Moving to another country comes with all sorts of bureaucratic nightmares – visas, registration, bank accounts, application for Danish class, and other paperwork have to be completed. To make things worse, it’s often different institutions that are in charge of these things, sending foreigners on a wild goose chase across the city to try and find out (a) who is responsible, and (b) what the hell to do.
One thing that many foreigners tend to forget to put on their endless to-do-lists is their driver’s license. Admittedly, cars are not a big part of life here in Copenhagen – bikes are super popular and public transportation is really good – but first of all, not everyone lives in the city, and further, even those of us who do might consider buying a car, like I currently am. I wouldn’t be using it for my commute to work, but in a lot of ways, we’ve been feeling a bit restricted by not having a car, e.g. for trips to the summer house or to visit family that lives out of town. Even buying a new shelf can turn out to be tricky when you have to bring it home on the train!
That got me thinking about my driver’s license, and whether I could drive with it here. After doing some research, I thought I’d share my findings with you, in the hopes they might be useful for some.
You’re staying long-term … and are from an EU country
This is my situation as well. If you have a valid driver’s license from a EU/ EEA country (or Liechtenstein, Iceland, or Norway), you can drive in Denmark for two years after your legal residence has been moved here – unless it’s only for a limited time period (see below). Afterwards, you have to exchange it for a Danish EU license. Note that this only applies to licenses with a longer validity period than 15 years – the German one does not expire, for example, so I have to change mine.
You do not need to take a driving test; all you’ll need is to show up at your Borgerservice with your old license, your passport, a photo, and your residence permit. It costs DKK 280 to exchange your license.
You’re staying long-term … and are from a non-EU country
If your driver’s license is not from an EU country, you will have to take a driving test – unless your license was issued in Australia (Capitol Region), Brazil, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Russia, Switzerland, or Ukraine, as well as Singapore, with restrictions. You have to exchange your driver’s license within a year.
Licenses issued by all other countries must be exchanged to a Danish license after a period of 90 days, provided that it is valid. You will be required to take a theoretical and practical driving test. The actual tests are free, but if you want to, you can take classes beforehand. There are packages for experienced drivers to get acquainted with Danish rules, which cost about DKK 2,500. That includes unlimited theory hours and a 90min driving “lesson”.
You’re staying temporarily
If you are a foreigner staying in Denmark for a limited time, you do not need to exchange your driver’s license if your license was issued by an EU/ EEA country. Otherwise, you will need to have an international license. In case you don’t have one, you can get a “Visitor’s Driving License”, which you can request at your local police station with relevant documentation.