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Expat checklist: five simple steps to help you settle in

When you choose to live abroad, you know it will take time to truly feel settled in your new country. But some people adjust faster than others.

Expat checklist: five simple steps to help you settle in
Photo: Getty Images

Certain steps you can take are straightforward. Others require a little more research (like learning about your new healthcare system) or a lot more patience (did someone mention mastering the language?).

The Local, in partnership with international insurance broker ASN, offers five essential tips to help you feel at home in your new life abroad.

International insurance solutions to suit your needs – find out more about ASN

1. Save and learn emergency services numbers 

You’ll never forget the emergency services phone number in your home country. But can you say the same about your adopted home? Finding the number, saving it to your phone and even memorising it will not take long. 

If you live in the European Union, 112 is the European emergency number – free to dial across the EU from fixed and mobile phones. You can use it to ring for an ambulance, the fire brigade or the police. In some EU countries, 112 functions alongside other national emergency numbers, while in others it is now the only number to dial.

2. Learn local laws and rules of the road 

The law is the law. Except, of course, it varies widely between countries and regions. Some bizarre old laws have never been repealed but seem unlikely to be enforced (we doubt, for instance, that frowning in Milan will actually land you in court). 

But as an international resident, some areas do require your attention to avoid getting caught out – driving rules, for example. Find out whether you need to exchange your driving licence for a local one and familiarise yourself with national speed limits and road signs.

And remember that legal drink drive limits vary internationally. In Europe, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania all have a zero tolerance approach – while Germany does not allow novice drivers to consume any alcohol before getting behind the wheel.

3. Understand your healthcare coverage and choices 

National healthcare systems are very different – in Europe and around the world. A good understanding of the local rules on social security and entitlement to healthcare could really boost your peace of mind. 

In the EU, it’s your economic status and place of residence that determine the country responsible for your health cover – not your nationality. Make sure you understand the rules that are relevant for your personal situation.

You may want to compare what publicly funded healthcare covers with your options through private health insurance. Going private can offer far more comprehensive coverage, with access to the best hospitals and doctors. 

With international health insurance, you can also add benefits such as dental, maternity, physiotherapy and alternative medicine. You also have flexibility to upgrade or downgrade your policy. 

ASN offers tailored worldwide international health insurance through a range of partners. It also offers travel insurance – including emergency medical cover – lasting for up to 11 months and life insurance.

ASN offers global health cover wherever you are – for when you need it most

Photo: Getty Images

4. Learn the language – but beware false friends! 

Learning the language of your host nation might feel like the biggest step to take before you can feel totally settled. But Rome wasn’t built in a day. And fluency will not come in a hurry either. 

Finding a way to learn at your own pace – without too much pressure – could help you build your confidence. If you’re able to enjoy the challenge of expressing yourself in your new language, some of the worries associated with living abroad may gradually start to reduce.

Be on your guard with 'false friends' – words that sound similar to an English word but mean something very different. For example, the Spanish word 'embarazada' does not mean embarrassed – it means pregnant!

While learning, it’s important to be able to take care of personal matters in a language you’re comfortable with. ASN, which is based in Switzerland, offers global support in English, French, German and Italian, as well as access to 24/7 multilingual helplines.

5. Update your address 

One final tip – and a simple one! It has never been easier to stay continuously in touch with friends and family wherever you are. But could this lead you to overlook the need to update your address?

Governments, banks, insurers and other institutions still require an up-to-date postal address. And knowing you’re not missing any important mail can help secure your peace of mind.  

Need bespoke international health, travel or life insurance solutions? Find out more about how ASN can help you feel at home – wherever you are.

For members

HEALTH

How to get prescription medicines in Denmark

Are prescription drugs covered by Danish national healthcare? It's complicated.

How to get prescription medicines in Denmark

How prescriptions work in Denmark

You’ve seen your doctor and been given a prescription. Now what? 

Once your doctor inputs the details of your prescription into the Danish health system, your data is available to any pharmacy in the country with a quick scan of your yellow health card. 

All pharmacies in Denmark charge the same price for each medication, so there’s no need to shop around or commit to a single ‘home’ pharmacy — you can just swing into whichever is most convenient for you that day. 

There are also online pharmacies that can fill your prescriptions and deliver them by courier or mail, or arrange for pickup at a pharmacy or another location. Remember to only purchase from websites with the green EU logo, according to the Danish Medicines Agency. 

READ ALSO: What happens if you lose your Danish yellow health insurance card? 

Do you have to pay for prescription medicines in Denmark? 

Mostly, yes — as a rule, prescription medicines aren’t covered by the national healthcare system until you reach certain spending thresholds for the year. At that time, discounts will be applied to your future prescription medicine purchases based on how much you’ve already spent. 

The scheme is called ‘reimbursement,’ which can be slightly misleading — the discounts are applied at the pharmacy, so you don’t have to pay up front and wait for the Danish Medicine Agency to cut you a check. 

Your progress toward the reimbursement thresholds is tracked automatically by the Central Reimbursement Register (abbreviated CTR in Danish), which sums up purchases of reimbursable medications associated with your yellow card. Your current CTR total is given on your receipt from the pharmacy after you purchase a medication, and you can also track your spending on reimbursable medications here

Reimbursable prescription medications purchased in other EU/EEA countries can count toward your CTR. If you’ve bought prescriptions abroad, fill out this form to be reimbursed based on the price of the medicine in Denmark. 

READ MORE: Why does it take so long in Denmark to see a psychologist or therapist? 

What are the reimbursement thresholds for 2022 for adult patients? 

If you’re over 18, you’ll have to pay out of pocket for your first 1,020 kroner of prescription medications. 

Once you’ve spent 1,020 kroner, you’ll receive a 50 percent reimbursement on future reimbursable purchases, and your copay will be 50 percent. That increases to a 75 percent reimbursement after your CTR total hits 1,705 kroner (with a copay of 25 percent) and an 85 percent reimbursement (and copay of 15 percent) for CTR totals above 3,700. 

Remember, your CTR total is calculated by the price of the medications before the reimbursement is applied. (Even though you’ve only paid 50 percent of the cost of medications after you hit the first reimbursement threshold, the full price of the medication is added to your CTR total.)

After your CTR total reaches 20,091 kroner, you’ll receive 100 percent reimbursement on future medications.

Taken together, that means the most you can pay out of pocket for prescription medications in Denmark in 2022 is 4,320 kroner.

The Danish Medicines Agency provides a chart of the thresholds and an example patient’s yearly spending history and reimbursements here. 

READ ALSO: Are you eligible for Danish national healthcare while your residence permit is processing? 

What about reimbursements for children’s medications? 

For patients under 18, all applicable prescriptions have a minimum 60 percent reimbursement rate. That gets bumped up to 75 percent after a CTR total of 1,705 kroner, 85 percent after 3,700 kroner, and 100 percent after 24,628 kroner. 

Just like for adults, the maximum out-of-pocket costs for a child’s prescriptions in a year is 4,320 kroner. 

What if I know I’ll need more than 20,000 kroner of medications? 

If you have chronic conditions or a major health challenge and can tell at the beginning of the year that you’ll hit the CTR maximum, you can apply for an installment plan. 

Pick the pharmacy most convenient for you and request an installment plan — you’ll be able to pay the maximum yearly copay of 4,320 kroner in 12 monthly installments of 360 kroner. 

Generic versus name-brand drugs and reimbursement 

Different drugs with the same active ingredients are called synonymous — generally, if your doctor prescribes a name-brand drug and there’s a less expensive synonymous drug, your pharmacist will give you the option to choose. 

If you stick with the more expensive name-brand drug, you’re responsible for the cost difference and only the price of the generic drug will be added to your CTR total. 

There are sometimes good reasons for choosing a more expensive synonymous drug — if, for instance, you’re allergic to some of the added ingredients in the generic form, your doctor can apply for increased reimbursement on your behalf. 

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