For members


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

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.

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 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.  

Member comments

  1. What does ‘processing time’ mean with respect to Brexit-related residency status? Is that time until invitation for biometrics?

  2. Its crazy, how do they expect new arrivals to have a decent life in they cant even provide basic documents to international people

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Danish residence cards promised to ‘no surname’ foreign nationals

A number of foreign residents of Denmark have not been issued residence permit cards despite having legal status in the country, due to a technical issue related to the printing of their names.

Danish residence cards promised to 'no surname' foreign nationals

The Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI) confirmed to The Local it has been unable to print residence permit cards when the applicants do not have a last name.

The agency also said that it has now found a solution to the problem and was working to clear a backlog of unissued residence cards.

The issue can affect foreign residents including people from regions of south India where naming conventions can mean a last name or family name is not given. As such, a significant number of legal residents of Denmark are currently without the correct documentation.

“I have lived in Denmark for more than six years, obtaining my PhD here too,” Raghavendra Selvan, an assistant professor and Computer Science researcher at the University of Copenhagen, told The Local.

“I am originally from south India, where a large portion of us do not have a last name or family name,” he said.

“We mainly have a given name and in some cases use the first name of our fathers as the last name. For instance, my given name is Raghavendra and my last name is my father’s given name ‘Selvan’. However, in my passport the field for last name is empty,” he explained.

“All my official records in Denmark now explicitly state this. So, my name is ‘Raghavendra Selvan Ej Efternavn’ [“no surname” in Danish, ed.],” he said.

A Statistics Denmark search shows over 500 Danish residents with their last name registered as Ej Efternavn.

A screenshot showing a search for “Ej Efternavn” (‘No Surname’) in Denmark’s national statistics base.

SIRI confirmed to The Local that technical problems had prevented residence cards from being produced in cases in which surnames are not stated on passports.

However, SIRI said a solution had now been found and that residents who remain without cards will be issued with them “as soon as possible”.

“There has been challenges with issuing residence cards to foreigners with no surname,” SIRI said in a written statement.

“SIRI has now in cooperation with our supplier, Thales, found a solution, which is currently being implemented,” the agency said.

No specific timeline was given by the agency for delivery of residence cards to those affected by the issue.

“Due to a backlog, we still expect some further delay before all cards can be ordered, printed and issued,” SIRI said. 

“In cooperation with Thales, we will do our best to ensure that all cards will be issued as soon as possible,” the agency told The Local.

The issue with the residence cards means affected persons are required to apply for a re-entry permit whenever they leave Denmark, which can complicate travel.

READ ALSO: Danish authority warns of delivery delays on residence cards

“I have been waiting for my card since December 2020, that’s close to 18 months since I received my decision and about 20 months since the application itself,” Raghavendra Selvan said.

“I am now having to apply for a re-entry permit every three months to be able to travel outside Denmark,” he added.

“Having to get a re-entry permit every three months is annoying, and traveling outside Denmark when the re-entry permit is about to expire is extremely stressful,” he said.

The computer science researcher said that he had previously been advised to change his name in his passport in order to fix the issue.

“While I understand it is uncommon to not have a last name… asking all of us to change our name is not the best solution to this problem. This also reflects poorly on how Denmark is unable to accommodate diversity in names into its systems,” Raghavendra Selvan said.