When can foreigners in Denmark vote in elections and run for office?

The Local Denmark
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When can foreigners in Denmark vote in elections and run for office?
Foreigners cannot vote in Denmark's upcoming EU defence opt-out referendum, but can take part in certain other elections. Photo: Bo Amstrup/Ritzau Scanpix

In Denmark’s upcoming referendum on its EU defence opt-out, only Danish citizens will be able to vote. But foreigners who live in Denmark can vote – and sometimes even stand themselves – in other elections.


Those who follow Danish politics will know that the country will next week vote on a referendum on whether to scrap one of the country’s four EU-opt-outs (forbehold in Danish), which allow the company to stay outside of EU politics on specified areas. Next week’s referendum relates to the defence opt-out.

READ ALSO: Why does Denmark have four EU ‘opt-outs’ and what do they mean?

While referenda are only open for Danish citizens to vote in, foreign residents can vote in some other elections. It’s also possible for EU nationals to stand for office in EU elections that take place in Denmark.


General elections and referenda

Only Danish citizens can vote in general (parliamentary) elections, as is also the case with all referenda (not just those related to the EU, like the upcoming one).

Several other criteria apply in addition to Danish citizenship for voting in general elections and referenda.

You must also be over 18 years old and live in Denmark, meaning Danes who live abroad can generally not vote in these elections.

READ ALSO: How to apply for citizenship in Denmark

Municipal and regional elections

The municipal and regional elections are held every four years in Denmark and determine who is elected to municipal governments and regional health administrations, respectively.

Foreigners who are citizens of other EU countries (or Norway or Iceland) can vote in both the municipal and regional elections if they are over 18 and reside in the municipality and region in which they are voting.

People from non-EU countries can also vote in the elections if they have resided in Denmark for at least four years on the date of the election.

A foreign resident who has had their residence withdrawn (tålt ophold) or who has been sentenced to deportation or is in Denmark to serve a prison sentence may not vote.


Slightly different rules apply to British nationals who live in Denmark. UK nationals who were registered as living in Denmark before Brexit (January 31st 2020) and have live in the country since that date were able to vote in the last local elections, which took place in November 2021. Britons who moved to Denmark after January 31st 2020 could not vote.

For the next local elections, which will take place more than four years after Brexit, this rule will be superseded, so UK nationals will be eligible to vote if they have lived in Denmark for four years or more.

Anyone who qualifies to vote under the above rules can also stand for election as a candidate.


EU elections

In EU parliamentary elections, nationals of all EU countries who reside in Denmark can both vote in the elections and run for office.

Nationals of non-EU countries cannot vote or run in these elections.

To be eligible to vote and run in the EU elections, you must either be eligible to vote in Danish general elections or be an EU national who resides in Denmark. You must be 18 years old or more.

Unlike with general elections, foreign-based Danes can vote in EU elections in Denmark if they live in another EU country (but not a non-EU country).



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