elcome to Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, nestled in the heart of Scandinavia. With a history dating back to the Viking Age, the capital of Denmark boasts a compelling heritage that comes across in its colorful architecture and historical landmarks.
Notable figures like the famous fairytale writer Hans Christian Andersen and philosopher Søren Kierkegaard were born here, and both were inspired by the two islands that form the city, Zealand and Amager. With stunning waterfronts and picturesque views, Copenhagen focuses strongly on sustainability and green initiatives, whether that's focusing on bike lanes, exploring the local fauna and flora for sustainable dishes, or fostering innovative solutions like Too Good To Go, the anti-food-waste app. In fact, Copenhagen has become a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity in recent years, also as the home of Trustpilot, the customer review platform. By fostering a dynamic and supportive startup ecosystem, especially for small and medium businesses (which form 99 percent of companies in Denmark), Copenhagen has something extraordinary to offer for every entrepreneur.
Before you arrive
It's essential to understand the visa and work permit requirements to ensure a smooth and legal stay in Denmark. If you are a citizen of an EU/EEA country or Switzerland, you have the right to live and work in Denmark without a visa or work permit. For short visits and tourism purposes, citizens of many countries can enter Denmark visa-free for up to 90 days within a 180-day period. However, if you plan to stay longer or work in Copenhagen, you must apply for the appropriate visa and/or work permit. If you are a non-EU citizen and want to live and work in Denmark, you must work for a Danish company. It is illegal to work in Denmark without a work permit, even remotely.
Most work permits are employer-sponsored, meaning you’ll need to secure a job offer from a Danish company before applying for the permit. Your potential employer will usually apply for the permit on your behalf. Unfortunately, Denmark does not have a digital nomad visa, only a Startup Visa that allows entrepreneurs to invest in the country if their business idea is approved.
Insurance and taxes
Denmark has a universal healthcare system, and to access medical services, you need to register with the Danish health authorities and obtain a health insurance card (sundhedskort). The health insurance card allows you to receive medical treatment and services from general practitioners, hospitals and specialists at little or no cost.
If you're a freelancer or self-employed individual working in Copenhagen for three consecutive months, or for 180 days within any twelve-month period, you will also have tax obligations. To get a tax number, you need to register with the Danish tax authorities (Skattestyrelsen). The CPR number is a unique identifier used for various administrative purposes, including taxation.
To obtain a CPR number and a tax number, visit the local International Citizen Service (ICS) center in Copenhagen or the area where you will be residing. You can also book your appointment online with the Copenhagen ICS. Along with completing the necessary paperwork, you’ll need to provide the required documents, which may include your passport, work contract and proof of residence.
[ Visit: ihcph.kk.dk ]
Opening a bank account
Several banks in Denmark offer English-speaking services to cater to the international community. A few options include Lunar (lunar.app), a digital bank that provides services in English and is specifically designed for expats and young professionals (Lunar's English-speaking customer support makes it a popular choice for those who prefer a seamless banking experience); and Nordea (nordea.com), one of the largest banks in Denmark, which offers comprehensive banking services in English. With branches across the country, Nordea is convenient for expats to access their services in person if needed.
To open a bank account in Denmark, you'll typically need a CPR number or a NemID (a digital signature used for identification purposes). Some banks may also ask for proof of residence, such as a rental agreement or utility bill.
[ Visit: lunar.app ]
Getting around in Copenhagen is a breeze thanks to its efficient local transport networks and cycling culture. Expect an extensive public transportation system, including buses, trains and the efficient S-train network, which connects the city center to the suburbs and neighboring towns. The Metro system, with its sleek and modern design, offers a quick and convenient way to navigate the city's core areas.
For environmentally conscious and health-conscious individuals, cycling is the choice of most Danes. Copenhagen is renowned for its bike-friendly infrastructure, with dedicated bike lanes, traffic signals and bike parking facilities, making it safe and enjoyable to explore the city on two wheels. Embracing the cycling culture is not only a practical way to get around but also allows you to experience Copenhagen's beauty up close.
Finding an apartment
Finding an apartment in Copenhagen can be competitive, but there are various options available to make the process easier. Try joining housing-related groups on Facebook such as “Leje i København - Rooms for Rent in Copenhagen” (facebook.com/groups/roomsrentcopenhagen). Popular rental portals where landlords and agents list properties available for rent in Copenhagen include Bolig Portal (boligportal.dk), Leje Bolig (en.lejebolig.dk) and Find Bolig (findboliger.dk). However, keep in mind that the competition can be fierce, and it might take time to find the right place.
Engaging a real estate agent can be beneficial, especially for those who prefer professional assistance and personalized service. This may involve additional fees or commissions, but real estate agents have access to a broader network of rental properties and will guide you through the rental process, negotiate on your behalf and handle the paperwork, making the experience less stressful.
Danish is the primary language spoken in Copenhagen and is widely used in all aspects of daily life, including business, education and social interactions. Most Danes are fluent in English and are happy to communicate in it, especially in the city center and among younger generations, but learning some Danish greatly enhances your experience and speeds up your integration into the local community. Some reputable language schools in Copenhagen that offer Danish courses for foreigners include Studieskolen (studieskolen.dk) and Danksbureauet (danskbureauet.dk). Additionally, if you are living in Denmark and have a CPR (Danish ID number), you can apply for the local Danish language-education program (international.kk.dk). Embracing the language will not only enhance your daily interactions but also allow you to delve deeper into Danish culture and make your stay in Copenhagen even more rewarding.
Where to work
Coworking spaces and cafes have become increasingly popular in the city, catering to freelancers, digital nomads and startups. Spaces like SOHO (soho.dk) and the Camp (thecamp.io) provide modern facilities, a collaborative atmosphere and networking opportunities. Many coworking spaces offer flexible membership plans, allowing individuals to choose from daily, weekly or monthly options to suit their needs.
For a more laid-back and casual work setting, internet cafes are abundant in Copenhagen. Cafes such as Democratic Coffee (Instagram: @democraticcoffeebar), Paludan Bog & Cafe (Instagram @paludanbogcafe) and the Living Room (thelivingroom.dk) all offer free Wi-Fi and a cozy ambiance, making them ideal places to work, socialize and enjoy a cup of coffee. With a thriving entrepreneurial scene and a penchant for innovative workspaces, Copenhagen ensures that both locals and visitors can find their ideal work environment.
Office spaces to check out
Before choosing an office space, consider factors like location, amenities, community and pricing to ensure it aligns with your specific needs and work style. Many places offer trial days or tours, allowing you to experience the atmosphere firsthand before making a decision. Located in the heart of the city, Rainmaking Loft (rainmaking.io) offers a vibrant coworking space for startups and entrepreneurs, while Symbion (symbion.dk) is one of the largest innovation hubs in Scandinavia. Founded by entrepreneurs, Matrikel1, part of the Mesh Community, (meshcommunity.com), is a community-driven coworking space that fosters collaboration among its members, including startups and creative professionals. If you're a fan of the Vesterbro district, Republikken (republikken.net) offers a mix of private offices, coworking spaces and meeting rooms.
Starting a company
Choose the legal structure of your company, such as a sole proprietorship, partnership, or limited liability company (ApS). The most common choice for startups is the ApS due to its limited liability and flexibility. To register your company, visit the Danish Business Authority (danishbusinessauthority.dk), fill out the necessary forms, provide the required documentation, and pay the registration fee.
After registering your company, you'll receive a CVR number (Central Business Register number), which is your company's tax identification number. You'll need this to conduct business and fulfill your tax obligations. Look for a reputable accountant or accounting firm experienced in handling business taxes and financial matters, as they can assist you with tax compliance, bookkeeping, payroll and financial reporting.
Familiarize yourself with local regulations and compliance requirements related to your industry. Certain industries may have specific licensing or permitting requirements. Also consider obtaining business insurance to protect your company from potential risks and liabilities.
Where to get business support
With an ecosystem that gets stronger by the day, there are plenty of options to find business support in the city. Copenhagen Business Hub (ehhs.dk) provides free guidance and support for entrepreneurs and businesses looking to start or expand in Copenhagen, and Iværksætterdanmark (ivdk.dk) offers workshops, courses and mentoring for startups and entrepreneurs, both providing valuable insights and resources to help businesses grow and succeed.