In late February 2019 I moved from the UK to Denmark
During this process I had to navigate a lot of bureaucracy with strange names in order to live in this unfamiliar system. This post is an attempt to give back some of the information I learned to others who have moved or will soon move to Denmark. It is mostly an overview of all the unfamiliar bureaucratic applications and accounts one will come across in this transition, along with some miscellaneous tips, advice, and opinions.All correct opinions.
I hope some of these quick overviews of the Danish government and public services will help others grasp them faster than I did! I will link to the relevant sites and helpful pages for each individual part, but most are at least partly covered by the following ICS page:
|CPR#||The ‘Central Person Registration Number’ is the unique identifying number used to connect you to official documents and websites|
|NemID||Single login for Danish internet banks and government websites|
|NemKonto||Your default bank account where payments are sent Usually they just need your CPR#.|
|E‑Boks||Your online inbox for official mail – banks, tax, etc|
|Skat||The government tax office / treasury – who you pay tax to|
|Yellow Card||Your Danish National Health Insurance card – used for all medical appointments and prescriptions|
|A‑kasse||An Unemployment Insurance Fund – optional to join|
|Feriepenge||‘Holiday Allowance’ that you earn throughout the year and can take out in summer|
|Rejsekort||An electronic ticketing system for travelling by bus, train, and metro.|
Central Person Registration Number is the first and most important thing to apply for. It is used for most things in Denmark:
Residents of Denmark are legally required to have a CPR number. You will also notice that your CPR number allows you to access a range of services in Denmark. You will need it to open a bank account, get a Danish phone number, borrow materials from the library, pay tax, receive salary, etc.
A CPR# is 6 digits followed by 4 digits: the first are your birthday (25/01/1987 would be ‘250187’) and the last are a unique identifier.Males CPR# end in an odd number and females end in an even.
You will need to fill out an online application for your CPR#, after which you will be asked to attend a meeting at the
International Citizen Service at your local
International House. For this application, and subsequent in person appointment, you may need the following documentation depending on your own circumstances:
- Housing Confirmation: rental contract, hotel receipt, etcI simply had my wife sign a document saying ‘I allow Jordan to live with me’., for a period of no less than 1 month
- Residence Permit: EU or non-EU variety
- Identification: Passport or National Identification
- A Passport sized photo
- Birth Certificate - only for people under 18
- Marriage Certificate - only for married couplesIt is also a good idea to have your partner come to the appointment with you.
You can find your local International House on the International Citizen Service page. You can book an appointment online ( Copenhagen Booking Page) but those are usually fully booked so it is best simply to go in during their opening times, take a number, and wait in line.
The International House is also where you should go in order to get help with the paperwork for a European Union Residence Permit, Tax Card, or Foreign Driving License, not just CPR#s. To get a Residency Permit you will most likely need to bring a work contract signed within the last 30 days.
NemID is a single login for many Danish sites, such as banks, doctors, libraries, and any government websites. It is intended to be a safe sign-in for any website/business that wishes to make use of it. You will usually need a NemID before you can setup a Danish bank account.
A NemID account consists of three parts:
- Username: Your CPR#
- Password: Set by you during the initial setup
- One time password: From a small key booklet mailed to you (but can be replaced with an app)
To attain a NemID you must first have a CPR#, then simply visit your local
Citizen Service Centre (aka ‘Borgerservice’) and request one.
You will need to bring a passport for identification. They will setup a temporary account for you, with a temporary username and password (which you will need in order to sign in the first time) and send you the key booklet by post. You will need to wait up to a week for the key booklet to arrive before logging in the first time and setting up your account - though if you are in a hurry and are married to a DaneMy condolences… you can bring along your Danish partner who can sign some documents to vouch for your identity, then you can get the key booklet immediately at that meeting.
After you have received everything follow these steps to activate your NemID
After this initial setup and your first login your account will start to use your CPR# as the username. Also at this point you can switch from the key booklet to the NemID phone app, which is much more convenient. You can still use the booklet afterwards if you like, until you run out of one-time codes. All you have to do setup the code app is to sign in on it once.Then wait 1 hour… for security reasons?
NemID Code App for Android or iOS
When you are sent a payment from the public sector (for salary, tax refunds, student loans, welfare payments, etc) you need only give your CPR number. Then that payment will be sent to your default bank account: your NemKonto (aka an ‘Easy Account’).
In the future if you ever wish where these payments go then you simply change which account is the NemKonto in your online banking. No communication with each payment provider is necessary.
Online banking in Danish can be extremely confusing, as most beginners of Danish do not know complicated bank terminology. I suggest you find the login page for the English version of your online banking and bookmark it. Here is the Danske Bank English login page.
Everyone with a CPR# is given an E-Boks account, which is a digital mailbox associated to you. Usually people receive mail into their E-Boks from their bank, municipality, place of work, skat, union, etc.
You can choose to get email notifications to your personal email account whenever you have mail in your E-Boks. Each user can also store sensitive documents in their account, such as deeds, birth certificates, or insurance documents, up to a total of 1GB.
E-Boks loginThere should be a language selection box in the bottom left hand corner, after login.
Skat is the Danish Treasury in charge of all tax.Skat is also an endearing term to call a loved one, as in ‘my treasure’. I am told it has nothing to do with the Danish love of tax
You need to get a personal tax number and a tax card from Skat in order to work or get a Danish bank account. You can do so from the following links:
Check if you are paying Church tax, and opt-out if you do not want to pay ~0.7% tax.The exact percentage differs between municipalities. You may have been automatically opt-ed out if you gave your religion in one of the many other forms, but you may have to do it by manually submitting a ticket in the Skat self service page.
If you are you married you should tell Skat, as then you can get your partner’s tax free allowance when they are not working.
Each year in January all working people in Denmark are required to review their tax to give Skat an up to date estimate of your earnings for the year. You should receive an email to your E-Boks in early January, with a personal review.
- Your Danish Health card, associated with your CPR#
- Essentially the Danish version of a ‘Blue Card’ aka ‘European Health Insurance Card’
- It has your doctors name/address/contact details on it, and you’ll get a new one whenever you switch doctors
All medical visits in Denmark (doctors, dentist, hospital visit, etc) require your physical Yellow Card. You usually sign in either by handing over your Yellow card, or by swiping/scanning it in a little machine at the front deck. This lets them know you have arrived for your appointment, and verifies your identity.
If you are prescribed medicine it is associated with your yellow card. Simply go to any pharmacyTake a ticket! and they will ask for your yellow card so they can scan it and confirm you have a prescription waiting for you.
Email Consultation is an easy way to get medical advice from your doctor, especially in non-emergency situations, simply by logging on and sending your doctor a message. The response time ranges from a few days to a week, in my experience. You cannot upload pictures, but you can link to them.
I recommend the book How to Work in Denmark by Kay Xander Mellish. Here is a summary:
With its high salaries and good work-life balance, Denmark is an attractive place to work for professionals from all over the world. But the Danish workplace, like Danish culture as a whole, is built on unwritten rules and unspoken expectations. “How to Work in Denmark” explains some of the rules of the road in the Danish workplace, as well as how to find and keep a job in Denmark.
Contact Danish recruiters on LinkedIn. If you do not know how to go about contacting Danish recruiters then consider asking any of your working professional friends/contacts in Denmark if they will post a small message to LinkedIn on your behalf. Just something small stating they have a friend looking for work, with some minimal contact information about you which will get lots of Danish recruiters to flock to you.Like sharks…
When you get a job remember to note down your companies CVR#, as you will need to give it to Skat. A CVR number is just a CPR# but for companies, and tells Skat who you are working for for tax reasons. You can find the CVR of any company at virk.dk
Most working Danes are a member of a Trade Union, which can give them guidance on contracts, salary, workers rights, and other benefits. There are many different Trade Unions, so look for the one that is best for your profession. One can also join an ‘A-kasse’ aka ‘Unemployment Insurance Fund’, which is usually another branch of a Trade Union. Being a member is usually costly, but can insure you a percentage of your previous salary (up to a cap) for up to 2 years of unemployment. You must be a member of an A-kasse for 1 year before you are entitled to claim the benefits. EU citizens working in the EU can also transfer their unemployment insurance benefits within 8 weeks of termination of previous employment.
There are currently (Feb 2020) no paid holidays for the first year of your work, instead you save up holidays to spend in the next year. However this law is in the process of changing. As of September 2020 the law will be essentially the same as all of Europe: earn and spend holidays as you earn them in the same year.
Your place of work may pay part of your salary into ‘Feriepenge’ aka ‘Holiday Allowance’Some do not, and simply give you all of your salary instead.. This is money which is intended to be used for/during a holiday from work. You can view how much money you have accrued into your Feriekonto at borger.dk, but in general you cannot request this money until after May 1st and must take a holiday at the time you take out the money.
Your employer calculates your holiday allowance. In general, you accrue 12.5% of your salary in holiday allowance. This complies with 2.08 days of holiday for every month that you are employed.
Danish Language Classes
There are ‘free’ government courses in the Danish language however there is a lot of bureaucracy around them and the laws and costs keep changingNow (Feb 2020) the lessons will soon be free again, but the deposit and bureaucracy remain.. When I first moved here (in Feb 2019) public courses cost double the amount of a normal private school (~2000kr) and you had to pay a deposit of ~1250kr. One could only get this deposit back after completing a full module, and must schedule your breaks from taking classes ahead of time, or otherwise risk losing the deposit. As the private schools were half the price and had much more flexibility due to there being no deposit the choice was a no brainer. These laws will probably change again in the future so see the link below for up to date info on the costs and laws.
Furthermore, you will be sent a letter after you get a CPR# saying you have to register with a Danish Language Centre within 30days of the letter, otherwise you will lose your entitlement to Government courses. Regardless, even if you do not wish to start Danish classes immediately, or if you do not wish to go with public schools in general, you should setup an appointment to go in person and register with them but say you do not wish to take any lessons at that time. This way your entitlement is not lost, and you may decide to change your mind in the future, while you are settling in or even taking Danish lessons at a private school.
Studieskolen Language School - my Danish language school of choice in Copenhagen.It was recommended by a few colleagues, and I personally like it because of the flexibility and online material.
Similar to above, I also recommend the book How to Live in Denmark by Kay Xander Mellish. Here is a summary:
An updated version of the popular book based on the “How to Live in Denmark” podcast, with 8 new chapters. In this fun, easy-to-read book, Kay draws on her own experience as a foreigner in Denmark in when it comes to learning Danish, trying to find a job in Denmark, and looking for a place to live in Copenhagen. She also touches on dating in Denmark, Danish drinking culture, Danish child-raising, and how you can guess a Danish person’s age from their first name alone. This entertaining look at life as an outsider in Denmark draws on gentle humor and can be enjoyed by both foreigners and their Danish friends.
Get your name on your mailbox! This is the most important piece of advice on this page, and you should do it as soon as you can. This is because for any communication with the government, or delivery in the mail of any of the below documentation, it requires that your name is on the postbox for verification that it is being sent to the right person. Otherwise for hotels and such I believe it is sometimes possible to send it to the proprieter, and have them hand deliver it to you.
Living in Copenhagen? Consider getting a Rejsekort for easy transport via bus , train , and metro . You can have a personal card with your details on it and recurring payments setup when you get below a certain amount, or simply buy an anonymous prepayed card and top that up as you go in any machine in a metro stop.
Getting Married in Denmark? Remember to bring along:
- Birth Certificate
- Certificate of No Impediment
A fee of 500kr, only for non-residents
See international.kk.dk for further info, including the ban on marriages of convenience.
Moving to Denmark with Pets? Make sure you are covered by the local animal import laws. Most small animals have no restrictionsLike guinea pigs! as long as you are bringing them in for only yourself, and they are healthy.
Make use of public libraries. You will already have access if you have a NemID, and can peruse and rent books online at Bibliotek.dk
If I’ve missed anything, or my information is out of date, please let me know in the comments below and I’ll gladly update. I hope someone gets some use out of it
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