This is an annual report produced in
conjunction with the Regional Security Office at the U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen.
OSAC encourages travelers to use this report to gain baseline knowledge of security
conditions in Denmark. For more in-depth information, review OSAC’s Denmark
country page for
original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact information, some of
which may be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC
The current U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory at the date of this report’s publication
assesses Denmark at Level 2, indicating travelers should exercise increased
caution due to terrorism. Review OSAC’s report, Understanding the Consular Travel Advisory
Overall Crime and Safety
The U.S. Department of State has assessed
Copenhagen as being a MEDIUM-threat location for crime directed at
and/or affecting official U.S. government interests. Denmark is correctly
considered a relatively safe and secure European country with very professional
and capable national law enforcement and security services. Between 2017 and
2019, broad categories of reported crime have decreased in some areas. Denmark
saw record decreases in burglaries of private homes and businesses alike in
2019, down roughly 17% and 13%, respectively, when compared to 2018 figures.
However, reports of sexual assaults and weapon-related crimes have seen
significant increases between 2017 and present. The use of “date rape” drugs,
including GHB, continues to be an increasing concern in Copenhagen. Review the
State Department’s webpage on security for female travelers. Danish authorities have changed the means by
which they report and compile certain crime related cases. Consequently, this
has made it difficult to determine the degree to which the rate of certain
crimes has changed. For example, the law with reference to weapon violations
now includes individuals arrested for carrying a small pocketknife versus
another dangerous type of a weapon.
Pickpockets, skimmers, ATM PIN shoulder surfers,
and other petty criminals continue to operate aggressively at tourist attractions,
train stations, and airports, and on public buses commensurate with other
popular European tourist destinations. Local pickpockets/ATM shoulder surfers
operate in teams of two or three, with one or more distracting the victim while
another steals the victim’s valuables/information. Review OSAC’s reports, The Overseas Traveler’s Guide to ATM Skimmers
& Fraud and Taking Credit.
Similar to other countries in the regions,
Denmark does have instances of criminal activity committed by nomadic criminal
groups organized by foreign nationals with permanent residence in Denmark, who
use their knowledge of the Danish social justice system to commit sophisticated
criminal activities like human smuggling, weapons trafficking, and other
economic crimes. According to the National Center of Investigation, the two
main biker gangs in Denmark are the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club and the
Bandidos Motorcycle Club. In addition, several immigrant gangs in Denmark have
memberships based on a common ethnic or regional origin. These gangs are
involved in a wide range of crimes including, but not limited to property, drug
sales, extortion, economic crimes (fraud and tax evasion), robbery, and weapons
trafficking. Gang-related crime is typically very violent. Many gangs use legal
business structures and expertise to perform criminal activities regarding
money laundering and the sale of stolen goods using auction houses. According
the two aforementioned clubs have a presence in countries as diverse as Japan,
Peru, Russia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, and many other European nations.
Rising gang violence in Copenhagen was a
dominant theme for public discussion in the media and among political leaders
over the past year. For example, in 2019 there were 13 explosions that occurred
in the Copenhagen area, all attributed to criminal gang violence. This was in
addition to the rising number of gang related incidents involving firearms and
knife attacks over the past several years. There are links between the criminal
gangs in Denmark and Sweden. According to the Danish Defense Intelligence Service’s
Intelligence Risk Assessment 2019,
“To counter the threat from serious, cross-border crime, Denmark began
enforcing the protection of the border with Sweden to stem the transportation
of explosives and weapons associated with recent gang related violence in
Denmark.” At least two innocent bystanders have suffered serious injuries as
result of recent violence. This wave of violence has also led the Danish
National Police to establish “visitation zones,” areas where police may stop
and frisk people without probable cause. These temporary “visitation zones”
included the neighborhoods of Nørrebro, Ishøj, and Hundige in 2019. The U.S.
Embassy has encouraged those living in or visiting those areas to exercise
Denmark is one of the most digitized countries
in the world. Consequently, cyber-crime continues to be one of the biggest
threats to the heavily connected public and private sectors. According to the Danish Defense Intelligence Service, “cyber-attacks against Danish public
authorities or private companies are to be expected and can potentially have
serious political or economic consequences.” Their assessment also warns:
“Cyber-attacks may have damaging consequences
in the physical world, for instance serious economic losses for Danish private
companies or disruption in the availability of critical services, such as
electricity. For Danish authorities a cyber-attack can, for example, render
systems inoperable or result in the theft or destruction of sensitive or
“Foreign states may use cyber espionage to
obtain new technologies or to ensure that their national companies gain a
competitive edge on international markets.”
“Cyber espionage may enable theft of
intellectual property and sensitive strategic or security policy information,
thereby possibly affecting Danish national security, the Danish economy and
Danish competitiveness…We expect that the foreign actors will use cyber
espionage along with other tools in connection with crises or conflicts”
Review OSAC’s reports, Cybersecurity
Practices for Maximizing Security on Public Wi-Fi, and Traveling
with Mobile Devices: Trends & Best Practices.
Other Areas of Concern
No areas of Denmark are off limits to U.S. travelers
or government personnel. All travelers should be cautious in the neighborhoods
of Nørrebro and Christiania. Nørrebro is a gentrifying community, with higher
levels of violent street crime and gang/narcotics activity. Local gang
conflicts and demonstrations in Nørrebro and adjacent neighborhoods
occasionally result in violence.
Visitors to the Free Town of Christiania, a
“self-proclaimed” autonomous neighborhood in the Christianshavn section of
Copenhagen, should also exercise caution and avoid displaying cameras. Christiania
has long hosted one of the largest illegal hashish markets in Europe.
Christiania’s narcotics activity has links to organized crime groups. Police
regularly carry out raids to restrict the cannabis trade. Drug enforcement
efforts have led to violent confrontations between police and Christiania
residents, including a 2016 shooting that left a police officer injured and a
suspect dead. During a 2018 raid in Christiana, approximately 20 masked men attacked police officers with stones and
bottles. Tourists have also been harassed, assaulted, and robbed for breaking
Christiania’s strict no-photography policy. Review OSAC’s report, Picture This: Dos and Don’ts for Photography.
Road Safety and Road Conditions
Road conditions are very good, and on par with
Western European and U.S. standards. Denmark is extremely bicycle-friendly;
there are bicycle lanes located throughout the country, usually paralleling
vehicular lanes. Many urban streets also have traffic lanes reserved for public
transportation or cycles only. This can cause difficulties for drivers
unfamiliar with the area or with Danish rules of the road. Right turns are not
permitted at red lights, and drivers must not begin right turns across bicycle
lanes until the road behind is clear of bicycles. Authorities strictly enforce
traffic laws, using overt and covert means. Violations can result in stiff
fines and jail sentences. Driving is on the right side of the road.
You must be 18 to drive. U.S. tourists may use
their state driver’s license for up to 90 days. Long-term residents must obtain
a valid Danish driver’s license. Road signs use standard international traffic
symbols. The use of seat belts is mandatory for drivers and passengers. Driving
any vehicle, including bicycles, under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a
very serious offense. It is against the law to drive while using a hand-held
cell phone device. To avoid vehicle break-ins, park in well-illuminated areas
when possible and avoid leaving any valuable items in the vehicle. Review
OSAC’s reports, Road Safety Abroad, Driving Overseas: Best Practices, and Evasive Driving Techniques; and read the State Department’s webpage on driving and road safety abroad.
Public Transportation Conditions
The public transportation system is highly
reliable, punctual, and relatively safe. Be alert for pickpockets on any public
transportation system. Review OSAC’s report, Security In Transit: Airplanes, Public
Transport, and Overnights.
Copenhagen International Airport (CPH) is
located 10 miles (15 kilometers) south of the city center and is easily accessible
from Copenhagen city center by car or public transport (Metro and commuter
train). The airport adheres to international air safety and flight operation
standards. Security measures for international flights are on par with U.S.
airport requirements, and the security personnel are well trained and effective
in the performance of their duties.
Other Travel Conditions
Like most of Europe, Denmark has a large
population of migrants from around the world, the majority of which comes from
European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) countries. Denmark
maintains strict immigration controls relative to adjacent countries,
particularly Germany and Sweden, and has instituted over 67 different
immigration restrictions in response to the 2015 international refugee and
humanitarian crisis. Border controls instituted in 2016 to address the migrant
crisis remain in place, subjecting those traveling overland from Germany to
Denmark to checkpoints and enhanced identification controls. Previously,
Denmark and Sweden eliminated passport checks in 1958 to allow seamless passage
between the two Scandinavian kingdoms. In late 2019, Denmark increased border
inspections at the Swedish border, primarily motivated by the increase in
violence between immigrant gangs in Denmark, which likely have ties to gangs operating
The U.S. Department of State has assessed
Copenhagen as being a MEDIUM-threat location for terrorist activity
directed at and/or affecting official U.S. government interests. Because of
Denmark’s active foreign/security policies and the country’s association with
the caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, Denmark remains an inviting target for
those who sympathize with militant Islam.
The 2018 assessment from the Center for Terror Analysis (CTA) indicates
there are individuals with intent and capability to commit terrorist attacks in
Denmark. According to the Danish Security and Intelligence Service assessment, terrorism
threat in Denmark remains significant. Terrorist attacks can take place without
prior intelligence-based indications. The risk of falling victim to a terrorist
attack in Denmark remains limited, but the threat from planned, more
sophisticated attacks like those witnessed elsewhere in Europe still exist.
There has not been a significant terrorist
attack contributed to Islamic extremists in Denmark since 2015. The 2015 attack
at the Krudttønden cultural center and the synagogue in central Copenhagen
resulted in the death of two victims and was the responsibility of a Danish man
of Palestinian decent, who was radicalized in prison. One significant example
of successful proactive measures taken by Danish National Police in 2019 was a series
of December police raids throughout the country, detaining around 20 people
suspected of planning for a terrorist attack as well as trying to obtain
weapons and explosive materials.
According to CTA, at least 150 people have left
Denmark for Syria or Iraq since the summer of 2012. CTA assesses that the
terror threat primarily involves individuals or small groups located in Denmark
or in a neighboring country. Attacks with simple means after short planning are
the most likely forms of attack. However, the threat of complex attacks in
Denmark directed by militant Islamist groups abroad, although reduced,
The collapse of ISIS, coupled with improvements
in European counterterrorism measures, led to fewer terror attacks across the
continent in 2019 in comparison to recent years. However, European countries in
general can still expect a growing security challenge going into 2020 due to
repatriation of ISIS fighters, radicalization trends within the criminal prison
population, and the scheduled release of convicted terrorists due to
limitations in the average prison sentencing in many European countries.
Therefore, there remains the potential for Islamic extremist motivated terror
attacks to occur anywhere in Europe, including Denmark. Although official
messaging to would-be terrorists from ISIS has declined, extremist recruitment
efforts and instructions for carrying out mass acts of violence continue to be
freely accessible in online forums and social media.
In 2017, Danish Armed Forces deployed
domestically for the first time since World War II to assist police in
protecting potential terror targets in Copenhagen and to support border
controls in the south of the country. Travelers should be aware of temporary
border controls manned by the Danish National Police and Armed Forces.
Denmark is generally free from anti-U.S.
sentiment. It is common for many people, Danes and U.S. nationals alike, to
wear shirts, hats, and jackets with logos and names of U.S. universities,
sports teams, and companies without concern for backlash from the general
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic
The U.S. Department of State has assessed
Copenhagen as being a LOW-threat location for political violence directed at
and/or affecting official U.S. government interests. The Kingdom of Denmark is
a highly functional democracy and was ranked #1 in Transparency International’s
Corruption Perceptions Index for 2019. Denmark also enjoys high rankings on
equality between genders as well as freedoms of religion, sexual orientation,
and speech. One potential issue in Denmark concerns the treatment of irregular
(or perceived irregular) migrants from outside Europe. Separately, violent gang
activity within immigrant communities is on the rise in Denmark.
Public demonstrations are common and sometimes result
in violence. Typically, demonstrations number between a few dozen and a few
hundred protestors and very rarely more than 1,000. Public demonstrations can
be spontaneous, but the police response is extremely well coordinated and
appropriate to the size of the demonstration. Outbreaks of hostility during sporting
events or involving rowdy fans in transit to such events are also not unusual;
however, Danish police are also well prepared to handle such incidents. Police
are experienced, with effective riot control elements and well-developed
non-violent mediation techniques.
Political extremist circles in Denmark, left-
and right-wing alike, are prepared to use violence to promote their political
agendas. There has been an increased focus from individuals with right-wing
extremist sympathies on the refugee situation and directing their aggression on
asylum seekers, refugees, religious minorities and related authorities. The CTA
states that extremist sympathizers may increase the threat to asylum centers,
refugees and migrants as well as related authorities.
Confrontations between outlaw motorcycle gangs
and street gangs composed of ethnic minorities (or based on lines of ethnicity)
do occur. These events tend to involve general criminality issues/turf wars,
but the violence can be indiscriminate.
The Danish emergency response authority –
Beredskabsstyrelsen – identified hurricanes, strong winds, flooding, extreme
rain, and disease as the five biggest environmental hazards facing the country.
Other natural disasters, including mudslides/avalanches, occur with some
frequency in Greenland.
Torrential rains may temporarily flood roads
and basements. Significant flooding occurred in 2010 and 2011, which resulted
in damage to businesses and homes in/around Copenhagen.
Personal Identity Concerns
Denmark is a very open society. Violence or
other discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, or disability is
rare. Discrimination based on race, nationality, or religion is likewise rare,
but as in other European countries, anti-immigrant sentiments became more
visible following the refugee and migration crisis, and there have been reports
of harassment by individuals who do not appear ethnically Danish.
Danish law prohibits discrimination against
persons with physical and mental disabilities in employment, education, and
access to health care or other state services. Danish law mandates access to
buildings, education, information, and communications for persons with
disabilities. Public transportation can accommodate persons with disabilities,
but many buildings and outdoor sites are not easily accessible for the
disabled. Accessibility information is available at Visit Denmark. Review the State Department’s webpage on security for travelers with disabilities.
Denmark has recorded a rise in drug-related
arrests over the past year, owed in part to increasingly aggressive counternarcotic
measures. Reports of drug sales, smuggling, and other violations of narcotics
law increased dramatically in 2018 and 2019. As the only Nordic country with a roadway
border with Western Europe, Denmark is an important transshipment point for all
types of cargo, including illegal narcotics. Law enforcement continues to
observe trafficking in hashish via the large volume of legitimate trucking
through Denmark from the Netherlands, Germany, and Spain. Authorities routinely
make seizures of amphetamines, cocaine, and heroin at the ferry crossings from
Germany and during random checks on the bridge from Jutland or at the bridge to
Sweden. Much of the heroin destined for Sweden and Norway transits Denmark. The
availability of heroin fluctuates based on the heroin production levels in
Greenland has strict laws regarding
removal of natural resources, including any precious and semi-precious metals,
stones, and gemstones. Check with local authorities before attempting to
extract or export any of these materials.
Those considering travel on cruise ships near
Greenland should be aware that search and rescue capabilities are restricted
due to limited capacity and long distances between populated areas. Check the
operational records and the experience of captains and crews operating vessels
in Arctic waters.
Greenland’s landscape is vast and remote.
Periods of darkness, extreme temperatures, and fast-changing weather are
common. Persons unfamiliar with the area can become disoriented easily and risk
long-term exposure to the elements. Always use experienced guides.
You must have official permission for
travel into Northeast Greenland National Park or for treks across the central ice
fields. Check with your tour operator to make sure that the company has
received the necessary permission for such trips.
Greenland mountains are of moderate
altitude but are technically difficult. You should be familiar with ascent and
descent routes. Local authorities will rescue individuals in difficulty, but
land search and rescue capabilities are limited and subject to weather
restrictions. You may be billed for the cost of rescue services. For more
information about travel to Greenland, visit Greenland Tourism.
Danish law enforcement, public safety, and
security services are professional, highly trained, well equipped, and
effective. Denmark is well-known as a country with very little corruption, and
the police are very well trained, professional, and competent. Most police
officers are proficient in English. Response for non-violent crimes may be
limited due to manpower shortages in the police force.
All individuals in Denmark must provide their
name, address, and date of birth to the police if asked, and if necessary,
proof of their identity. Detained individuals should comply with instructions.
While incidents of police harassment would be extremely rare, the Danish
National Police are a professional police organization with the ability to
conduct internal investigations into instances of misconduct or corruption.
The National Police (Ringspolitiet) are
the primary law enforcement authority in Denmark, Greenland, and the Faroe
Islands, and are under the direction of the Ministry of Justice. The National
Police develop strategies, support work in the local police districts, and
coordinate police operations on a national level.
Danish police are very proactive and responsive
when dealing with violent criminal activity, but are selective about responding
to non-violent crimes. The Danish National Police (Politi/Politiet) are
typically the primary law enforcement responder in the case of an emergency. The
emergency line in Denmark is 112. Dial 114 for
routine or non-emergency calls. For reporting crimes, you can also use this
Danish National Police website.
For emergency cases involving the death,
arrest, or serious medical emergency of a U.S. national in Denmark, contact the
Embassy by telephone at +45 33 41 71 00. Email all other inquires to CopenhagenACS@state.gov.
General Practitioners (medical doctor) keep
normal business hours, Monday through Friday from 0800 until 1600. In the event
of a non-life-threatening injury after 1600, those in need of medical attention
must telephone 1813 before going to the
doctor or hospital. Those who do not have a regular general practitioner that
you see on a regular basis must telephone 1813 for
assistance at any time. The dispatcher will provide instructions based on the
injury type and the location of the caller.
For medical emergencies (i.e., a
life-threatening situation), which include the need for ambulance or medical
evacuation (medevac), call 112. The
dispatcher will provide instructions to the caller, identify the hospital best
suited to meet the needs of the patient, and dispatch the required support. Contact
information for medical services and air ambulance services is available on the
U.S. Embassy website.
The U.S. Department of State strongly
recommends purchasing international health insurance before traveling
internationally. Review the State Department’s webpage on insurance overseas.
The CDC offers additional information on
vaccines and health guidance for Denmark.
OSAC Country Council Information
For information on the Copenhagen Country
Council, contact the Regional Security Office or OSAC’s Europe
U.S. Embassy Contact Information
Hammarskjölds Allé 24, DK 2100 Copenhagen Ø
business hours: 0830 – 1700, Monday – Friday
+45 33 41 71 00; Fax: +45 35 43 02 23; Post One: +45 33 41 74 00; RSO: +45 33
41 74 13
Consular coverage for Denmark includes the
mainland, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands.
Before you travel, consider the following