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Applying for residency in Denmark: Why you might need health insurance during processing period

Extended processing times for residence permits due to a Covid-19 backlog have left many waiting in Denmark for months without access to the public health programme. Here's what to expect on accessing – and paying for – medical care without a personal registration (CPR) number.

Applying for residency in Denmark: Why you might need health insurance during processing period
Access to Denmark's public health system can be difficult for people who are awaiting procedure of residence applications Several of The Local's readers have reported extended waiting times. File photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

Readers of The Local Denmark report little assistance understanding their access to healthcare from SIRI, the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration that processes residence permit applications. SIRI press officers told The Local Denmark they weren’t certain about applicants’ eligibility for free medical care while awaiting their personal registration or CPR number. 

Foreign residents with questions regarding your personal circumstances can contact a patient advisor at local hospitals. These are listed on the website

Contacted by The Local’s reporter, a patient representative at Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen didn’t mince words explaining what people without a CPR can expect.  

“If you have applied for a residence permit when you already are in the country, then you are entitled to stay here, but that doesn’t mean you have any rights at all, to be frank,” the advisor said.

Emergency care 

While you are eligible to receive emergency care in Denmark, you will be required to pay for it. “They will not deny you the emergency care, but they will charge you,” the Rigshospitalet patient representative said. 

This is a policy change that was initiated in the last few years, they noted. Emergency care in Denmark was free of charge even without a CPR number until 2019.

Non-urgent care 

Access to routine medical care, referrals to specialists, and hospital admission is usually handled by your general practitioner, who is assigned to you by the Danish government when you receive your CPR number and yellow health insurance card. But for those awaiting residency permits, things are a little more complicated. 

“If you are a citizen from [a non-European country], then you are only entitled to emergency treatment and all emergency treatment is against payment,” a patient advisor at Rigshospitalet-Glostrup stated.

“Then if you have relatives [who are EU citizens] during the lack of insurance, you are also entitled to treatment which is not emergency – like planned operation or examination at hospitals, but still it’s against payment,” they added. 

The Local’s reporter contacted the patient advice lines with health insurance queries after being referred to them by SIRI’s press service.

“I have various health conditions that I want to get checked but can’t because it’s not an ’emergency,'” one reader, who waited months without receiving her residence permit, told The Local.

“The insurance situation in the US is abysmal, but if I was there, I could at least sign up for insurance and be able to use it right away,” she added. 

Patient advisors say the best bet is to reach out to several local general practitioners and ask if they’re willing to see patients who don’t have a CPR on a pay-for-service basis. (It may take several tries: one reporter at the Local Denmark found that two GPs hung up the phone when she spoke English, and one said they do not accept patients without a CPR.) 


If you successfully recruit a willing GP, they’re able to refer you to specialists within the public health system, again on a pay-for-service basis, or get you admitted into a hospital. 

Your other option is to reach out directly to specialists at private hospitals that don’t require referrals. Care through private hospitals is likely to be more expensive. 

Do I need insurance? 

The short answer is that yes, if you don’t want to get stuck with a surprise bill if you get hit by a car or need to be hospitalised with Covid-19, you’ll need private insurance. 

But be careful – “Danish private health insurance” is something of a red herring. Many Danes do have access to private health insurance plans through their employer or pension group, but those are only a supplement to the national health programme (so that PFA health insurance on its own wouldn’t cover treatment for your hypothetical bike crash concussion at a public hospital.) 

When choosing an international plan – usually offered by the major health and travel insurance companies – be certain to read what’s included since it’s likely to differ from the standards in your home country. For example, many providers of international insurance won’t cover pre-existing conditions at all, or will only do so for a (substantial) additional fee. Others consider medications an extra. 

Also be vigilant for whether their network makes sense for where you live in Denmark, specifically. Some providers that say they have an extensive network only cover a handful of Denmark’s private hospitals. 

Member comments

  1. British nationals taking up residence in Denmark after 1st January 2021 (and therefore not covered by the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement) are able to use the new GHIC card to get access to emergency healthcare. If someone is legally resident here but has not yet been issued with a yellow card, they can still access healthcare by being given an emergency CPR number. Any Brits who are waiting for their CPR to come through who need medical treatment should contact the British Embassy if they are having problems.

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For members


How much does it cost to go to the dentist in Denmark?

Denmark is known as an expensive country and dental care is not fully covered by the public health system. But it's possible to avoid both toothache and severe wallet pain.

How much does it cost to go to the dentist in Denmark?

Many foreign citizens living in Denmark put off dental care—with the sky-high cost of living, it’s not unreasonable to expect an eye-popping bill from a Danish dentist.

But routine preventative care—like a yearly exam and tooth cleaning—could set you back less here than in your home country. And fortunately, the prices for many common services are regulated by the government.

Dental care for children and young adults (under 21)

A trip to the dentist is free for kids with a Danish health card. By the age of 2, children in Denmark are automatically enrolled in the municipal dental program and appointments with dentists are scheduled routinely—some dentists’ office are even located inside elementary schools. All dental care—from cleanings to root canals—is covered by the national health until age 21.

Dental care for adults

After your 22nd birthday, you’ll foot about 65 percent of your bill at the dentist for basic services like cleaning and routine x-rays, while the national health will pick up the remaining 35-ish percent.

Dentists and the Danish Regions, which are responsible for the administration of healthcare services, have negotiated fixed prices for certain common services. This system is called the ‘special act’ and all but five dental practices in Denmark have agreed to participate, according to the Danish Dental Association.

The Danish Dental Association helped The Local compile a price table for the most common routine dental care services as of December 2022. 

Service Set price 
Tooth Cleaning 219 kroner 
Basic diagnostic exam — Check-up (18-25 years old)  102 kroner
Basic diagnostic exam — Check-up (26 years old and up)  175 kroner 
‘Bitewing’ x-rays  224 kroner 
X-rays  159 kroner 

However, some dental interventions don’t have standardized prices — according to the Dental Association, that’s to encourage competition between providers and ultimately save the public money. (the government health portal) offers a price comparison tool that allows you to see how much dentists in your area charge for services including fillings, crowns, and root canals. Note that anesthesia is often listed as an optional add-on for an additional fee. 

READ MORE: Rising prices force Danes to postpone dental appointments

Are braces free in Denmark?

Cosmetic braces aren’t covered by the public health system in Denmark, but orthodontics for medical reasons — like if your bite doesn’t align to the point you can’t chew — are covered for people under 21. 

What about discounts?

Additional subsidies are available for low-income families and people with disabilities — but be careful to check whether the terms of your residence permit allow you to receive public assistance. Even Danes who hope to sponsor a family reunification visa can be penalized, or have their application rejected, for receiving public assistance for dental care

Technically, dental practices that participate in the set prices programme aren’t supposed to offer discounts — but any Google search for dental services in Copenhagen turns up student discounts and new patient bundles (such as an exam, cleaning, and x-rays for a lower total price) that can mean considerable savings. While the dentist may ultimately be fined for offering discounts, there’s no risk to you as a customer for taking advantage of these deals. 

Additionally, dental students at the Copenhagen School of Dentistry (supervised by fully qualified dentists) perform many procedures from emergency dental services to braces and fillings and charge reduced fees. See their pricing guide, last updated in 2021, here

It’s also worth considering the private health insurance programme Sygesikring danmark (a private, not a national company, despite its name) which can offer reimbursements when you pay for dental and other medical-adjacent services. The company offers a number of different price brackets and has information in English here.

READ MORE: From 2014: Dane’s wife has to leave country over dentist bill