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Relocating to Denmark - Guide for Expats

Expat Guide Denmark
Moving to Denmark? Here are some simple points on the country every expat needs to know!

Denmark is situated in north Europe and is the most southern of the Nordic Countries. It lies southwest of Sweden, south of Norway and is bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark is a large peninsula known as Jutland (Jylland) and is bordered to the west by the North Sea and to the East by Kattegat and the Baltic Sea.

Denmark has numerous large islands off its rocky coast including the large islands of Zealand and Funen and many smaller islands which are often referred to as the Danish Archipelago. Denmark has more than 7.000 kilometres of coastline interspersed with majestic fjords, tempting coves and sandy beaches. It has largely flat terrain with forested areas, undulating hills and moorland. Denmark is a founding member of NATO and is a member of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Land of myths and legends Denmark is an allure to the expat who has a leaning towards the mystical. Denmark is the home of that great Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf, a great warrior Norse who bravely fought the terrible monsters that had been terrorising Denmark and Sweden. Beowulf is the earliest known Anglo-Saxon writing.

Map of Denmark

What also attracts the expat to Denmark is its mixed market economy, its egalitarian society, income equality and efficient welfare service ranking Denmark as one of the best places in the world to live. The capital of Denmark is Copenhagen which is located on the island of Zealand.

»Population

The population of Denmark in 2010 is estimated to be 5,519,441.

The majority of the Danish population are of Scandinavian ethnicity making up about 87%. Other ethnic groups in Denmark include Germans, Faroeses, Somalis, Iranians and Inuits. There has been an increase in expatriation to Denmark making up almost 5% of the population.

»Language and culture

The predominant language in Denmark is Danish although German is seen as an official regional language in the Nor-Schleswig region which borders Germany with about 5% of the population speaking that language. A small minority in the population speak the Inuit language of Greenland.

Expats with a taste for the arts will gravitate to the capital Copenhagen where everything from museums, theatre, opera, art galleries to trendy cafes and restaurants abound.

There is a strong folklore culture in Denmark including stories of elves and other rather dodgy, small characters lurking in the hills under boulders and in the forests so, the myth loving expat will feel very much at home. Hans Christian Anderson (1805 – 1875) was known for his fantastic fairly tales loved the world over by children (and their parents).

»Religion

The most predominant religion in Denmark is Evangelical Lutheran, although, with the mix of ethnicity there are numerous faiths to be found in Denmark. Islam is the second largest faith in Denmark following an immigration drive during the 80s and 90s.

»Sport and Leisure

The Danes are very much into interactive sport such as badminton, basketball, ice hockey and handball. The latter is a national sport enjoyed by both sexes and the Denmark women’s national handball team have won the Olympics god medal three times. The men’s national handball team won the European Men’s Handball Championship in 2008. Golf has become another very popular sport, expats who love the game will be pleased to know and there are a number of good courses dotted throughout the country. Football loving expats will want to relocate to Denmark with the game being the most popular sport of all with more than 1600 football clubs in the country. The national football team in Denmark qualified for the European Championships six times in a row and they won the UEFA Championships in 1992. Hiking and cycling is also a very popular pastime for the Danes especially in the rural areas skirting the beautiful fjords.

Danish women at football match

Dining and relaxing in Denmark is very much a pastime enjoyed by the Danes, especially in the Cities and towns where the fare is quite eclectic given the mix of ethnicity and culture. The traditional Danish fare includes such dishes as pickled herrings, fried fish and assorted sea food. The dish known as Frikadellerconsists of pork or pork and veal meat balls with a rich sauce which is very popular.



»Driving

In line with all other EU countries Denmark has rigid rules pertaining to driving including seat belts which are compulsory front and back; strict drink driving laws with 0.25 being the limit, lower than that of the UK which is 0.8. Strict penalties are imposed for infringements of the law, radar traps are common and heavy, on the spot fines can be imposed if caught. The National speed limit for the motorways is 130 kph although on some stretches of road limits of 110 or 90 will be imposed; it is 80 kph on the open road and 50 kph in the towns and cities. Appropriate restraints are compulsory for children. A full UK driving licence is required and expats must remember that licences and relevant documents must be carried at all times. Expats from outside the EU can drive on their licence for 14 days after being granted residence after which they should apply for a Danish licence.

»Public Transport

The public transport system in Denmark is affordable and efficient. There are a number of bus companies operating which are privatised but subsidised by the Government. The peoples of Denmark are encouraged to use public transport and the services are well used. There is an extensive network of national rail track operated by Danish State Railways. There is the S-Tog commuter rail system which operates in the Greater Copenhagen area. There are fast inter-city services which link the major cities on the mainland and the islands. There are some privately operated rail companies.

Copenhagen has a metro system the network of which is currently being extended. Cycling is a very popular mode of travel with extensive cycle lanes in the cities. There are Ferry companies operating that make regular trips to the islands of Denmark.

»Communication

Denmark has excellent telephone and telegraph domestic and business services with extensive fibre-optic cable linking the country with Norway, Sweden, Poland, Russia, Germany, The Netherlands, The Faroe Islands, Iceland, UK and Canada. The Nordic countries share the Danish earth station. Denmark has wide coverage provision for cellular phones with several companies offering service including the main telecommunications company TDC. Expats who rely on Internet communication will be pleased to know that Denmark has one of the highest rates of internet penetration in the world.

»Radio and Television

The Danish Broadcasting Corporation which moved into Denmark Radio (DR) in 1996 is the leading public service provider of TV and Radio in Denmark which is funded by licence fee. This fee includes television and radio users and, in recent times, the fee covers computers and other methods of receiving DRs Services. DR operates four nationwide FM stations and about 15 DAB stations. They operate two TV networks and numerous radio stations. Satellite and Cable is available in Denmark.

»Mail

The Post Offices are open daily during the week and some, mainly in the towns and cities, open on a Saturday morning.

»Utilities

Gas and electricity bills tend to be estimated and calculated and readjusted annually. Water is also metered.

In line with most European countries, Denmark’s standard electricity supply is 230 volts and 50 Htz and they have the two pin plugs. Expats from outside the EU should check voltage and obtain a voltage converter if taking electrical goods that are not compatible.

»Climate and Weather

Denmark has a temperate climate but has short summers and long hours of darkness in the winter months when temperatures can go below freezing with heavy frost. There is average rainfall throughout the year and, as Denmark is a flat country, there is some flooding in low lying areas.

Expat woman walks dog in Denmark snow

»Visas and Immigration

Prospective EU/EEA expats entering Denmark do not require a visa but must have a valid passport or an EU approved ID card. Expats from outside the EU including USA, Canada and Australia are able to enter the country without a visa for up to three months but are not permitted to take paid employment. They must also have at least three months remaining on their passport and may be required to produce a return ticket.

»Pets

Denmark is a member of the European Pet Travel Scheme which permits pets to enter the country without quarantine requirements provided they meet with the specified requirements relating to anti-rabies, anti-worm, anti-tick hygiene requirements. Expats wishing to take their pets must be in the Pet Travel Scheme and, in order to qualify their pet must be fitted with a microchip; vaccinated against rabies; blood tested for the Rabies vaccination effectiveness; must have an official Pet Passport or Pet Travel Scheme Certificate.

Prospective expats who wish to take their pets with them will be pleased to know that the Danish people are pet lovers and about 40% of households own a pet (mostly cats or dogs) and the veterinary services are commonly available and of a good standard.

»Currency

The Danish Kroner is the currency in Denmark. The notes are issued in 50, 100, 200, 500 and t000 denomination.

»Health Service

Denmark has an excellent reputation for healthcare which is free to all residents and to EU/EEA nationals on production of an EHIC (European Health Insurance). Expats living in Denmark must register with the National Register in the municipality of residence when they will then receive a health insurance card that must be produced on visits to the doctor, dentist or any other medical practitioner.

»Education

Denmark boasts an excellent education system which is free to all citizens. Education is compulsory between the ages of 7 years to 16 years and free Danish language instruction is offered to the children of expatriates. There are a number of private schools in Denmark some of which are subsidised by the state. The state school system is known at Folkeskole. Excellent facilities exist for the children under school age including babies which is subsidised by the State.

Folkeskole consists of primary and secondary education until 16 years after which some students choose to enter efterskole which offers a wider range of subjects. Others choose to enter the Gymnasium which offers a three year academic course that prepares them for the Danish school leaving certificate or leads on to University.



»Buying Property/Renting Property

Prospective expats from the EU/EEA can purchase property in Denmark providing they sign a declaration that they intend to use the home for their personal residence. Nationals from outside the EU/EEA must seek permission from the Ministry of Justice in order to purchase property and must also make a declaration that they intend to use it for their personal residence. Property can be purchased through a real estate agent and usually use a solicitor to draw up the paperwork. As with all countries, it is advisable for all expats purchasing property to engage a good English speaking lawyer to go through the required red tape before investing and making a permanent commitment.

Relocation Preparation


Are you moving due to work? We offer briefings for business professionals relocating for career reasons. These familiarise you with your new home country - looking at daily life, practicalities, social norms, business etiquette and many other topics built around you and/or your family.

Have a look at our Expat Relocation Course and then speak to your company about setting up this support for you. They are easy to set-up and worth their weight.

These benefits include:
  • Prepares the individual/family mentally for relocting
  • Removes some of the 'unknown'and answers questions
  • Increases cultural awareness
  • Motivates and excites
  • Reduces stress and provides practical tips and strategies,
  • Eases the settling-in process
  • Reduces the chances of relocation failure
  • Minimises culture shock

Or simply contact us and one of our team will be in touch to find out a bit more about your move, needs, etc.

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