Residency permits For Members

No CPR and no end in sight: The struggle to get a Danish residency permit

Elizabeth Anne Brown
Elizabeth Anne Brown - [email protected]
No CPR and no end in sight: The struggle to get a Danish residency permit
A Danish yellow health insurance card - the ID that carries the CPR number. Photo: Jonas Skovbjerg Fogh/Ritzau Scanpix

The CPR – the Danish equivalent of a social security number – is the key to your life in Denmark. But due to extended wait times for processing residency permits, many who moved to Denmark during the pandemic are still living in limbo without one.


The 2020 shutdowns created a backlog of applications for the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (abbreviated SIRI in Danish), and processing times for many visa and residency permit applications are “too long,” SIRI acknowledged in a May 20 announcement on their website.

Any delay has a significant impact on the lives of new arrivals since you need a CPR number to access the Danish healthcare system, open a Danish bank account, sign up for a Danish credit card, get a cellphone plan, attend Danish language classes, and use the ubiquitous MobilePay that has almost made the Danish kroner obsolete.

READ MORE: Is life in Denmark possible without a CPR?

The Local Denmark reached out to SIRI on August 6th, requesting data on how long people who have already applied for the various residency permits and visas can expect to wait. After two weeks of correspondence with SIRI, their data on processing times is difficult to parse and doesn’t offer a consistent timeline (other than hurry up and wait).

Here’s a condensed chart from their May 20 statement. We’ve omitted some of the more obscure residency permits, including those for herdsmen and volunteers.  



‘Service goal’

Processing time Jan 2021

Processing time May 2021

Estimate end of 3rd Quarter 2021


1 month

35 days

53 days

1 month

Pay limit scheme

1 month

100 days

120 days

1-2 months

Positive list: people with higher education

1 month

128 days

87 days

1-2 months

Positive list: skilled work

1 month

135 days

127 days

3 months

Researchers/guest researchers

1 month

60 days

57 days

1 month

Start-up Denmark

1 month

176 days

64 days

1-2 months

‘Paid work’

1 month

97 days

103 days

1-2 months


2 months

103 days

27 days

2 months


2 months

52 days

53 days

2 months

Accompanying family

2 months

86 days

88 days

2 months

Au pairs

3 months

51 days

31 days

3 months



In response to a request from the Local Denmark for updated estimated processing times, SIRI also provided data on the average processing time this year for various applications.


Average processing time, January – July 31 2021


Residence as an EU/EEA citizen or Nordic citizen


EU residence as a worker


EU residence as a student


EU residence as a self-employed person


EU residence as a family member to an EU citizen




Brexit – Employee


Brexit – Student  


Brexit – Self-employed


Brexit – Sufficient funds


Brexit – Family members


Brexit – Permanent residence




Residence permit as an accompanying family member




Fast-track scheme


Positive list for people with higher education


Positive list for skilled work




Employed PhD




Higher education


Au pair





Call centre agents provide different estimates 

But SIRI call centre agents asked about specific cases paint a less optimistic picture. One writer for the Local was told to expect a processing time of at least 4-5 months for a residency permit as a family member to an EU citizen – while the data provided by SIRI’s communications team indicate that the average wait in 2021 for this permit has been just 42 days.

Asked about the disparity between these numbers, SIRI provided the following statement: “The indications about case processing times provided in SIRI’s call centre are current estimates of the expected case processing times for applications where a decision has not yet been made. These estimates are affected by among others increases in the number of applications in specific case categories.”

Spokespeople from SIRI did not provide a list of “current estimates of the expected case processing times for applications where a decision has not yet been made,” to use their statement’s language, in response to the Local’s request for a category-by-category breakdown.

There is some reason for hope since SIRI is back to full staffing levels after summer vacations, according to a SIRI call centre agent. And the agency has been “continuously…expanding the workforce of case handlers” since January, a spokesperson told the Local Denmark on August 13th.  



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Anonymous 2021/08/22 17:41
Its crazy, how do they expect new arrivals to have a decent life in they cant even provide basic documents to international people
Anonymous 2021/08/21 08:48
What does 'processing time' mean with respect to Brexit-related residency status? Is that time until invitation for biometrics?

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