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Can foreigners in Denmark access free health care?

People who move to or reside in Denmark have the right to access the country’s public health system, while different rules apply to those in the country on a more temporary basis.

Hillerød hospital near Copenhagen
Hillerød sygehus

All persons who are registered as resident in Denmark and have been issued with a personal registration number are entitled to all public health services.

The rights to public health services are stated on the yellow health card itself, which is issued by the municipality in which you reside.

Denmark’s health services included under the public health system provide you with a family doctor or GP as well as free specialist consultations and treatments under the national health system, should you be referred for these.

You can also receive subsidies for medicine and medical services including some dental treatment, physiotherapy, chiropractor treatment and psychological consultations.

It should be noted that, as previously reported by The Local, foreign nationals can experience extended waiting times on residence applications in Denmark. Since they may not have automatic access to the public health system during this time, some decide to take out private health insurance to cover the waiting period.

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

In some cases, you can also use Denmark’s public health system if you are not a permanent or temporary resident of the country.

This includes people who work in Denmark but live in another EU or EEA country (the EU plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) or Switzerland, who may be entitled to a special health card which provides access to the health system on the same footing as residents.

The card can be issued to persons who do not live in Denmark but are “socially insured” in the country due to one of a number of reasons, including:

  • Working in Denmark while resident in another EU, EEA country or Switzerland
  • Employed by a Danish company and stationed to work in another EU, EEA country or Switzerland
  • Receiving early retirement pay (efterløn) from the Danish state
  • Are employed on an EU contract and have selected Danish social insurance
  • Work on a ship which sails under the Danish flag
  • Are a family member of someone in one of the above categories and are not covered by the public health system in your home country.

It’s also possible to apply for and be granted the special health card if you are staying in Denmark without a personal registration (CPR) number, in some cases. These can include:

  • EU, EEA or Swiss nationals who work for Nato, the WHO or another international organisation in Denmark
  • People who work at EU, EEA or Swiss embassies or consulates in Denmark
  • Non- EU, EEA or Swiss nationals who work for Nato, the WHO or another international organisation in Denmark may also be encompassed by Danish or Nordic law in some cases
  • Family members of people in the above categories who do not have social health insurance in their home countries.

The card is also issued to people who normally live in Denmark but are residing outside of the country for up to one year, and are therefore removed from the Danish personal registration system. Examples of such a situation include students on international programmes, people visiting families, or au pairs or volunteers who work abroad for a limited period.

The special health card is issued for up to two years at a time and does not cost anything. It can be applied for here.

It should also be noted that people from EU countries may be able to use the EU’s European Health Insurance (EHIC) card in Denmark.

British nationals who moved to Denmark after 1st January 2021 are not covered by the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement and so cannot use the EHIC in Denmark.

However, Britons can use the UK’s new Global Health Insurance card (GHIC) to access emergency healthcare in Denmark.

Sources: (1), (2), (3)

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Foraging Danes warned not to mistake wild garlic for poisonous lookalike

Wild garlic, also known as ramsons or cowleek, can be gathered when spring comes around in Denmark, but the country’s food safety agency says says care must be taken not to pick a poisonous imposter for the edible wild plant.

Foraging Danes warned not to mistake wild garlic for poisonous lookalike

The wild garlic (ramsløg in Danish) season, which lasts from March until June, is set to arrive with early spring in Denmark. It is not uncommon for people in the Nordic country to pick the plant in the wild and use it for cooking, for example as an alternative to regular garlic or onion.

Care should be taken not to confuse the plant with its poisonous doppelgänger, the lily-of-the-valley (liljekonval), the Danish Veterinary and Food Safety Administration (Fødevarstyrelsen) said in a statement.

An advice line operated by the food safety agency, Giftlinjen, regularly receives calls in springtime from members of the public concerned they have eaten the wrong wild plant.

The lily-of-the-valley can cause serious food poisoning and be life-threatening in the most severe cases, the Food Safety Administration said in the statement.

“It can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and affect the heart rhythm and be life-threatening in the worst cases,” department manager Henrik Dammand of the Danish Veterinary and Food Safety Administration said .

“In other European countries, we have seen poisoning with lily-of-the-valley have fatal consequences,” he said.

The risk of confusing the two plants is higher early in the spring, before the more distinctive bell-shaped flowers blossom on the lily-of-the-valley.

Both plants have long, green leaves, the main feature which gives them similar appearances.

A good why to distinguish them is by smell, Dammand said.

While the wild garlic has a strong, garlic-like smell which gets stronger if the leaves are rubbed, the lily-of-the-valley is odourless.

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