Overall Crime and Safety Situation
U.S. Embassy Copenhagen does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The ACS Unit cannot recommend a particular individual or location and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED COPENHAGEN AS BEING A LOW-THREAT LOCATION FOR CRIME DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.
Please review OSAC’s Denmark-specific webpage for proprietary analytic reports, Consular Messages, and contact information.
Denmark remains a relatively safe, secure country. Since 2014 reported crime rates have increased. Reported sexual assaults, weapon-related crimes, and resisting/assaults on public officials have increased by 60%, 16%, and 65%, respectively. Burglaries have decreased throughout Denmark but have risen in the affluent suburbs north of Copenhagen. Pickpockets and other petty criminals operate aggressively at tourist attractions, train stations, airports, and on public buses. 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. Outlaw motorcycle gangs and other transnational organized crime groups exist, but their illicit activities rarely affect the average Danish citizen or the expatriate community.
According to the Danish Defense Intelligence Service, cyber-attacks/espionage from state and criminal actors are ranked as “High” and are one of the three biggest threats to Denmark’s public and private sectors. DDIS’s Intelligence Risk Assessment 2016 warns:
- “The threat of cyber espionage is directed at the entire public sector. Main targets of the persistent threat have been authorities that are vital to Danish foreign and security policy.”
- “The threat against private companies is particularly aimed at research-heavy and high-tech industries and sectors. Here, several state actors have taken direct aim at companies in Denmark in recent years.”
- “State actors also attempt to compromise service providers and subcontractors to other companies to gain knowledge about negotiations, products, or other sensitive information.”
Other Areas of Concern
The Embassy advises travelers to be cautious in Nørrebro and Christiania.
- Nørrebro is a less affluent area with higher levels of violent street crime, narcotics dealing, and gang activity. Local gang conflicts and demonstrations in Nørrebro and adjoining 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. Christiania has long hosted one of the largest hash markets in Europe. Christiania’s narcotics dealing activity has been linked to organized crime groups, including outlaw motorcycle gangs. Recent drug enforcement efforts have led to violent confrontations between police and Christiania residents, including a shooting that left a police officer and criminal suspect dead. Tourists have also been harassed, assaulted, and robbed for breaking Christiania’s strict no-photography policy.
Road Safety and Road Conditions
Road conditions are very good and are on par with Western European and U.S. standards. Denmark is extremely bicycle-friendly, and there are bicycle lanes, usually paralleling vehicular lanes. Many urban streets also have traffic lanes reserved for public transport or cycles only. This can cause difficulties for drivers who are unfamiliar with the area or with Danish rules of the road. American drivers in particular should be aware that drivers must not begin right turns across bicycle lanes until the road behind is clear of bicycles, and there is no right turn on red. Traffic laws are strictly enforced, using both overt and covert means. Violations can result in stiff fines and jail sentences. Driving is on the right side of the road.
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. 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.
Public Transportation Conditions
The public transportation system is very reliable, punctual, and relatively safe.
Copenhagen International Airport (CPH) is located 10 miles (15 kilometers) south of the city center and is easily accessed from Copenhagen city center by driving or by public transport (Metro, commuter train). The airport adheres to international air safety standards, as does management of flight operations. Security measures for international flights are on par with U.S. airports requirements, and the security personnel are well-trained and effective in the performance of their duties.
Other Travel Conditions
As a consequence of the ongoing refugee and migration crisis in Europe, temporary border controls have been instituted. As of January 4, 2016, travelers from Denmark to Sweden are subject to identification controls. In reaction to Sweden implementing border controls, Denmark instituted border controls with Germany to prevent asylum seekers and migrant from being stranded in Denmark.
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED COPENHAGEN AS BEING A HIGH-THREAT LOCATION FOR TERRORIST ACTIVITY DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.
Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns
Terrorism is ranked as one of the three biggest threats to Denmark by the Danish Defense Intelligence Service. Denmark remains an inviting target for those who sympathize with militant Islam because of Denmark’s active foreign/security policies and the country’s association with the caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.
The Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) assesses “. . . the terror threat to Denmark is mainly posed by individuals sympathizing with militant Islam.” In their 2016 annual report, PET asserted individuals, who are influenced by extremist propaganda, have both the will and capability to carry out unsophisticated attacks. Consequently, these “lone wolf” style attacks, similar to the 2015 attacks at the Krudttønden cultural center and the synagogue in central Copenhagen, may take place without prior warning.
Extremists have carried out attacks in Belgium, France, Germany, and Turkey in 2016, and there remains a potential for attacks throughout Europe. Rumiyah, the recently released publication from the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), called for attacks against Western soft targets. Propaganda like this, whether disseminated through extremist online forums, or via social media, contributes to the radicalization of individuals and circles in Denmark. It is difficult, however, to determine which message will inspire a violent extremist.
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED COPENHAGEN AS BEING A LOW-THREAT LOCATION FOR POLITICAL VIOLENCE DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.
The PET notes, “There are political extremist circles in Denmark that are prepared to use violence to promote their political agenda. The violence may be directed at political opponents, minority groups, including refugees and migrants, and organizations and companies considered to have a symbolic value.”
Public demonstrations are fairly 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 may be spontaneous. Police support is generally well coordinated and appropriate to the size of the demonstration. Police are experienced, with effective riot control elements.
Religious/ethnic violence is rare. There is an increased concern regarding potential violence from and toward refugee and migrant populations. The Danish Security and Intelligence service notes, “…political extremist circles or extremist sympathizers may increase the threat to asylum centres, refugees and migrants, as well as related authorities.”
Confrontations between outlaw motorcycle gangs and street gangs comprised of ethnic minorities occur. These events tend to be motivated by general criminality issues/turf wars, but the violence can be indiscriminate.
The 2017 National Risk Overview, published by the Danish emergency response authority – Beredskabsstyrelsen – identified hurricanes, strong winds, flooding, extreme rain, and disease as the five biggest environmental hazards facing the country.
Torrential rains may temporarily flood roads and basements. Significant flooding occurred in 2010 and 2011, resulting 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.
Denmark has seen a slight increase in drug-related arrests over the past 12 months. As the only Nordic country with a land 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. Seizures of amphetamines, cocaine, and heroin are routinely made at the ferry crossings from Germany and during random checks on the bridges from Jutland or to Sweden. A majority of the heroin destined for Sweden and Norway transits Denmark.
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.
How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment
Individuals detained by the police should comply with instructions. If a visitor does have an issue with unlawful detention, corruption, bribery, or harassment, s/he should report it immediately to the Embassy and request assistance. U.S. citizens can reach the Embassy by calling +45 3341 7100 during normal business hours or +45 3341 7400 afterhours.
Crime Victim Assistance
The Danish National Police are very proactive and responsive when dealing with violent criminal activity but are selective about responding to vehicle break-ins and burglaries. The Danish National Police are typically the primary first law enforcement responder in the case of any emergency. Dial 112 for emergencies and life-threatening situations.
For emergency cases involving the death, arrest, or serious medical emergency of a U.S. citizen in Denmark, please contact American Citizen Services by telephone: (45) 33 41 71 00, on Mondays and Thursdays, between 2-4 pm. Email: CopenhagenACS@state.gov.
The National Police 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.
In the event of a non-life threatening injury, those in need of medical attention must telephone 1813 before going to the doctor/hospital. The dispatcher will provide instructions based on the trauma/injury and the location of the caller. No ER or acute services will be provided prior to calling 1813.
For medical emergencies (a life threatening situation) that include the need for medevac, one should 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 Available Medical Services
Rigshospitalet is the only Level 1 equivalent hospital in Denmark.
Blegdamsvej 9, 2100 København; +45 35 45 35 45
Bispebjerg Hospital is the largest acute clinic/ER in the capitol region.
Bispebjerg Bakke 23, 2400 København NV; +45 35 31 35 31
- Hillerød Hospital provides care for incidents occurring north of Zealand.
Dyrehavevej 29, 3400 Hillerød; +45 48 29 48 29
Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance
The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Denmark.
OSAC Country Council Information
The Copenhagen Country Council currently meets twice a year and has approximately 25 members. Please contact OSAC’s Europe team with any questions or to join.
U.S. Embassy Location and Contact Information
Embassy Address and Hours of Operation
U.S. Embassy Copenhagen
Dag Hammarskjölds Allé 24
DK 2100 Copenhagen Ø
Hours of Operation: 0830-1700
Embassy Contact Numbers
Main: +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 Multi-Post Countries
Denmark includes the mainland, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands.
Virtual Presence Post Nuuk: http://greenland.usvpp.gov.
U.S. citizens traveling in Denmark are encouraged to register in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP is a free service that helps the U.S. Embassy disseminate information about safety conditions and contact travelers in an emergency.
If you are traveling between countries in Europe, please check the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your destination city for any recent security messages.
Denmark Country Information Sheet