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How can you get a work permit in Denmark if you are not an EU national?

If you want to work in Denmark as a non EU citizen, you must apply for a residence and work permit and then get extensions to this, if you want to work in Denmark longer-term. Here's a guide to what you need to know.

How can you get a work permit in Denmark if you are not an EU national?
There are several routes through which you can apply for a work permit in Denmark. Photo of commuters on their way to work on Dronning Louises Bro, Copenhagen: Thomas Lekfeldt/Ritzau Scanpix

The rules regarding residence and work in Denmark are administered by the Danish Immigration Service and The Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI) under the Ministry of Immigration and Integration.

As an EU citizen, you can freely enter Denmark and begin to work upon arrival without needing a permit to work. The case is different for those who are not EU citizens.

There are various ways to get a work permit, depending on your profession. A list of different types of work sectors and requirements needed, can be found on the website

These include Fast-track scheme, Pay limit scheme, Positive lists, Researcher, Employed PHD, Guest researcher, Special individual qualifications, Herdsmen and farm managers, Establishment card, Start-up Denmark, Trainee, Certification, ESS Scheme, Authorisation, Labour Market Attachment, Drill rigs and other mobile workplaces, Volunteer, Sideline employment, Employment for adaptation and training purposes, Work permit for accompanying family members.

On 1st April 2023, changes to Denmark’s work permit rules came into affect, making it easier for companies to hire internationally.

Supplementary Pay Limit Scheme (Beløbsordning)

This enables you to get a work permit based on the amount of your salary. Due to the immigration rule changes, this pay limit is now 375,000 kroner per year.

So if you have a job offer with a salary of at least 375,000 kroner per year, you can get a work visa based on the Supplementary Pay Limit Scheme (it is technically a separate programme rather than a revision of the existing one).

It can be applied for by third-country (non-EU) nationals offering work by a Danish employer. Working hours must be at least 37 hours per week. You don’t need a specific educational background or a job within a specific professional field. If you have requested asylum in Denmark and have been offered a job with a salary of at least 375,000 per year, you can also apply based on this scheme. 

The employer must declare that the job position has been posted on Jobnet and EURES for at least two weeks prior to applications. SIRI runs spot-checks to verify the declarations. 

The scheme can only be used when seasonally adjusted gross unemployment has not exceeded an average of 3.75 percent in the three months prior to applying. As Denmark is currently experiencing a labour shortage, this is not likely to happen in the imminent future, but it could eventually come into play.

It should be noted that jobs given to non-EU citizens hired internationally are subject to international classifications ensuring that if the role being hired for was normally paid 425,000 kroner, for example, employers will still have to pay this level, and not the 375,000 kroner minimum.

Pay Limit Scheme

This is the old scheme, where the salary requirement is a minimum of 448,000 kroner per year.

The same conditions as the Supplementary Pay Limit Scheme apply, except the job does not need to have been advertised on Danish portal Jobnet and the EURES portal for at least 2 weeks prior to application and gross unemployment levels do not affect applications. But the salary offer must be at least 448,000 kroner per year.

READ ALSO: Pay Limit Scheme: What to know about the changes to Denmark’s work permit programme

The Fast-Track Scheme makes it faster and easier for certified companies to recruit foreign employees with special qualifications to work in Denmark. It also allows the employees to work both in Denmark and abroad. 

If an employer and employee agree they want the new job to be started quickly, the employer can submit an application under the Fast-track Scheme on behalf the employee.

By registering for the scheme, employers can enable their foreign hires to be granted a temporary work permit so they can start their job immediately after arriving in Denmark, or – if the employee is not exempt from Danish visa rules – get them a permit including an entry visa within 10 days.

The rule changes from April 2023, mean companies with ten employees can make use of the scheme, as opposed to the previous requirement of 20 employees. 

The new rules have also given the scheme a “fifth track”. This means the scheme can be used by non EU nationals employed by a certified company through the Supplementary Pay Limit scheme, with an annual salary of at least 375,000 kroner.

The new fifth track exists alongside the four other tracks. These include the regular pay limit track, which still has a minimum salary of 465,000 kroner, short-term workers, researchers, and people who will be receiving or giving training during their stay in Denmark.

In some instances, you will need Danish authorisation or temporary authorisation for your profession in order to be granted the work permit. This primarily applies to professions which are regulated by law, such as lawyer, financial advisor, or doctor, for example.

More details on each of the tracks can be found on the SIRI website, the agency which processes work permit applications.

READ MORE: Fast Track Scheme: What are the new rules on Danish work permit programme?

The Positive List for people with a higher education or certain work skills, is a list of professions experiencing a shortage of qualified professionals in Denmark.

If you have been offered a job included in the Positive List, you can apply for a Danish residence and work permit based on this scheme.

The Positive List for people with a higher education and for skilled work is updated twice a year on 1st January and 1st July.

The new work permit rules mean more titles have been added to the list from April 2023. This includes  “regional labour market councils” and “specialised a-kasser” (unemployment insurance providers).

For requirement details of other work sectors, you can find more at

Foreign graduates of Danish universities 

This applies to foreign nationals who complete degree programmes with a Danish Professional Bachelor’s (vocational), Bachelor’s, Master’s degree or PhD degree.

Under the new rules, these students will automatically be given a three-year (a longer period than the two years given under the old rules) “job seeking period” in which they have the right to live and work in Denmark.

The student must not give up their Danish address or stay abroad for longer than six successive months, or work in other Schengen countries.

Start-up Denmark scheme for entrepreneurs

Start-up Denmark is a scheme for foreign entrepreneurs. Two-year work permits can be granted based on a business idea which must be approved by a panel of experts appointed by the Danish Business Authority. If the business is successful, the permits can be extended for three years at a time.

The scheme can be used by both individuals and teams of up to three people who want to start a business together in Denmark through a joint business plan. You must provide documentation that you have sufficient funds to cover your first year in Denmark. If your family is accompanying you to Denmark, you must also provide documentation of your ability to support them.

The business or the Danish branch of the foreign business must contribute innovative ideas and potential for development to the Danish business community. You can read more about the evaluation criteria on the webportal of the panel of experts.

As with the Positive List, the April 2023 rule changes have opened up the scheme to a broader range of applicants.

READ ALSO: How long can you leave Denmark for and not risk your residency?

What about partners and family members?

A residence and work permit based on a job in Denmark allows your family to come with you to Denmark. 

A permit can be granted to your spouse, registered or cohabiting partner as well as children under the age of 18 living at home.

Holding a residence permit as an accompanying family member to an employee in general allows you the right to work in Denmark. Therefore, you do not need to apply for a separate work permit if you get a job. You are also allowed to run your own business and sign up to a programme in an educational institution.

However, you must apply for a work permit if you want to work for the same company as your partner (who is referred to as sponsor), or if you want to work for a company closely linked to your partner’s company.

How long will my permit last?

Work permits are no longer than four years but you can apply for an extension three months before your current permit expires. So you also need to apply for an extension to residency based on your work permit, which will be on the same conditions as you got the first one.

In order to extend your permit, your employment must not have changed. This means that you must be employed in the same position, by the same employer and under the same or improved terms of employment.

If you change jobs, you need to apply for a new work permit or if your salary or other employment terms are diminished, you must inform SIRI.

If you have a resident permit based on your partner (sponsor’s) employment and their employment is extended, you must also apply for an extension of your residence permit.

Permanent residency

Once you become a permanent resident, you no longer need to extend your work and residence permit.

Permanent residency for non EU citizens is granted after living and working in Denmark for eight continuous years, or four years in certain circumstances. You can apply for permanent residency at anytime and it usually takes 10 months to process at a cost of 6,745 kroner.

If you need any more information or have questions about work permits, you can contact SIRI on their contact page.


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‘Cheaper’,’amazing nature’, ‘reliable transport’: The best Copenhagen commuter towns

Finding somewhere affordable to live in Denmark's capital is not easy, which is why a lot of people consider moving out of the city to rent or buy. The Local readers gave us an insight into life in a commuter town.

'Cheaper','amazing nature', 'reliable transport': The best Copenhagen commuter towns

With the increase in flexible working, more people are looking to smaller towns outside of Copenhagen to either work from home or commute from. Here are some of the popular commuter towns.

Kokkedal/Fredensborg (north of Copenhagen)

From our reader survey, Kokkedal/Fredensborg were the most popular areas people lived.

“We can have a big house with a garden for the kids compared to a small flat in Copenhagen,” one reader said. 

“Houses are affordable for North Zealand compared to Lyngby, Birkerød or Holte for example,” added Judy, another reader. “Not a lot of apartments or rentals available though.”

She said she loved the “amazing nature” of the area, as well as the safety, community spirit and fact it was close to amenities and Hillerød.

The commute however is not the quickest of the commuter towns.

“On the days I work in town it costs 52kr each way, I need to get a bus or walk to Kokkedal then the train and then a bus or walk to work so it takes up to 1.5 hours,” said one reader. 

Judy agreed that it normally took her an hour and a half to get to Copenhagen’s central station. She said that the “cost can be reduced by using a pendelkort and there is a tax deduction for long distance commutes.” However another reader in the area said it took them 30 minutes to get to Copenhagen central.

The worst part about living in the area, Judy said, was that “local trains and buses only run once an hour on weekends”.

“If you don’t have a car, it’s a pain.”

Another reader complained that “the restaurant scene is not great” and that the “general access to culture” was limited, although the Louisiana Art Gallery, they said, was “not far away”. 

What Judy loved about the area was “amazing nature. Safety. Close to amenities. Community spirit. Houses are more affordable than similar areas like Birkerød. Three stops from Hillerød station. by train. There are also buses to towns on the kystbanen line.”

Kokkedal station. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The north of Copenhagen is a popular choice for commuters, due to the area’s many beaches and the good train links to the centre of Copenhagen.

Other popular commuter towns are Hillerød, Holte, Bikerød, Rungsted and Hørsholm. 

Vedbæk (north of Copenhagen)

A few kilometres south of Kokkedal but still north of Copenhagen, Vedbæk, reported our reader Ron, offers “small town life” where “nearly everyone knows each other”.

The wealthy coastal town, he said, “has everything we need, with easy train access to the Copenhagen on the Regionaltog.” In addition, the commute is “very reliable”, taking only 20 minutes on the train to Nørreport.

The downside, he said, was that housing in the area was very expensive. “It’s probably even more expensive in Vedbæk than in Copenhagen!”

The coastal town of Vedbæk is perfect for commuting. Photo: Tobias Kobborg/Ritzau Scanpix

Stenløse (west of Copenhagen)

To the west of Copenhagen, in Stenløse, housing costs are “much much lower” than the capital, according to one reader. They liked the “house prices, quiet, facilities, nature” and fact it was “still close to the city (36 minutes by train to go to Copenhagen Central).”

However they pointed out there are “only a few restaurants” and “a car is somewhat important.” 

The reader mostly worked from home but their commute involved cycling to the station then taking the S-tog to Copenhagen central station and another bike ride of a few minutes. “It takes about 40 minutes. Train is pretty reliable and runs every 10 minutes during the weekdays,” the reader said.

Other popular commuter areas in the west include Roskilde, Ringsted and Slagelse.

Køge (south of Copenhagen)

To the south of Copenhagen and on the coast, Køge was described by a reader as “quieter” and “cleaner” than Copenhagen, with no real negatives. 

“It’s a lot cheaper. I pay around 3,000 kroner for a single room student accommodation – two of my friends that live in Copenhagen pay 7,000 kroner a month – for a student apartment smaller than mine!” the reader said.

Their commute is “30 – 50 minutes depending on transportation mode (S-tog and regionaltog) – it costs around 650 kr a month with Ungdomskort.”

Dragør is another favourite to the south of Copenhagen due to its old-town charm.

The view across the straits to Nykobing Falster. Photo: Hubertus45/Wikimedia Commons

Nykøbing F (southern Denmark)

Nykøbing F, as it’s known, is a city on the island of Falster in southern Denmark, next to Lolland. Despite being further afield, Matthew found his commute “easy and reasonable” and house prices “much less” than in Copenhagen. He found the area he lives “peaceful” and “beautiful” with nothing he doesn’t like.

Odense (Fyn)

As the third largest city in Denmark, on the island of Fyn, Odense may feel far from Copenhagen. But reader Adrian said his commute to Copenhagen by train took “just over an hour. In a quiet carriage it’s relaxing and a great place to get work done.”

Adrian said house prices in Odense were at least half the cost of those in Copenhagen. “Cheaper housing, easy parking everywhere. Odense is a city with a small town vibe,” he said. The only minor point he said was the “lack of ‘cool’ cafes compared to Copenhagen.”

It’s says something about transport in Denmark that commuting from a different island 300km away can take the same time as commuting from a village just 40km north of Copenhagen. 

Some commuters even travel from Malmö in Sweden, taking advantage of the the fast train over the Øresund Bridge.

Do you have experience of living in a Copenhagen commuter town or village? We’re still interested in collecting readers’ experience of the different options. So if you want to contribute, please fill in the form below: