Residency permits For Members

EXPLAINED: What's the best way to bring an ageing parent to Denmark?

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The Local ([email protected])
EXPLAINED: What's the best way to bring an ageing parent to Denmark?
Are there ways to bring an elderly parent or parents to Denmark? Photo by Mark Timberlake on Unsplash

Many people living and working in Denmark have one or more parents living back in their home country, often alone. What are the options if they need support or stop being able to care for themselves?


Getting a temporary residence permit

According to the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI), there are two main ways of applying for a temporary residence permit as a family member of someone living in Denmark, if both you and they are from countries outside of the EU or EEA.

These are as an accompanying family member to someone who is working in Denmark; or by family reunification.

In the latter case, Denmark only allows family reunification between parents and children over 18 in “very special circumstances” where turning down an application would go against the European Human Rights Convention.

Therefore, bringing an elderly parent to Denmark relies primarily on the parent being granted a residence permit as a family member of someone who is working in Denmark, or has permanent residency in connection to work or study.

Even in these cases, unfortunately the likelihood of Danish authorities granting a residence permit to a parent of a foreign resident (aged over 18) are low, according to SIRI.


If you are “a parent of the sponsor [the permanent resident or work permit holder, ed.] who will be working/has been granted permanent residence in Denmark, SIRI cannot grant you a residence permit as an accompanying family member unless extraordinary circumstances and weighty special considerations apply,” the agency states.

Some of the individual circumstances that could work in a parent’s favour are listed as follows:

  • The sponsor has always supported you financially and has always lived at the same address as you
  • You are particularly dependent on the sponsor because of disability, old age or similar
  • You do not have any other family in your home country
  • You have previously lived with the sponsor when he or she has been stationed abroad

These circumstances must be documented in the application, when it is submitted to SIRI.

The fee for the application is 2,635 kroner and it usually takes around two months to process.

If you are a citizen of an EU country 

If you are a citizen of an EU country, the rules are a bit more lenient, but there’s still no guarantee your parent will be able to join you.

Parents can be registered as a family member to “an EU citizen who has independent grounds for residence in Denmark” under EU free movement regulations under certain circumstances, SIRI states.

This applies whether or not the parent themselves is a citizen of an EU country.

As well as the documentation provided by all family members, parents are also required to submit: documentation of self-support, such as bank statements; documentation of a shared address, and documentation of health related conditions.

If your parent is granted a residence permit, it remains valid for as long you (the EU family member) meet the conditions for residence, and your family relationship exists. There will be an expiry date on the card but it can become invalid before this date, for example if the “sponsor” or family member leaves Denmark. Reapplication is necessary once the card expires.

After five years of residence in Denmark, the parent can apply for permanent residence under EU rules.

There is no fee for applying under EU rules, and the processing time is anything up to 90 days.


If your parent is an EU citizen

If your parent is a citizen of an EU country, you might also want to look into the option of your parent applying for Danish residency as a “self-supporting” person, defined as a someone with sufficient funds to that extent that it can be assumed you will not be an expense to the Danish state.

The actual amount needed is assessed based on the age, marital status of the applicant and other factors.

These funds do not necessarily have to come from your parent, so you could act as a financial guarantee if you have the means to do so. You can read more about this option on SIRI’s website.


How can a parent receive healthcare treatment in Denmark? 

Emergency healthcare

Everyone in Denmark has a right to emergency healthcare if they are in Denmark on a temporary visit, and this also applies if the emergency is related to a chronic disease.

However, you can be charged for “acute and continuous” hospital treatment if you do not have public health insurance in another EU country, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland – and can show a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

Further exceptions are residents of Nordic countries.

If a parent comes from an EU, EEA, or EFTA country, they have the right to receive emergency healthcare at the same cost as a Danish citizen, although they will need to have an EHIC card to access this right. 

Nationals of countries outside the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland can use an EHIC card if they are insured as a family member of an EU/EEA or Swiss national. 

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