The lack of residence and work permit can be expensive – also for the employer!

By Soeren Narv Pedersen, Mia Boesen


Due to the continuous globalization, it has become more attractive for Danish companies to acquire qualified foreign labor. Despite the foreign interest in working in Denmark, the citizens outside the EU and the EEA - the so-called third country citizens - still need a residence and work permit to work in Denmark – and the employer is obligated to ensure this permit to avoid fines.

All third-country citizens must have a work permit and a residence permit to work in Denmark. Therefore, a third country citizen will apply for both permits at the same time. The conditions for obtaining the permits are further regulated by the Aliens Act (Danish: "Udlændingeloven"). The act e.g. states that the employer is also responsible for ensuring that all employees have a valid residence and work permit when they employ third country citizens. The responsibility applies to both paid and voluntary work.

During the entire employment of a third-country citizen, the employer must ensure that the citizen has a valid residence and work permit. It is not sufficient that the employer has received documentation of a valid permit at the beginning of the employment, as the license is time-limited. Therefore, the employer must also ensure that the permit is extended before expiration.

In cooperation with the police, the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration conducts ongoing procedures to ensure compliance with immigration legislation. The procedure e.g. focuses on illegal labor and whether the conditions for a residence and work permit are met.

The consequences of non-compliance

An employer who employs a third country citizen without the required permission or in conflict with the terms of the permit may be fined or imprisoned.

The consequences of non-compliance can result in large fines and in rare cases imprisonment. The fine is estimated at DKK 10,000 per employee per initiated month. In the event of aggravating circumstances 1, the employer may incur DKK 20,000 per employee per commenced month. Therefore, it can rapidly be very expensive for the employer, which is stated in several cases. Here, the absence of permission has cost the employer more than DKK 200,000, and in rare cases, the court has even given a sentence of imprisonment.

What opportunities are there for obtaining a residence-and-word permit in Denmark?

There are a number of different schemes according to which third country citizens can obtain a residence and work permit in Denmark. Each scheme contains a number of conditions that must be fulfilled before obtaining a permit. The following schemes are examples of schemes that are more easily obtained:

  • The positive list: Comprises special jobs in business areas where there is a lack of skilled labor.
  • The "Pay Limit" scheme: Jobs with a minimum salary of DKK 408,800 per year (equivalent to EUR 54,900).
  • The "Fast Track" scheme: Enables certified companies to hire high-qualified employees.
  • Researchers.
  • Trainees for the purpose of working in Denmark for a limited period of time for educational purposes.
  • Special individual qualifications (such as professional athletes, specializing chefs, etc.).
  • The "Start-up" scheme: Entrepreneurs who get their business idea approved by an expert panel.

Other schemes can be found at

1. In accordance with section 59(6) of the Aliens Act, it is considered an aggravating circumstance that the violation was committed intentionally, that the violation has been obtained or intended to have a financial gain for the person concerned or others, or if the alien is not entitled to stay in Denmark.