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The big move to Denmark

If you are an international interested in bringing your knowledge and working skills to

Denmark, keep reading. Over the next couple of issues, we show you how to navigate your next steps.

Text: Hayel Celik-Graversen

Pictures: VisitDenmark - Michael Fiukowski & Sarah Moritz

Did you know that many companies in Denmark find it challenging to find qualified employees? And that many suggest that access to sufficiently skilled labour in the future will be one of the biggest challenges for the Danish business community?

What if there was a place that gives access to special competencies and knowledge from abroad because local talents come in short? What if a country saw internationally recruited employees as a boost for exports and easier access into the international market that provided the country with global insight? What if companies viewed diversity as a ground for innovation and growth? And what if an international oriented workplace was part of a bigger plan to increase worldwide attraction? If these questions awaken your curiosity and if you ever dreamed of working in a country with the abovementioned goal settings – find out more about why you should consider a Danish employer.

A person becomes an expat or an expatriate when they move from their home country to another country to live and work. Becoming an expat is not just about contributing to the international economic growth of societies and development. It also means an exchange of both work skills and diversity of different people and cultures. However, it is also very much a life change in every practical and legal sense for anyone involved. There are two ways to go about this: learning by doing and coping with the difficulties (including penalties and bans) that most likely will arise along the way – and then there is the easier route of seeking guidance from private and public sector professionals who are available for international newcomers.

Why do Danish companies recruit internationals?

International employees create value, both for the individual company and the social economy. Many reports and analyses, prepared by Dansk Industri and DA (Danish Employers' Association), have demonstrated a connection between international labour in Danish companies and economic growth.

According to Dansk Industri, here is a guide to companies who recruit internationals with the skills needed from abroad:

  • Some specialised companies need unique competencies and skills that are not found in sufficient numbers in the Danish workforce.

  • International employees with knowledge of foreign markets, language, culture, and particular circumstances, can open a more extensive international customer base and strengthen customer satisfaction.

  • Diverse teams often perform and innovate better than homogeneous teams, which can create new opportunities.

  • Both Danish and international talent often want to make a career in an international work environment, so an international workplace increases the attractiveness of new labour.

Planning is key

Danes are known for being a very plan-oriented and well-structured type of people. This is particularly evident in the paperwork and compliance requirements from the government, not just for locals but also for internationals coming to Denmark. Even though the infrastructure and systems of the public sector may seem too detailed, somewhat confusing, and rather bureaucratic, the use of digital technology and self-services are being developed and implemented faster than international employees can keep up with. Therefore, internationals and even large-scale companies hiring worldwide need time to overview and see what key steps are needed in the planning process.

Before the big move

Being offered a position and terms you agree upon must become the priority before moving to Denmark. There are various job databases and websites you can search from, like Work In Denmark or The International Citizen Service.

Consider if you need to apply for a work and residence permit in advance as the right to work and stay in Denmark depends on the rights that your citizenship gives you. EU and Nordic citizens and EEA and Swiss nationals can stay in Denmark under the free movement rules of persons and services in the EU for a short or more extended period. However, any stay longer than three months requires an EU residence certificate within three months after the arrival in Denmark. Also, it is mandatory to register in the Danish CPR system (The Danish Personal Registration) if the stay exceeds six months.

Non-EU/EEA citizens must apply for a residence and work permit through applications filed to the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration or with the Danish embassy or consulate in the country in which they reside. Generally, Denmark's profession or labour market considerations must warrant a residence and work permit grant, but the minimum salary is the key factor for some schemes. On the New to Denmark website, you can find information on where to submit your application for a work and residence permit and have your biometric features recorded. Also, consideration has to be kept in mind if your accompanying spouse or partner needs to apply.

Prepare your documents and those for your family members joining you in Denmark, if relevant - have them on hand at all times during your stay. This goes for a valid passport or national ID card and a Danish work and residence permit grant. If relevant, also bring your marriage or registered partnership certificate and the birth certificates for your accompanying children. Note that some application forms may require the legalisation of these formal documents to be used by the authorities.

Moving to Denmark and dealing with bureaucracy doesn't need to create unnecessary stress. Instead, making your own checklist and getting helpful advice from reliable sources will help ease the communication with the Danish authorities and ensure a less bumpy transition.

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