The Ultimate Guide to Moving to Copenhagen (for EU citizens)
Your move to Copenhagen (or Denmark in general) might seem like a tedious sequence of interconnected steps. But it's actually not that hard. You just have to know how the steps follow each other and what they are about. That's why we're here.
In this guide, we will provide you will all the information you should know about:
1. The initial steps
6. Mobile phone
Part 1: Registration
This part of the guide will help you go through the Danish bureaucracy process as swiftly as possible. If you follow the guide closely you should be able to apply/book all necessary offline appointments on one day (Part 1 below) and then take one day out in town and gather all the necessary paperwork (Part 2 below). Below you can see the visualization of the whole process.
Please note: In case you're a citizen of a non-EU country, the steps are a little bit different (eg. you need a work permit instead of the EU reg. certificate). We will publish a guide on this variation as soon as possible.
1. The prerequisites
🏢 Get a signed employment contract
A signed employment contract is the entry point to Denmark for most people. This step is primarily up to you. We just want to emphasize that a signed employment contract is (usually) the first step to getting all the necessities of relocating/integrating to Denmark done with ease. This enables you to register your permanent address and get a Danish CPR number (your social identification number).
🏡 Get a valid long-term rental contract
Quite often landlords require a valid employment contract before letting you rent the apartment.
How to find an apartment with a long-term rental contract in Copenhagen?
There are a few popular online portals where you can find apartments and rooms to live in Copenhagen.
The most popular ones are:
- Facebook group: House/Room Renting in Copenhagen
- Facebook group: Copenhagen Accommodations
In case you're a young professional you might find LifeX coliving apartments a great fit. You can find more about LifeX on our homepage.
What to do if you're staying at a temporary place?
In case you're staying in a hotel or Airbnb your landlord can fill out this form and you should be able to apply for your CPR.
Important note about the address and mailboxes in Denmark
In case your mailbox does not have your name on it, you always have to write in the name that is on the actual mailbox as your c/o (care of) address. In Denmark, if there is no way to associate your address to the name written on your mailbox, the post won’t be delivered to you. For example, LifeX apartments usually have just "LifeX" on the mailboxes. So in this case whenever you list your address somewhere you list it as "John Doe c/o LifeX" and everything should be fine.
>>> Proceed when you have the above
2. PREPARE ONLINE
A lot of preparations can be done online luckily. We will go into what you can prepare online and how in a bit, but the most important thing to know is that once you apply online for your CPR number online, you will still need to then activate it in person.
You will receive an ‘invitation letter’ which comes within 2 weeks of applying online. We recommend scheduling all other appointments on the same day you submit the online CPR application, and do so for around 3 weeks in the future (to be on the safe side of receiving the letter as CPR activation is a prerequisite for all other appointments). This way you’ll be able to just take one day out in town and collect all documentation.
💸 Apply for a tax card
The tax card is the way to get registered into the Danish taxation system (SKAT). It’s important because it determines your income tax rate.
- Employment contract (see step 1) in digital version, signed by you and your employer.
- Your employer’s CVR number (this is the publicly available business registration number in Denmark. You can find it on your employment contract)
- A clear copy of your passport in digital version.
How to apply for a Danish tax card?
Simply click here to log in to SKAT's system and fill out the form.
What happens next?
Once you've applied for your tax card, SKAT will automatically generate three things. You don't need to do anything yourself - you'll receive some of the things below in the post and some will go directly to your employer:
- Your tax card --> It shows how much income tax you will end up paying.
- Preliminary income assessment --> Your projection of taxes for the upcoming year.
- Your tax ID number --> Your taxation number in the Danish system.
About Danish taxes
It's no secret that taxes (or SKAT in Danish) are high in Denmark. But, despite them being high, they are important because they provide many personal benefits as well as help support the well functioning welfare state.
For example, your taxes will contribute to education (in fact, university students get paid 5,000DKK/month), universal healthcare, heavily subsidized childcare, well-functioning infrastructure and public transportation. If you want some good bedtime reading, then have a look at this document, which explains in detail where taxes go to.
Warning: If you don't apply for your tax card in time your employer will withhold 55% of your salary for taxes. But don't worry, if it's more than what you should pay in taxes, then your taxes are readjusted for the rest of the year to compensate for the preliminary high tax.
Really important: If you have any change in your income, you MUST report it to SKAT on their website. You can read more about it here.
📇 Apply for a CPR Number
CPR stands for Det Centrale Personregister, which means Civil Registration System. Your CPR number is your personal identification number in Denmark and opens “the doors” to the various Danish systems. This application is the first step to receiving your CPR number - whereby you must hereafter wait about 2 weeks for an invitation letter to activate your allocated CPR number in person.
How to apply for a CPR number?
You can apply for your CPR number at International House here. The link will say that you need an EU registration certificate - but you only need it when you actually go to the International House (and you will have it as we explain below).
Once you’ve applied, you will get an email around two weeks later informing you you are now invited to go to the International House for the CPR registration/activation.
Important notes about the CPR application
- Remember that if you are living with someone else’s name on the mailbox (for example "LifeX"), there is a section in the online application that says ‘lodge with’, and here you should insert the name displayed on your mailbox so you will receive your post - in Denmark they will not deliver if the name doesn’t match with the name on the mailbox.
- When filling out the application form if you have done your taxes already, select yes on the "Do you have an administrative CPR/ a tax number, or have you previously had a CPR number?" This is so the authorities link your tax ID number to your new CPR number when it gets generated. If you don't know your tax ID number (you probably don't) you can always just tick off the "I don't remember my administrative number/tax number or CPR number."
- The application will not provide you with a CPR right away, but instead an invitation to go to the International House to register for the CPR number there.
- After receiving the invitation to the International House it's good to know that there is no deadline for in to going in to activate/register the CPR number.
Learn more about the CPR and the registration process
CPR is a 10 digit number, where the first six digits are your date of birth, and the four others are random. It pretty much gives you access to a number of different important services in Denmark, like online banking, mobile phone, healthcare, tax, etc. That’s why we highly recommend you memorize it. But it shouldn’t be too hard, as it is just the four last numbers you need to remember.’
🇪🇺 Book your EU Registration appointment
EU registration certificate is the documentation of legal residence in Denmark. Because of the Schengen Agreement, you can stay in Denmark for up to three months before you register. However, you will not be able to get paid here until you receive this certificate, (which is a prerequisite for a CPR number and a Danish bank account).
How to apply for an EU registration certificate appointment?
You can apply for an EU registration certificate appointment at State Administration here.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Book an appointment about 3 weeks in the future. Keep refreshing the page daily to see the latest cancellations if the nearest appointment is far out.
- We advise you to book this appointment about 3 weeks in the future if booking the same day as applying for your CPR (highly recommended)- which will ensure that you will have already received an invitation to the International House to activate the allocated CPR number (see step 2 above).
- This is only a booking - no form to fill out. No online application is required here, you only need to book the appointment - you will then fill in a physical application form (OD1) in the citizen centre (they already have them printed) just before your appointment.
- Book an appointment as early in the day as possible. Because having an EU registration certificate is a prerequisite for getting a CPR number, you should try to get the EU registration certificate sorted as quickly in the day as possible.
- Click on the 1st option when applying for booking slot. When you click through to the booking system below please choose the 1st option - "I am applying for residence under EU rules".
- Take a screenshot of confirmed booking. Remember to take a screenshot of the booking confirmation so you can later bring it in to SIRI office.
🏛️ Book an appointment at Borgerservice for NemID
NemID is your digital signature and grants you digital access to important things in Denmark like your net banking, taxes and more. Your NemID consists of three parts: username, password and a key card (with 6 digit codes). There are two steps to obtaining NemID: registration via a visit to Borgerservice (this step) and an activation (one of the last steps below).
How to apply for a NemID appointment?
You can make an appointment with the Borgerservice here. Here are a few things to keep in mind when booking an appointment at Borgerservice:
- Click on the "NemID" when applying for a booking slot via the button below
- Book this appointment for 4 weeks after the International House visit
- Because you need the physical yellow CPR card at this appointment.
- Then click on "Borgerservice Nyropsgade" and book a time slot
🏦 Book an appointment at a bank
It is important to get a Danish bank account set up quickly, so you have access to pay and receive money in Denmark free of charge (especially your salary - by law you must have a Danish bank account to receive a salary).
How to book an appointment at a Danish bank?
We recommend Danske Bank. They have a dedicated international clients department and their entire service and product is translated into English.
- Set up an appointment at Danske Bank. You can give them a call (+45 70 25 11 22) or send an email (email@example.com) to set up a meeting.
- When to book the appointment? We advise booking the appointment on the same day as the EU registration appointment. Furthermore, make sure to book it as late in the afternoon as possible. This will ensure that you have enough time to go to SIRI office (for EU registration certificate) and International house (for CPR) before that. Both of these are prerequisites to opening a Danish bank account.
>>> Wait 2-3 weeks
3. ONE DAY IN TOWN
🇪🇺 Go to State Administration Office (for EU Registration certificate)
EU registration certificate is the documentation of legal residence in Denmark and you can obtain it at the state administration office (SIRI) when moving to Copenhagen.
What to know about the visit to SIRI?
Go to SIRI on Ellebjergvej 52, 2450 København. Make sure to bring with you all the prerequisites listed above.
After the appointment, you should be able to walk out with an EU registration certificate that you can use to obtain CPR number (below).
Please note that it can happen that for some reason SIRI office can't issue the EU registration certificate on the spot. In this case, you'll receive the registration certificate by mail in 2 weeks. If you end up in this unfortunate situation, then you should do steps 2 and 3 below when you finally receive the registration certificate (and not on the day of your visit to SIRI).
Important notes about the OD1 form
- IF your employment contract was signed MORE THAN 30 days before your appointment, then your employer needs to fill out APPENDIX A in the application (in hard copy).
- The OD1 application form needs to be printed out and handwritten in bold letters.
- There needs to be a date under your signature and your employers on the day it is signed.
🏛️ Go to International House (for CPR)
International House helps you set up your Danish CPR. The address is Gyldenløvesgade 11.
- EU Registration Certificate (from the previous step)
What to know about the visit to International House?
Simply visit the International House on the same day as the State Administration Office (SIRI). Just make sure you do it afterwards as an EU registration certificate is a prerequisite to obtaining the CPR number.
What to do at the International House?
When you come in, go to the terminal and select CPR registration. Wait for your number to be called. Once your number is called, bring your documents, including your new EU registration certificate.
The waiting times are steep, so expect to wait up to an hour for your number to be called. Once it is, the process is pretty fast - about 15 minutes.
Once done with the visit, you will walk away with a temporary CPR 'card' and your yellow health card ordered.
Learn more about the visit to International House
- Yellow CPR card
The in-person registration/activation of your allocated CPR number initiates the production of your yellow health card which acts as your social security card for local health care (you are automatically allocated a local GP by Int. House) and general ID for certain bureaucratic things you will need to do (ie. when you go to the bank to change something they will ask for this etc.). This card will be delivered in 2-3 weeks.
- About Temporary healthcare
At this point, you will not be assigned a doctor, as their system doesn't allow that. But don't worry, you are officially covered under Danish Healthcare. If you have to see a doctor before your yellow health card comes, call Citizen's Service at + 45 33 66 33 66 and they will tell you which doctor to go to. When your yellow CPR card arrives in the mail in a few weeks, it will have your doctors information on it.
🏦 Open a Danish bank account
It is important to get a Danish bank account set up quickly, so you have access to pay for things and to receive money (for example your salary). As mentioned before, we recommend Danske Bank.
- National Identification Number from original country (usually your Passport number)
- Tax identification number (TIN) for other countries where you pay taxes
- CPR number
- EU registration certificate
- Employment contract
What to know about the visit to the bank?
At the bank, they will help you set up a Danish bank account. The account will be active within three-five days. Along with an account, you will also be designated a Nemkonto. A Nemkonto or "Easy Account", is just a little flag on your normal account. It is required by law to have it and if the Danish authorities ever need to send you money (for example SKAT), then that’s where they will send it.
>>> Wait 4 weeks
4. ONE SHORT VISIT TO TOWN
The step below can unfortunately not be done in a single day out of town (above), because you need the actual physical CPR yellow card before applying for NemID at Borgerservice.
🏛️ Go to Borgerservice (for NemID)
Bogergerservice will help you register your NemID. NemID is the common log in solution for public self-service and online banking in Denmark. Borgerservice office is around the corner from International House on Nyropsgade 7.
Your CPR (from the previous step).
You need to first visit International House and get the CPR number in order to successfully order the NemID. Please note: you need the actual physical yellow CPR card before you can get the NemID.
What to know about the visit to Borgerservice?
If you followed the steps above you have an appointment scheduled on the same day as other appointments in Borgerservice on Nyropsgade 7. Simply go there with your new CPR number and you should be good to register your NemID.
You won't be able to activate your NemID on the same day though. You'll get the keycard and some other details for activation via mail later.
>>> Wait till you receive NemID details
5. FINISH UP ONLINE
Receive the mail with NemID keycard and NemID activation instructions
📟 Activate your NemID
NemID is your digital signature and grants you digital access to important things like your net banking, taxes and more. It is important that you do not share your NemID information with anyone! Your NemID consists of three parts: username, password and a key card (with 6 digit codes).
How to activate your NemID?
Once you receive the mail in the post regarding your NemID, then go to the website here, click on Self Service and input the temporary username and password that you have got in the International House. Once you’re in the system you can change the username and password combination. And that’s it - you can now log in to everything important in Denmark!
💻 Set up your E-boks
E-boks (or "E-box") is your Danish digital postbox and is linked to your Danish personal registration number (CPR). This is where you receive mail from important authorities, like the Danish government, banks, etc.
Your activated NemID (see step 1 above)
How to set up your e-Boks?
- Click here to start the process
- Select the option "Sign up Personal"
- Use your NemID to access the account
- Follow the prompts for the setup
- They will ask you for your phone number and email. This is to set up alerts if you get something in your e-Boks.
- Once everything is set up, you will receive your first digital letter, which is a welcome letter.
Please note: it is your responsibility to check e-Boks as it is just like your regular mailbox (you will, however, receive reminders in your personal email each time you receive a mail to your e-Boks).
Part 2: Culture
There are a few things that make the Danish culture quite unique. Let's go through three of them.
High trust level
One big thing is that the Danish society is based on extremely high levels of trust and safety. There is not only a lot of trust amongst the Danes, but also towards various institutions, like the police, government, hospitals and schools. For example, in Denmark, parents can actually leave their babies sleeping outside of a cafe in a baby pram while they enjoy a coffee inside, without having to worry that something will happen to the baby.
Janteloven (Law of Jante)
Danes are all about being a homogeneous unit: You are not to think you're anyone special or that you're better than anyone else. The idea is that you should not step outside of the social group and instead attempt to enable everyone to fit in. Jante Laws tend to level out society, as the people as a whole get to set the rules, not the rich alone. This permeates not only in people’s personal lives, you will surely not miss all the black, greys and white undertones of clothing, but also in the professional lives - where Danes are highly collaborative and not the biggest fans of upfront conflicts. Making sure everyone is at peace and is living in harmony is the core mantra for the Danish way of existing.
You can easily get by speaking English in Copenhagen - an average Dane speaks and understands English very well. That said, in case you'd like to stay in Denmark for a longer period you might want to try and learn the Danish language. As of July 1, 2020, Danish language classes will be free for adult foreigners with a Danish CPR number. You can apply and study Danish in many schools, some of which include: Studieskolen, Clavis, Copenhagen Language Center.
You must have come across the the word “hygge” when preparing your move to Copenhagen. Hygge (pronounced “hooger”) is the Danish concept of togetherness while being cozy. Nobody really knows how to translate it but candles play an important part in it. It’s the feeling of getting in from the cold and rain and meeting your friend that you haven’t seen in a long time for coffee. There is candles and soft jazz playing. The table next to you is playing dice. In short, it is about enjoying the small and good things in life together with the people you care about.
Part 3: Climate
It shouldn’t come as a shock that Denmark is not a tropical country. It is quite the opposite, with lots of rainy and windy days.
But don’t get discouraged because whenever the sun is out, the whole city comes to life. Being so far up north, Denmark has really long, beautiful days during the summer (from June till September), with nearly 20 hours of sunlight per day. This does also mean that we have very short days during the winter (Late October - March), with about 7 hours of sunlight. But this is easily compensated by the huge emphasis on hygge and candle lights in the Danish homes.
Temperatures usually range from around 20-30°C during the summer and around 0°C during the winter. This of course means that as soon as the temperature hits 10°C, you can expect to see people wearing shorts and skirts, and even going swimming.
Part 4: Healthcare
When you register as a resident in Denmark and for the CPR number, you will receive a yellow card, or Health Insurance Card. Your Health Insurance Card, or sygesikringskort, is your personal proof that you are eligible to use the Danish national health insurance.
Here's a few highlights of the Danish healthcare system:
- Automatic GP allocation
You automatically get registered to a doctor, who will become your personal doctor. The doctor is chosen by taking into consideration the availability of patients and the distance from your home.
- (Mostly) Free treatment
You have free access to treatment, counselling and guidance with your doctor. Specialist treatment are mostly free (see below for more details). Your personal doctor first examines you and then decides if you require special examination and/or treatment. They then refer you to the specialist (otherwise it is not free).
Depending on the treatment, the medication will have different costs. However, medications are subsidized by around 50-75%. You can pick the medication up at the pharmacies (Apotek), with a slip from your local doctor.
- Dental care
If you are over the age of 18, then the public health insurance does not cover dental care. It is, however, partly subsidized.
- Change of GP
You can easily change your doctor even if you're not moving. You log onto borger.dk (with your NEMID), and then follow the process of “Changing doctors” on your website. There is a fee of 200 DKK to change the doctor. Once you have selected a new doctor, you will get a new healthcare card within 2-3 weeks, in the post.
- EU-wide healthcare coverage
When you are covered by the Danish healthcare insurance and are a resident in Denmark, then you can/ should apply for the Blue EU healthcare insurance card. This is a healthcare card that covers you within the EU countries as well as Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, or Switzerland. You can order the EU Health Insurance Card digitally by following this link.
Part 5: Transportation
Here are a few things to know about transportation in Copenhagen:
Biking has recently become the #1 choice of getting around in Copenhagen. Moreover, Copenhagen has a well-established public transportation system with metro and bus lines. An additional plus is a fast and easy connection to the rest of the world through Kastrup airport.
In Copenhagen, biking is not seen as a leisure activity, but instead as a transportation vehicle that will get you from A to B. So, if you don’t know how to ride a bike, then it is highly suggested that you learn it as soon as possible!
Biking in Copenhagen 101
- You always stay on the right side of the bike lane. If you want to get in front of the person in front of you, you have to look behind yourself first to make sure no one is coming from behind. Only then can you proceed to get a head (Important, if a person is coming from behind and wants to overlap you, then they get first priority and you have to wait).
- If you want to turn left or right, you have to stick your hand out to the side you want to turn (for example, if you want to turn right, you have to stick out your right hand).
- If you want to stop, you have to put your hand up in the air. Very basic 101 rules. Learn them or risk geting yelled at :)
Bike sharing network - Donkey Republic
If you don't want to buy your own bike or are staying in Copenhagen for only a short period of time we highly recommend you use the well-spread dockless bike sharing network/app called Donkey Republic. The bikes have a quickly recognizable orange color.
You should get a so-called Rejsekort when using the public transportation system here. Rejsekort is an electronic ticketing system for travelling by bus, train and metro. You can purchase it online here.
Part 6: Mobile phones
The mobile market in Denmark is very competitive, which not only pushes the prices down but also provides many different types of mobile subscription packages. So finally, something that is cheap in Denmark (Yay!).
Prepaid phone carriers
This is a good temporary option for when you just arrive in Denmark, as it does not require a CPR number. It provides a lot of flexibility as it is “pay-as-you-go” system. You can top-up the card online or in stores (Electronic stores, kiosks, and most supermarkets). There are different companies that provide these type of SIM cards like: Lycamobile, Yousee and Lebara.
Contract phone carriers
Once you have a CPR number, Danish address and a Danish bank account, then you should consider getting a mobile subscription package from one of the following providers: Telia, Telenor, 3, TDC, CallMe, etc.
Must-have "local" apps
Once you have a Danish bank card you should definitely download and use an app called MobilePay. It has become the primary way for peer-to-peer payments and basically, everyone uses it. Moreover, you should download apps that help you navigate the Danish state systems: NemID and E-boks.