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UK nationals, work and travel in Denmark after Brexit: what has changed?

Written by
Norrbom Vinding, the largest labour and employment law practice in Scandinavia and the market leader in Denmark.
The Brexit transition period ended on 31 December 2020 and UK nationals are now subject to a new regime for work and travel. This article provides details.


1.1 Has any guidance been issued on how UK nationals can obtain settled residence status and permission to work from 1 January 2021 and what proof of residence is needed for current residents to maintain their status?

The Danish government has taken several steps regarding UK nationals who used to live in Denmark under the rules on free movement for the purpose of ensuring that they can remain in Denmark on similar terms in accordance with the Withdrawal Agreement (WA).

UK nationals and family members staying in Denmark as well as cross-border workers commuting to Denmark for work before 31 December 2020 must have applied for a new residence status before 31 December 2021. This also applies to UK nationals with permanent residence in Denmark under EU rules. They can remain in Denmark legally as previously while their applications are being processed. By doing so, UK nationals can retain their rights of residence after the end of the Transition Period on 31 December 2020.

When applying for a new residence status during 2021, the applicant must provide documentation to prove that s/he met the requirements for residence under EU rules before the end of the Transition Period. This documentation includes, among other things, employment contract, copy of EU residence card and bank statements to document sufficient funds.

The Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI) has sent information letters to all UK citizens residing in Denmark with information on how to apply for the new residence permits.

Further information as well as the wording of this letter can be found here (in English).


2.1 Do UK employees need a business visa from 1 January 2021?

Regulation (EU) 2019/592 came into effect on 1 January 2021 and has been ratified in Denmark (due to the Danish opt-out on criminal justice and home affairs).

Under the regulation, UK nationals can enter and stay in the Schengen area for a maximum of 90 days in any rolling 180-day period.

The Schengen exemption applies from 1 January 2021.

2.2 What documents are needed on arrival for business travel from 1 January 2021?

Only a passport (or similar travel documentation) is required. The passport must be valid for at least three months after the date of departure and must not have been issued more than ten years ago.

Further, the normal conditions for visa-free entry must be met, including the requirement for sufficient means and documentation for the purpose of the stay, if requested.

Please note that health documentation due to the COVID-19-situation may be required.

2.3 Do UK nationals need additional permission to work for business travel from 1 January 2021 in the event of no deal?

UK nationals can participate in activities such as meetings or training on business travel, but will not otherwise be entitled to work or perform services in Denmark without a work permit.


3.1 Do UK nationals need permission to work and stay in Denmark from 1 January 2021? 

UK nationals who are not beneficiaries under the WA, see 1 above, must generally have a residence and work permit to be entitled to work in Denmark.

Certain exemptions may apply, such as:

  • short stays in accordance with the Trade and Cooperation Agreement e.g. for meetings or training that can be undertaken without a work permit;
  • secondments under certain conditions
  • the spouse of a third-country national who holds a work permit will be able to work without a work permit of his or her own;
  • third country nationals with a permanent residence permit for Denmark are exempt from the requirement for a work permit.


3.2 If permission to work is needed after 1 January 2021, do any quotas apply to the employment of third-country nationals? 

No quotas apply.

3.3 If permission to work is needed from 1 January 2021, what categories of permission are commonly granted?          

The most common scheme in Denmark is the Pay Limit Scheme under which the applicant must have a job offer with a minimum annual base salary of DKK 445,000 (approximately EUR 59,731.50).

Other relevant schemes include the Positive List (for professions experiencing a shortage of qualified individuals) and schemes for trainees.

All schemes are subject to specific requirements under Danish law.

3.4 If permission to work or stay is needed from 1 January 2021, how long does the procedure take?    

The application procedure for the Pay Limit scheme takes approximately one month if all requested documentation is provided when filing the application.

Both the employer and the candidate must fill out a part of the application form and the candidate must have his or her biometric features registered at a Danish embassy.

3.5 If permission to work and stay is needed from 1 January 2021, what Government fees are payable?

Currently, the fee for applying for a permit under the Pay Limit Scheme is DKK 4,295 (approximately EUR 577).


4.1 What formalities apply to UK frontier workers working in Denmark but living in another country from 1 January 2021?

Beneficiaries under the WA will retain their current entitlement to work in Denmark provided that they apply for a new residence status during 2021 (see 1 above).

UK nationals not covered by the WA can apply for a work permit as a frontier worker or cross-border worker in accordance with the provisions applicable to third-country nationals under Danish law such as the conditions under, inter alia, the Pay Limit Scheme or other applicable schemes.


5.1 From what date are third-country nationals entitled to apply for permanent residence?        

As a starting point, third-country nationals must have stayed in Denmark for eight years. However, a four-year limit applies under certain circumstances.

Permanent residence in Denmark is subject to a number of conditions. For example, the applicant must work and not have received public benefits and pass a Danish language test, among others.


6.1 What steps could UK nationals take currently to secure their residence and work status?      

UK nationals currently staying in Denmark must apply for a new residence status during 2021 in order to retain their residence entitlement under the Withdrawal Agreement.

UK nationals could consider applying for Danish citizenship if the conditions are met. The Danish immigration authorities have announced, however, that a fast-track scheme or similar will not be established for UK nationals applying for Danish citizenship. Currently, the turnaround time is 20 months.


Elsebeth Aaes-Jørgensen
Partner - Denmark
Norrbom Vinding