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Requirement of 7 years of stay in Denmark

This is the chronology of the requirement for residency (the current status)

Update August 25, 2019:

After the election to the Parliament on June 5, 2019 we got a new Government in Denmark.
The Minister for Employment, Peter Hummelgaard, tells in an interview with the newspaper "Politiken", that the new Government will remove the residence requirement.
However he only tell that it will be removed, but not when.

It is our belief at that we hereby must expect the residence requirement to be removed. The Minister tells in the interview that the Government can't do it this year.
So it will probably only be in 2020 that the new bill about removing the residence requirement will be adopted.

It is up to you what you believe in...and we at will not be able to guide about how you should behave regarding signing up for A-kasse membership or not (if you are in the group of persons which are affected by the residence requirement).

You need 1 year membership of A-kasse before you can apply for benefits. And if we assume that the residence requirement will be removed in 2020, then you will probably not be affected when/if you apply for unemployment benefits from 2020 onwards.

Update December 20, 2018:

The new law was adopted in the Parliament (Folketinget) today, and with the content described below.
The final law text (in danish) can be seen here.

Update December 13, 2018:

In the last week before the new rule should have been voted about, the Government has decided to listen to the massive critique that has been.
Now the law is scheduled to be voted about on December 20, 2018, and the residence requirement in the new proposal has been changed so it will affect less people/member groups.
The residence requirement will now be 7 out of the last 12 years, when the new rule is full phased in from 2021. In 2019 it will be 5 out of the last 12 years, and in 2020 6 out of the last 12 years.

Q&A about this new rule: We have gathered all questions received in our Q&A forum about this new rule, in this special Q&A-page.

The new rule will from January 1, 2019 set a further condition for ALL persons (danish citizens, EU/EEA citizens, non EU citizens, graduates) for being eligible for unemployment benefits.
In the future only people who have stayed in Denmark, Greenland or Faroe Islands in 7 out of the last 12 years can claim Unemployment benefits ("Dagpenge").

Non-EU/EEA citizens must have stayed in Denmark or a nordic country for 7 years

Periods with stay in other EU/EEA countries or Switzerland can be included according to the EU-legislation. Thus, EU-regulation No 883/2004 on the coordination of social security schemes states that periods of insurance, employment or residence in another EU/EEA country or in Switzerland, unless otherwise specified, shall be treated as equivalent periods in Denmark.

It follows from EU-regulation No 883/2004 on the coordination of social security systems that the rules can only be used by EU nationals. This means that for nationals from outside the EU/EEA/Switzerland, only stays in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland can be counted (equals residence in Denmark). Third-country nationals can thus not include residence in other EU/EEA countries.
The other EU countries (except Denmark) have decided in Regulation No 1231/2010 to extend the scope of Regulation No 883/2004 to also apply to third-country nationals residing in an EU country. However, this "extension regulation" does not apply in Denmark (cf. paragraph 19 of Regulation 1231/2010).

The nordic countries has in the Nordic convention about social security agreed that also non-EU nationals who moves between the nordic countries must be treated like EU-nationals when it comes to social security coordination. Thats why non-EU nationals still can count periods with stay in the Nordic countries (but not from other EU/EEA countries).

Refugees in Denmark

Refugees who are are granted a residence permit under section 7 or section 8 of the Immigration Act are subject to EU-regulation No 883/2004, and can therefore include periods with stay in all other EU/EEA countries, including Switzerland. This also applies to family-members of these refugees.

New rule will be phased in over three years

The new requirement will be phased in over 3 steps:

  • in 2019 the requirement is five out of the last twelve years
  • in 2020 the requirement is six out of the last twelve years
  • in 2021 the requirement is seven out of the last twelve years

So if you apply for unemployment benefits after January 1, 2019, you should not only meet this new requirement, but also the other requirements.
This means, for instance, that if you are a non EU/EEA citizen then you still need to have a work permit that allows you to work FULL time in Denmark.

You can still get Integration allowance

If you don't meet this new requirement, then you can instead receive the lower "Integrationsydelse" (integration allowance), if the conditions for Integration allowance are met.

As mentioned this new rule affects all regardless of nationality or citizenship - also danish citizens will be covered by this new requirement.

We will be happy to answer your questions about this new requirement, please use our Q&A-forum.
Questions may also be posted to The Ministry of Employment ("Beskæftigelsesministeriet"), please see contact information at

Exceptions where stay outside of Denmark/EEA will have no negative impact

There are some few exceptions where a stay in a non EU/EEA country will be regarded as a stay in a EU/EEA country, and therefore still will be counted in the "7 years":

  • work on a danish ship
  • Stay abroad as a representative of a public danish authority.
  • Staying abroad as a employee working for public danish interest.
  • Staying abroad as an employee of a Danish company, including branch or subsidiary.
  • Stay abroad for professional qualifications education or study. However this exception can only be used if you were staying in Denmark immediately before the education was begun.
  • Staying abroad as a researcher at foreign university, research institution or company. However this exception can only be used if you were staying in Denmark immediately before the stay abroad began.

Spouse and children under 18 years old who stayed together (have been living together in common residence) with the person mentioned in the exceptions above, can count the period with the stay abroad as a stay here in Denmark.
Compared with spouse, is a person who meets the conditions for marrying the person and had established a common residence with him/she before leaving abroad.

Exception for children under 18 years old

When calculating the residence requirement, stay abroad (outside DK/EU) before the age of 18, will be regarded as a stay here in Denmark when the member has stayed here in Denmark at least 7 years in total, before the age of 18.

Exception if you have completed an IGU education

If you are an refugee in Denmark and have completed the IGU education, then you are eligible for Unemployment benefits from the day after finishing IGU, regardless of how many years you have stayed in Denmark or another EU/EEA country.

Can you get money back if you do not meet the new requirement?

Because the new residence requirement applies for all members of an A-kasse (also member who have joined A-kasse before January 1, 2019), it is relevant for some people who no longer will be able to benefit from their Unemployment Insurance (A-kasse membership), to ask if they can get the money they have paid in contributions back again.

About whether it is possible to get money back we can only say that there is nothing mentioned in the new law, about if this is possible or not.
You should consider your contributions as fees like you pay for other kind of insurances. Therefore you can probably not get any money back.
However, we recommend people to contact their respective A-kasse and ask if they can get money back.