Everything you NEED to know and do when settling in Denmark (foreigner approach)
Denmark is the land of possibilities...but it's also a hassle if you don't know what you are doing
So you decided to move to Denmark. Great, awesome, but now what? If you are like me, then you are totally in the dark about what you should do next and in what order because, let me tell you, it might all seem easy or common for Danes, but, at least from my perspective, all those legal things you have to do to be a part of their society (like a normal human being) is kind of all over the place. This is especially clear when you start to Google things and see everything that pops up. But fear not because I am here to help and maybe save some trouble or lost time for those wanting to live here, so let's go through it all together, shall we?
Let's first get it all out of the way. There are a few things you need to do no matter where you're coming from if you want to live in Denmark. Knowing what those things are is crucial, but knowing in which order you should do them is even more so and here is where I personally had some trouble and lost quite some of my precious time on. Everyone's time is precious, so don't waste it like I did, even if it wasn't necessarily my own fault. I think the main cause for this is that things change over time, go figure. So if there are Websites out there with this information, you should know that it might not be valid anymore or at least not in the same form. Also, you should know I'm currently living in Aalborg, so everything that I figured out about the Danish system is coming from there, but I don't think it changes that much if you're thinking to move in another city. The information is still valid nonetheless. So, dear foreigners, let's proceed.
1. Residence Permit
This is, by far, your first step to take after you arrive in Denmark and settle in your new home (so, assuming you have a place ready for you and thus an address). This is the step to take if you are planning to stay in Denmark more than 3 months and I would advise you to make it your first.
What is it? Well, it's a piece of paper you get from the city Kommune which states that you are allowed to stay in your city of choice. In there, you will have to specify how long you are planning to stay, so I'm guessing this document needs to be renewed after that given allotted time. How do you get it? You need to make an appointment online (I made one with SIRI here: https://nyidanmark.dk/en-GB/ContactUs/Contact%20SIRI/Citizens%20Centre; you find each city there and you book the time that fits best in your schedule) and then you go to the Kommune at the chosen time. Because not a lot of people go there for this exact reason, you shouldn't encounter any wasted time waiting to get the document. Once you get to talk with the people there and then you present the mandatory documents (which, again, you will find available on SIRI) you get the paper in a couple of minutes. And now you are one step closer to get things done.
Also, just remember to always bring your passport to these official meetings.
2. Bus card
If you don't have a car or a bike or you are tired of walking, then you need a bus card. What you need to do is basically go to the NT office and you can ask around or search online for the location of it (in Aalborg, this is their site: https://www.nordjyllandstrafikselskab.dk/Bus---togtrafik/Koereplaner/Aalborg ). There is a mobile app for it which will be used to buy tickets online (but I would advise against that if you need to commute a lot because it will be more expensive) or manage your card/s.
Once you know the location, you go there and you will ask at the desk. You will need to complete some papers (and, unfortunately, they are in Danish, but you can get the gist of them and you have Google translate available; also, if needed, the people at the desk can help you) and then they will get you in their system. You receive the card right there on the spot. Now, there is a lot more in here about the type of cards you can have and you can find more information about each one on the Website, but the general thing is that you pay for the card (only the first time) and then you pay for the amount of months you want to use it and that's it, you can then use your card to travel by bus anywhere in town or otherwise (this only with the blue card; with this specific one you can use the train as well).
When you want to travel, just pass it by the glowing blue machines and remember to also check out (unless you have the green one). You can manage the card online or you can regularly go to the NT office and re-charge it. The card itself will have your name, a number and maybe your photo, but that's about it. No fuss, no trouble.
3. CPR-number / Yellow card
This is the MOST IMPORTANT step. Really. Everyone will tell you this. It's like the Holy Grail to anything related to the Danish system and sometimes experiences, as in making a gym membership. Everywhere you will go from now on, as in somewhere official, you need this. If you want to see a doctor, you'll need this or if you need to buy medicine, guess what? You'll need this card. Let's break it down a little bit.
What is it? It's a yellow card (hence the other name for it) which has all your personal information on it. Kind of like an ID-card, but Danish. It will have your name on it, your address, your city/region and in the top-left corner the name of your assigned GP (general practitioner a.k.a family doctor of sorts which will consult you first), who should have his cabinet close to your address and lastly but certainly not least, a number a.k.a your personal and unique CPR-number. That is the real deal. The card in itself is used for health care mostly, but the number is what you're going to use most of all. The first couple of digits are your birth date, but the last 4 are unique to you and you alone. Also, if you are moving houses or you will change some information which is provided on your Yellow card, you need to also have it changed and a new number will be assigned to you.
Why is it important? It's the way the Danish system can track you or keep evidence of you. If anyone in the legal field needs to contact you, that's how they're going to do it. With it you are registered in the Danish database and so you are part of the community. How do you get it? You have to book another appointment and you can do it in person by going to the Kommune and pressing a few buttons on that computer they have at the entrance or online; I did it in person. You can obviously search online on their official Websites to see more information about the CPR-number or for the documents you'll need when you go to your appointment. In any case, you need proof of residence (rental contract or letter from your landlord) and your Residence Permit, alongside your passport. These are the basics.
You arrive at your appointment. Now, you will see a lot of people waiting and so you might have to spend some time at the Kommune even with your appointment, but it really depends on the day. Your number is shown on the screen and so you go to the desk assigned to take care of you. You request the CPR-number and you wait a couple of minutes for the person at the desk to get you registered into the database. They will give you more information about the card there and they might also give you some brochures about the official mail and the NEM-id, which I'll get to later on. Most important of all, they will explain how to log online and provide the necessary information about your health care and support. Lastly, they will tell you that your card will arrive in your mail in 2-4 weeks (so make sure your name appears on the mail). If more than 4 weeks go by and your card hasn't arrived yet, send an email to the Kommune asking about it, but most likely it's there and you will be told to come and pick it up. So, in that case, you go back to the Kommune, to the info desk and request your Yellow card. In a few minutes, you shall have it in your hands. Finally!
This has most of what I would call "dead time" as you are waiting for your card because you cannot do anything else unless you have it and you cannot do anything to speed things through. You just have to wait.
4. NEM-id and official mail (e-books)
You can finally think about those bank accounts because you will need one. Everyone needs one. There are just some things you cannot obtain without it, like a SIM card for your phone or plane tickets. But before you can do that, you need the NEM-id.
What is it? It's a set of cards you will receive in your mail which have a lot of codes on it. Those codes are, again, unique, just like the CPR-number. For this one especially I would advise to look more into, because it doesn't hurt to be more informed and the official Danish sites can explain this better. But, mainly, those access codes are a security measure to keep everything in check, be it bank accounts or bus cards or anything else. You will make an account (there is also a mobile app for it) with a username (your personal choice or CPR-number), a password (you choose it) and then it will always request a code corresponding to a given key. These codes are a one-time deal and once you don't have any left, you simply request for more at the Kommune.
How do you get it? Did you miss the Kommune? well, you know the drill by now: appointment and request for NEM-id. There, the person assigned to you will explain things further and give you some instructions alongside a letter which you shouldn't use until you receive the cards in your mail (this will take 1-2 weeks). They will also register you online and then you are done there. Once you receive the NEM-id cards, you go online and create the account following the according steps explained in your letter and now you are done with this as well. You will use your NEM-id to create an account for your e-books or the official mail, which is a mandatory thing for Danish people since 2014-ish (I think; it's explained in the brochures) and there you will receive the important e-mail coming from your bank, police or any officials really. So you should regularly check it for new mail.
5. Bank account
You are doing great so far. Now it's time to decide on a bank. There a some options, but the thing is you will have to visit the banks in person the first time around. That is my advice. You will request to open an account and the people there will give you the needed instructions. Now, I had some incidents regarding this step.
I don't know, it was really hard to get it done because I didn't want to have to answer a good dozen or more questions about my finances and whatnot when I just finished high-school and all my income came from my family. It was truly a hassle for me and I went to 5 banks, until I settled with Sydbank ( https://www.sydbank.dk/privat/?gclid=Cj0KCQiA_rfvBRCPARIsANlV66OVWOGCy6C96GKjHiy1kPGFV3wZrsq_qvqguNvpj6we10Qbh_UE6toaAvihEALw_wcB; their Website where you can find all the information needed, but they also respond fast to any e-mail). With them, I only had to go there, request the account and have a talk with one of the employees; they did the photo-copies of my passport and Yellow card and that was it. No additional surveys, which for me was great. If you follow my footsteps, they will tell you what will happen next, which is basically them getting you in the database, you having to sign online some papers in your e-books and then receiving your credit card via mail.
With this particular step, you will have to make your own decision I think (you can also check their profiles online because all the banks have their official sites). The best course of action is to get in contact with the bank you feel most comfortable with and then you will be given the necessary information. No matter what, the point is you have to open an account and have a credit card, that's it.
6. SIM card for your phone
Last step, yes!! Now that you have a bank account and a credit card, you can go on Lebara ( https://mobile.lebara.com/dk/en ; they also have a mobile app to manage your card) and order a SIM card for your phone, thus receiving a Danish phone number. You will choose the desired features and in 2 weeks max. you get your card within a letter that will instruct you on how to activate it and create the account. If you download the app, which I would suggest, you can connect it with your bank account and NEM-id and re-charge it there automatically. With this step done as well, guess what? You are done my friend. Now you can relax and live your marvelous time in the northern land of Denmark.
This might've been a dozy for most of you and I totally get that because I certainly did as well, but don't despair. No matter what, just know that you will get the information needed if you ask around because Danish people aren't going to leave you hanging (honestly, they are really nice when it comes to things like these).
Either way, I hope this article was enough to provide some help in that matter as well and help some of you out, but if you have some questions about any of it, please, don't hesitate and leave a comment below. I will gladly respond and clear things out. Also, leave a like if you found it helpful. Until next time, stay safe and be happy.