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What happens if you don't pay a bill in Denmark?

Michael Barrett
Michael Barrett - [email protected]
What happens if you don't pay a bill in Denmark?
A black mark on your credit record could have serious consequences. Photo: Ida Marie Odgaard/Ritzau Scanpix

Denmark's courts can enforce collection of unpaid debts and fines. So, what happens as an unpaid bill moves through the system, and can you do anything if you have a black mark on your record?

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What happens when you have a bill?

Usually, if you have a bill in Denmark (or receive a fine like a parking or speeding ticket), you will receive an invoice (faktura, also known as a regning or ‘bill’either digitally or via post. This will include details such as the amount owed, who to pay and the date payment is due (betalingsdato or forfaldsdato).

If you don't pay the invoice on time, the person you owe money to will initially send you a rykker or reminder. This can be sent from days to weeks after the original payment date has passed, and will often be accompanied by a rykkergebyr or late payment fee, for the a relatively small amount of 100 kroner. Up to three of these can be sent.

If you pay a bill after the due date but before a rykker reaches you, there are usually no further consequences.

If you still don’t pay after receiving these reminders, the creditor may turn the case over to inkasso, or a debt collection agency, who will again send you an invoice for payment, plus the agency's fee – likely to be considerably higher than the late payment fee from the creditor.

It’s also worth keeping in mind other consequences of not paying bills – for example, a landlord may be able to cancel your rental contract if you do not pay rent within a given time. This will be stated in the contract.

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What happens next?

If this invoice goes unpaid, the courts may eventually get involved.

If you don’t pay after the debt has been sent to an inkasso agency, you will be summoned to the fogedret, essentially a court for settling debts between individuals and businesses. The summons is usually delivered via e-Boks, the secure digital post system used in Denmark. Fogedret courts come under the district court system, so there will be one local to where you live.

At the court, you will be required to agree on a new payment system with the creditor. This could cost more than the original invoice because the creditor’s costs are accounted for.

The final step of this process allows the creditor to forcibly recover your debt through any assets you might have, like a house or car. These can eventually be confiscated and auctioned under the court’s authority if the debt is not paid off under the agreed schedule.

Denmark’s debt collection agency (Gældsstyrelsen) can meanwhile make deductions from your salary if you have unserviced debts to the state.

If you cannot agree a payment schedule and do not have any possession against which the debt may be recovered, you may be able to declare insolvency.

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The RKI register

RKI is Denmark’s national register of people who have defaulted debts. Every big company subscribes to this register, which is important because it can make it harder to be approved for a mortgage or other loan, a rented apartment, credit card, or even a phone contract or fuel discount card.

You can check whether you are on Denmark’s RKI register by visiting the dininfo.dk website and logging in using your MitID digital ID.

Can I do anything to be removed from the RKI?

RKI registrations last for a standard five years per defaulted debt – so after this time, you may no longer appear on the register. Additionally, if you agree a payment schedule with a creditor, you may be able to include removal from the RKI register as part of this agreement.

Sources: dingaeld.dk, borger.dk

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