The new system is the culmination of years of lobbying on behalf of expat groups and finally ends well over two years of legal wrangling since the Ministry of Transportation agreed to give internationals an easier road to driving legally in Denmark.
“Finally! The rules in this area have been a years-long headache for many expats and the international companies that hire them. Therefore it is gratifying that the minister has displayed vigour and changed the rules so that the many highly-qualified expats don't have to fight with difficult bureaucratic obstacles just to be allowed to drive a car in Denmark,” Stephen Brugger, the executive director of the AmCham Denmark, said in a statement.
For years, citizens of the US, Canada and Australia who have moved to Denmark have experienced problems getting a Danish licence, because they belong to the so-called ‘Group 2 countries' where driver training is not deemed comparable to that of Danish drivers.
As a result, many foreigners have been forced to pay for driving lessons and a Danish driving test despite having driven safely every day for years.
AmCham and the US Embassy have long been lobbying for the change and successfully convinced Hans Christian Schmidt, Denmark's transport minister, to finally put the new rules in place.
“The difficult rules on exchanging foreign driver's licences has been a key issue for us for many years. But it was first after a meeting with Transport Minister Hans Christian Schmidt in November that something finally happened – more than two years after the then minister, Morten Bødskov, promised to solve the problem,” Brugger said, calling the coming rule change “a big victory for AmCham”.
Rather than having to take time-consuming and costly tests, citizens of the aforementioned countries will now just be required to sign a declaration stating that they have not had their licence revoked within the last five years and that they have been driving regularly over the past two years.
Brugger said the change is not only good news for foreigners in Denmark, but also for the Danish labour market.
"This will make a giant difference for the foreign experts and leaders who come to Denmark to fulfil specific functions," he said.
The new rules will allow people from Group 1 and Group 2 countries to use their foreign licences for their first year in Denmark but long-time expats who have avoided the bureaucratic licence exchange may not be fully out of the woods.
“[The new rules] do not explicitly deal with the situation where a person has been resident in Denmark for more than one year without exchanging their licence. In theory, it should be possible to exchange the licence even after one year – however, this implies that the person has not had a valid licence for a period of time, which creates a dilemma in relation to the declaration mentioned above,” AmCham wrote on its website.
The driver's licence exchanges will be handled by local Citizens Service Centres (Borgerservice).
The full text of the new rules can be read here (in Danish).