How closed are Denmark’s borders really?

How closed are Denmark's borders really?
The Danish border with Germany at Kruså on the day the borders closed. Photo: Claus Fisker/Ritzau Scanpix
Since the Danish government imposed controls on all Danish borders on March 14, many foreigners have felt locked in or out of the country. But there are a lot of loopholes. Here's our guide to them.

Can I enter Denmark on a business trip? 

Quite possibly.

According to the Q&A section on the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, “persons commissioned to deliver goods or services to/in Denmark or to transport goods out of Denmark” have a so-called “worthy purpose” to enter the country.

According to a person we spoke to on the Danish police's border questions hotline (+45 7020 6044), the 'services' part of this could include anyone who has business in Denmark, so long as the business in question could not be just as easily done remotely. 

“If you have a specific client in Denmark that you have to visit as part of your work, then you can travel into Denmark,”  he said. “But that would have to be work that could not be done from your own country.” 

The advisor emphasised, however, that to be able to enter the country, a business traveller would need to be able to document the reason for their visit, and also show that the work could not have been done at home. 

One foreigner in Copenhagen managed to bring a business contact in to participate in a cooking show.

Journalists from Sweden seem only to have to show their press card at the border to get across. 

Would this loophole also include a London-based banker, lawyer, or consultant coming to visit Danish clients? Could it include an international footballer inspecting a prospective club before signing a contract? Could it include a salesman visiting a Danish company pursuing a software licensing deal. 

It might, but then again it might not. You can ring +45 7020 6044 to check, but as the person I spoke to admitted, there are a lot of grey areas, and the only way to know for sure is to arrive at the border with as thorough documentation as you can put together and try your luck.

Can my family come to visit me in Denmark? 

If they are close family, yes. 

On April 23, Denmark changed the rules so that “spouses, live-in partners, parents and children” of a Danish national or a foreigner resident in Denmark can enter the country, providing they otherwise have a legal right to enter Denmark.

So Mum and Dad can come and stay with you in Copenhagen — if they can get permission to leave wherever they are normally that is — but your brothers and sisters and cousins, and also your friends, will have to wait. 

You can also enter Denmark if you have visitation rights to a minor resident in Denmark, or if you are the primary caregiver of a minor resident in Denmark, such as a foster parent.
 
If my family come what documents do they need? 
 
Foreigners in Denmark say they've been told to provide visiting spouses, live-in partners, parents and children with a photocopy of their yellow health card, or some other proof of residency. They also say the visitors should bring a copy of some certificate which proves their relation, such as birth or marriage certificate for parents, children and spouses, and an official letter sent to a shared address for live-in partners. 
 
Can I come to visit a dying family member or attend their funeral? 
 
Yes. If a family member living in Denmark is “seriously ill or dying”, then family members can come and visit. The Q&A doesn't specify how close a family member has to be, but presumably it includes siblings and perhaps cousins. 
 
Needing to attend a funeral is also deemed a “worthy purpose”, and the Q&A does not specify that this needs to be the funeral of a close relative or friend. Presumably you need to be invited though. 
 
If I live in Denmark can I travel to Sweden on day trips? 
 
You can, but you would then be “strongly advised” to spend 14 days in quarantine. It doesn't seem, however, like this is being very strictly adhered to by Danes with summer houses in Sweden. And some Danes also seem to be travelling to Sweden for shopping without quarantining on their return. 
 
If I come to Denmark on a short trip, do I need to spend 14 days in quarantine? 
 
Again, in Denmark, quarantine is “strongly advised”, but it is not mandatory unless the police or health authorities specifically order it. This means that unless you are very unlucky, you should be able to get the plane back home after a short business trip. 
 
Can I enter Denmark to do diplomatic work, work for an international agency, or military work?

Absolutely. If you are a head of state, you are part of a head of state's delegation, if you are diplomat, or if you have a “laissez-passer” travel document issued by a United Nations agency or by the European Union, you can enter Denmark without any difficulty. You can also enter using military travel documents issued by Nato. 

So if it's that easy, is business traffic across the border more or less normal? 

Far from it. Copenhagen Airport registered a daily average of 865 passengers during the month of April – that is a 99 per cent drop relative to April of last year. Car traffic across the Øresund Bridge to Sweden, meanwhile, has declined about 65 percent. 

 

 

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