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READER QUESTION: What are the language requirements for permanent residency in Denmark?

What Danish language requirements are needed for permanent residency in Denmark? We take a look at the rules.

Nyhavn, Copenhagen
Nyhavn, Copenhagen. Photo: Ethan Hu, Unsplash

Reader question: What Danish language requirements are needed to get permanent residency in Denmark? I am British and received EU residency prior to Brexit and have been here for two years.

Due to Brexit, British people living in Denmark are either on EU residency permits or non-EU residency permits, depending when they moved to the country.

The Withdrawal Agreement transition period ended on December 31st 2020, so anyone moving from Britain to Denmark after this date came as a non-EU citizen.

In the case in question, the rules relating to EU temporary residency apply. This means it’s possible to apply for permanent residence after five years living in Denmark. Applications can be submitted one month before those five years, so there are just under three years to go for someone who has lived in Denmark for two years.

If you are an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen, there are no language requirements to obtain permanent residency.  This only applies to non-EU citizens, who need to pass the Danish language test 2 (Prøve i Dansk 2), or a Danish exam of an equivalent or higher level.

Below we outline the details.

EU temporary residency

As an EU citizen, your temporary residence permit in Denmark can continue for as long as you meet the requirements (i.e. being employed, self-employed, a student, or through having sufficient funds). If your circumstances change, you have to apply for a new temporary residency.

After five consecutive years, you qualify for permanent residency and this means you can stay in Denmark indefinitely and you don’t need to apply for residency again if your circumstances change. 

However, as an EU temporary resident, it is not mandatory to apply for the right to permanent residence.

Once you have permanent residency, you can leave Denmark for longer stretches of time than with temporary residency but if it is more than two years, you will have to renounce your residency. Only by becoming a citizen can you avoid this.

Non EU temporary residency

The process is more complicated if you’re not in the EU. There are various ways to get a work and residence permit for non-EU nationals, depending on your profession.

Work permits and therefore residency permits are granted for no longer than four years but you can apply for an extension three months before your current permit expires. 

If you are a non-EU citizen you can be granted permanent residence once you have had a temporary residence permit for eight uninterrupted years, or four years in certain circumstances.

EU Permanent residency requirements

You can apply for permanent residency one month before reaching five years residency in Denmark. During those five years, you are allowed temporary residence abroad for a less than six months per year but there are exceptions.

You need to submit your application to the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI).

The documents you need include:

  • A copy of your passport or national ID card 
  • The completed application form
  • Proof how you met your temporary residency requirements over the past five years. This is often tax returns from the past five years. 

The process can take up to 90 days and there is no fee. 

Your family members are not covered by your application and must submit their own applications, after five years of residence.

Non EU Permanent residency requirements

If you are a non-EU citizen then you can be granted permanent residence once you have had a temporary residence permit for eight uninterrupted years, or four years in certain circumstances.

However, there are other strict requirements to fulfil.

You must not have been convicted of certain crimes; you may not have any overdue public debts; you may not have received certain forms of social benefits within four years of applying for a permanent residence permit; you need to pass the Danish language test 2 (Prøve i Dansk 2), or a Danish exam of an equivalent or higher level. You also need to have current employment – working at least three years and six months of the previous four years.

The rules for permanent residency are more lenient if you are between 18-19 years old, if you are a person of Danish descent, a former Danish citizen, or have ties to a Danish minority group.  

The application takes 10 months to process and costs 6,745 kroner.

It is important to submit the application before a current residence permit expires.

If you do not meet all the requirements for a permanent residence permit, you can apply for an extension of your current temporary residence permit instead. You can do this three months before your current residence permit expires.

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


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REVEALED: Hundreds of Britons in Denmark could be impacted by unsent Brexit residence letters

Up to 1,800 British citizens who registered to live in Denmark under EU freedom of movement rules may not have been directly contacted telling them to update their post-Brexit residency status before a key deadline. Some have been ordered to leave the country.

REVEALED: Hundreds of Britons in Denmark could be impacted by unsent Brexit residence letters

Are you a British national in Denmark facing a situation similar to the one described in this article? If so, you can contact us here — we’d like to hear from you.

Over 1,800 people with British citizenship were issued registration certificates (registreringsbeviser) in Denmark under EU freedom of movement rules in between February and December 2020.

The figure comes from the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI), the agency responsible for processing residency permit applications.

In response to an access to information request, SIRI provided The Local with data related to the number of UK citizens registered under EU rules in the period.

SIRI’s records state that a total of 1,838 persons with British citizenship were registered for the first time in Denmark under EU rules between February 1st and December 31st 2020.

Of these, 725 registered in Denmark for work purposes. Some 222 were family members of people already resident in Denmark; 699 had sufficient personal finances to be granted non-permanent residency under EU rules, 186 were students and 6 are listed as “other” reasons.

Figures for the last 11 months of 2020 – the final year in which Britons could move to Denmark under EU rules – are relevant because SIRI has already confirmed that it did not send reminder letters about the need to apply for post-Brexit residence permits to people who moved to Denmark from the UK after January 2020.

Denmark was entitled to ask British citizens to apply for renewed status under the terms of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU.

READ ALSO: Anger as Danish authority admits Brexit residency reminders were not sent

But people who moved to Denmark from the UK in the year 2020 (after January) were not directly notified in 2021 that they needed to submit an application to SIRI to update their residence status in Denmark before a deadline on December 31st, 2021.

These people were therefore at higher risk of missing the deadline.

The issue has serious consequences because SIRI is rejecting late applications for post-Brexit residence if the reason for late submission was that the applicant did not receive reminder letters in 2021.

An increasing number of instances have been reported of Britons who have been told to leave Denmark for this reason.


It should be noted that the numbers provided by SIRI may not correspond exactly with the people who were due to be sent reminder letters by the agency in 2021, telling them that they needed to apply for a new residence permit by the end of that year.

This is because SIRI used a database drawn from Denmark’s central personal registry (CPR) to send the reminder letters.

CPR numbers, which are used for registration of addresses and personal identification, are issued by municipalities and not by SIRI, whose remit is to process applications.

This means it’s possible to register with SIRI as resident in Denmark under EU rules but never be issued with a CPR number. An example for such a situation could be a change of career plans resulting in someone not moving to Denmark after the initial registration.

Additionally, some people – for example, international students – may have been in Denmark for a short period and therefore registered in 2020 but no longer living in the country in 2021.

Despite this, there is likely to be a strong correlation between the people who were registered in the period and the people who were not directly informed of the need to apply for a new residency permit in 2021.

This means the issue could affect hundreds and potentially over a thousand people who moved to Denmark from the UK in 2020.

The Facebook group British in Denmark, which seeks to provide advice and support for UK nationals who live in Denmark, called the numbers “deeply concerning”.

The figures “indicate how many people could be affected by this mistake,” a spokesperson from the group told The Local.

“SIRI said that they would notify all British citizens living in Denmark of the requirement to apply for residency in 2021 but they failed to communicate with a huge number of us. This is a systemic failure on SIRI’s part and it could be argued that a mistake on this scale breaches the Withdrawal Agreement,” they said.

“We are worried that the figures we have seen so far for late applications could be just the tip of the iceberg. There are potentially hundreds more British citizens living in Denmark who may be completely unaware that they have missed the deadline,” they said.

“We ask SIRI to accept that their error has created this problem, to notify everyone affected who should have received a letter and to accept late applications from everyone involved,” they said.

SIRI earlier said it viewed “the circumstance that an applicant has not received an orientation letter is not, by our assessment, enough reason in itself for him or her not to comply with the application deadline”.

The agency sees the letters as only being a supplementary service and says that all relevant information was available on its website throughout 2021.

A new government last week took power in Denmark following elections at the beginning of November. Political intervention in the matter is therefore again possible because the government no longer has “caretaker status”, as was the case while negotiations to form the new administration were ongoing.

Mads Fuglede, a Liberal (Venstre) MP who was the party’s immigration spokesperson during the previous parliament, told The Local in November that he believed “a minister would have the powers to say to the authority – that is, SIRI – that they should accept late applications”.

The Liberal party is one of the three coalition partners in the new government.

British in Denmark urged anyone affected by the issue to get in touch with them on Facebook.

“We have set up a separate private group for late applicants,” the group’s spokesperson said.

“We would also ask everyone who did not receive a letter to contact Your Europe Advice to make a complaint,” they added.

The EU advice service can be found here.