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READER QUESTION: Can I access the Danish public health service as an EU citizen based in the US?

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The Local ([email protected])
READER QUESTION: Can I access the Danish public health service as an EU citizen based in the US?
Can you access Denmark's health service as a citizen of another EU country who lives in a third country? Photo by Lindsay Martin on Unsplash

Residents of EU countries who visit Denmark are able to use the Danish public health service if they have an EHIC card, but what if you are a non-resident citizen of an EU country?


Question: I am a German citizen residing in the US. I have US medical insurance but none in Germany. What are my options of obtaining health insurance in Denmark? 

The answer to this question changes depending on whether you will be in Denmark as a visitor, for example on holiday, or whether you plan to relocate from a non-EU country, in this case the United States, to Denmark – which you have the right to do as a citizen of an EU member state under the EU’s free movement provisions.

We’ll tackle the former situation first.

Visiting Denmark as a German national who resides in the US 

The health cover option taken by most residents of EU member states who visit other EU member states is to apply for an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card).

However, the key word here is ‘resident’, rather than citizen, of an EU country.


That is because, as stated on the European Commission website, to be eligible for an EHIC you must be “insured by or covered by a state social security system in any Member State of the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland.”

Therefore, despite holding German nationality, you cannot successfully apply for an EHIC if you are not covered by Germany’s national health insurance system by virtue of not being a resident of Germany.

If we flip the situation to a US national who lives in Germany, unfortunately Danish rules would also present an obstacle here.

Although EU rules generally extend social security coordination rules to nationals of non-EU countries legally resident in the EU, this does not apply in Denmark. In other words, nationals from non-EU countries cannot use their EHIC for medical treatment in Denmark.

EU nationals who live outside of the EU and plan to visit Denmark should therefore take out private travel insurance to cover healthcare they might need during their visit.

READ ALSO: How long do non-EU citizens have to be present in EU to avoid losing residency status?


Moving to Denmark as a German national currently based in the US 

All citizens of EU member states have the right to move to Denmark under the EU’s free movement provisions, but some rules do apply.

There are a number of reasons you might move to Denmark – to work, study, to run your own business, to join a family member being just a few of these.

You may also wish to retire to Denmark. In this case, you can apply to live in Denmark as a person with sufficient funds, meaning that “that you are self-supporting and thus have access to funds or income that can be used to maintain yourself and your family to such a degree that it can be assumed that you will not become a public burden” according to the Danish Agency for Recruitment and Integration (SIRI), the agency which processes residence applications.

Individual assessments are made as to what constitutes “sufficient funds” based on age, marital status, dependent children and other factors like this.

The various ways in which you can apply for residence in Denmark under EU free movement rules, and the application processes for each, are outlined on SIRI’s website. There is no application fee.

Successful application will result in you being granted an EU residence document, which you can then present to the municipality where you live to be granted a Danish personal registration (CPR) number, which takes the form of a yellow plastic card with your personal details on it.

This doubles as a health insurance card: once you have a CPR number, you are covered by Denmark’s public health insurance system.

After five years’ uninterrupted, legal residence in Denmark under free movement, you become eligible for permanent residency.



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