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Moving to Denmark: A Guide for Expats and Digital Nomads

Discover everything expats need to know about moving to Denmark, from applying for visas to finding work to embracing the local culture.

Gabriele Culot
Written by Gabriele Culot
February 22, 2024
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Key takeaways

  1. Denmark has emerged as a popular choice for expats and digital nomads in recent years.
  2. Applying for one of the many Danish visas and finding jobs calls for thorough research and careful planning.
  3. Deel’s step-by-step guide shows you how to effortlessly navigate the Danish visa process and settle into your new home.

The rise of remote work has seen an influx of expats and digital nomads calling Denmark home. Renowned for its high standard of living, progressive social policies, and the balance it offers between work and life, this Nordic country is becoming an increasingly appealing destination. 

As a member of the EU and the Schengen Zone, Denmark extends several visa programs, making it easier for foreigners to acquire permanent residency or citizenship. 

But, moving to Denmark comes with its own challenges, including navigating the paperwork and settling into a new culture. This guide will walk you through the essential steps for a successful start in Denmark.

Step 1: Prepare your documents

Before you move to Denmark, determine your eligibility to stay in the country and apply for a suitable visa. Here's what you need to consider:

EU countries

If you're an EU/EEA citizen or from Switzerland, you can live, work, and study anywhere within Denmark without needing a visa.

However, those from non-EU countries who plan to stay over 90 days need to apply for a residence permit.

Types of visa in Denmark

The Danish government offers several visa types tailored to the needs of foreigners:

  • Short-stay visa: For a maximum stay of 90 days over a six-month period. It's primarily for tourism, family visits, or business trips.
  • Work visa: To apply for this, you should first secure a job in Denmark. Your prospective employer will then initiate the visa process.
  • Student visa: For those who want to study in Denmark.
  • Family reunion visa: Relatives of Danish residents or citizens can get this visa to join their family in Denmark.
  • Green Card scheme: This scheme gives you a residence permit if you can score enough points based on varied criteria such as age, language skills, work experience, and education.

Visa sponsorship

Unless married to a Danish citizen or an EU national, foreigners may require a legal resident or a Danish employer to act as a sponsor.

Essential document checklist

To avoid delays and complications, get your paperwork in order before the Danish visa application process. Depending on your visa type, these documents could include:

 Passport (plus copies): It should be valid for at least six months beyond your intended stay and have two blank pages. A European ID is sufficient for EU citizens.

 Passport-sized photos: Recent photographs complying with the Embassy's specifications.

 Visa application form: Download, fill out, and sign, following the specific requirements of your visa type.

 Proof of outbound travel: This could be your flight or train ticket.

 Health insurance: Proof that you have medical coverage during your stay.

 Accommodation details: Where you'll stay during your visit.

 Proof of employment: If you seek a work visa, provide your job offer letter or signed employment contract.

 Police clearance certificate: Some visas may require this.

 Educational certificates: If relevant, show proof of your qualifications.

 Financial records: Evidence that you can support yourself financially during your stay in Denmark.

 Marriage and birth certificates: If you're moving with your family, these are required for their visa applications.

Importance of authenticating and translating documents

Danish authorities might need certain documents to be legalized. If your country isn't under the Apostille Convention, your local Danish embassy or consulate may need to authenticate your documents.

You may also need to translate documents like birth or marriage certificates into Danish. Using a professional service that can certify the translation's accuracy is advisable.

Step 2: Manage your finances in Denmark

Denmark is known for offering a high quality of life, which comes with a high cost of living, particularly in major cities like Copenhagen. However, with the right financial planning, expats can enjoy Denmark’s extensive social services, beautiful landscapes, and vibrant cultural scene. Here's what to consider:

Cost of living in Denmark

Expectations for costs while living in Denmark can include:

  • Renting: A one-bedroom apartment in the city center is around DKK 7,000-12,000 ($1,050-$1,800) per month, while outside the city center, the prices range from DKK 5,000-8,000 ($750-$1,200).
  • Buying property: The property market in Denmark can be competitive, with high prices in urban areas. Additionally, there are restrictions for foreigners wishing to purchase property, requiring special permits.
  • Food and drink: Supermarkets offer a wide range of products but at a higher cost than many other countries. Dining at a mid-range restaurant might cost around DKK 500 ($75) for two.
  • Transport: Public transportation is efficient and widespread, with a monthly pass costing around DKK 375-600 ($56-$90). Denmark is also very bike-friendly, offering healthy and free transport options.
  • Utilities: Monthly costs for basic utilities (electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage) in an 85m2 apartment can range from DKK 1,000-1,500 ($150-$225).

Taxation in Denmark

Denmark has a progressive income tax system, with relatively high tax rates starting around 38% and going up. Expats should familiarize themselves with the Danish tax system, as it can significantly impact net income.

Denmark offers a special tax scheme for foreign researchers and key employees with a flat rate of 32.84% for up to 7 years, excluding labor market contributions.

Furthermore, there's a comprehensive social security system funded by taxation, covering healthcare, unemployment insurance, and various benefits like significant reductions in childcare costs.

Banking and currency exchange in Denmark

Opening a bank account in Denmark typically requires a CPR number (Danish personal identification), proof of address, and sometimes a Danish work contract. Denmark is part of the EU but uses the Danish krone (DKK) instead of the euro.

Foreign currency exchange is widely available at banks and bureaux de change, though using a debit or credit card for payments is prevalent in Denmark.

Step 3: Arrange housing and accommodation in Denmark

Securing suitable accommodation is a priority for settling into Danish life comfortably. Denmark offers various housing options, but navigating the market requires some insight.

Renting vs. buying

Given the high cost and regulatory restrictions on purchasing property for foreigners, renting is often a preferred choice for expats in Denmark.

The rental market, especially in the largest city, Copenhagen, or other significant cities like Odense or Aalborg, can be tight, with high demand leading to relatively high rents. Start your accommodation search early, and consider using housing websites such as BoligPortal and DBA.

Finding suitable housing in Denmark

Whether you’re looking for a city apartment or a suburban house, Denmark offers clean, well-maintained, and efficient living spaces.

Be prepared for rental properties to be unfurnished, which typically means no light fixtures, curtains, or white goods (refrigerator, washer, etc.).

When finalizing a rental, your lease agreement should outline:

  • The property description and address
  • The monthly rent and acceptable payment methods
  • The amount of the deposit (often equivalent to three months’ rent) and prepaid rent
  • The lease term, with fixed-term leases being quite common
  • Responsibilities of the tenant and the landlord
  • Rules around pets and property modifications

Step 4: Consider career opportunities and working arrangements

Securing a job in Denmark can be quite rewarding due to the country's strong economy, progressive work environments, and high quality of life. Denmark is particularly known for its innovations in green technology, pharmaceuticals, and information technology.

In this section, we’ll delve into how to effectively pursue job opportunities and understand the working culture in Denmark.

Danish job market overview

Denmark’s job market is dynamic, with significant opportunities in green energy, IT, life sciences, and engineering sectors. The Danish job market highly values skills in sustainability and technology, reflecting the country’s commitment to environmental and societal health.

Websites like,, and LinkedIn are excellent resources for job seekers. Engaging with industry-specific networks and job fairs to find opportunities aligned with your expertise is also beneficial.

Though many Danes speak English fluently, learning Danish can be advantageous, especially for integrating into the workplace and society more broadly. Some companies offer Danish language training as part of their employment packages.

Understanding work culture in Denmark

Danish work culture is characterized by flat hierarchies, a high degree of autonomy, and an emphasis on work-life balance. Full-time employees typically work around 37 hours a week, often with the flexibility to adjust their schedules to accommodate personal needs.

Consensus and collaboration are highly valued in Danish workplaces, and employees are encouraged to share their ideas and participate in decision-making processes. Despite the informal atmosphere, punctuality and respect for personal and professional boundaries are crucial.

Step 5: Organize healthcare and education in Denmark

Denmark's public systems for healthcare and education are among the best globally, providing comprehensive coverage and quality services to its residents, including expats.

The healthcare system in Denmark

Denmark offers a universal public healthcare system, providing residents free access to most medical services. Upon receiving your Civil Registration Number (CPR), you become eligible for healthcare services, including appointments with general practitioners and specialists and hospital care.

While the public healthcare system covers most needs, some residents opt for an additional private health insurance card to cover services not fully covered by the public system, like dental care.

Education options in Denmark

The Danish education system is recognized for its high standards and inclusivity. Public schools, free of charge, offer education primarily in Danish, with some offering bilingual classes in English. Numerous international schools also cater to different nationalities, which can be an excellent option for expat children.

Higher education in Denmark boasts an array of prestigious institutions with a wide range of programs, many in English. These are free for EU/EEA students, while fees apply for international students outside these regions.


Step 6: Ensure your safety in Denmark

The country consistently ranks as one of the safest countries worldwide, with low crime rates and high societal trust. However, as with any location, it's wise to remain vigilant, especially in larger cities where petty theft can occur.

For emergencies, dial 112 to access police, fire, and ambulance services. Familiarizing yourself with your home country's nearest embassy or consulate is also recommended for any consular services or emergency assistance.

Step 7: Immerse yourself in Danish culture

Understanding and embracing Danish culture is essential for a smooth transition to living in Denmark. The Danes deeply appreciate simplicity, quality, and a concept known as "hygge," which refers to a sense of coziness and well-being.

Social Norms: The Danish society values modesty, punctuality, and equality. Informal social behavior is commonplace, but respect for privacy and personal space is also paramount.

Outdoor life: Danes have a strong affinity for outdoor activities, regardless of the season. Cycling is particularly popular, with extensive bike paths available throughout the country.

Cuisine and social gatherings: Danish cuisine is known for its emphasis on fresh, local ingredients. Social gatherings often revolve around meals, with an emphasis on simplicity and togetherness.

Embark on a new chapter in Denmark

From the picturesque streets of Copenhagen to the tranquil beauty of the Danish countryside and the innovative spirit of Aarhus, Denmark is an inviting destination for expats and digital nomads and a gateway to other Scandinavian countries like Sweden and Norway. Experience a high standard of living, comprehensive healthcare, diverse career opportunities, a deep-rooted culture, and a world-leading focus on sustainability and design.

Proper planning and research are keys to ensuring a smooth transition for those considering a move to Denmark. For further assistance, Deel can support organizations and their employees through the work permit or immigration process.

Find out how Deel can assist you in acquiring the necessary work permit or visa, or investigate the Deel blog for deeper insights into relocating to Denmark.

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