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What’s the difference between temporary and permanent residency in Denmark?

If you are a citizen from outside the Nordic countries and you want to work, live and study in Denmark, you need a residency permit. There are two types of residency permits in Denmark, called temporary residency and permanent residency. Here we explain the difference and how to get them.

Switching from temporary to permanent residency in Denmark may be beneficial once you become eligible. Photo by Kylie Cheung on Unsplash

If you are a citizen of Finland, Norway, Iceland or Sweden then you are able to work, live and study in Denmark without a residence permit. You just need to get a CPR (personal registration) number to register for tax and healthcare.  

For everyone else who isn’t a Nordic citizen and wants to work, live and study in Denmark, a residency permit is required. The rules are different if you are an EU/EEA/Swiss Citizen but there are still two types of residency permits –  temporary and permanent. You can only get a permanent residence permit after holding a temporary residence permit for a certain amount of years, depending on your circumstances. We explain more in this article. 

Temporary residency permit – EU/EEA/Swiss citizen 

If you are an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen and plan on remaining in Denmark for less than three months, you do not need to apply for an EU residence document.

If you are seeking employment, you can stay in Denmark for up to six months before obtaining a temporary residence document.

If you are a student in Denmark, employed or self-employed in Denmark, or you have sufficient funds and want to stay in Denmark for longer than three months, you can get a temporary EU residency permit. You can also get temporary EU residency as an accompanying partner or child of an EU citizen, however your residency will be dependent on your partner’s or parent’s status. 

To get this type of residency permit, you need to register for a CPR number (Civil Registration Number) with a valid Danish address.

Your CPR number is your social security number, and allows you to access healthcare, childcare, open a bank account, among other things. 

If your grounds for residence are terminated, for example you stop working or studying, you must apply for a new residence document on other grounds such as having sufficient funds.

You apply for residency here through The Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI).

Temporary residency permit – non-EU citizen

The process is more complicated if you’re not in the EU. You can’t get a residence permit in Denmark unless you have a work permit and you need to have this in place before you arrive in Denmark. 

There are various ways to get a work permit, depending on your profession. A list of different types of work sectors and requirements needed, can be found on the website

These include Fast-track scheme, Pay limit scheme, Positive lists, Researcher, Employed PHD, Guest researcher, Special individual qualifications, Herdsmen and farm managers, Establishment card, Start-up Denmark, Trainee, Certification, ESS Scheme, Authorisation, Labour Market Attachment, Drill rigs and other mobile workplaces, Volunteer, Sideline employment, Employment for adaptation and training purposes, Work permit for accompanying family members.

READ MORE: How can you get a work permit in Denmark if you are not an EU national?

How long can I have a temporary residence permit for?

For non EU citizens, work permits and therefore residency permits are granted for no longer than four years but you can apply for an extension three months before your current permit expires. 

In order to extend your permit, your employment must not have changed. This means that you must be employed in the same position, by the same employer and under the same or improved terms of employment.

If you change jobs, you need to apply for a new work permit or if your salary or other employment terms are diminished, you must inform SIRI.

If you have a residence permit based on your partner’s employment (partner is termed ‘sponsor’ by SIRI) and their employment is extended, you must also apply for an extension of your residence permit.

For EU citizens, your temporary residence permit can continue for as long as you meet the requirements. If your circumstances change, you have to apply for a new temporary residency.

However after five consecutive years, you qualify for permanent residency and this gives you some extra benefits.

Permanent residency

Permanent residency means that a person is allowed to stay in Denmark and does not need to apply for residency again. 

However if you leave Denmark for more than two years, you will have to revoke your permanent residency. Only by becoming a citizen can you avoid this.

READ MORE: How to apply for citizenship in Denmark

If you are an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen, then you have the right to apply for permanent residency if you have lived in Denmark for at least 5 consecutive years. 

Once you have obtained your permanent residency, you can live in Denmark without having to meet the original requirements of your temporary EU residency (i.e. being employed, self-employed, a student, or through having sufficient funds). 

If you are a non-EU citizen then you can be granted permanent residence once you have had a temporary residence permit for eight uninterrupted years, or four years in certain circumstances.

However, there are other requirements to fulfil.

You must not have been convicted of certain crimes; you may not have any overdue public debts; you may not have received certain forms of social benefits within four years of applying for a permanent residence permit; you need to pass the Danish language test 2 (Prøve i Dansk 2), or a Danish exam of an equivalent or higher level. You also need to have current employment – working at least three years and six months of the previous four years.

Danish permanent residence rules were changed in 2016 under the previous centre-right government and now any time spent in education, does not count towards the employment criteria of having worked for three and a half of the last four years.

However new Danish Minister for Immigration and Integration Kaare Dybvad Bek recently said he wants paid internships and trainee programs to count towards the work requirement.

READ ALSO: Denmark could make change to permanent residency employment rule

The rules for permanent residency are more lenient if you are between 18-19 years old, if you are a person of Danish descent, a former Danish citizen, or have ties to a Danish minority group.  

You can apply for permanent residency at anytime and it usually takes 10 months to process at a cost of 6,745 kroner.

However, it is important that you submit your application before your current residence permit expires.

If you do not meet all the requirements for a permanent residence permit, you can apply for an extension of your current residence permit instead. If you apply for an extension, you can apply three months prior to the date your current residence permit expires.

If you need any more information or have questions about work permits, you can contact SIRI on their contact page.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What’s the difference between getting Danish citizenship and becoming a permanent resident?

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‘We’ve found a solution’: Denmark extends deadline for post-Brexit residency

The Danish government announced on Monday that British nationals, who had missed a previous deadline to secure their post-Brexit residency status, will now have until the end of 2023 to apply or resubmit their late application.

'We've found a solution': Denmark extends deadline for post-Brexit residency

After the UK left the EU, Britons resident in Denmark before the end of 2020 were required to apply to extend their residence status in Denmark and receive a Danish residence card under the terms of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

A significant number of British residents – at least 350, according to official figures released at the beginning of this year – did not apply before the original deadline of December 31st, 2021, however.

Many were subsequently given orders to leave Denmark and Danish immigration authorities came in for much criticism from rights groups representing Britons in Europe, who accused them of not correctly applying the rules of the Withdrawal Agreement.

But on Monday the Danish government announced that the initial deadline will now be extended until the end of 2023.

This extended deadline will apply to all British citizens who applied after the original deadline and whose applications were subsequently not processed.

Brits who had moved to Denmark before the end of 2020 but never submitted an application to extend their Danish residency after Brexit will also have until the end of this year to submit an application, the Ministry of Immigration and Integration said.

A major complication with the original application deadline was an error relating to information letters sent out by the authority that processes the applications, the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI).

The information letters, sent in 2020, were intended to inform all British nationals living in Denmark of the need to apply for their residence status in Denmark to be continued after Brexit. But an error at the agency resulted in most people who moved from the UK to Denmark in 2020 not receiving the information mails.

The Local has previously reported on individual Britons who faced having to leave homes, jobs and loved ones in Denmark over the issue.


“I am very pleased we have found this solution,” Minister for Immigration and Integration Kaare Dybvad Bek said in the statement.

“It has always been the government’s intention to make it easy and smooth for resident British nationals to stay in Denmark. There are some people who didn’t apply on time and we want to give them an extra chance,” he said.

Mads Fuglede, immigration spokesperson with coalition partner the Liberals (Venstre), said that “In light of Brexit, we decided in parliament that it should not harm British residents of Denmark that the United Kingdom is no longer part of the EU. I am therefore also pleased we have found a solution for the Britons who did not apply on time”.

All British residents of Denmark applying within the new deadline are still required to be eligible for ongoing residence in Denmark under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, meaning they legally took up residence in Denmark under the EU’s free movement provisions prior to the UK’s exit from the EU. This does not represent any change to the rules under the earlier deadline.

British residents who must now submit applications by the new deadline should be aware of the distinction between an earlier application being rejected, with it not being processed.

In general, applications that missed the old deadline were not processed, unless SIRI deemed there to be special circumstances justifying the late submission. In these cases, SIRI informed the applicant that their application could not be processed, citing the missed deadline as the reason for this.

Persons whose applications were processed but were rejected because they did not meet the criteria for ongoing residence under the Withdrawal Agreement will not be given the chance to reapply, the ministry said.

People who moved to Denmark after the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31st, 2020 are still subject to general Danish immigration rules for third-country nationals.

The deadline extension will require a legal amendment which will be sent into the hearing phase of parliamentary procedure “as soon as possible”, the ministry said.