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EU citizen? Here’s how your free movement rights apply in Denmark

Michael Barrett
Michael Barrett - [email protected]
EU citizen? Here’s how your free movement rights apply in Denmark
File photo: Thomas Lekfeldt/Ritzau Scanpix

EU citizens have the right to live and work in Denmark under EU free movement, but certain bureaucratic steps are required. We outline the process here.


Editor's note: this article has been superseded. See here for updated information.

It’s important to note that there are several different ways in which a foreign citizen can be granted residency in Denmark. The broad categories are: residency covered by the EU’s rules on freedom of movement; residency permits for people from third countries working or studying in Denmark or for family reunification; and asylum granted to people fleeing from war or persecution.

This article will address the first category only and is a broad introduction to the rules and process – we cannot make any guarantees about the outcome of applications and you should contact the relevant authorities if you have questions specific to your individual case.

EU free movement is of particular relevance at the current time, given the potential change in status of British citizens resident in Denmark dependent on the outcome of Brexit.

In January, the Danish government advised all Brits who have not yet obtained an EU registration certificate (EU-registreringsbevis), or have not already applied for one, to do so prior to March 29th.

In a post on its website, the Ministry of Immigration and Integration wrote that this will make it easier for UK citizens to prove they already have the right to reside in Denmark, should Brits no longer automatically be eligible for residency under EU rules after the scheduled Brexit date of March 29th -- a possible outcome in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

READ ALSO: Danish government outlines no-deal Brexit advice for British residents

For now, Brits and all EU nationals moving to Denmark under free movement are required to obtain an EU registration certificate (EU-registreringsbevis). Here’s how.

All EU (or EEA, or Swiss) citizens can stay in Denmark for up to three months without the registration certificate, or for six months if applying for work. The three or six months begin from the date of entry into the country.

Citizens of Nordic countries (Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) are not required to obtain a registration certificate, however.

For others, the EU registration certificate is the document which is required for EU citizens and their family members to reside in Denmark under free movement.

It's worth keeping in mind that free movement rules mean you can begin working or studying from your first day in the country, while you are waiting for the registration to be processed.


In order to be eligible for the EU residency document, you must fulfil one of a list of criteria: you must be in employment for at least 10-12 hours a week; run or be about to establish a business; be a registered student; have sufficient personal wealth to be able to provide for yourself; or be a family member or dependent of an EU or EEA citizen living in Denmark. People who fall into the last category can therefore live in Denmark under EU rules even if they themselves are not EU citizens. You can read more about the exact rules for qualifying for EU registration here.

To apply for the registration document, you must submit an application and relevant documentation in person at specified State Administration (Statsforvaltningen) offices. These are located in six towns and cities across Denmark: Copenhagen, Aarhus, Aalborg, Odense, Aabenraa and Rønne. Addresses are listed here.

The application form, which must be printed and filled out, can be found here or via this page on the State Administration website. You must also bring your passport or national ID card and two passport photos.

Furthermore, you will need to bring documentation of your reasons for staying in Denmark – this can, for example, be an employment contract or registration with an educational institution. You can see which types of documentation are accepted by clicking on the relevant category on this page.

After you have submitted your paperwork, the State Administration will begin to process your registration, but processing times can vary between 1-2 weeks and four weeks. Waiting times are longer during the peak months of January, February, August and September, according to the administration’s website.

Non-EU citizens applying for residency through an EU-national family member can expect to wait up to six months before receiving a response. Notification of decisions and certificates are sent via post.


There are, in fact, two types of documents. EU or EEA/Swiss citizens are given a registration certificate which remains valid for as long as the given reasons for EU registration (work, study, running a business, self-sufficiency) are fulfilled. In other words, there is no specified expiry date.

For family members of EU citizens, the registration document takes the form of an identity card with a photograph and your signature. The I.D. card will be given an expiry date equivalent to the expected length of stay of in Denmark of your EU-national family member, with a maximum validity of five years.

The EU registration document is also the paperwork you will need to obtain a personal registration (CPR) number, the identification number and card which is required to access the public health system as well as for practical things like opening a bank account, mobile phone contract and gym membership.

READ ALSO: Is life in Denmark impossible without a personal registration number?

Once you have received your EU registration certificate, you can approach the Citizen Service (Borgerservice) department at your local municipality, who will issue you with a personal registration number and accompanying yellow health service card.

After five years’ uninterrupted, legal residence in Denmark under free movement, you become eligible for permanent residency.

Sources: Udlændinge- og Integrationsministriet, Statsforvaltningen, Roskilde Kommune Borgerservice

Did you find this article helpful? Did we leave out any information that you would have liked to be included? Give us your feedback via email – we’re happy to hear your thoughts.

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