Requirements for getting a work permit

In order to run a business in Denmark as a foreign self-employed business person, you must hold a work permit. Learn more here.

The main rules concerning work permits can be found in the Danish Aliens Act. Immigrants must have a work permit in order to take a salaried or unsalaried job, run a business or provide services in Denmark, e.g. workmanship or repair work.

The work permit is also required in order to work on a Danish aircraft or ship which regularly arrives at a Danish airport or harbour.

Nordic, Swiss and EU/EEA citizens are exceptions to this rule. However, special rules might apply in relation to the EU-rules about the free movement.  

Freedom of establishment

The right to start a business in another EU country is one of the most important rules about the free movement in the EU. The free movement in the EU is a basic principal that gives all EU citizens the right to get a job and stay in another EU country without a work permit and the right to be treated as equals to the citizens of the country regarding working conditions, social security and tax benefits.

A prohibition on discrimination secures that the member states do not discriminate citizens from other member states, because they have the right to establish a business on the same conditions as the citizens of the particular member state.

That means that you have the same rights and possibilities of starting a business as the citizens of the country – in this case, Denmark.  

The authorities distinguish between establishing and providing services. If you provide services, you keep your affiliation with your home country (e.g. Polish bricklayers in Denmark). If you establish services, you give up your association with your home country in favour of permanent stay in the host country.That means that you have the right to establish a company in another EU country, when you are a citizen in an EU country.

Exclusion of liability

The information on this page is produced in order to give an overview of the legal rules and is free of charge. The contents shall only be perceived as general legal information. The information can and shall not be compared to legal counselling which is given solely by lawyers.

Entrepreneurship in Denmark is not liable for any damages caused on the basis of the information – even if the information is incorrect, contrary to expectation.

Nor does Entrepreneurship in Denmark accept responsibility for the contents of websites which are linked to.

Law concerning you
These guidelines helps you understand which requirements you must meet in order to get permanent residence and work permit in Denmark and thereby the right to run a business.

If you are not an EU or EEA citizen
Read about the requirements that you need to fulfill when you want to start and run a business in Denmark and aren't an EU or EEA citizen.

Applying for a residence permit is possible on the basis of being self-employed if you are not a citizen in an EU or EEA member state. EEA is an abbreviation for the European Economic Area, which includes the 27 EU countries, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

The authorities make high demands if you, as a foreigner, want to obtain residence and work permit in order to start a business in Denmark. These are some the conditions:

  • There are special Danish business interests in the fact that you are going to start a business in Denmark (see examples below).
  • There is a sufficient economic foundation for running a business.
  • You are in Denmark, when you start and run the business – your physical presence must be necessary to run the business in Denmark.

The Danish Agency for Labour Retention and International Recruitment will handle your application and give permission, if you meet the requirements.