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Apr 27, 2020

How To Start Working in Denmark, Before Your University Starts? 

Michael Mares
If there is one tip, I should give to all new students in Denmark, it’s that beer here tastes like piss. Also, arrive in June so you can find work and not have to eat noodles for 3 months.

The excitement to start fresh! New school, new place and new job! It sounds all exciting, doesn't it? And it is! And as much as it is, there are a few things one needs to make sure of before starting to work in Denmark, especially when it comes to student jobs!

Starting work before university in Denmark can be a bit tricky.

There is this thing called a CPR number, which makes everything a tad bit complicated.

This article is an effort to try to make it as simple as possible to understand! If you want to work in Denmark before your university starts, or for any other reason, for that matter, you have two options - either get your CPR number or a personal tax number.

My name is Michael and in this blog, you will learn how to ace your start to Danish life!

Option A: Get a CPR Number

What is a CPR number?  

CPR number is your ID number and health insurance number. It’s used to log into different government sites and in general, it’s your identification number while living in the country. 

Your CPR number can be made when your university starts. There will be people from the citizenship services, who will come to the university and they will deal with all student applications at once. They usually do this at the end of August or the start of September. 

You need to visit citizenship services yourself, if you want to get a CPR number before your university starts. 

If you want a CPR number, you need to have either of these three things:

1. Confirmation letter from university

This is something that you cannot get before you start university. Therefore, you might want to go with the tax number instead.

2. Declare that you have enough money to support yourself

You need to submit an account statement to the citizenship service, showing you have at least 10,000€ for your disposal.

3. Have a work contract, that states how many hours you’re working

A contract from a vikar agency is not enough. Therefore, you need to have a work contract from your job, before you get a CPR number (it can be tricky).

On top of this, you need to have a place where you can register yourself as a tenant, though long-term Airbnb will get the job done too. There is a special paper that the host has to fill out. You can find it here.

You can apply for CPR online as well, but you will need to bring some documents to a local citizenship services office anyways. 

It will take around 2-3 weeks before you receive your CPR number and the yellow card. 

Yellow health insurance card means that you will be insured by the Danish health care system, in addition to your European blue health card. 

Danish CPR number and Yellow Card
This is the yellow card - it contains your CPR number and serves as a health insurance card.

Health insurance in Denmark

It’s also a good idea to check with your government back home, whether you can have two insurances at once. In the case of Slovakia, you need to cancel your insurance at home, or at least provide some documents that state that you are insured in Denmark. Check it out as some people get into trouble and they end up paying thousands of euros in fees. Just call your insurance company at home. If they need a confirmation of your health insurance in Denmark, a screenshot from borger.dk with the name of your doctor should do.

Option B: Personal Tax Number (only EU/EEA citizens)

The second option is to set up a tax number. This is easier than making a CPR number and you can do it online. Right now, it’s difficult to get a CPR number as you need to physically visit an office. It is quite impossible at the time of writing this since the offices are closed because of the current COVID-19 situation. 

What is a tax number and how to get it? 

The tax number is similar to your CPR number and it allows you to login to SKAT (Danish Tax Authority) website. It allows you to adjust your taxes. You need this so that your employer can pay your salary. To register for a tax number, you need to visit skat.dk and find the page which says ‘short guide to working in DK’.

Things you need for a tax number:

  • Work permit in EU (automatic for all EU citizens)
  • ID Card
  • Work contract

To get a tax number, you need to be working - that means either you need a contract that is stating the number of hours you will be working, or have your first job through vikar agencies. Many agencies will give you an attachment agreement, on the first day of work. When you have this, you can apply.

In addition, you need to have an ID card, issued in EU/EEA zone. If you are from outside of EU, you need to apply for a work permit.

Your tax number is ready

Once you have your tax number ready, you can receive a salary from Danish employers. You will get a personal deduction, also known as fradrag and your taxes will be set at 38% + 8% - fradrag. To get your tax card, you need to do some magic on the SKAT website but that's for another blog. Just know, that you need to log in to SKAT website and write in a column ‘preliminary income’, how much you expect to earn in a year. Then, they will create a tax card for you, that you can send to your employer.

The great thing about the tax number is that it allows you to open a bank account as well. Many employers might not be willing to pay you a salary unless it is on a Danish bank account. Opening a Danish bank account is also one of the few ways of getting your NemID. 

What is NemID? (MitID)

NemID on phone and in paper form
NemID comes in both paper form and as an app.
NemID is like a virtual ID card that allows you to login to government websites. You use it to log into your bank account, to book doctors’ appointments or even to log in to online poker websites.

To get the tax number, you only need your European ID card, you don’t need to have any residency in Denmark or go to school here.

So when you have your tax number, you can start working and you can also get your salary. Keep in mind, that bank accounts can take up to 3 weeks to be opened. Or rather, your credit card can take 2-3 weeks to arrive. 

Some banks might not be too happy about you having only a tax number. They might tell you that you cannot get a Danish credit card, without CPR or an apartment contract. In this case, go and visit some other banks. There are a lot of them and some will open the account for you. 

During 2021 NemID becomes MitID. In the beginning only those holding a Danish passport can update to MitID. If you don't have a Danish passport, you can continue to use the NemID app as normal and wait for further instructions from the Danish Agency of Digitalisation. Read more on their page (in Danish).

Getting CPR number after having tax number

Now, after you have finished getting a tax number, when the time comes in September or February (depending on which semester you start with), you can apply together with your other classmates to get a CPR number. 

You will be required to bring the following:

  • Housing contract from your landlord
  • ID card
  • Passport size picture (You might think I’m too detailed but it costs DKK 100 to get it done in Denmark, that’s 5 beers! Better bring it with you)
  • Filled out residence permit document (you should get this beforehand, from your university)
  • Confirmation of studies (sometimes, you get it automatically in first days)

Your CPR can take up to 3 weeks to arrive and there is not much you can do to speed up the process. Once you will get your CPR number, your tax number will be converted into it. Therefore, you will continue to use the same XXXXXX-XXXX number as before. 

Also, to open a bank account, you need to have your CPR number already, so if you are coming with all other students in August, you will need to wait.

Bank account will take 2-3 weeks before it can be used. It is because you will first need to receive your credit card, which will arrive in your mailbox within one week. Then, you need to wait for the NemID which also takes a week, and finally, you will get your credit card PIN (1 week after you receive your credit card). Order might be different, chaos stays the same. All in all, you will have to wait for some time.

I hope we were able to make you understand the official stuff that you need to take care of before starting your first job in Denmark.

And below we have tried to address some of the FAQs that students are usually wondering about. We have tried to keep it as precise as possible:

Do I need to have a tax card, to start working?

  • No, you can start working without a tax card, but you cannot get paid salary before you have the tax number. In some cases, people get paid the salary but the employer needs to tax it with a 55% tax, rather than about 35%, you get with fradrag.

Can I open a Danish bank account, without CPR number?

  • You can open a bank account if you have a tax number. For that, you need to have work. Otherwise, you need to wait for your CPR number to arrive and then together with your ID, you can open a bank account. It will take up to 3 weeks.

Does it cost anything, to apply for CPR number?

  • No, the application is for free. But keep in mind that you need to have a passport size picture and that can cost more than DKK 100 at the train station.

Does it cost anything, to open a Danish bank account? 

  • No, it does not cost anything. If you are a student, some banks will not charge you anything for the account maintenance either. Keep in mind that the process can take up to 3 weeks.

Do I get health insurance with Danish Tax Number?

  • No, you need to have a CPR number, to be insured in Denmark.

Do I need a CPR number in Denmark?

  • If you are staying in Denmark for more than three months, you need a CPR number (civil registration number)

If there is anything more you need to know, leave a comment below and we will address them to our best capacity.

Image source:
Michael Mares
I'm a hard-working and passionate person whose life mission is to help students all around the world. I'm studying Information Systems Development at Aarhus University and I'm the co-founder of this project.
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