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Life in Copenhagen

Copenhagen has been voted the world's most liveable city, two years in a row. Watch our video to find out why! See here for another reason to come: Copenhagen earns its good-looking, good-living reputation.

We asked some CIS families this question:

What do you wish you had known before moving to Copenhagen?

We hope this information is helpful as you plan your own move.

Bicycles

Bicycles, helmets and related accessories - if you are bringing bikes with you, they must have front and back lights, a certified lock (in order for your insurance to be valid) and a bell. Several families have found that the accessories such as baskets and panniers available here did not fit their bikes from home. Although the bicycles are very expensive here, they are very Danish looking, easy to ride, come in some amazing designs (green spots, pink flowers etc!) and supposedly able to cope with the Danish weather.

CPR Number

Once you arrive in Denmark, it is compulsory for all members of your family to register with the "Folkeregisteret". Once you have registered, each person will receive a Central Person Register (CPR) Number. This identity number consists of your birth date and four other digits and is required for everything in Denmark - your bank, library, school enrolment, taxes, the purchase of a mobile telephone, all health related bodies such as doctor, dentist, hospital and anything that requires some form of ID. Please note: there are different procedures for diplomatic relocations.

Driving and Cars

If you are coming from a non EU country, you will have to pass both a theoretical as well as a practical driving test - this is expensive. EU citizens can use their home country licence.

One exception: if your drivers license was issued in the United States, you can exchange it without taking a driving test. See this article from The Local for more information!
Rumour has it that the Canadian Embassy will follow suit, but this has not yet been implemented.

Both used and new cars are very expensive to buy in Denmark as is re-registering any vehicle you bring with you (it is compulsory to re-register non Danish vehicles).

Electrical Items

Denmark uses the "euro plug" with two round pins and runs on 220V.

What this means is that if you are coming from the US, Japan, Mexico and parts of Central/South America and have 110 - 125V appliances, you will need a "step-down transformer". It is literally a black box which plugs into the wall socket - you plug your appliance into the transformer. Do not attempt to use your appliances without one - they will go up in smoke! Bring some with you as you will pay less for them than getting them here. Almost every appliance can be used with these transformers but you must make sure that the transformer has the correct wattage rating for the appliance you will be using it with eg plugging a high wattage pancake griddle into a low wattage transformer may blow the transformer and the appliance. As the transformers are quite bulky (and noisy), some people prefer using them with their larger appliances (which are very expensive to buy here) but not with smaller appliances such as coffee makers and toasters.

The rest of the world uses 220-240V and most appliances which are set up for 240V can be used safely in Denmark. If you are coming from the UK, or another non-European country, and are bringing your appliances with you, remember to bring plenty of adaptors with you. They are expensive in Denmark and can be hard to find.

Food

Our American families tell us that the peanut butter in Denmark is not proper peanut butter so you are advised to bring some with you if this is going to be a problem!

Our PTA's Newcomers Committee hold occasional supermarket tours for new families. Check out the PTA page for more information!

For Teens

Click here for The Teenage Travel Transition - a great guide for teenagers, written by one of our own CIS students.

Gas Grills / Barbeques

The fitting for the gas bottles available in Denmark is different. Some US and British families found that their equipment did not work. However, other families were able to purchase an adaptor that rectified the problem.

Insurance

Rented houses and apartments are covered against such things as fire and damage by water by the landlord. However, it will be your responsibility to take out a house contents insurance policy to cover your own private belongings against damage or theft. The Danish for "insurance" is "forsikring". Three of the largest companies are Codan, Tryg and Topdanmark. You can consult their websites although they are in Danish - however, if you call them, they do have English speaking staff. Some of the international banks also offer insurance.

Internet

Be warned, it can take a long time (over a month in some cases!) to get an internet connection at home. Parents are welcome to use the computers in the School Library to access the internet. The school also has WiFi throughout, if you bring your own laptop.

School Supplies

School supply lists can be found under the Primary, Middle and High school sections. While all the supplies can be found here, they are considerably more expensive.

Medicine

Some medicines that you may be used to getting over the counter (pain relief, cold and flu remedies, thrush, children's cough syrups etc) are not available here without a prescription or not available in the strength you may be used to. You may only bring a small amount of medication with you, to tide you over until you have arranged medical care in Denmark. This must be carried in your hand luggage or suitcase, as it is illegal to ship medication with your belongings.

Miscellaneous items that you will definitely need!

Although the following can all be found here, many of our families found the items to be significantly more expensive and would have preferred to bring these items with them.

For the start of school, useful (and in some cases, essential) items are:

  • School bags, back packs, gym bags, lunch boxes, drinks bottles, ice packs
  • Fall/winter sports equipment (there's no uniform at CIS so colour choice is up to you!)
  • Non scuffing indoor trainers/sneakers - these are not to have been used outdoors and should be kept for gym use only (to protect the gym floor)
  • Waterproof jacket, pants and boots - these are particularly important if your children will be cycling to school but also if you have primary school children. Here in Denmark, children will have to play outdoors in all weathers - in fact, the saying here is "there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes"!
  • A pair of indoor shoes to be kept at school (can be shoes or slippers) - again important for the younger children
  • Winter coats, hats and gloves
  • Hair cuts! The advice from many parents is to get your children's haircut before you arrive. It can be quite expensive in some of the hairdressers.
  • Non school related useful items are:
  • The larger kitchen appliances which are very expensive to buy here (Food processor, KitchenAid mixers etc)
  • If cooking American recipes, US measuring spoons and cups
  • Dual voltage hair dryer
  • Any health and beauty aid - if you have the room in your shipment, make sure you bring plenty as things like make up, moisturisers, feminine products, shampoo, hair dye etc are considerably more expensive
  • Ziplock sandwich bags, food bags - they do exist but not in the sizes you may be used to
  • Bin/trash can liners - if you are bringing over a kitchen bin/trash can, bring a supply of suitably sized liners. 50 litre bags are particularly hard to track down
  • English language books, travel guides and road maps
  • Home language to Danish Dictionary - the ones available here are written for Danish people learning another language so often do not have guidance on Danish pronunciation
  • Birthday gifts for children's parties (age appropriate depending upon the ages of your children)
  • Greetings cards - English ones are available but there is not such a great choice
  • Black tie - it is not common to hire evening dress in Denmark so it's worth bringing something with you. The CIS PTA will have at least one event you will be wearing it to!
  • Halloween costumes - can be used twice a year in Denmark! Halloween in October, and Fastelavn in February!

Money

You will not be able to open a bank account until you have your CPR number. You cannot apply for your CPR number until you arrive in Denmark. Bear in mind therefore, that you may not have access to cash in a Danish bank for a few weeks.

Credit cards are widely accepted, but nearly everyone also has a Dankort, which is a debit card. Usually they're combined with a Visa card.


Increasing numbers of businesses are now accepting MobilePay or Swipp, which are App-based payment services.

PTA Guides

Click on the links below to download the PDF versions of:

Publications

There are several English-language newspapers, The Copenhagen Post, The Murmur, Your Danish Life and The Local. All can be read online, but CIS parents can pick up a free copy of The Copenhagen Post and The Murmur at Reception.

Tax

If you own financial assets (homes, stocks, shares etc) in either EU or non-EU countries, it pays to get good, independent tax advice prior to relocating.

Telephone

From what parents have told us, it would seem only handsets purchased in Denmark work here - so it may not be worth bringing yours with you.

Transport

Copenhagen has an excellent public transport system. See the DSB Website for more details. You can purchase bus and train tickets in several ways:
  • Cash, for buses only (coins only)
  • Rejsekort - a travel card similar to the Oyster card used in London. You can choose different types of Rejsekort depending on your needs.
  • Monthly travel passes. These can be purchased at train stations.
  • The Mobilbilletter App. Available for Apple and Android devices

Tickets are priced according to the zones you're travelling through, and are valid for trains, buses and the Metro in the greater Copenhagen area.

A handy website for planning your journey is journeyplanner.dk

Where to live?

Obviously where you live is a personal choice, but do bear in mind that public transport is very good in Copenhagen. If having your own car is going to be a problem, make sure you are on a good bus and/or train route. Popular areas to live include Hellerup, Charlottenlund, Klampenborg, Lyngby, Gentofte, Østerbro and Ordrup. For easy accessibility to school, make sure you are within easy distance of an "S" train station (they have a big signs with a white "S" on a red background - you can't miss them) and a bus stop for the 166 or 27 buses.

Parts of Lyngby, Charlottenlund, Østerbro, Gentofte, Ordrup and Hellerup have good accessibility for shops.

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