Step-by-Step Guide to Opening a Business in Denmark

The following is our guide to opening a business in Denmark, with links that are updated with the latest information. We are happy to walk you through it as well as introduce you to our Service Provider Network that can further assist you.

Step 1

Choose which type of legal entity fits your goals and activities in Denmark.

There are several types of company structures in Denmark. We recommend that foreign companies use an “Anpartsselskab” (ApS – meaning a private limited liability company), which is akin to a limited liability company in the United States, as this provides you with the most protection.

Step 2

Register your company.

Every company in Denmark must be registered with a CVR number (Central Company Register Number) in the Danish Business Authority’s (DBA) online registration system (webreg-portal.dk).The CVR number is always used when communicating with public authorities. It costs DKK 670.00 to register your company online.

A company should be registered officially at least eight days before starting operations. To register your company, the DBA requires you to have a “NemID”, an individual’s digital signature to access public and private services on the internet in Denmark (nemid.nu). In order to get a NemID, you must have a residence and work permit in Denmark.

Therefore, we recommend that you work with a lawyer who can do this for you. We have a vetted list of lawyers to introduce you to when you are ready. Here is an overview of all our service providers: investindk.com.

It only takes a couple of hours to register your company online; however your lawyer will need the following from you before starting:

  • Transfer of share capital of DKK 50,000.00 to your client account held by your Danish lawyer. This is not a fee but rather an operating capital for your Danish company and can be transferred back (as a loan) to the parent organization at any time in the future
  • Provide the name and copy of passport of the member(s) of the Executive Board (CEO) and the member(s) of the board of directors if applicable. Please note that members(s) of both the executive board and the board of directors of the company can reside outside of Denmark
  • Memorandum and articles of association of the company
  • Specific description of the ownership structure of the parent organization and copies of passports of all ultimate personal owners with more than 25% ownership

Step 3

Register with the Danish Tax Authorities.

Upon registering, the Danish Business Authority (DBA) sends the relevant information to SKAT (the Danish Customs and Tax Administration), who is responsible
for the collection of taxes and VAT. SKAT also provides advice to companies on tax, duty and VAT issues (please see link: skat.dk for more insight).

As abovementioned the company must be registered with the DBA at least eight days before starting operations. You must register the business separately for:

  • VAT - if you sell goods and service in Denmark (only required if the company has a revenue of more than DKK 50,000.00
  • Payroll tax - if you sell VAT-exempt services
  • Duties - if you manufacture or deal in wholesale goods subject to duties or purchase these kinds of goods abroad
  • Import and/or export - if you do business with countries outside the EU
  • A-tax (tax deducted from income at source) - if you have employees

For more information on corporate taxation, please see link: investindk.com.

Step 4

Issue Employment Contracts.

Your lawyer can also assist you in preparing employment contracts or "Secondement" addendums to the existing contracts for employees who will transfer within the company that complies with Danish legislation.

All employers must take out a mandatory industrial injury insurance. This can be done in one day and has no registration fee. This insurance should be added to the salary as the employer’s contribution, which is amongst the world’s lowest rates for employer-paid social insurances (Sweden: 31.42% of salary; Denmark: fixed at approx. DKK 10,000.00 - 12,000.00).

For a detailed description on hiring in the Danish labor market, including working conditions please see: investindk.com.

Step 5

Register for any permits that you require for operating your business (where relevant).

Please see link: investindk.com/ permits for more information.

Step 6

Set up corporate structure (optional).

We would recommend setting up your corporate structure so that you avoid double taxation, but rather use Denmark as a profit center for your other international branches or companies.

Denmark not only has a low corporate taxation rate, it also incurs no fees on the transfer of dividends outside of the country. Your lawyer can assist you here for a separate fee. Once you have your company set up, you can continue with the following steps simultaneously - assisted by your Danish service providers.

Step 7

Process for helping you transfer your employees to Denmark.

Depending on the employee’s nationality different rules may apply:

  • Non-EU nationals must acquire both a residence permit and a work permit prior to their arrival in Denmark
  • EU nationals may enter and work in Denmark without permits for up to three months
  • Citizens of the Nordic countries may enter and work in Denmark without any permit

Applications for residence and work permits (one application per person) can be filed by the employer and the employee directly or via a Danish lawyer who, for an additional fee, can assist you in filing out the application form and filing the application on behalf of the company in Denmark, potentially saving you some time. Since you are establishing a new company, it may be advisable to use a lawyer for the first couple of applications which will enforce your reputation as a legitimate business with the authorities, however this is not necessary.

There are three steps that must be completed when filing the application:

  1. Create case order ID (can be done online)
  2. Pay the fee (unless the applicant is exempt) (can be done online)
  3. Submit the application (can be done online)

Foreign employees that have been offered a highly paid job have particularly easy access to the Danish labour market. There are no specific requirements with regards to education, profession, or the specific nature of the job.

In order to obtain residence and work permit according to the Pay Limit Scheme the client’s job must have gross annual pay of no less than DKK 375,000.00. The employee must have a written job contract or job offer which specifies salary and employment conditions. Salary and employment conditions must correspond to Danish standards.

For more information on the Pay Limit Scheme please see: investindk.com/paylimit. The application for a residence and work permit under the pay limit scheme must be completed by filling in the application form “AR1”: investindk.com.

The fee for each application under the pay limit scheme is: DKK 3,225.00 (2014-figures). The AR1 application form consists of two parts; one for the employer to be filled out and one for the employee to be filled out.

  • List of documents required from the employer:
  1. AR1 part II must be filled out and signed by the employer,
  2. Documentation for salary and employment conditions which are not stated in the employment contract (for example, fringe benefits, paid housing, etc.)
  3. Because you will be a new Danish entity sponsoring the work permits, we would advise that you develop a company overview document (which your lawyer would be preparing anyway) and develop a financial forecast that will be attached to any work permit applications as this may help easing the application process, however this is not a requirement
  • List of documents required from your employee:
  1. Employment contract or job offer which includes information on salary, terms, employment conditions, and job description (may not be more than 30 days old). Salary employment conditions must correspond to Danish standards
  2. Documentation of education relevant to the offered job (in English or Danish).
  3. Copy of passport (all pages with information, including front page)
  • In connection with submitting an application for a residence permit, the employee’s biometric features (facial image and fingerprints) must be recorded and stored on a chip on a residence card. If the employee fails to have his/her biometric features recorded, the application will be rejected. This means that the application will not be processed
  • Normally, you must already have been granted a residence permit before entering Denmark
  • Once the employee arrives in Denmark, they will be issued (from the city of residence) a Tax ID card as well as a Health Insurance card which allows them free access to public health services. The employee will also be invited by their local municipality to attend free Danish language courses. In Copenhagen there is an International Citizen Service, which is a “one-stop-shop” for expats to help and answer questions regarding the Danish system, e.g. tax papers, social security number, integration issues, making friends, etc.

For more information on the International Citizen Service please see link: icitizen.dk. We will of course assist you in the process.

Step 8

Set up payroll and bank account.

Invest in Denmark generally recommends foreign companies who establishes a company in Denmark to engage a Danish accountant or auditor since the company has to file tax returns locally, arrange bookkeeping, VAT reporting, pay rolls, etc.

  • Open a bank account. In order to open a corporate bank account a “request for opening a corporate account” form is needed. It is obtainable through any large Danish bank. The form is to be returned to the Danish bank with a reference or recommendation from your local bank in your home country. The completed request must be accompanied by the following documents:
  • Company report including provisions regulating the power to bind the company who needs accounts (i.e.: Can only individuals within the company headquarters sign? Or will you give others permission?)
  • Information about ownership structure (if any of the owners own more than 25% of the shares in the company the bank will need to have copy of passports of the owner and information about private address)
  • Copy of memorandum and articles of association of the company.

If you would like to have internet banking, you will also need following information:

  • Which users must be created in internet banking?
  • How will users be able to sign in to internet banking? Alone? Two together/in association?
  • Names and private addresses of users of online banking

Once the bank has these documents and the information requested about internet banking, they can make the documents and an unauthorized translation and send
them to you.

You can fax the documents back to the bank and you can snail mail them. When the bank has these documents in signed condition, then the accounts will be activated, and they will send passwords to users in internet banking.

Step 9

Find an office location.

If your employees will be situated with the initial client, in the interim most law firms offer that the lawyer’s address can be your Danish address.

If you are looking to lease a location Invest in Denmark can provide you with a list of options that help meet your criteria as well as introduce you to the necessary service providers. Denmark has many flexible office locations that can be month-tomonth leases and offer additional business-in-a-box solutions as you grow your business, such as a science park.

Step 10

Ongoing business in Denmark – Taxation & filing requirements.

An accounting company can file your annual financial statement. An audit will not be required as long as the company in two successive financial years does not exceed 2 out of these 3 limits:

  1. Balance sheet amount less than DKK 4m
  2. Net turnover less than DKK 8m
  3. Average full-time employees less than 12 persons during the financial year.

A financial year can in principle start on any given date, however the most practical is to follow the financial year of the parent organization – and the most common start dates are 1 January or 1 July.

Your accountant must file your VAT with the tax authorities on a monthly, quarterly or semi-annual basis depending on the company size and wishes. The Danish company is a separate legal entity, which is subject to corporate taxation in Denmark. The tax rate is 23.5% for the year 2015. As a result of the Government’s new Growth Plan the corporate tax rate is gradually being lowered to 22% by 2016.

Personal income tax is a combination of national tax, city tax and optional church tax. It is a progressive system. The lowest tax rate is approx. 36% up to marginal income tax rate of 51.5%, exclusive of church tax. Certain allowances and deductions are allowed.

  • Expat Tax Rule: There is the possibility of benefiting from a lower tax rate, if certain conditions are met. Special tax scheme for foreign researchers and key employees (annual salary at least DKK 848,280.00 in 2014): Flat tax rate of 31.92% (8% base + 26% of rest) over a period of up to 5 years instead of 55.6% under the ordinary tax scheme. More information at: taxindenmark.com.
  • Danish tax authorities will issue an annual summary of taxes paid (similar to a W-2) for all your employees based in Denmark or having worked in the last year.

Closing or scaling down the company.

Downscaling of operations is a valid excuse to let go of workers, but different rules apply to blue collar (union rules apply) and white collar (in contract) workers. Unions however, tend to be cooperative in Denmark.

Closing down a Danish company requires a liquidation process or – if there are no liabilities – through a termination statement. Both processes require help from a lawyer.

Click here to download the full guide.

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