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A General Introduction to Visas for Denmark

Denmark has a lot to offer for expats who appreciate great food, beautiful scenery, and a relaxed atmosphere. Are you ready for moving to Denmark? Our Expat Guide offers advice on visa requirements, public transportation, and other aspects of this little European kingdom.
Danish immigration law is fairly strict when it comes to processing visa applications.

When to Apply for a Short-Term Visa

Before making the move to Denmark, many expats decide to go on a fact-finding trip. If you would like to do the same, you may need to apply for a Schengen visa. Check the Danish Immigration Service for a list of countries to see if you do.

The Schengen visa allows you to travel to Denmark and other Schengen states and stay for a maximum of 90 days. Keep in mind, however, that, while there are some business-related activities you may carry out, it is not allowed to travel to Denmark on this visa to look for work.

If the Danish authorities suspect someone is trying to use the Schengen visa in order to seek long-term or permanent residency or employment, they can be banned from the country for up to five years. Similarly, overstaying your visa can result in the same penalty period, and you cannot apply for a new visa during that time.

Thus, short-term visas are great for business trips or fact-finding visits. However, if you wish to live and work in Denmark, you should acquire a residence and work permit.

How to Legally Work in Denmark

The good news for expats who wish to work in Denmark is that, under specific regulations depending on their nationality and qualifications, they actually may not need a work permit at all. Nordic citizens (Finns, Icelanders, Norwegians, and Swedes), for instance, are free to live and work in Denmark. Nationals of EU and EEA countries, as well as Switzerland, may essentially do the same, although they need to apply for a registration certificate within the first three months of their stay.

The Danish immigration authorities have designed a handful of schemes to make it easier for expats-to-be who need a work permit to obtain one:

  • The Positive List includes jobs and professions that currently have a labor shortage in Denmark. If you have been offered a job that is on the list, you can directly apply for a work permit.
  • The Pay Limit Scheme applies to expats who can expect an annual salary of at least 400,000 DKK (approx. 60,000 USD).
  • The Fast-track scheme simplifies the process by which certified companies can hire or transfer highly-qualified expats to work in Denmark.
  • The Greencard Scheme is the only way to enter Denmark with the purpose of looking for a job. Eligibility for this scheme is based on your educational level, language skills, work experience, and more.
  • For researchers it is particularly easy to acquire a work as well as residence permit. A written job offer is a prerequisite, though.

If you do not fit into any of these schemes, however, all hope is not quite lost. You can still obtain a work permit if you have a job offer for a position in Denmark for which there are no equally qualified candidates available in Denmark or the EU/EEA. However, the job must require a certain degree of skill. Carpenters and bricklayers, for instance, usually do not qualify.

Apart from these standard rules, there are more ways to obtain a work permit for self-employed expats, religious workers, athletes, and trainees. Some groups are exempt from the usual rules, such as diplomats, musicians, and performing artists, as well as transportation personnel. You should be able to find all the information you need with the Danish Immigration Service.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.

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