For members


What foreign residents need to know about Denmark’s pension rules

Denmark has different types of pension schemes and knowing which ones are beneficial to you as a foreign worker can be complicated. We spoke to an international pensions expert to break down the pros, cons and taxes of having a pension in Denmark.

Silhouette of elderly couple sitting in the sunset
Most pensions in Denmark are subject to Danish tax. Photo by Harli Marten on Unsplash
There are three types of pension in Denmark: State pensions, labour market pensions and individual pensions.

State pension (folkepension)

The folkepension is state-provided and not related to your employment. It consists of a basic element (grundbeløb), which everybody gets, and a supplement (pensionstillæg), which is adjusted according to whether you live alone or with a spouse or partner. You can also get other supplements depending on your health and income.

To qualify for the basic state-sponsored folkepension, you must have a permanent address in Denmark, have lived in Denmark for at least three years between your 15th birthday and retirement age, and be a Danish citizen.

If you are not a Danish citizen, however, you still qualify for this pension if you have lived in Denmark for at least 10 years between the age of 15 and retirement age. Citizens of EU and EEA countries and Switzerland, as well as the United Kingdom, qualify without Danish citizenship, as do some refugees.

You can only claim the full retirement pension if you have lived in Denmark for 40 years between the age of 15 and retirement age. Otherwise you get a partial pension.

State pension age

Because of a 2017 law change, the age at which you can retire and take out a folkepension depends on when you were born and the age has been gradually raised between 2019 and 2022. If you are born after 1967 the state pension age is now 69.

You can see the relevant breakdown of retirement ages here.

State pension per month before tax in 2022 is 14,019 kroner for a single person and 10,347 kroner for someone who is married or cohabiting. 

ATP (Arbejdsmarkedets Tillægspension)

ATP pensions are a supplementary labour market pension scheme which nearly everyone in Denmark pays into. Deductions are automatically taken out of your pay check – you can see them on your pay slips. 

You only pay a third of your ATP pension contribution while working – you employer pays the other two thirds.

You can read in detail (in Danish) about tariffs, deductions and other factors which determine the ATP pension payout here.

You can check how much ATP pension you can expect to receive at any time by logging into to your account via

Private or individual pension

Anyone in Denmark can join a private pension scheme, and if your company offers a private pension programme, then you will also see line items on your pay slips for employer and employee contributions. 

What happens if you leave Denmark with a pension fund?
State pension
In order to be entitled to full Danish state pension, you need to have resided in Denmark for 40 years between your 15th birthday and retirement age. If you have lived in Denmark for less than this time, you will receive a proportion of the Danish pension.
Denmark has arrangements with certain countries, which means you can still receive your Danish state pension if you move to a country either within or outside the EU. However there may be other requirements, depending which country you are retiring in, which can be found here.

If you live in an EU/EEA country, Switzerland, the USA, India, the Philippines or South Korea, you can be paid the full pension including all the supplements. But if you live outside these countries you can only be paid the basic pension without supplements. There is a guide to applying here.

Pension tax 

If you retire abroad, the payments from your Danish pension scheme, both state and private will be subject to Danish taxation. Pensions are taxed at the Danish income tax rate, which is 37 percent if you earn under 500,000 kroner and 52 percent if you earn over 500,000 kroner.
“According to almost every double tax agreement entered by Denmark, Denmark has the taxation right to Danish private pension schemes,” Michael Thomsen, pension expert at Danes Worldwide told The Local.

“The country you’re residing in has the right to tax that pension as well. But due to the the double taxation rule, they have to take into consideration the tax already paid in Denmark. Normally this is higher than most other countries, so it may not trigger a second tax deduction in the country of retirement,” Thomsen explained.
“Currently there are only three countries where you can take up residence and have a Danish pension scheme paid out without being subject to Danish tax: Malaysia, Australia and Romania. You will have to pay the tax rates of those countries but not of Denmark,” Thomsen said.
If you want to transfer your ATP pension fund abroad before retirement age, it is “near or less impossible” Thomsen says, as you get a deduction on your ATP pension as an employee and don’t pay tax on employee pension contributions. If you manage to transfer your ATP fund, you will be subject to 60 percent tax, which is the same for taking out the pension early.
However it is not a problem to get payments from a Danish ATP pension if you are of retirement age and abroad, it is just subject to tax.
For that reason, Thomsen advises only paying into a Danish pension scheme if you plan to live in Denmark for ten or more years.
“First of all, there are certain administration costs for setting up a pension scheme in Denmark and the yield has to be quite high if you want to have a gain after these costs. If you’re in Denmark between four and eight years, there is a limitation on how much you can actually pay into the scheme during these rather short periods.
“Secondly, due to the rather high tax in Denmark, we probably have a higher tax rate than a similar scheme from where you may retire, so therefore you would be better off saving the money in another way than in an ordinary Danish pension scheme,” Thomsen told The Local.
Danes Worldwide pension expert Thomsen advises many expats, especially those on the special expat tax scheme of paying 27 percent income tax for up to seven years, of investing in a non-taxable pension scheme.

“With these schemes, you don’t get any deductions when you make payments into the scheme and you can invest the funds where you like. Then when you move country, you can take the money with you and as you haven’t had any deductions, you won’t be taxed when you later withdraw the money,” Thomsen said.
There is also a new pan-European personal pension product (PEPP) which has recently launched, to allow savers to easily take their private pension with them if they move within the European Union.
Whenever the saver changes the country of residence, the provider will open a new sub-account for that country. If the provider cannot offer such option, savers have the right to switch provider free of charge. The applicable taxation will be that of the country of residence.
What happens if you retire in Denmark with a pension fund from abroad?
“Your pension from abroad will be taxed according to that country and then, as a Danish resident, you will have to include those pension payments in your Danish income tax assessment.
“When your tax is calculated, the tax you’re already paying on your pension from abroad, will be taken into consideration. If this is less than Danish tax then you will have to pay the difference,” Thomsen told The Local.
There are some variations to the rules, depending on the country, Thomsen explained. For example the Denmark-U.S. double tax agreement means pensions from the U.S. can only be subject to U.S. taxation, so it is excluded from Danish tax.
Regarding a state pension from abroad, it depends on the rules of individual countries as to whether you are entitled to have your foreign pension (udenlandsk pension) paid out in Denmark. Those claiming pensions from an EU/EEA Member State, Switzerland or the United Kingdom can apply online here.
You can also still qualify for the Danish state pension if you have lived and worked abroad but the amount you will receive depends on how many years you have lived in Denmark. If you want to apply for a Danish pension and foreign pension, you need to contact Udbetaling Danmark.

If your country does not have a pension agreement with Denmark, it is advised to contact your embassy.


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For members


READER QUESTION: How many years do I need to work in Denmark to qualify for the state pension?

Danish citizens get a state pension (folkepension) when they retire, but what about foreign nationals who have lived and worked in the country?

READER QUESTION: How many years do I need to work in Denmark to qualify for the state pension?

Danish nationals resident in Denmark qualify for the country’s state pension (folkepension) when they reach the retirement age.

Currently, the retirement age is 67, because people who reach their 67th birthday in 2023 were born in 1956.

The retirement age is set to go up to 68 years for people born from 1963 onwards, and it has been lower in the past. You can see the retirement age for a range of birth dates in the table below.

Date of birth

Retirement age

Up to December 31st 1953


January-June 1954


July 1954-December 1954


January-June 1955


July 1955-December 1962




1967 or later


The future retirement ages are not set in stone – the Danish government can change them to bring them in line with extended life expectancies.

In general, you must fulfil three criteria to qualify for the Danish state pension: you must be a Danish citizen, reside in Denmark and have lived in Denmark for at least three years between the age of 15 and retirement.

However, exceptions to these rules apply, notably for foreign residents of Denmark.

It is also worth noting here that these rules only relate to the state pension. You may have a private pension in Denmark or your Danish employer may have paid into a fund on your behalf.


If you are not a Danish citizen you can still qualify for the state pension if you have lived in Denmark for at least 10 years between the age of 15 and retirement age. In this case, you must have been living in Denmark for at least the last five years at the time you retire and are granted the pension.

Citizens of EU and EEA countries and Switzerland do not generally need to be a Danish citizen to qualify for the national pension, and are therefore covered by the same rules as Danes.

British nationals, who are no longer citizens of an EU country as of 2021 following the end of the Brexit transition period, are still eligible for the Danish state pension if they fulfil the regular criteria. This is because the UK and EU agreed to continue reciprocal pension arrangements after the UK left the EU.

This means that both Danish citizens resident in the UK, and British citizens resident in Denmark are still eligible for the Danish state pension.

Refugees may also qualify for the state pension under certain sections of Denmark’s Aliens Act (Udlændingeloven). However, different rules apply for refugees who arrived in Denmark after September 2015.

How much pension do I qualify for?

The amount of Danish state pension you can receive depends on the number of years you have lived in Denmark between the ages of 15 and retirement.

If you have worked and earned social pensions in other countries, these periods of time do not normally count towards your Danish pension, even if you lived in Denmark when your income was based abroad.

You qualify for the full state pension if you have amassed the equivalent of 40 working years in Denmark in the period in which you can earn pension (working age).

You can also receive the full pension if you lived in Denmark for nine tenths of the period between your 15th birthday and retirement age.

If the amount of time you have lived and earned pension in Denmark is less than this, you can receive a partial pension or brøkpension to give it its Danish term. This will be calculated based on the amount of time you lived in Denmark in the period that qualifies for pension accrual (not including periods in which you earned pension in other countries by working there).

What about pension I have earned outside of Denmark?

Whether you can receive a foreign pension in Denmark depends on the rules in the country where you earned that pension. When you apply for the Danish pension, however, your application automatically becomes an application for pension in other EU/EEA countries and Switzerland as well as other countries with which Denmark has agreements (conventions) in place.

The Danish authority responsible for paying out pensions, Udbetaling Danmark, forwards your application to authorities in the relevant country based on your personal information. More information on this can be found (in Danish) here.