Normally, a third country citizen must have a work permit in order to work in Denmark. There are, however, some exceptions from this general rule: 

  • If the activity in Denmark is short-term, and not defined as work by the Danish immigration law. 
  • If the stay is short-term – and the type of work is covered by an exemption clause. 
  • If the foreigner already has a Danish residence permit which includes the right to work. 

According to the Danish immigration law, an activity is defined as work if the foreigner performs tasks in Danish territory which entails an output for a company or recipient. 

However, it is not work if a foreigner merely has to partake in a meeting or an education session in Denmark for a short period (less than 90 days).

In this context, however, please note that peer-to-peer training in the workplace does require work permit if it takes place in the production environment and thereby, directly or indirectly, contributes to the company’s production and output.

Certain strata of third country citizens are, due to their field of occupation or special situation, exempted from the general requirement of work permit. 

You can read more about the rules of exemption here.

A foreigner’s right to work depends on the type of residence permit which has been issued:

  • If a foreigner has been granted a residence and work permit based on one specific job, then the foreigner, basically, only has the right to work for that specific employer to which the permit was linked. 
  • If the foreigner has an establishment card or a green card permit (scheme cancelled 10. June 2016), then the foreigner has the right to work without any further statutory restrictions. The permit is not localized to a specific employer, an thus, the foreigner can work for any employer in Denmark.
  • If the foreigner has a residence permit as a student on a higher educational programme, then the foreigner will usually have a work permit limited to a certain amount of weekly hours (15 or 20 hours). 
  • If the foreigner has a residence permit on the basis of family reunification, as an accompanying family member to a worker or student, has a permanent residency, or has asylum in Denmark, then the foreigner is exempt from the requirement of a work permit. The foreigner will automatically have the right to work and will not need to apply for a supplementary permit. However, foreigners holding a residence permit as an accompanying family member to a person who is working in Denmark must apply for a separate work permit if they wish to take up employment at the same company as their sponsor or with a company closely related to that company. The detailed conditions are stated in the permit letter. You can read more about the definition of a close relation between companies here. Please note that the condition regarding a separate work permit does not apply to accompanying family members to persons with a residence permit as a researcher or under the Fast-track scheme, to accompanying family members to Turkish citizens and to accompanying family members to persons with a permanent residency. Thus, they can work for the same company or research institution as the sponsor without further action.

Please note the list above is not exhaustive. 

The specific conditions and rights of a foreigner regarding work in Denmark are conveyed by the foreigner’s residence permit. It is your duty, as an employer, to check the foreigner’s right to work. So, always in advance of employment, ask to see the foreigner’s residence permit documents. 

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