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

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.

EU citizen? Here’s how your free movement rights apply in Denmark
File photo: Thomas Lekfeldt/Ritzau Scanpix

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.

Keep an eye on our website in coming weeks for more articles about residency and citizenship in Denmark, or sign up for our weekly newsletter.



Denmark could make change to permanent residency employment rule

New Danish Minister for Immigration and Integration Kaare Dybvad Bek says he wants to change one of the criteria for permanent residency in Denmark.

Denmark could make change to permanent residency employment rule

In an interview with newspaper Politiken on Thursday, Bek said that people on paid internships should enable nationals of non-EU countries to meet the overall criteria for permanent residency.

Bek told Politiken he wanted to “tidy up things that make no sense” in permanent residency rules.

He also told the newspaper he wanted Denmark’s immigration rules to be “tight, but not crazy”.

Specifically, the minister said paid internships and trainee programs should count toward the work requirement — applicants for permanent residency must have worked for at least three years and six months of the previous four years.

Before 2016, education could also be used to satisfy the work requirement. Bek is not keen to restore that particular policy, telling Politiken that working people should considered first.

“We believe that people become well integrated by being at a place of work. That could be having responsibility for senior citizens, a checkout at Netto or laying bricks. By being around colleagues every single day you will get a very good idea of what Danish society is generally about,” Bek said to Politiken.

No specific detail was given as to specific sectors which might be encompassed by a change in the rules. But students or interns who are paid for positions with companies could benefit, according to the report.

Bek named social care workers and construction site apprentices as possible examples of jobs that could be accounted for.

Danish permanent residence rules were changed in 2016 under the previous centre-right government.

Prior to the 2016 change, education counted as employment in a requirement stating a person must have been employed for three and a half of the last four years in order to meet permanent residency criteria.

After 2016, any time spent in education does not count towards the employment criteria.

Bek’s Social Democratic party, then in opposition, supported the change.

READ ALSO: OPINION: Denmark must treat international students equally on permanent residency

The new immigration minister denied he would roll back the 2016 changes in their entirety and said people working should be given priority over students.

He also stressed to Politiken that the government had no plans to ease immigration rules but had always held the same position with regard to internships and residency rules.

Permanent residence means that a person is allowed to stay in Denmark and does not need to apply for residence again. 

EU, EEA and Swiss citizens have the right to apply for permanent residency when they have lived in Denmark for at least five consecutive years. Once it is granted, the holder can live in Denmark without having to meet the original requirements of their temporary EU residency (i.e. being employed, self-employed, a student, or through having sufficient funds). 

Non-EU citizens can be granted permanent residence once they have had a temporary residence permit for eight uninterrupted years (in some cases four).

There are certain requirements for the previous temporary residence, however. These include current employment, and paid internships do not fulfil this employment requirement currently.

READ ALSO: What’s the difference between getting Danish citizenship and becoming a permanent resident?