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What are the rules for moving to Denmark after retirement?

Emma Firth
Emma Firth - [email protected]
What are the rules for moving to Denmark after retirement?
Denmark's landscape is an alluring one to retire to. Illustration photo: Rune Island/Ritzau Scanpix

Whether it’s for adventure, joining family members or to see out your days in one of the happiest countries in the world, retiring to Denmark is an option people consider. But just how easy is it to secure residency if you're not working?

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Editor's note: This article refers to people who are already retired when they move, the situation is different for people who move to an EU country and then retire. 

Permits or visas

Denmark doesn’t have a retirement visa, so moving is dependent on other visas available for those not studying or working.

For EU citizens, retirees are covered by the EU’s freedom of movement rules which means they can move if they can prove financial self-sufficiency. This will provide a a temporary EU residency permit, which can be turned into a permanent residency permit after five years.

You can also get temporary EU residency as an accompanying partner of an EU citizen, however your residency will be dependent on your partner’s status. 

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

For non-EU citizens, it’s much harder. There’s no visa or permit available for financially self-sufficient non-EU immigrants, so you have to fulfil the requirements for one of the other non-EU residence permits.

As most retirees are by definition not studying or working, this essentially means you can only move over if your partner is Danish or an EU citizen, or holds a residence permit in the country. However family reunification rules in Denmark are notoriously strict and expensive, with several criteria needing to be met including language skills.

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A permanent residency permit for non-EU citizens is usually granted after 8 years.

Non-EU citizens who don’t qualify for any of these residence permits can still visit Denmark, of course. People from visa-free countries can visit Denmark for 90 days in every 180 days, if they don’t spend any other time in Schengen countries.

READ MORE: How the dizzying cost of family reunification keeps Danes and foreign partners apart

Healthcare

When you become a resident in Denmark, you receive a social security number (CPR), which gives you access to the country's free healthcare system. The basic principle of the Danish welfare system is that all citizens have equal rights to social security. The majority of healthcare services are financed by general taxes and mainly provided free of charge. 

For those visiting Denmark, you will need to show proof of health insurance, which for Brits can include a GHIC or EHIC card.

READ MORE: What foreign residents need to know about Denmark's pension rules

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Pension

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.
 
Although there are some variations to the rules, depending on the country. 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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