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Visas for Denmark: Know the Rules

This Danish metropolis combines the history of royal Denmark with a fresh, modern lifestyle. As a well-prepared expat moving to Copenhagen, you’ll be in for a treat. Read our guide to learn all about moving to Copenhagen, including visas, local transportation, and basic info about the city.
Nordic citizens, EU/EEA nationals, and the Swiss do not require a visa to move to Copenhagen.

For expats moving to Copenhagen and Denmark, there are a few different types of visas, each of which applies to different situations. Before you move to the Danish capital, you need to find out which visa applies to your needs and make sure you obtain the right one.

For a Flying Visit: Short-Term Visas

Non-EU/EEA citizens who plan on traveling to Copenhagen for a short-term visit need to apply for a Schengen visa. This allows you to travel to Copenhagen and stay for up to 90 days. Note, however, that you are not allowed to take up employment with a Schengen visa. You are merely eligible to carry out work-related activities, such as business meetings or negotiations.

Nationals from member countries of the EU/EEA, from Nordic countries (Finland, Norway, and Sweden), and from Switzerland are exempt from needing a visa.

Many expats choose to go to Denmark for short fact-finding trips, and the Schengen visa is the way to go about this. Refer to the Danish Immigration Service for more information, including a list of all countries whose citizens are obligated to secure a visa for short-term visits.

In It for the Long Haul: Work Permits and Residency

Contrary to the short-term Schengen visa, work permits do allow for long-term residency and full-time employment in Denmark. As is the case for the short-term visa, however, citizens of Switzerland, Nordic countries, and EU/EEA countries do not need to secure a work permit in order to settle in Copenhagen or elsewhere in Denmark.

Note that some minor restrictions do apply to EU/EEA nationals, though. Unlike Nordic citizens and the Swiss, they need to apply for a registration certificate or a residence card within three months after their move to Copenhagen. In general, though, expats from Scandinavia, Switzerland, and the EU face very few bureaucratic obstacles.

For expats who need a work permit, it is not quite as simple, but they needn’t worry too much. The easiest way of obtaining a permit is by securing a job beforehand. Once you have found work in Copenhagen, you and your future employer have to prove that your stay is professionally justified. In general, this is the case if you were hired for a special type of work or if there were no available and qualified applicants already in Denmark to fill your prospective position.

Easy Ways to Get a Work Permit

To make it easier for expats to acquire a work permit, a number of work permit schemes have been designed. These include:

  • The Positive List, on which you can find jobs and professions with a current labor shortage. If you are applying for or have already been hired for a position on this list, you should be able to directly apply for a work permit.
  • The Pay Limit Scheme addresses expats whose gross yearly salary is at least 400,000 DKK (approx. 60,000 USD).
  • The Corporate Scheme is tailored to foreign employees who transfer to a Danish branch office of their company.
  • The Green Card Schemeon the other hand, is just right for you if you move to Copenhagen for the job search. It allows you to take up employment and is valid for up to three years.
  • Researchers with a written job offer have their own scheme, making it easier for them to acquire a work permit as well.

Additional schemes address religious workers, self-employed expats, trainees, and athletes. Some professionals, such as diplomats, performing artists, or transportation personnel, are – under certain conditions – exempt from the application process entirely. You can read all about work permits and the full range of schemes on the website of the Danish Immigration Service.


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