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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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For members


‘Being the right fit’: The unwritten rules for getting a job in Denmark

Job searching as an international in Denmark is notoriously tough: you need to network without being pushy, sell yourself without being a show off, be prepared but still relaxed. The CEO of English Job Denmark, Leslea Petersen, unpicks the unwritten rules.

'Being the right fit': The unwritten rules for getting a job in Denmark

Don’t “show off” about your skills

Many people from the UK or US they think they have to sell themselves. That’s definitely not how you do it in Denmark because of the flat hierarchy in the workplace. It’s how you work as part of a team and not that you think you’re better than anyone else. Try and show exactly what you can do for the organisation and how you’d fit in.


Use LinkedIn. Find people in your field of work and just say ‘Hi, I’m building my network in Denmark, can we connect?’ Then if you see a job on LinkedIn you might have a connection who works there. You can then go back to them and ask how they got their job. Don’t be too aggressive, or send too many messages.

Follow the application structure

Follow the procedure for the recruitment process, applying through a website if that’s what’s asked for. Don’t send your CV to the CEO if someone from HR is handling the recruitment process, Danes have a clear structure. 

The relaxed interview

Danes are very laid back in interviews but always be on time, not super early but definitely not late.

Be relaxed but professional and be prepared; do as much research as possible to show that you are interested and to make the interviewers feel their organisation is special.

Don’t be alarmed if they use the F word, it’s not often seen as that offensive in Denmark.

Being the right fit

About 80 percent of getting the job is whether you’re the right fit. This is much more important than your technical ability. This is a stumbling block for internationals as some Danes will worry about how they will fit into their teams.

My work involves working with companies to help them retain international talent, as well as helping internationals understand the process of getting a job in Denmark because it is different here.

Show your personality on your CV. Danes are big on their clubs so add your hobbies: you might have a shared interest with the people in the company. 

In the interview talk about learning Danish, even if it’s an English environment. 

Some people can get the impression that their interview went really well and that they got on so well.  Danes want to see how you fit into their team but is it a good fit for you? It’s a two-way thing so ask questions.

READ MORE: The verdict on Danish bosses: ‘If you get fired, it’s just business’

Have smart goals for your job search

Choose a job search day or a Monday to Friday job search with structure. Choose your hours and have some clear achievements by the end of the week, such as ten more connections or one application.

Try and find someone else who is job hunting and if you’ve clicked with someone, do a job search with them and meet in a café.

This means you can skill-share. If one of you is creative, they could help format your CV while in return you proof-read theirs.  There are also job-searching events and workshops for internationals in Denmark you can attend.

Get outside for fresh air and exercise. People feel guilty when they’re not working, but going for a walk is free and really good for your mental health.

READ MORE: ‘Be very blunt’: How to navigate Danish office culture and come out on top

Once you’re in the job

Some people are used to being micromanaged but that doesn’t happen in Denmark – you are trusted to get on with your job.

The Danish workplace has a flat hierarchy so expect to see the CEO and warehouse workers sitting together at lunch. 

You might think you’re too busy to have lunch and choose to eat at your desk but that isn’t a thing in Denmark and would be seen as not integrating. 

READ MORE: Ten ways to improve your chances of finding a job in Denmark

Leslea Petersen has lived in Denmark for 16 years. She helps equip internationals with knowledge about Danish work culture and the job-search process through her company English Job Denmark.