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UPDATED: When can I start counting my stay in Denmark towards permanent residency?

Richard Orange
Richard Orange - [email protected]
UPDATED: When can I start counting my stay in Denmark towards permanent residency?
The waterfront in Aarhus. Photo by Stephan Mahlke on Unsplash

Applicants for permanent residency in Denmark need to have been living in the country for a certain amount of time in order to qualify. At what point does your time spent in Denmark start to count?


How long do I have to have lived in Denmark to qualify for permanent residency?

If you are not an EU citizen, as a general rule, you need to have lived in Denmark for eight consecutive years with a valid residence permit. 

If, however, you meet all four of the so-called "supplementary requirements" for permanent residency, you can qualify after just four years. 

The supplementary requirements are as follows: 

  • Passing Danish language test 3 (Prøve i Dansk 3), or a Danish exam of an equivalent or higher level
  • Having regular, full-time employment or being self-employed in Denmark for at least 4 years
  • Passing the active citizen exam or displaying "active citizenship" for at least a year by, for example, serving on a board or being a member of an association 
  • Having an annual taxable income of 309,824.37 kroner (2023 level) or more for the two years leading up to the decision on your application


If you are an EU citizen, or the partner of an EU citizen, you can gain permanent residence if you can show that you have had "a genuine and effective residence" for at least five years. 

The same goes for UK citizens or family members of UK citizens who started their legal residency in Denmark before the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31st 2020. 

British nationals who had missed the 2021 deadline to secure their post-Brexit residency status under the Withdrawal Agreement have until the end of 2023 to apply or resubmit their late application.


When can I start counting from?

This depends on how you initially received your residency permit. 

If you applied for your residency from outside of Denmark, your stay is calculated from the date you received your civil registration or CPR number from a Danish municipality on arrival.

Your stay is calculated from the date when you first handed in your application for a residency permit if you applied for residency after you arrived in Denmark, so long, of course, that the application eventually resulted in a permit. 

If you have refugee or similar status, your stay is calculated from the date on which you were granted asylum in Denmark, although in some cases it might also be calculated from the date you received your civil registration or CPR. 

In a few cases where you only fulfil the requirements for a residence permit after you make the application -- for instance if you marry a Danish citizen weeks or months after making an application, your stay will only be counted from the date on which the requirements are fulfilled -- i.e., the date you got married. 

If you’re self-employed, you could include documents showing your company’s registration certificate and corporate tax certificate, along with proof that it has been active in Denmark for sufficient time, and if you were supporting yourself financially you could include proof of housing costs covering the period in question, as well as documents showing you’ve been able to support you and your family for the whole time. 

EU citizens have the right to stay in Denmark as a visitor for up to three months. If they subsequently remain in the country and fulfil the conditions for continued residency, this initial three months can later be counted towards their right to permanent residency.

"EU citizens have the right of residence in Denmark for a period of up to three months without any conditions or any formalities other than requirement to hold a valid identity card or passport," a spokesperson from the Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI), which process residence permit applications, told The Local via email.

"If one of the grounds for residence is fulfilled, the first three months does count when determining whether an EU citizen qualifies for permanent residence," they said.

"To give an example: An EU citizen enters Denmark two and a half months prior to his/her study or employment. The period of two and a half months does count in terms of permanent residence," they added.


Does it matter if I have multiple permits? 

Your stay can either be based on a single residency permit which lasts for eight years (or four if you meet the supplementary requirements), or on the basis of a succession of multiple permits. 

You cannot, however, combine multiple permits based on multiple spouses or cohabiting partners. If you start a new relationship after a divorce or separation, the counting starts from the date of the new marriage or registration of cohabitation.  

If you are an EU citizen, the grounds for your residence can change, for example from study to work to self-employment, so long as you always have valid grounds for residence. 

Can I count previous periods of residence? 

No. If you leave Denmark and your residence permit expires, lapses or is revoked, and then return and are granted a new residence permit, the calculation of your stay in Denmark is based only on the second period of residency. 

If you leave Denmark for periods longer than a normal holiday, but your residence permit remains valid, the time abroad will be subtracted from the time you are deemed to be resident in Denmark.  

If you need to leave Denmark for a longer period, you can in some cases apply for a dispensation, so that your residence permit does not lapse or expire. 

If you are stationed abroad by a Danish company, public authority, non-governmental agency, or aid agency, you can count up to two years of your time spent abroad as residency in Denmark. 

Article updated on November 27th, 2023 to include clarification from SIRI.


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Alexander 2023/11/15 20:13
I am applying for PR in a few months. Can you give more examples of “active citizenship”?
  • Richard Orange 2023/11/16 13:20
    Did a quick article here:
  • Richard Orange 2023/11/15 21:42
    Good idea! I'll stick it on our list of future articles.

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