Choosing Denmark as the home of your new business seems almost too good to be true. the Scandinavian country offers one of the simplest and quickest start-up procedures in the world.
In fact, the process is so easy it can be done entirely online and can be completed in less than a day. Denmark also doesn’t require any of the management are Danish residents, including the CEO or board of directors, so as a foreigner there are few restrictions to your ability to set up shop. The company is so friendly to foreign-owned businesses that many of the required documents can even be completed in English.
So, how do you get started? Read on to find out.
An ApS only requires a single shareholder, and that person isn’t required to be a Danish citizen. However, an ApS does require minimum share capital, typically 80000 DKK. Shares within an ApS are non-transferable and non-negotiable. Shareholders are only liable up to their personal contribution.
A single shareholder can start an A/S by providing a minimum share capital of 500000 DKK. Shareholders in an A/S aren’t liable for the company’s obligations, and shares can be publicly traded or shared with company members.
A partnership must have at least two founding members, all of whom are fully liable for company obligations. Partnerships must be listed in the Danish trade register.
A limited partnership also requires at least two partners, however in a K/S at least one partner may have limited liability for the company’s obligations. Like in an I/S, a K/S must be registered with the Danish trade register.
You can also set up a company on your own in Denmark as a sole proprietor. Sole proprietors have full liability for the company and are registered with tax authorities if they have employees or are involved in trading.
The process for opening a business in Denmark is extremely simple. The following steps cover the entirety of the process.
Though you will of course make the best decision for your own business, for the remainder of this guide, we’ll focus on the ApS. This option offers your business the most protection and is the most common business type in Denmark.
You can register for a CVR number through the Danish Business online portal. The site is in Danish; so you may want to use a browser like Google Chrome to handle translation.
Registration for a CVR comes at a cost of 670 DKK. There is a caveat here: The DBA will require you to have a NemID, or a Danish digital signature, which can be obtained if you have a residence or work permit in the country. If you have neither, you’re not totally out of luck; you can contract a lawyer who will set up the company for you, without a personal NemID. Conveniently, Denmark’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has put together a list of trusted service providers who you can contact to take on that role. If you’re working through a lawyer, they’ll need the following items in advance (if you’re doing it on your own, you’ll need them handy too):
- Share Capital of 50000 DKK
- Names and passport copies of all members of the executive board and Board of Directors
- Memorandum and Articles of Association
- Description of ownership structure
- Passport copies of all personal owners (who control 25% or more)
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Once you’re registered with the DBA, they’ll send your information to SKAT (Danish Customs and Tax Administration) for you. SKAT collects taxes, but also provides tax advice to companies. You may also need to register separately for these tax types, depending on your business:
- VAT: If you sell goods and have a revenue greater than 500000 DKK
- Payroll Tax: If you’re exempt from VAT
- Duties: If you’re manufacturing or dealing in wholesale goods
- Import/Export: If you’re dealing with countries not in the EU
- A-tax: If you have employees
Your lawyer can help you generate employment contracts or addendums for any existing employees. As an employer, you’re required to take out injury insurance, which is added to your employees salary as you contribution.
- You will need to double check to see if you’ll require any special permits.
- It’s optional, but you can also set up your corporate structure in order to avoid double taxation.
- If applicable, transfer your employees to Denmark. This process is slightly different for everyone, but these are the basic requirements:
- Non-EU Residents: Must have a residence permit and work permit before going to Denmark
- EU Nationals and citizens of Nordic countries: No permits required to work in Denmark
Investindk.com has set up a wealth of resources to help you establish your business in Denmark. Some of their most helpful resources include:
- Step by Step Guide to Opening a Business in Denmark
- Establishing a Business in Denmark
- 10 Good Reasons to Invest in Denmark
Doingbusiness.org helpfully breaks down the business registration process and timing for you.
Workindenmark.dk has a variety of business resources regarding business structure, tax, employment, and visas.
If you’re looking for specific information about forming your business in Copenhagen, you can check out Copenhagen’s site for internationals.
For information about Denmark’s special program for start-ups, Start-up Denmark has some great resources.
While you’re looking to fund your new venture from abroad at the least possible cost, consider using TransferWise. Not only does TransferWise use the real mid-market exchange rate to convert your money (which nearly always beat the banks), but because your money is received and sent via local bank transfers in both your home country and in Denmark, all those nasty international fees magically disappear. Give it a try.
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