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Residence in Denmark for Union citizens and EEA nationals

Foreigners who are Union citizens or EEA/Swiss nationals may stay in Denmark under the EU rules on free movement of persons and services.

Who are Union citizens and EEA nationals?

Union citizens are nationals of Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus (only the Greco-Cypriot territory), the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

EEA nationals are nationals of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

Nationals of Switzerland are covered by the same rules as Union citizens and EEA nationals. Accordingly, all the rules mentioned below also apply to Swiss nationals.

What rules apply?

Union citizens and EEA nationals may stay in Denmark under the EU rules on free movement of persons and services.

If a foreigner is both a Union citizen/an EEA national and a national of a Nordic country, the rules concerning Nordic nationals normally apply. It is possible to apply under the rules applicable to Union citizens/EEA nationals if these rules are more favourable for the applicant or if the applicant insists on applying specific rules. Please contact your local Regional State Administration for guidance.

Residence in Denmark – how long?

Union citizens/EEA nationals may stay freely in Denmark for up to three months. If Union citizens/EEA nationals are seeking employment during their stay, they may stay in Denmark for up to six months or even a longer period as long as it can be documented that the Union citizen/the EEA national is still seeking employment and has a genuine opportunity of employment.

A registration certificate (for Union citizens/EEA nationals) or a residence card (for third-country nationals) is required for a stay in Denmark for more than three months. However, Union citizens/EEA nationals who are seeking employment are not to apply for a registration certificate. As opposed to a residence permit issued under the provisions of the Danish Aliens Act, a registration certificate or residence card is merely a proof of the rights already conferred on a Union citizen/an EEA national under the EU rules on free movement.

If an entry prohibition for Denmark has been issued against a Union citizen/an EEA national, s/he must have a visa to enter Denmark. A foreigner may have been issued with an entry prohibition if s/he has been expelled from Denmark once, for example on the basis of unlawful residence or crime.

If you have a right of residence in Denmark under the EU rules and need to move abroad

If you reside abroad for a long period, your right of residence in Denmark under the EU rules may lapse. However, you can apply to the Regional State Administration for an exemption to avoid that your right of residence in Denmark under the EU rules will lapse. You must apply before you move abroad.

Union citizens/EEA nationals must prove their nationality

A Union citizen/an EEA national must be able to identify him/herself and prove his/her nationality if the Danish police so request at a check of that person. Union citizens/EEA nationals who want to travel to Denmark must therefore bring their passport or ID card.

Residence exceeding three months

If a Union citizen/an EEA national wishes to stay in Denmark for more than three months and s/he is not a national of a Nordic country as well, s/he must apply to the Regional State Administration for a registration certificate under the EU rules. The application must be submitted within three months after the entry into Denmark. Job seekers are not to submit an application for as long as they are seeking employment.

When are registration certificates issued?

A Union citizen/an EEA national is eligible for a registration certificate, if s/he:

  • is in paid employment
  • is self-employed
  • provides services in Denmark
  • is a retired worker, retired self-employed person or retired service provider
  • has been seconded
  • is a student at an educational institution accredited or financed by public authorities, and s/he is able to support him/herself during the period of residence in Denmark or
  • disposes of such sufficient income or means so that s/he is presumed not to become a burden on the public authorities


When is a Union citizen/an EEA national deemed to be a worker under EU law?

It depends on a concrete assessment of the specific circumstances of each case whether a Union citizen/an EEA national, including a Danish national, is deemed to be a worker under EU law. What is crucial is whether a person has had genuine and effective employment. Emphasis will also be laid on whether the person performs services for and under the direction of another person in which s/he receives remuneration. Employment appearing to be a mere marginal supplement is excluded from the scope of application of the concept. It is therefore normally a condition that the relevant employment amounts at least 10-12 hours a week.

According to the jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice it is normally a requirement that the applicant has been employed for a minimum of 10-12 hours per week, see judgment Kempf (C-139/85) and Megner and Scheffel (C-444/93).

In the case of Kempf the employment in question was 12 hours per week, and in the case of Megner and Scheffel the European Court of Justice has ruled that paid employment where the working hours normally do not exceed 18, 12 or even 10 hours per week do not exclude the person to be regarded as a worker under the EU legislation.

In the judgment of Genc (C-14/09) the European Court of Justice established criteria for the purposes of the concrete and individual assessment of whether an employment for less than 10-12 hours per week is genuine and effective. These criteria may be the entitlement to paid leave, remuneration during illness, the duration of the employment, and whether a collective agreement applies to the employment. The employment in the mentioned case was 5,5 hours per week.

The European Court of Justice did not consider whether a weekly employment of 5,5 hours was sufficient in order to be considered as a worker under EU law, or whether the employment was of a merely marginal nature. It was left to the member state to undertake this evaluation.

It is not possible to fix a lower limit for the duration of the employment for assessment purposes.

The European Court of Justice ruled in Franca Ninni-Orasche (C-413/01) that a fixed-term contract of employment for ten weeks was sufficient for the applicant to be a worker under EU law. The case concerned educational grants and led to the issue of guidelines to the local authorities about when a person is deemed to be a worker. The guidelines concern employment relationships for which a short-term contract has been concluded in advance. The guidelines fix a minimum period of ten weeks for such situations. However, it should be emphasised that a concrete assessment must be made in each case.

Accordingly, a concrete and individual assessment must be made in each case, and the ten-week period fixed by the Court in the Ninni-Orasche judgment is thus only to be seen as an example of a situation in which ten weeks of employment were deemed to suffice.

A Union citizen/an EEA national who has permanent employment, but ceases working after less than ten weeks, may satisfy the conditions for being a worker under EU law in certain circumstances, while another person having worked for more than ten weeks may not always satisfy the conditions, e.g. due to lack of genuine work or for other reasons.

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Last update: 7/1/2013
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Published by: The Ministry of Justice
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