Getting started in Denmark can be easy or it can be a case of learning by trial and error. For every expat moving to a new country, the question of what steps to take is always foremost in their minds.
Unfortunately, doing the wrong thing or taking too long to do something else can cause you heartache, cost you time and money and, more importantly, sometimes prevent you from staying in your new home.
Taking the appropriate steps with this 10 step guide will help you get started right. This guide will help you avoid a lot of needless aggravation. This is not to say there are not other things to do, but these will get you off on the right foot and I have more suggestions below.
Remember, other expats have done these same things when they were getting started in Denmark and they are now comfortably living and enjoying their lives. You can too!
Tip: If you skip some of these steps, you will find it much harder to complete some of the others. Complete each step before going to the next one. If something does not apply, like schooling, just move on to the next step.
Each step has a link to a page that gives you more details and information about that step.
1. First step in getting started in Denmark is to get permission to move to and work in Denmark. If you do not have permission to reside/work in Denmark before you arrive, you can be waiting months for approval and be unable to earn an income. Stay at home, keep earning money and then move when you get your approval. See documents for more details.
2. When you get your residence/work permit, your next getting started step is a stop at the Folkeregister in the kommune which you are moving to. At the Folkeregister, you will apply for your CPR Number.
Remember, you can't get a CPR number without having a residence permit.
The above step will open so many doors, when your CPR card arrives. Makes life alot easier.
3. So the next step is to take your CPR card to the bank. When you get your CPR card, you can open a bank account and do so many other things which are all based on your CPR number; e.g., apply for a Dankort and also set up a NEM Konto. Learn more about Danish banking.
P.S. It is possible to open a bank account without a CPR number, but it is difficult and fewer and fewer banks are willing to do it.
5. Step five is to check in with your kommune and register for Danish language classes. They will either enroll you, put your name on a waiting list or give you a list of schools and let you contact them and make your own arrangements. Find your local kommune and learn more about the Danish language here.
6. This next getting started in Denmark step does not have to be done in order, in fact you should do it within the first few days of arriving in Denmark. If you have a driver's license from outside the EU, get it switched to a Danish license within 14 days. It is illegal to drive on a foreign license for more than 14 days after receiving your CPR number and being officially registered. This is also done at your local kommune / borgerservice.
7. If you have children get them enrolled in school, kindergarten, etc. Your local kommune will assist you with this, so the time to talk to them is when you are doing getting started steps 5 and 6.
8. If you are starting work immediately and planning on staying in Denmark for some time, it is worth getting unemployment insurance or A-Kasse. If you are on a short-term contract, 6 months to 1 year, it is not worth the bother. See employment for more details on working and the A-Kasse employment system.
9. Crime is not a major problem, but make sure you have insurance coverage. You should get home or renter's insurance. This will also cover bicycle theft, which is a problem in the city. It is not expensive and well worth the cost in case of problems.
10. Now for the most fun and important getting started in Denmark tip that I can impart to new expats. Familiarize yourself with the area you are living in. Take lots of walks, visit as many stores as possible, locate the post office, bank, drug store, library -- explore, explore and explore some more. The more you know of the area in which you live, the quicker you will begin to feel at home.
Exploring the FYI Denmark website will also give you lots of information on things like shopping, transportation, housing, etc. to help you acclimate quickly. See our list below for additional helpful advice.
I hope that you take these 10 getting started in Denmark steps to heart and do them all. There is much more to do and learn, but at least you will have gotten these important things out of the way. Now, worry about figuring out to read the bus schedules instead! :)
There are many other things that you will need to learn as you adapt to getting started in Denmark, like:
1. Mastering the transportation system: Trains, buses, metro, bicycling, cars, airlines, airports
2. Setting up your television license and learning about the Danish system.
3. Choosing a telephone company and knowing who are the companies vying for your business.
4. What to bring with you and more importantly what not to bring!
5. Knowing where you should shop for food and clothes, including shopping list with Danish names. Helpful ..yea?
9. And what about all the things the Danes know and take for granted like understanding Danish Money, etiquette, the health care system and even things as simple as the calendar and time, which are different.
Little steps are better than large leaps when it comes to settling in comfortably. One day you will look back at it and it will all be done. Others have and so can YOU!
If this is all too much, leave getting started in Denmark and learn some general information about your new home.
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