Find A Job
Denmark is one of the safest and most comfortable places in the world to live and work. It regularly appears in the top five of the Global Happiness index, and has excellent public services. The good news for expats is that it is one of the few countries in the EU that is still looking to employ foreign workers, and the system is set up to help you. Residents of Nordic, EU and EEA countries do not need to apply for a work permit. For citizens of all other countries, a work permit is required, even for voluntary work.
You must apply for your work permit before you arrive in Denmark: there are various routes for acquiring the permit, according to the nature of the employment and your professional skills. In all cases, the application must be submitted to the Danish Embassy or Consulate in your home country, preferably in person.
If you cannot make the initial submission in person, you must attend the Embassy in person within 14 days of the submission to have your biometric data recorded. Applications typically take 1 to 3 months to be processed and there is a fee of 2900DK. Full details can be found on the official Danish government website New to Denmark.
There are several different categories of work permit:
Fast Track: for expats who have been offered a job by a company certified by the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI).
Pay Limit Scheme: for expats who have been offered a job with a high salary (at least 436000 DK).
Positive List: Denmark has a skills shortage in some professions. The Positive List, which is updated twice a year, specifies these. This visa is for expats who have been offered a job in one of these areas, and who have the necessary qualifications. Appropriately qualified asylum seekers are also eligible to use this scheme.
Researcher: for expats (excluding guest researchers and PhD students) who have been offered a research post at a public or private research institution.
Special Individual Qualifications: for expats who have been offered a job only they can do. Typically, this permit is for athletes, artists, performers and chefs.
Herdsmen and Farm Managers: this permit only covers these two areas, and does not include other kinds of agricultural work, or forestry.
If you have a valid work permit, your spouse, civil partner or cohabiting partner, and dependant children under 18 may accompany you. If your spouse or partner wishes to work, they must apply for their own work permit.
Upon arrival in Denmark, you must register your address in the country with the Civil Registration System (CPR), to obtain a Civil Registration Number and a health insurance card. You will need to produce your passport, work and residence permit, proof of address, original marriage certificate and its copy (if relevant), original birth certificates and their copies for any children under 18 who are accompanying you, and divorce or death certificates (if relevant). These must be in a Scandinavian language, English, or German.
It is not always essential to speak Danish, as many major companies work in English, but it is an advantage, and learning the language once you arrive is recommended. Medical professionals must be proficient in Danish.
At the time of writing, there are skills shortages in Environmental, Mechanical, Building, IT-related, Energy and Electrical Engineering; Medicine (including doctors, nurses, dentists, radiographers and lab technicians); IT and Networking; Education; Land Surveying; and Business Analysis. In all cases you must have the relevant professional qualifications plus a relevant B.A. or (for some positions) an M.A. or equivalent.
In addition, for medicine and education you must be fluent in Danish. Medical professionals must pass specific tests in order to obtain authorisation to practice. For jobs in law, primary and secondary school teaching and pharmacy, local qualifications are usually required.
Jobs in Denmark are advertised in print newspapers, on a variety of websites, both local and international, and via Job Fairs. LinkedIn is not widely used.
Applications should be targeted towards the company or organisation: it is important not only to research your potential employer thoroughly, but to focus your CV in such a way as to demonstrate how you in particular will be able to benefit your potential employer and meet the challenges the job presents.
Denmark enjoys a high standard of living, but the cost of living is correspondingly higher than in the UK and the US. Average salaries run at around £580/ $750 per month gross, but professional salaries in the private sector are higher.
The working week is 37 hours, and once you have completed a year in employment, everyone is entitled to 5 weeks of paid holiday. (Leave is accrued at two days a month in the first year.) Leave entitlement is transferrable between jobs.
Apply For A Visa/Permit
Denmark has visa policies that tend to be foreigner friendly. This means that expats from various countries will find that they dont need to apply for a visa in order to enter this country. For nationals of some other countries, an entry visa along with residence permit and work permit are needed to live and work in Denmark on a permanent basis.
The Kingdom of Denmark is part of the Schengen Area, so there is a list of countries whose residents may enter the country only if they already have a valid visa to enter Schengen countries. Citizens of the European Union, the United States of America, Australia and New Zealand can enter Denmark freely without a visa. Those who are coming to this country as employees, interns, students, on a working holiday or as an au pair must know that a visa alone is not enough. They usually need to get residence and work permits.
Residence and work permits
Many people are free to live and work in Denmark without needing to apply for work and residence permits, including citizens of European Union and European Economic Area states, Nordic citizens and citizens of Switzerland. However, all those who plan to stay in Denmark for more than three months need to register with the authorities and acquire an identification number, the CPR number. If you don’t have a CPR number it is impossible to open a bank account, register with a doctor or get help from public authorities. It is even hard to buy a mobile phone.
Expats who dont come from one of the mentioned countries must apply for a residence and work permit. It is important to know that granting residence and work permits is not automatic and it largely depends on specific labour market conditions. To apply for these permits, expats need to have a specific written job offer which defines employment conditions and salary. Even with these documents, some may not acquire the residence and work permit if their prospective role can be filled by available workers in Denmark. In addition to general residence and work permits, there are numerous special schemes that can help expats in particular sectors to live and work in Denmark, such as those with specialist skills, Master’s degrees or PhDs from Danish universities.
Foreign nationals who need a visa to enter Denmark and who plan to stay in Denmark for more than 3 months have to apply for a residence permit before arriving in Denmark. It is crucial to know that if expats apply for a visa and residence permit at the same time, their visa will be turned down. Those who have been granted certain types of residence or re-entry permits in a different Schengen country do not need a visa to enter Denmark. These types of residence permits are not valid if entering the Faroe Islands or Greenland.
To enter Denmark, everyone needs to have a passport which is valid for three months beyond the length of stay and issued within the past 10 years, except EU nationals who are holders of passports or national ID cards which are valid for the duration of the stay.
EU nationals who travel from one border-free Schengen country to another are not required to show a passport or national ID card. It is still good to travel with a passport or ID card to make sure you can prove your identity if needed. Bulgaria, Croatia, Ireland, Romania, Cyprus and the United Kingdom are not part of the Schengen area, so a passport or ID card is required when travelling from or to these countries. Citizens of the European Union are not required to have a return ticket or show sufficient funds.
Nationals referred to above are not required to have a visa to stay in the country for up to three months. EU nationals who wish to stay longer than three months have to apply to the Regional State Administration for a registration certificate. Other nationals are required to contact the embassy to find out about visa requirements for Denmark.
Short-stay Schengen visas cost €60 (£48). The normal Schengen visa is not valid when travelling to the Faroe Islands or Greenland. To visit these parts of Denmark, those who need a visa have to apply for a Schengen visa from a Danish mission with the wording “Valid for the Faroe Islands” or “Valid for Greenland” on the visa.
Those who travel on a Schengen visa have to travel within three months from the date of issue of the visa. It is valid for 90 days within a six-month period.
Visa applications have to be made at a consulate or consular section at an embassy. UK residents who need a visa should apply to VFS Global; this carries an additional £24.05 charge. All visa applicants must submit biometric data at their visa appointment.
Schengen visa applicants are required to prove they have sufficient funds to support their stay.
Applications for Schengen visas are generally completed within 15 days, but some may take up to 60 days if additional processing is required.
Extension of stay
Schengen visa holders can extend their visas only in exceptional circumstances, such as force majeure or for humanitarian reasons.
Entry with pets
Those who bring a pet from another EU country must prove that the animal has a microchip or tattoo, an EU pet passport and a valid rabies vaccination certificate. Animals from outside the EU zone are required to have a microchip or tattoo and rabies vaccination certificate, along with a veterinary certificate issued by an authorized veterinarian.
Embassies and tourist offices
Embassy of Denmark in the United Kingdom
Telephone: (020) 7333 0200.
Opening times: Mon-Thurs 0900-1630, Fri 0900-1600.
Embassy of Denmark in the United States of America
Telephone: (202) 234 4300.
British Embassy in Denmark
Telephone: (45) 3544 5200.
Opening times: Mon-Fri 0900-1700.
Get Health Insurance
Many expats take out private medical insurance, even if this is not a requirement of residence, because healthcare is expensive in their destination country or because certain treatments and procedures are not available.
When taking out health insurance, be sure to check factors such as the annual and lifetime policy limits, whether there are any exclusions which are likely to affect you, whether you are limited to treatment from specific types of healthcare providers, and whether the policy covers emergency evacuation for medical treatment.
Too frequently, potential buyers of health insurance look only for the lowest cost of premiums before really considering the specific benefits and areas of cover they may actually need. Some plans are cheaper for a reason. Often they include large voluntary deductibles on any claim you might make in the future and may severely cap the benefits received under the plan. Clients should define their needs first, establish the particular area of cover they need, then determine their annual healthcare insurance budget. Only then should they look to premium comparisons, last of all.
Do not buy a plan without studying the policy wording carefully. If in doubt, ask, and only when completely satisfied complete all application forms fully, to the best of your ability.
Important questions to ask the insurance provider:
1. Does the plan allow for cooling off periods, cancellation and then repayment of premium in full?
2. Does the plan offer “Moratorium” or is it “Full underwriting” and do you need to have a medical examination before joining?
3. Does the insurer offer a 24 hour help line, 7 days a week, available from anywhere in the world (freephone)? Most insurers now offer this facility.
4. Are pre-existing conditions excluded when joining and if so, for how long are such conditions excluded?
5. Are all and any nationalities accepted or are there restrictions which apply to local nationals? Some insurers will only take expatriates abroad and not local nationals into an overseas plan.
6. Does the plan allow you to continue cover unbroken through your lifetime? In most cases insurers will continue to offer existing clients cover year on year, irrespective of age or claims history, although premium rates charged can increase dramatically with age.
7. Does the insurer allow for any doctor or consultant or hospital within the plan? Are there any restrictions in this respect? Most international plans do not place restrictions on either hospitals or doctors, but almost all demand that their help lines are called first, prior to approval of any inpatient care.
8. Does the insurer provide for the direct settlement of bills presented by hospitals worldwide, regardless of location (or do you have to pay first)?
9. What are the insurers procedures for outpatient claims? Do these require any pre-authorization or if stated in the plan can you just pay and claim? How long before you get money back from the insurer? 14 days? 28 days?.
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Rent Or Buy Property
Real estate in Denmark can be competitive and difficult to navigate, especially in major cities. For example, in Århus and Copenhagen, you will find elevated real estate prices and high demand. This can make it difficult to find properties that suit mid to low budgets.
But outside of these major cities, your options open up. Which is why it is important to think about what you’re really looking for in a property, before you begin your search. For example, are you looking to be in a city centre? Are you looking for a spacious property for your family? Or do you not mind where you live, as long as it is within budget?
Determining which factors are important, and which factors you are willing to compromise on, will help you to narrow down your options, so that you’re ready if your dream property comes along.
If you are looking for a large, expensive apartment in Denmark, you will have plenty of options to choose from. However, if your budget is smaller, you may find that you have limited choices.
As real estate moves so quickly, you will want to make sure that you hear of new properties as soon as they become available. In addition to browsing estate agent listings, you could join Facebook groups, forums and other chat services, to help keep you in the loop.
There are also websites that you may find useful, such as:
• Bolig Portal
• City Apartment
• Housing Denmark
The rental market in Denmark is split into two categories: the private housing sector, and the public housing sector.
The public housing sector is non-profit and more regulated. As a result, rent tends to be cheaper. However, if you are planning to move to one of the main cities, you may find it difficult to use this sector, unless you will be living in Denmark for five or more years, as the waiting lists are so long.
The private sector is regularly building new homes in Denmark, especially apartments in major cities. As a result, it tends to offer more rental opportunities. To give you an example of how the property prices vary in the private rental sector, here is how much you can expect rent to cost for a two-bedroom property in the following locations:
Apartment: 13,000 DKK (£1,526) per month
House: 20,000 DKK (£2,348) per month
Apartment: 8,000 DKK (£939) per month
House: 12,000 DKK (£1400) per month
Apartment: 6,000 DKK (£700) per month
House: 8,000 DKK (£939) per month
Apartment: 6,000 DKK (£700) per month
House: 9,000 DKK (£1,050) per month
Apartment: 5,000 DKK (£590) per month
House: 7,000 DKK (£820) per month
Apartment: 5,000 DKK (£590) per month
House: 9,000 DKK (£1,050) per month
Apartment: 6,500 DKK (£760) per month
House: 8,000 DKK (£939) per month
Once you have found a property you like, it’s time to secure the paperwork. Tenancies in Denmark typically last for a minimum of a year, and require the equivalent of one to three months’ rent as a deposit. However, the exact details will be confirmed in your rental contract.
At the beginning and end of your tenancy, there are mandatory reports that you must fill in. Examples of these include the indflytningsrapport and fraflytningsrapport, which are essentially your ‘moving in’ and ‘moving out’ reports.
It is important to know that landlords are supposed to inspect the property two weeks prior to the start of a new tenant’s lease. If they fail to do this, they cannot hold onto your deposit at the end of your tenancy, regardless of the condition the property is in. Nonetheless, it is always best to take photos of your property at the start of your tenancy, so that you have proof, should you ever need it.
One of the quickest ways to bypass the competitive nature of the rental market in Denmark is to buy your own property. As foreign nationals have exactly the same rights as Danes when it comes to taking out a mortgage, Denmark’s banks and/or credit institutions are your best bet if you need financial assistance. In many cases, they only require a 5% to 10% deposit.
However, there are some limitations that may prohibit you from acquiring property in Denmark. For example, you may find it difficult to purchase a property if you haven’t resided in Denmark for five years, or if you are not an EU national. In saying this, if you have a valid residence or business permit, these factors shouldn’t cause a problem.
If you’re not an EU/EEA citizen, then you’ll need to acquire permission from the Danish Ministry of Justice in order to purchase a property. This will be handled by your lawyer. It is important to know that if you purchase a property without living in Denmark for five years and then want to sell it, you are obliged to do so within six months. This is waived if you live in the property for more than five years, or if you have resided in Denmark, through renting, prior to your property purchase.
There are two types of property you can buy in Denmark, Ejers and Andels.
Ejers means that you are the owner of the house/apartment and can make changes to the property (unless it’s to the apartment, then you can’t change the facade etc.). Andels is where you’re not the full owner of the property, and are instead considered a “shareholder” in the building. With Andels, decisions are made by all the shareholders, so there are more rules and regulations regarding making changes and renting out.
Regardless of which type you choose, once you have found a property you like and have made an offer, it’s time for the paperwork process to begin!
Once your offer has been made/accepted, the seller’s estate agent will draw up the purchase agreement. It’s at this stage that the transfer deed should be made, which is paid for equally by the buyer and seller and provides both parties with insurance.
Once the purchase agreement has been signed, the buyer will place a deposit of 5% to 10% of the property price, which will be held by their estate agent. After this, there will be a six-day grace period, where the buyer can withdraw from the sale if they want to. However, they may face a fee of 1% of the property price for doing so. If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, and so long as everything’s okay with your finances, the process will move ahead and the property will soon be yours.
The closing date will be agreed upon by both estate agents, and will be confirmed when the funds have been transferred and the property deeds signed. However, before this happens, it’s important to ensure that all appropriate checks have been done, such as for damp and building construction errors.
The seller should provide a property report that outlines the physical condition of the property. This report should include whether there are any noticeable defects or conditions that may go on to cause problems. Whilst this report is not a requirement, it must be done if you want a transfer deed. It will protect you in the long run too, as, if it’s not done, the seller can be held responsible for defects and damages for up to 20 years.
Once your checks have been done and a contract has been finalised, the deed of conveyance (SkÃ¸de) will be drawn up by your attorney. The solicitor/lawyer will then notarise the documents on your behalf and issue the official owner document.
It’s important to ensure that all paperwork is up to date during this process, as you will require the following:
• Property tax note
• Land certificate
• Operating permit
• BBR-owner information
• Energy rating and energy plan
• Buildings and fire insurance
If there’s anything you’re not sure on, your solicitor will be able to advise you.
It’s important to be aware that you may have to pay some fees when you buy a property in Denmark. Examples of these fees include:
• Final contract fees: 0.6% of the property price + €175
• Lawyers’ fees: variable
• Legal fees: 1.5% of the mortgage value + €175
• Stamp duty: 0.6% to 1.5% of the property value
• Estate agent fees: 5% to 6% of the property value
Move Your Belongings
Consider if you want (or are able) to transport your belongings yourself or whether you will need the services of a removals company that deals with international moves. Unless you are travelling very light, or making a fairly short move by road, you will probably need professional help to ship your possessions. Ask for quotes from several companies first, ensuring that they visit your home to carry out a survey of your requirements. It may be worth paying extra for the removals firm to pack your possessions for you, particularly if they are going to be transported to a distant country and need special protection for the long journey. Make sure you bring to their attention anything fragile or precious that needs particularly careful wrapping and packing.
Before agreeing to a quotation, ensure that you are fully aware of exactly what is covered in the price, and that the service to be provided meets all of your requirements. For example, does the service include both packing and unpacking of your household effects? What about disassembling and reassembling of furniture? If you are planning to put anything into storage in your destination country while you find accommodation, does the price include final delivery and unpacking at your home, or will you need to arrange collection of the items? Obtain a firm estimate of the likely arrival date of your items and obtain contact details for any agents that will be dealing with the removal in your destination country. Ensure that the removals company is aware in advance of any practical considerations such as the lack of an elevator to your apartment, or likely parking problems.
If using a removals company, you may be required to take out their insurance cover for your possessions. Whether or not this is the case, ensure that you have adequate insurance for anything of actual or sentimental value that could get lost or damaged during the move. Take the time to accurately complete or check an inventory of your possessions to be moved, as this will form the basis for any insurance claim for losses or damages. Find out if insurance is included in the price quoted by the removals company, or whether you are required to pay extra for this.
The removals company should arrange any customs and importation documents on your behalf, but if you are arranging the move independently you will need to find out what documents are required and what import duties and taxes are payable (and whether you are eligible for exemption from these).
Make sure that you set aside the important documents you will need for the journey, such as passports and air tickets, and keep these easily accessible in your hand luggage.
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Register For Healthcare
QUICK LINK: Denmark health insurance
You can register with your GP or with the civil registration office (Folkeregistret). Within a couple of weeks, you will be sent a health insurance card – your ‘yellow card’ (Sundhedskort). If you are in the Greater Copenhagen area, you will need to apply online.
Your yellow card will show your CPR number, and you will need to take it with you if you visit a doctor or a hospital. You will also use this card to take books out of the library, pay your taxes, and open a bank account: it is a general multi-purpose card. You are entitled to a yellow card if:
• you are staying in Denmark for longer than three months
• you have an EU residence document, if you are an EU citizen (Nordic citizens excepted)
• you hold a residence permit, if you are a non-EU citizen
• you have somewhere to live: your name must be on the mailbox, or you must give your landlord’s name, in order to receive your card
Your yellow card may take up to a month to arrive from the date of registration. Once you receive it, you are eligible for all the healthcare services enjoyed by Danish citizens.
You can also use your EHIC card, if you are a EU citizen, but you will need to sign up for health insurance in addition to this, as your EHIC is only supposed to be a temporary measure.
You may also be covered for some maternity care: Denmark covers ¾ of the cost of childcare.
If you are planning on visiting Greenland, which is an autonomous Danish territory, there is no private health insurance available but all treatment is free. Greenland took over healthcare from the Danish government in the early 1990s and it is more or less all publically funded, with the exception of some dental treatment and other outlying treatments, such as for drug addiction.
In the Faroe Islands, also a Danish territory, there is national health insurance and all treatment, with the exception of some elements like dentistry, is free. If you are working there, you are likely to have to pay into the national insurance scheme and it is deducted at source.
The national insurance scheme covers:
• visits to your doctor
• hospital stays
• part of your medication
• some more alternative or complementary therapies
• some physiotherapy
• some psychiatric care
• some chiropractic care
Other procedures or treatments may require private health insurance.
Your children will be treated for free if they are under 15.
Open A Bank Account
The banking system in Denmark is quite user-friendly and opening an account goes quickly when you have a CPR number. Once the CPR number is acquired, people can choose between a Dankort and Nem Konto. Sometimes it is even possible to open an account without the CPR, but it takes time and excludes many services. Danske Bank and Nordea have a reputation for being helpful in those cases, but as banking has become less personal in recent years it can be difficult.
Opening the account is generally the biggest hurdle. Once its opened, users can transfer money from their home account immediately. It is important to know that those who have a job sometimes must wait weeks or even months before the first paycheck is put into their account.
Those who have a residence permit, but not a work permit, have to prove that they are financially capable of supporting themselves. Once they put money in a Danish bank, it helps appease the government that they are self sufficient. After opening the bank account, users can acquire a banking cash card, enabling them to withdraw their funds from cash machines all over the country. It is generally free to withdraw money from a cash machine of your own bank. Using another banks cash machines will usually lead to some fees. Banks usually charge for everything that is related to customer service, including meeting with a customer service person.
It is also possible to find a bank that has internet banking in Denmark, offering services in English or other languages. Some banks also offer meetings with English-speaking account managers, which is important in case of loans, contracts and insurance. Its also helpful in getting the documents in a native language as well. You can compare fees and services at www.mybanker.dk.
In Denmark, the Dankort is the major banking debit card. Those who want to apply for a Dankort should know the following things:
– it can take several months
– a copy of some previous paychecks is required
– a healthy bank balance is required.
Before issuing a card, a bank may require any of the above. It can still take several weeks to get a card. It is advisable to discuss the conditions for acquiring a Dankort before opening the account. It is also important to know that Dankort is the “national currency”. This debit card can be used anywhere in Denmark and its generally more widely used than credit cards or cash in this country.
After setting up the bank account, it is wise to ask to have a Nem Konto set up at the same time. This is the account that is linked to users personal bank account and also linked to users CPR number. Every resident in Denmark is required to have a Nem Konto. All the necessary information about this account can be found at nemkonto.dk, which has the information in Danish, English and German.
The bank will sign the client up for NemID, which is a digital signature that allows them to access both public and private internet services such as online banking, data and tax information. The client will receive two different parts in order to login. The first step is to create your own username and password. This is usually clients CPR number and an individually chosen password. The second step is to type in the code from the code card that has 148 keys on it. As this system can be used on any computer, it is important to use it safely and always log off to prevent fraud.
In Denmark, banking hours are similar to general working hours, so people rarely have time to actually enter the bank if they work normal hours. In general, banks are only open Monday to Friday. Hours are 10 am to 4 pm, except on Thursdays when most banks are open to 5 pm or 5:30 pm. These hours may be a little different especially in Copenhagen. This is one reason why internet banking is so popular. Phone banking hours can vary greatly, but they usually open at 8am for business. Many banks also answer questions via email. Banks are not open on weekends, but there are phone services for stolen cards.
The Kingdom of Denmark is part of the European Union, but it has not converted the national currency to the Euro. The official currency of Denmark is the Danish Krone or Crown, abbreviated as DKK. The krone is divided into 100 øre.
Notes: 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 DKK
Coins: 50 øre and 1, 2, 5, 10 and 20 DKK
Taxes in Denmark
Expats who are tax residents of Denmark are generally taxed on their worldwide income, and they qualify for tax residency by being resident in Denmark. Expats who are not Danish residents but who live in Denmark for six consecutive months can also qualify for Danish tax residency. The tax system in Denmark is automatic, which means that tax is deducted from an expat’s salary before they are paid. Expats must register with the Central Tax Administration (SKAT) before they receive the first paycheck. Expats also receive a tax card that is sent directly to their employer, which ensures that they are taxed correctly.
There are many ways of sending money from one country to another. As always, expats can save themselves a lot of trouble and expense if they do a little research and shop around for the best deal.
International Bank Transfers
For most expats, currency transfer involves transferring small to medium sized amounts regularly from an existing bank account back home into a new overseas bank account in the local currency. These may be pension payments, benefits, or any other form of income.
Your home bank will usually be glad to oblige. You can set up facilities with them “on demand” whereby you fax or call them on the phone, provide a secret code or two, tell them the amount in question, and they will transfer it to your new bank, automatically converting it into the relevant local currency. Some banks also allow you to make international payments online. Whatever method you choose, transfers normally take between 3-7 days although 1-2 day transfers are often available but be prepared to pay more for these.
You can also set up regular transactions that are processed automatically on a fixed day of each month. Many state pensions and benefits can be paid directly into your new bank abroad without going through your home bank at all. Some private pension organisations may also offer the same facility.
When you first set up a transfer of funds abroad, the sending bank or institution will ask you for various codes that identify the destination bank. Often they will ask for IBAN (International Bank Account Number), BIC (Bank Identifier Code) or SWIFT codes but don?t panic – your new bank will give these to you and they may even already be listed in your new chequebook or bank statements.
As far as charges are concerned, you will probably be required to pay a flat fee per transaction. Additionally a percentage fee is often charged for the currency conversion itself. You may also find that your receiving bank charges you for receiving the transfer. Charges vary by bank but can quickly add up – ask your bank(s) for an indication of the fees involved.
As a general rule, transferring larger sums less frequently usually works out cheaper than transferring smaller amounts more often. However, if you need to transfer regular amounts of at least a few hundred pounds/dollars or need to make a larger one-off payment (e.g. for a house purchase) you should consider the services of a currency broker.
Cash Machine/ATM Withdrawals
Thanks to modern technology, most people abroad can go to a cash machine/ATM and withdraw local currency funds directly from their home bank account. This is a useful option to have for expats but exercise caution – many banks make hefty charges for using this type of facility. You may also find that withdrawal limits are in place (as a security measure) even if you significant funds in your account back home.
You can also use VISA or Mastercard credit cards to obtain cash in this fashion and if you pay the amount off quickly and avoid interest charges then fine – but once again credit card charges for cash withdrawals can be high. Check the rates carefully.
Currency brokers (also called foreign exchange brokers) offer significant advantages over traditional banks. Firstly, brokers will often be able to offer you a better rate than your bank. Secondly, the entire process is more transparent – many banks require you to accept the exchange rate available on the day they process your transaction, whatever and whenever that may be, but a specialist broker will offer greater flexibility, even allowing you to specify the rate you want in advance.
Currency brokers are smaller companies than major banks so always check their background carefully. Ask existing expats for their own experiences and recommendations before choosing a firm to handle your own foreign exchange requirements.
A good broker will discuss all the options with you and enable you to make the best decision for your circumstances. Using a broker will typically off the following advantages:
1) Currency brokers generally provide superior exchange rates to the high street banks. The currency brokers have access to the interbank rate and do not have the high costs that the banks have. This means that they can usually offer better exchange rates.
2) Use of a free Market Watch/Order Service: This allows you to tell your currency broker your target or budget exchange rate and they will ring you if that exchange rate level is reached. As the rate moves every few seconds, currency brokers can act as your eyes and ears on the market.
3) Ability to fix the exchange rate in advance using a Forward Contract. If you know you need to convert/move funds in the future but don?t yet have the money you can reserve a rate in advance using a Forward Contract. During this period, you are exposed to exchange rate movements and therefore, a forward contract is ideal if, for example, you have agreed to buy a house and want to fix the rate now but will not be making payment for a couple of months.
Savings from currency brokers can vary from between 1 and 4 per cent on the exchange rate alone, and specialists do not typically charge any fees for transmitting the funds abroad, unlike banks which often levy expensive fees or charges. If you are emigrating and transferring a large sum of money – such as the proceeds of a property – a foreign exchange company could potentially save you thousands.
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Learn The Language
Like most Scandinavian countries, Denmark has a high standard of English and you should have few difficulties in communicating if you are living and working in the country. However, we will look at some of your options below if you are interested in learning Danish.
Descended from Old Norse, Danish is a North Germanic language, standardised during the Protestant Reformation and based on the dialect of Copenhagen (rigsdansk). Currently, the language has three main dialects:
• West Danish (Jutlandic)
• Insular Danish
• East Danish (a sort of linguistic bridge between Danish and Swedish)
It is spoken in Denmark itself, but also in other areas such as Greenland and the Faroe Islands. It has influenced other languages such as Norwegian, since Norway used Danish as a written language for some time. Danes and Norwegians usually find it quite easy to understand one another.
National speech within Denmark is very homogenous, despite the different dialects, as broadcasting and other services are based on the standardised Copenhagen dialect, and 25% of the Danish population live in urban areas. Thus, if you do speak Danish, you should not find huge regional variations throughout the country. German is also spoken by a minority in Sønderjylland.
It is possible to get by in the country without speaking Danish: many companies have English as the corporate office language, as they may have personnel from different countries and need a lingua franca. Around 90% of Danes have English as a second language, followed by German, and many Danes are near native-speaker status. British and US television programs are not always dubbed and the level of conversational English, particularly among young Danes, is good. Danish children start learning English from around the age of 8 in schools and some university courses are taught in English, as well. Expats report that there is not a huge amount of patience with foreigners struggling to speak Danish.
However, for the sake of politeness and basic practicality, it is always useful to learn a few basic phrases:
• meet and greet
• days of the week/months of the year
• shopping and food-related vocabulary, including eating out
• some basic medical vocabulary (e.g. asking for a doctor’s appointment)
• some basic banking vocabulary (e.g. opening a bank account)
Danish is not an easy language to learn if you are English speaking. However, if you are on the ground, you will find a number of Danish language schools and courses for different levels. De Danske Sprogcentre (the Danish Language Centre), for instance, offers language courses across the country at examination level. This is an association of over 50 language schools, which are state approved adult education institutions.
Universities also have language training attached. If you are still in your home country, you can contact the Danish Cultural Institute, which offers language courses. You will also find Danish language training resources online. It is always a good idea to take a decent phrasebook with you, particularly if you are travelling in rural areas and communicating with some of the older generation, whose English may not be as fluent as that spoken by young people.
TEFL is not as extensive a form of employment in Denmark as it is in some other countries, due to the high standard of English already present in the country. However, there is still a demand for certain types of TEFL tuition, for instance in technical English and business English.
It is always easier to get work in international education if you have at least a certificate in either TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages). It is also preferable if you have experience in teaching schemes such as the Cambridge English exams or IELTS (International English Language Testing System): the English test for study, migration or work. Some teaching experience in the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) will also be helpful. This assesses analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills in written English for use in admission to graduate management programs, such as the MBA.
Most private schools in Denmark also require at least a Bachelor’s degree: basically, the rule of thumb is that the more qualifications you have, both in TEFL and in academic subjects, the easier you will find it to get work, particularly in the more restricted Danish market. However, salaries are competitive; you will not need a work visa if you come in from a EU nation, and the Danes are relatively relaxed about working hours.
If you want to work in interpreting or translating, you will obviously need to have a high level of Danish. Denmark has an organisation of Danish Authorised Translators and Interpreters (DT), which consists of active professional translators and interpreters who have received a Master’s degree in translation and interpreting in Danish and one or more other languages from an accredited Danish business school. If this applies to you, contact the DT for more information.
Choose A School
The Danish education system is very highly rated. Danish literacy rates are amongst the highest in the world, at around 99%. Denmark also ranks well above average amongst OECD reporting countries on the percentage of GDP spent on education, at over 6%.
There is a thriving, active expat community here, many of whom are based in and around the busy capital city of Copenhagen.
State education in Denmark is well developed and well regulated. It is controlled by the Ministry of Education. Whilst the system is renowned for its equality of opportunity, there is also a long-standing tradition of private schools in Denmark (supported by a voucher system), but all schools must adhere closely to the Folkescole (public school) program.
State education will be conducted in Danish throughout, but the Roman alphabet is used (with a few additional accented letters), removing at least one stumbling block for expat children who may wish to enter the system. If your child needs Danish language training to be able to attend state school, this can be organised locally, and extra support can be continued at school as necessary.
Several languages are taught throughout the system, including English, often to a high level of fluency.
School tuition is provided free in Denmark, paid for out of taxes, and is compulsory for all children from ages 6 to 15.
Day centre based pre-school/kindergarten is freely available but not compulsory. Primary school covers ages 6 – 11, and lower secondary school runs from ages 12 – 15.
Upper secondary school runs from ages 16 – 19, and is divided into two streams. The academic stream lasts four years, and provides general further education for those who may wish to continue to higher education. The vocational or technical stream is available for those wishing to gain qualifications for access to the workplace – the duration of tuition here will depend on the profession or occupation chosen. For those attending vocational colleges or taking apprenticeships, there is also the chance of further advancement through technical universities and colleges, and there are institutions for many professions such as teaching.
Those who achieve sufficient academic grades at upper secondary school may choose to go on to university or college. Danish universities are run on the familiar three level model – BA/BSc, MA, PhD. Colleges and specialized institutions are available for those who may not achieve the grades necessary to go to university.
Homeschooling is a right for any parent in Denmark, but must be of the same structure and quality as Folkescole, and parents will be under close supervision. It is administered through the local municipality, which must be contacted as soon as possible if you choose this route. Activities and sports will be your responsibility.
There are a large number of private schools in Denmark, offering tuition at various levels. Their curricula will be very closely aligned to the state Folkescole system, with additional classes and activities depending on the philosophy of the individual school.
There are also around two dozen fee-paying international schools catering specifically for expat children of all ages, some with day care for infants, but separate pre-school kindergarten (ages 3-6) is also available privately in the larger cities. Many of these schools offer the full International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP), and most are based on tuition in English under various national education systems.
Here are a few of the international schools of various levels in Denmark:
• International School, Billund (IBDP)
• Aarhus Academy for Global Education, Højbjerg (IBDP)
• Esbjerg International School, Esbjerg (Transitioning to full IBDP)
• Sønderborg International School (Cambridge affiliated to A Level & IBDP)
• Prins Henriks Skole, Friederiksberg (French)
• Sankt Petri Skole, Copenhagen (German)
There are others in several areas, plus Montessori pre-school institutions.
Extra-curricular activities will vary considerably, and need to be ascertained from the individual school. Demand for places at international schools is always high, and it is important to contact the school of your choice as early as possible. Fees will also be quite substantial, and it is always important to read the small print – additional expenses can mount up – for example many schools have additional contributary capital funds for improvements/repairs.
High school or international school graduates will have the choice to continue their studies in Denmark, and its universities are excellent, but many will want to pursue their higher education abroad. Successful graduation from Danish schools (public or private) will give your child an internationally recognised high standard qualification, which is often accepted at major universities worldwide without the need for additional assessments.