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DRIVING

How and when should I exchange my foreign driving licence for a Danish one?

Foreign residents of Denmark are required to exchange their foreign driving licence for a Danish one after moving to Denmark.

A file photo showing sample Danish driving licences
A file photo showing sample Danish driving licences. Photo: Anne Bæk/Ritzau Scanpix

The rules for when a foreign driving licence must be exchanged for a Danish licence depend on the country which issued the original licence.

You must change your foreign licence for a Danish one within 90 days of moving to the country (meaning the date on which you arrived in Denmark with the purpose of staying).

At the time of writing, the 90-day deadline is extended to 180 days due to delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

EU and EEA countries

If you have a driving licence issued in the EU or EEA (Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein), you can use it in Denmark. You can freely exchange the licence for a Danish licence without having to take an additional driving test.

Australia (Capital Territory only), Brazil, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Russia, Switzerland and Ukraine

Driving licences issued in the above countries and territories can also be exchanged for Danish licences without taking any additional test.

In addition to your existing licence, you must also submit a medical declaration from your doctor and a signed written declaration that you have not been disqualified from driving within the last five years. Your licence must not be restricted or issued under special conditions.

It should be noted that the above only applies for category B driving licences. This is the category for driving a normal car. For other types of category such as motorcycle or HGV licences, it is necessary to take an additional test in order to exchange your foreign licence for a Danish one.

Singapore, United States, Canada, Australia, Chile, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, New Zealand, Isle of Man (UK) and Israel

For the above countries and territories, the same conditions apply as for the non-EU/EEA countries listed further above.

Additionally, you must also submit a declaration that you have two years’ effective (reel) in Danish driving experience. In other words, you must have driven regular for at least two years and not had a driving licence for five years or more without having done any driving.

United Kingdom after Brexit

The UK does not neatly fit into any of the above categories because the applicable rules depend on whether your licence was issued before or after the UK left the EU.

In short, you can exchange your licence in line with EU rules if it was issued before Brexit, but UK licences issued after January 1st 2021 are treated as “third country” driving licences.

The rules for exchanging UK driving licences in Denmark following Brexit are set out in more detail in this article.

Other foreign driving licences

Driving licences issued in all other countries can be used to drive in Denmark for up to 90 days after you are registered as living in the country.

Danish rules permit the use of foreign driving licences printed in English (or French) with Latin letters, or if it is accompanied by an English, French or Danish translation. If your licence does not meet this, you may be required to obtain an international licence before driving in Denmark.

You will be required to take what is termed in Danish a kontrollerende køreprøve (“control driving test”) to be able to exchange your foreign licence for a Danish one.

What is a ‘control driving test’?

The Danish Road Traffic Authority website states that a control driving test or kontrollerende køreprøve consists of a theory and practical element. Driving lessons are not mandatory for the test, unlike with the regular driving test given to new drivers.

Drivers taking the test must supply their own vehicle and applications are made via their home municipality.

Where do I go to exchange my licence?

The application form for exchanging to a Danish driving license can be found on the Local Government Denmark (KL) website.

The form must be handed in at a municipal Borgerservice (“Citizens’ Service”). Check the website of your local municipality to find out where the Borgerservice is located in your area. You may be required to make an appointment (or it might be better to do so to avoid a queue).

You’ll need to bring your existing licence, passport and a photo (see here for the photo specifications) when you hand in your licence for exchange. You’ll also need your Danish residence permit.

More information on the application process can be found on the Danish citizen and residents’ platform Borger.dk.

A fee of 280 kroner is charged to exchange a foreign driving licence for a Danish one.

Sources: Færdselsstyrelsen, Borger.dk

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DRIVING

COMPARE: Which countries in Europe have the strictest drink-drive limits?

Certain countries around Europe have stricter policies than others regarding drinking and driving and harsher punishjments for those caught exceeding legal limits. Here's what you need to know.

COMPARE: Which countries in Europe have the strictest drink-drive limits?

European countries set their own driving laws and speed limits and it’s no different when it comes to legal drink-drive limits.

While the safest thing to do of course, is to drink no alcohol at all before driving it is useful to know what the limit is in the country you are driving in whether as a tourist or as someone who frequently crosses European borders by car for work.

While some countries, such as the Czech Republic, have zero tolerance for drinking and driving, in others people are allowed to have a certain amount of alcohol in their blood while driving.

However, not only can the rules be different between countries, they are usually stricter for commercial (or bus) drivers and novice drivers as well. Besides that, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is extremely difficult to estimate, so the old “one beer is ok” standards no longer safely apply.

In the end, the only way to be safe is to avoid consuming alcohol before driving. Any amount will slow reflexes while giving you dangerous higher confidence. According to the UK’s National Health Service, there is no ‘safe’ drinking level.

How is blood alcohol level measured?

European countries mostly measure blood alcohol concentration (BAC), which is the amount, in grams, of alcohol in one litre of blood.

After alcohol is consumed, it will be absorbed fast from the stomach and intestine to the bloodstream. There, it is broken down by a liver-produced enzyme.

Each person will absorb alcohol at their own speed, and the enzyme will also work differently in each one.

The BAC will depend on these metabolic particularities as well as body weight, gender, how fast and how much the person drank, their age and whether or not (and how much) they have eaten, and even stress levels at the time.

In other words there are many things that may influence the alcohol concentration.

The only way to effectively measure BAC is by taking a blood test – even a breathalyser test could show different results. Still, this is the measuring unit used by many EU countries when deciding on drinking limits and penalties for drivers.

Here are the latest rules and limits.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Driving is a great way to enjoy scenic European roads. Pictured is a highway in Norway (Photo by Shai Pal on Unsplash)

Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Greece, Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, and Croatia

In most EU countries, the limit is just under 0.5g/l for standard drivers (stricter rules could be in place for novice or professional drivers).

This could be exceeded by a man with average weight who consumed one pint of beer (containing 4.2% alcohol) and two glasses of red wine (13% alcohol) while having dinner.

If a person is caught driving with more than 0.8g/l of blood alcohol content in Austria, they can pay fines of up to € 5,900 and to have their license taken for one year in some cases.

In France, if BAC exceeds 0.8g/l, they could end up with a 2-year jail sentence and a € 4,500 fine. In Germany, penalties start at a € 500 fine and a one-month license suspension. In Greece, drunk drivers could face up to years of imprisonment.

In Denmark, first time offenders are likely to have their licences suspended and could be required to go on self-paid alcohol and traffic courses if BAC levels are low. Italy has penalties that vary depending on whether or not the driver has caused an accident and could lead to car apprehension, fines and prison sentences.

In Spain, going over a 1.2g/l limit is a criminal offence that could lead to imprisonment sentences and hefty fines. 

Norway, Sweden, and Poland

In Norway, Sweden, and Poland, the limit for standard drivers is 0.2g/l. It could take a woman with average weight one standard drink, or one can of beer, to reach that level.

Penalties in Norway can start at a one month salary fine and a criminal record. In Poland, fines are expected if you surpass the limit, and you could also have your license revoked and receive a prison sentence.

Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia

The Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia have one of the strictest rules in the European Union. There is no allowed limit of alcohol in the blood for drivers.

In the Czech Republic, fines start at € 100 to € 800, and a driving ban of up to one year can be instituted for those driving with a 0.3 BAC level. However, the harshest penalties come if the BAC level surpasses 1 g/l, fines can be up to € 2,000, and drivers could be banned from driving for 10 years and imprisoned for up to three years.

This is intended to be a general guide and reference. Check the current and specific rules in the country you plan to travel to. The easiest and best way to be safe and protect yourself and others is to refrain from drinking alcohol and driving.

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