Browsing Tag


Danish citizenship is not easy to obtain: a language test and a citizenship test are both required, and you must have a spotless police record. Even a speeding ticket can keep you from obtaining Danish citizenship for a period of up to 5 years. Permanent residency requirements are also constantly being changed.

Stories about life in Denmark

Denmark is not just Copenhagen

One of the things that surprised me when I first moved to Denmark is that there could be so many distinctions and divisions between fewer than six million people living in an area half the size of Indiana.

But the differences exist, and they are deeply felt.

Stopping by Copenhagen and saying you’ve seen Denmark is a little bit like stopping by Manhattan and Disney World and saying you’ve seen the United States. (And many Danes do precisely this.)

Dry humor in Jylland
While Copenhagen is both the capital of the country and its business center, much of the country’s wealth is generated in Jylland, the large land mass stuck to Germany.

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Stories about life in Denmark

Moving to Denmark, a Guide for Americans

Moving to Denmark as an American has become a hot topic recently; I hear a lot from Americans interested in immigration to Denmark.

Since I’m selling books called How to Live in Denmark and How to Work in Denmark, you’d think I would encourage as many Americans as possible to look into Denmark immigration.

But moving to Denmark with a U.S. passport isn’t as easy as just buying a plane ticket and a lot of sweaters.

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In the Media

The Privileged Immigrant: Kay Xander Mellish’s TEDx Talk

Kay Xander Mellish’s TEDx Talk “The Privileged Immigrant” looks at highly-educated immigrants who choose to relocate for professional or personal reasons.

What responsibilities do these privileged immigrants have to the places where they’ve chosen to live?

In the talk, which was delivered April 14, 2018 at TEDx Odense, Kay suggests that immigrants with options need to research the basic values of the place where they intend to move in order to make sure that their own values are in line with the people who already live there.

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Books, Stories about life in Denmark

Get your ‘How To Live in Denmark’ book at the Statens Museum for Kunst / Danish National Gallery

I do a lot of writing in the lovely, sunny cafe at the Statens Museum for Kunst, otherwise known as the Danish National Gallery.

This museum is free to the public and has a great collection of both historic and contemporary art.

Now I’m excited to say that you can get a paperback copy of the ‘How To Live in Denmark’ book in English at the Statens Museum for Kunst gift shop.

You can also buy a copy of the book at the shop at Denmark’s National Museum, at the Politiken Bookstore on Radhuspladsen, or at Made in Denmark on Brolæggergade 8. It can also be special-ordered from any bookstore in Denmark, although you may have to wait a couple of weeks. It’s also available in Aarhus at Stakbogladen near the university.

Not in Denmark? You can get the How to Live in Denmark Book sent anywhere in the world, or download the How to Live in Denmark eBook right now!

National Museum of Denmark shop book
Books, Stories about life in Denmark

Get your ‘How To Live in Denmark’ book at the National Museum of Denmark

Stop by the shop at Danmarks Nationamuseet /The National Museum of Denmark to get a paperback copy of the ‘How To Live in Denmark’ book in English or Chinese.

Denmark’s National Museum is located in downtown Copenhagen, and it’s got a great collection of Viking artifacts as well as a wonderful kids section where kids can dress up as Vikings and ride in a play Viking ship.

You can also buy a copy of the book at the Politiken Bookstore on Radhuspladsen, or at Made in Denmark on Brolæggergade 8. It can also be special-ordered from any bookstore in Denmark, although you may have to wait a couple of weeks.

Not in Denmark? You can get the How to Live in Denmark Book sent anywhere in the world, or download the How to Live in Denmark eBook right now!

Books, Stories about life in Denmark

恭喜發財! The ‘How to Live in Denmark’ Chinese version is now available.

After a process that seemed to take longer than building the Great Wall, the Chinese version of ‘How to Live in Denmark’ is finally available, just in time for Chinese New Year. This is the year of the Goat, an auspicious year for creative enterprises. 恭喜發財!

Thanks to my Singapore-based translator, John Zhao, as well as the many Denmark-based Chinese speakers who took time to help me out! I appreciate it.

You can access the eBook version here on the site or via Apple’s iBooks store. (Due to an agreement with the Chinese government, Amazon does not support Chinese for Kindle Direct Publishing.) It’s also available via the Danish online bookstore, Saxo.com.

A print version of the How to Live in Denmark Chinese version will be available March 1.

Please contact me if you’re interested in a volume package to distribute to your student or work organization,  of if you’re interested inviting me to China (I would be happy to visit my old colleagues at the South China Morning Post) or having me stage a live ‘How To Live in Denmark’ event.


Don’t mention the flag: What I learned when I studied for the Danish citizenship exam


There was no How to Live in Denmark podcast last week, and I apologize for that. I have been busy studying for my Danish citizenship exam. As some of you may know, Denmark is allowing double citizenship as of next year.

That means you’re are allowed to keep your passport from your home country – in my case, USA – while also becoming a Danish citizen. Personally, I’m a little concerned that this may be overturned if a right wing government takes power next year. Danske Folkeparti, which is now the biggest party in Denmark, is passionately opposed to double citizenship.

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Stories about life in Denmark

The Things I Do Double: Thoughts on Dual Nationality in Denmark

There was big news this week for foreigners in Denmark. It looks like dual nationality in Denmark will soon be permitted. Previously, if you wanted to be a Danish citizen, you had to give up citizenship in your home country.

Meanwhile Danes who had moved abroad, say to the US or Australia, and became citizens there had to give up their Danish citizenship.

There’s now been a proposal to get rid of all that. It hasn’t been finally approved, but all the Danish parties say they’ll vote for it, with the exception of our anti-foreigner friends in the Danish People’s Party.

Why I’ll apply
Now having been here for 14 years, I will probably apply for Danish citizenship. I realize I’ll have to do a lot of studying about Danish history, and learn things like the difference between King Christian the Fourth and King Christian the Seventh.

But that’s true of any country. I’m sure people wanting to be American citizens have to learn the difference between, say, George Washington and George Bush.

I want to be a Danish citizen for a lot of different reasons. Right now, my ‘permanent’ residence permit expires if I’m out of the country for more than a year. That could easily happen if I travel, or have a family crisis back in the US.

Daughter born in Denmark has no rights
Also my daughter has no rights here. She was born here, and has only lived here, but she has no residence rights here, or right to attend university here. Under the current law, she’d have to apply for a Danish residence permit when she turns 18, and there’s no guarantee she’d get it. If I’m a double citizen, she can become a double citizen. And if she’s a double citizen, it means she can hold the Danish flag in her girls marching band. Right now she’s not allowed.

Most importantly, I’ve been paying Danish taxes for 14 years, and I want a say in how those taxes are spent. I want to vote.

I get to vote
Now, I can vote on the local level, as can any foreigner who has been here for four years. That said, the Danish People’s Party is trying to take that away from us. One of their candidates recently said, “As an immigrant in a new country, you’re busy with a bunch of other things as opposed to politics. If I moved to a hula-bula land in Africa, I also wouldn’t be able to have an opinion on political matters and vote.”

If the Danish People’s Party was not the second largest party in Denmark, they would be comic relief.

More things to do double
At any rate, having double citizenship will add to the large number of things I need to do double as someone with ties to two countries.

Having double citizenship will mean that instead of trying to remember where I put my passport, now I can try to remember where I put two passports.

I already pay two sets of taxes, and wrestle with two sets of tax bureaucrats. Lots of fun. I have two drivers’ licenses, and two sets of eyeglass prescriptions, since one country won’t accept the others’.

In each country, I have two sets of pensions, public and private. That means four pension plans, and I basically don’t understand any of them.

But those are the big things. There’s also the small things, like having two different keyboards on my iPhone, one Danish, one English. Whenever I start typing something, the keyboard always seems to be in the language that doesn’t match what I urgently need to say.

Even worse, sometimes I need to mix languages – say, giving an English-speaking friend a Danish street name. That just about blows the iPhone’s circuits. You can tell that the iPhone was designed by mono-lingual Americans.

Another thing that drives me crazy is geo-targeted sites like Google or Hotels.com or Trip Advisor. They assume because I’m physically located in Denmark, I want all their services in Danish. No I don’t. You can figure out how to re-set them into English or whatever language you choose, but that always takes like 15 minutes to find that little hidden tab that does it. Drives me nuts.

The Danish People’s Party disagrees
Now, the Danish People’s Party would suggest that if I wanted to get rid of all these double headaches, I should simply give up my American citizenship and commit myself to Denmark.

In the newspaper stories I’ve seen about this issue, there are a lot of comments from people named Knud and Bent and Axel and other old people Danish names that say things like “It’s citi-zen, not cities-zen – statsborger, ikke statersborger. That means one person, one country, one pass. How hard can it be?”

“Hvorfor kun to pas, hvorfor ikke tre, fire, fem, seks, syv, otte………?”

Or “I can’t see why anyone would want double citizenship, or even twenty citizenships, for any reason except to have many identities they can use for crime or tax evasion.”

But I don’t want to give up my American passport. I’m an American, and I always will be an American. I live in Denmark, I speak Danish, I send my child to a Danish school. I’m pretty well integrated. But as a foreigner in Denmark, you’re never entirely Danish. Even if Denmark has become home, there’s still another home, at least somewhere in your heart.

Hear all our How to Live in Denmark podcasts on Spotify and on Apple Podcasts (iTunes).


Get the How to Work in Denmark Book for more tips on finding a job in Denmark, succeeding at work, and understanding your Danish boss. It can be ordered via Amazon or Saxo.com or from any bookstore using the ISBN 978-743-000-80-8. Contact Kay to ask about bulk purchases, or visit our books site to find out how to get the eBook. You can also book a How to Work in Denmark event with Kay for your school, company, or professional organization.






Want to read more? Try the How to Live in Denmark book, available in paperback or eBook editions, and in English, Chinese, and Arabic. If you represent a company or organization, you can also book Kay Xander Mellish to stage a How to Live in Denmark event tailored for you, including the popular How to Live in Denmark Game Show. Kay stages occasional free public events too. Follow our How to Live in Denmark Facebook page to keep informed.

Image mashup copyright Kay Xander Mellish 2021