other hand, as a foreign student in Denmark, you have the right to work extra on the side to support yourself.
Moving to Denmark for studies can be an excellent way to determine whether the country is a good fit for you. If you feel like staying, you could look into the opportunities of getting a job in your field of study, which could help your chances of getting a work permit. Read more on how to obtain a work visa in Denmark further down.
Marrying and/or starting a family with a Dane
Another way to obtain permanent residence in Denmark is to marry a Dane, alternatively starting a family with one.
Even though it’s said that true love has boundaries, the Danish authorities beg to differ. Moving to Denmark as a spouse of a Dane will put your love to the test. In short, you have to meet the right one for this to work. First of all, both of you must be 24 years or older. Secondly, your Danish partner’s place must be big enough to accommodate the two of you. Thirdly, to prove that your Danish partner is willing and able to provide for you, they must also make a 110.000 DKK deposit (2023 level) with the Danish government. As if this wasn’t enough, you must pass a Danish language test, six months after your arrival.
Moving to Denmark for work
Moving to Copenhagen or somewhere else in Denmark for work may sound easy, but it is everything but. To receive a work permit, you must meet the requirements of one of the following schemes: Fast Track, Pay Limit or Positive List.
The Fast Track scheme (Fast Track-ordningen) means you have been offered a job at a Danish company thanks to your highly demanded qualifications and skills. The fast track scheme allows you to have a quick job start at your company, with a flexible starting date.
If offered a high-paying job, you can apply for a residence and work permit using the Pay Limit Scheme (Beløbsordningen). The pay limit is currently set at 465.000 DKK per year.
Then there is the Positive List Scheme (Positivlist-ordningen). To apply for a Danish work and residence permit using this scheme, you need to have certain skills or education in a field of business where there currently is a need for more professionals. There are two positive lists: one for people with higher education and one for skilled labourers. Click on the links to see if your profession is on one of the lists!
Regarding professors, researchers and PhD positions, there are other ways to obtain Danish work and residence permits. Please check out this website for more information.
Getting a Danish CPR Number (Personal ID Number)
Let’s say you have been granted a residence visa and are preparing to relocate to Copenhagen, Denmark. After your arrival, the first step is to apply for a Danish personal ID number – a so-called CPR number. It is not possible to apply for a CPR number before you have moved to Denmark.
The CPR number is the key that will open Danish society for you. In fact, without a Danish CPR number, you won’t be able to open a bank account, buy a house, pay your taxes or see a doctor.
You register for a CPR number at your local municipality of residence. If you are moving to Copenhagen, the municipality of Copenhagen will handle your registration. To get a CPR number as a Danish resident, you need to meet the following requirements:
The length of your stay exceeds three months (non-EU/EES citizens) or six months (citizens of the EU/EES/Nordic Countries).
You have purchased a house or have a fixed place to stay in Denmark
You have a valid residence permit
Your arrival must be reported to the local municipality of your residence within five days after you have fulfilled conditions 2 and 3 of this list.
To register your personal data in the CPR system, you must present documentation and ID to the local municipality. You may be required to report in person before registration.
Living in Denmark
Moving to Copenhagen or another part of Denmark can be a great experience as the country is known for its high quality of life, vibrant culture, and friendly locals. However, there are some essential things to remember regarding housing, cost of living and accessing welfare programs and education.
Finding a Place to Live in Denmark
First, finding a place to live should be your top priority. Remember that you won’t be able to get your CPR number without a fixed address.
The housing market in Copenhagen can be competitive and expensive, especially in popular neighbourhoods like Indre By and Vesterbro. It's important to start your search early and be prepared to pay a significant amount for rent. It’s also not uncommon to be asked to provide proof of income or make a deposit to secure a lease.
Coming by attractive rental apartments in Copenhagen is challenging but not impossible. Our best advice for someone looking for suitable rental housing in Copenhagen is to start with a cheap short-term room or hostel and continue the search once you arrive. Learn more by reading our article Renting a house in Denmark.
Do you have the financial resources to purchase property in Denmark? Then, you have many more options to choose from. Almost every property on sale in Denmark is listed on popular Danish property websites. Here, you can search for apartments and houses in your preferred neighbourhood, compare prices and find a house or apartment that fits your dreams and budget.
When buying property, many new residents in Denmark choose to consult a Buyer’s agent. The agent helps you overcome the language barrier, bids on property on your behalf and assists you with legal and mortgage matters, among many other things. Read more about the advantages of hiring a Danish buyer’s agent for your new home purchase.
Denmark has world-class tax-funded welfare programmes, and as long as you have a work visa and a residence permit, you are eligible for healthcare. The education system is tuition free for Danish citizens and citizens of other EU/EES countries. For everyone else, tuition fees apply. Some international schools in Copenhagen will also have mandatory tuition fees for all students.
In addition to the rental rates and property prices, everything from food and drinks to transportation tends to cost a lot in Denmark. In fact, Copenhagen was recently ranked the 8th most expensive city in Europe. However, with a median income of around 750,000 DKK (roughly $110,000) per year, the chances are low that you have to turn every penny to make ends meet.
Overall, the cost of living in Copenhagen will depend on your lifestyle and spending habits. Plenty of cheaper alternatives exist if you don’t want to spend a fortune on world-renowned Copenhagen restaurants. Also, make sure to get yourself a bike as soon as possible. At Bomae, we will help you find suitable properties that match your budget.
Working in Denmark
The work culture in Denmark is generally known for being collaborative, informal, and productivity-focused. There is a strong emphasis on work-life balance, and many companies prioritise the well-being of their employees. As a full-time employee, you can look forward to at least five weeks of paid vacation yearly and generous parental leave benefits. Perks like discounted gym memberships are also very common.
However, there are not many job openings, and there are 50 applicants for every vacancy on average. If you work for a big corporation, they may have the adequate HR resources and bureaucratic know-how to solve this swiftly. On the other hand, smaller companies tend to go with the candidate that will require the least amount of paperwork on their end (i.e Danes or EU/EEA citizens).
The best way to find a job in Denmark as an expat is to be offered one before you move here. We have already covered the different ways you can obtain a work permit in the first section of this article. If you have moved to Denmark as a partner or spouse, you can look for work online using Jobindex.dk, Linkedin or some other large recruitment and job posting website.
Good luck with your job search!
Moving to Denmark could be an excellent opportunity to experience a new country and start a new chapter in your life. But the move requires thorough preparation, especially if you come from outside the European Union. This article discussed the various ways you could obtain residence and work visas. We have also touched upon some of Denmark's most common questions concerning work, life and housing. In conclusion, Denmark offers a high standard of living and great career opportunities for people with in-demand skills.
When buying, Bomae is here to help you with every step. Contact us today to learn more about the Danish real estate market and loan options. As a buyer’s agency, we listen to your requirements, advise on ideal locations, and help you find the perfect fit. Contact us today for more information.