Everything expats should know about Danish healthcare

So, you’re moving to Denmark! It’s time to loosen your belt buckle, because there’s no way you’ll be able to resist all the sticky pastries and smørrebrød you’re about to find in every second shop.

Published: Wed 11 Jul 2018 10:41 CEST
Everything expats should know about Danish healthcare
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But first things first, you should get your head around the healthcare system before you land. The last thing you want is to arrive and realise you have no idea who to see in case of a nødsituation (that means emergency, by the way).

On the bright side, all Danish citizens have equal access to the country’s healthcare system, and you will too once you’re registered in Denmark and receive your CPS number and yellow health insurance card.

On the not-so bright side, you should be aware that not all healthcare services are available through Denmark’s public health insurance. Consequently, it’s a good idea to take out a private health insurance package -- particularly like these packages offered by Cigna Global that are designed specifically for expats -- so if the unexpected arises you’re covered under any circumstance. 

Find out more about Cigna Global health insurance

Finding a doctor

First off, you’ll need to register in the Civil Registration System (CPS) in your local municipality. You can do this at your nearest Citizen Service Centre. 

At this time you will be presented with a list of GPs within your municipality (kommune), and it’s up to you to decide which one to register with. It’s your right to choose your own GP so you can pick a male or female doctor, depending on which you’re more comfortable with. When you receive your healthcare card your chosen GP’s name, address, and telephone will appear on it.

You’ll find the majority of Danes speak impeccable English, so it’s unlikely you’ll have to go out of your way to find an English-speaking doctor. However, it’s always a good idea to check with the surgery beforehand.

Once you’re registered with a doctor, the general procedure for making an appointment is by calling up the surgery and speaking to the receptionist. Depending on how serious your illness is, this can be done on the same day or with several days’ notice.

Emergency care

If you have to see a doctor after 4pm on a weekday or on weekends or public holidays, you should call the emergency doctor (vagtlægen) service. 

In case of a life-threatening emergency, you should dial Europe’s common emergency telephone number, (+45) 112. It’s free to call and will put you in immediate contact with the ambulance service.

If you come down with a sudden illness and need to speak to a doctor or nurse, you should call (+45) 1813 for referral to the closest hospital emergency department or urgent care centre. You’re required to call this number before going to a hospital’s emergency department, and won’t be admitted if you haven’t.

Hospital stays are free of charge as they are paid for through taxation. 

Specialist care

In Denmark, you won’t be able to see a specialist without a referral from your GP, including for paediatric and gynaecological visits. Your doctor will issue you with a written referral, which you need for the consultation or treatment to be covered by public health insurance.

With private health insurance, you can often cut out the middleman and arrange your own specialist care. Cigna Global’s optional International Outpatient module can be added to any of its expat packages, covering consultations with specialists and medical practitioners, including osteopathy, chiropractic care, and physiotherapy.


In Denmark, pharmacies (apotek) have exclusive rights to sell prescription medicines to consumers. Apotek are often run by private pharmacists, who have been licensed by the state -- the staff are highly trained and can also provide you with advice about medicines and their uses.

Some medicines can only be bought if you have a medical prescription from your doctor. You will have to pay for prescriptions; however, the Danish National Health Service subsidises the cost in many cases. If you spend more than DKK 850 a year on medicine eligible for reimbursement, you will automatically get some money back.


The level of care in Denmark is generally high and public healthcare insurance covers many appointments, treatments and procedures. 

However, many expats still prefer to take out private health insurance from an international provider like Cigna Global. The flexible options mean you can find a package that suits your situation, so you can focus on settling into your new life instead of worrying about what to do if you or someone in your family falls ill.

Click here to get a free quote from Cigna Global

The content within this article has been created by The Local and provides only a general overview for information only. No reliance should be placed on the information contained with this article. Nothing in this article is intended to constitute legal, tax, financial planning, health or medical advice.
The Local is an affiliate advertiser of Cigna Global and has been paid a fee to market Cigna Global individual private medical insurance plans within the content of this article.
For more information on Cigna Global, or to get a quote, please visit cignaglobal.com. Terms and conditions apply.




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