University Post
University of Copenhagen
Independent of management


Tax reform will hit Danish scientists who travel abroad

Research abroad — The so-called residency requirement in the government's new tax agreement means that academics need to have resided in Denmark for seven years to keep their unemployment benefits.


  • According to the agreement, you need to have resided for seven years in an EU/EEA country over the past eight years to be entitled to unemployment benefits.
  • Members of unemployment insurance funds who live outside the EU/EEA may be affected by the new requirements, if they are not stationed there by a Danish company or studying abroad.
  • Read more on the Danish government’s website.

This could lead to serious consequences for Danish researchers who are awarded a postdoc fellowship or residency to do research at universities in China, Canada or the US.

They risk being affected by the so-called residency requirements in the new tax reform, which the Danish government has just agreed with the Danish People’s Party (DF).

According to the requirement, you need to have stayed for seven of the past eight years in an EU/EEA country in order to be entitled to unemployment funding.

In practice, this means that an associate professor who works as a researcher for eighteen months in the US will lose his/her right to unemployment benefits, and will have to earn it back by residing for seven years in Denmark again.

DM: Research abroad will be penalised

The Danish Association of Masters and PhDs (DM) is frustrated with the residency requirement that will hit the country’s scientists.

“It is a big problem for the research community, which to a large extent is international. It places limits on Denmark as a nation by penalising residence outside the EU. If you say yes to a position as a postdoc in Australia for example, you will be affected by the new requirements. It will have a negative affect on the outlook and vision of the research and the researchers’ mobility.”

If you say yes to a position as a postdoc in Australia for example, you will be affected by the new requirements.

Camilla Gregersen, Chairman, Danish Association of Masters and PhDs

According to the agreement on tax reform, study programmes, international assignments for the foreign service, and working for a Danish company abroad, are all on par with residency within Denmark’s borders. But other types of professionals, who also often move across national borders will be hit by the reform. That is why Camilla Gregersen reckons that the rules will have an influence on the duration of Danish researchers’ stays abroad.

“I think it’s going to mean that fewer postdocs will take up a position abroad of more than one year. And that’s a shame if it ends up influencing how long someone chooses to stay abroad to do research. This is an unfortunate limitation put on the Danish research environment. I hope that the government will consider the consequences this will have for our knowledge workers.”

Inhibits researchers’ mobility

At Danske Universiteter, the universities’ interest organization, director Jesper Langergaard agrees that the residency requirement will be significant for Danish researchers’ choice of where to do research abroad.

“It makes it more difficult to get Danish researchers to apply to do research abroad. It certainly inhibits the increased mobility among scientists. As even though they are highly specialised staff, they often spend more time finding employment. It can therefore become a reason to stay in Denmark that you lose your rights to get unemployment benefits,” says Jesper Langergaard.

Camilla Gregersen from DM emphasizes that the requirement also applies to researchers who come to Denmark from abroad with their spouse.

“We are a small knowledge-based economy, dependent upon the sharing of knowledge and labour power. So it’s a problem that foreign researchers need to be here for seven years before they can get unemployment benefits. They are actually reducing their opportunities – and I think that this sends out a bad message.”