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How do I...

You can feel pretty helpless when all you want to do is a load of laundry and you're confronted with:

Things are different here, but we're here to help.
( What how-to do you need?)

Call Emergency Services
911 won't get you anywhere in Denmark. Call 112 instead.

Figure Out My Kitchen Appliances
Google the make and model of your appliance and the word "manual." A surprising number of manuals are available in full in PDF form somewhere on the web, and many appliances are sold in a number of countries. The AEG washer/dryer pictured above is also sold in the UK, and it took about one minute to find the English-language manual on Google.

Can't find it there? Pop into El Giganten or another appliance store and look for one with similar controls. I had no luck finding my dishwasher's manual online, but it turns out that nearly every dishwasher in Denmark uses the same icons, so another manual worked just as well.

Give Blood
As you probably know we have a national health care system here in Denmark. Part of this system depends on blood donors, and it's easy to become one. You register, get a health check, answer some questions about AIDS and other illnesses. After you are registered you will get a phone call from time to time asking if you have time to give blood. You make a agreement about when to be picked up, and a taxi, paid for by the system, picks you up and brings you to and from the donor station. You do not get paid money, but your pay is feeling good about helping! If you want to do it, you can go to Blod Donor and check it out!
Update - August, 2009: BEFORE giving blood you will be asked a series of questions IN DANISH about your health history. You must of course understand Danish in order to answer correctly. Translations are NOT ALLOWED. There has been a bit of an uproar about this requirement so DOUBLE CHECK to see if it is STILL a requirement if you decide to become a blood donor.
Thanks to Larry for this contribution.

drink bottles and cans

Aluminum cans and plastic or glass bottles for carbonated beverages, beer, and wine can be recycled at any place that sells the drink your bottle or can used to contain. Because the store gives you a refund for your good deed, it's a really good idea to take them to where you got them. Smaller stores will just collect them and give you cash right at the register. Larger chain stores have bottle collection machines. Put your bottles in one at a time, bottom first. Whenever possible, keep the labels and caps in tact. The machine will complain loudly if you put them in too fast, or put in a bottle it doesn't accept. When you're done, press the button and it will print out a barcode. Take the barcode to a cashier to get cash back or a deduction from your purchase. If you aren't buying anything, and the lines are long, you can keep the barcode until next time. It won't expire.
everything else
Every city has their own set up, but generally speaking, there will be a recycling center somewhere in your city that will take just about anything that can be recycled. Commonly recycled items, like newspaper or glass, may have receptacles in your neighborhood. Some cities have recycling containers that you have to buy and set out with your trash. For large items like computer monitors or carpeting, you're almost certainly going to have to drive it to the recycling center. If you're unsure what to do, contact your kommune and ask.

Ship My Stuff Over Without Getting Taxed Into Poverty
Please note that we at CAEMG are not encouraging anyone to lie. If you are getting expensive, new stuff shipped to you from the States, you should pay import duty on it. But when you first move here, you may have a fair amount of stuff that you've owned and loved for years, and it doesn't make sense to pay heaps of taxes on all your old clothes and books. So, what do you do?

When you ship your stuff over, you'll have to fill out a customs form, declaring all the stuff in each box, a value, and so on. On this form, write (amongst all that other necessary information) something along the lines of "personal possessions for permanent relocation." That's pretty much it, except that the customs people will (understandably) get a bit suspicious if you're shipping over big-ticket items like, say, your desktop computer. If you can, include a copy of your receipt or some other proof of purchase/ownership in the box with it, and keep another copy with you. If it gets stuck at customs, you can present the receipt for them to release it. No receipt? Expect to pay duty. Don't want to? I suggest checking it as luggage on the plane, and if that makes you nervous, remember that when you ship it, it's still ending up being tossed into the cargo area of a plane. Pack it well in either case.

If you're unsure if a particular item is going to put you over the suspicion-limit of the customs folk, the best thing to do is ask. Check the translated information on Skat's website or call them at 72 22 18 18. (If you're still in the States, that's 011 45 72 22 18 18, and call right when you get up. Remember we're 6 or more hours ahead of you, and like all good government offices, they don't hold phone hours for all that long.)

A few things to keep in mind when deciding what to ship:

  • plugs, voltage, and wattage are different here and if whatever it is cost less than $100, it's probably not worth using a converter to use over here
  • VHS tapes are a different format here, and the DVD region is different here, so if you want to bring over your American media, make sure you have a way to play them in Denmark;
  • check out the Where do I buy…? page for links to stores that sell items similar or identical to what you own. See if you can get them cheap enough to warrant freecycling or selling your junk and just buying replacements here.
  • if you can read a bit of Danish, join Copenhagen's Freecycle list and see if you can get some of the stuff you need for free before you bother shipping it over. It's a sadly underused group, but I've seen some pretty good offers come through so it's worth a look.

Stop Getting Junk Mail
While in the U.S. it's somewhat complicated to get off all the various mailing lists for junk mail, in Denmark it's really easy, if you know how. Just go down to your local post office and register. You give them your address, and they will mail you a sticker which you can affix to your door/mailbox. There are two types of stickers: Reklamer - nej tak or Reklamer og gratis aviser - nej tak . The former sticker will stop everything EXCEPT local newspapers, telephone books and evening school catalogs while the latter stops EVERYTHING. The instructions must be RENEWED every other year. You can also use the post office site - - to register your wishes. Most stores have their ads on their websites as well as in their stores, if you want to see them without being bombarded with paper at home.

Use My Cell Phone Over Here
The first thing you have to do is determine if your US-bought mobile phone works here. US standards and European standards are not the same. Only if your mobile is tri- or quad-band will it work. If it doesn't work, then no sense in getting it unlocked. If it does work here, then it will cost about DKK 50-80 to get it unlocked. There are about a jillion places on Nørrebrogade (the "ethnic" part of Copenhagen) which will do it.

Once you get it unlocked you will have to have a SIM card. There are lots of companies who will supply you with a SIM card and a "pay as you go" price and no subscription fee. I use CBB which is a subsidiary of Sonofon which in turn is owned by Telenor (Norway's largest operator) so they will be around a while. As of this writing (Sept. '07), they charge: DKK 0.39/minute plus a DKK 0.50 connection charge (applicable even if you are not connected) and charge by the minute, e.g. if you speak for 61 seconds you are charged for two minutes OR DKK 0.69/minute plus a DKK 0.25 connection charge (connected or not) and charge you by the second. In both plans an SMS costs DKK 0.19. So: if you talk a lot, use the first plan, if you don't talk too much, use the second plan. Right now they are running a campaign where for DKK 99.00 you get DKK 300 worth of "talk time" plus 200 SMSes. Another company, M1, is marginally cheaper for some patterns of use, but CBB has great service.

To determine who is cheapest for you go to this site which translates as "IT Citizen/Tools/Teleguide." It's a service of the government agency which regulates the telecommunications industry and is thus neutral. Here you can plug in your expected use and they will then list which companies have the cheapest plan to suit your expected needs. If, after you have used your phone a bit and you have chosen a company which doesn't bind you to them for a set number of months and you see that your actual use is totally different, then you can go back to the site, plug in your actual use and choose a new company. You are going to have to have a Danish speaker with you to translate the text. This site can also be used to figure out the best plan for a land line, IP phones, broadband, whatever. It's wonderful.

An aside here: if you have a land line and use it to call a mobile number you will be charged 40-80% more than if you were calling another land line. So, ALWAYS use your mobile to call another mobile.
OK. That's if your phone works here.

If it doesn't you can:

A. Buy a used phone. This site is "The Blue Newspaper" (an E-Bay subsidiary) and if you put mobiltelefon in the search box you will get about 85 screen pictures of used phones for sale. You can narrow the search by geographic area. I saw phones as cheap as DKK 150. CAVEAT EMPTOR! You'll need a Danish speaker and intimate knowledge of every make and model of mobile produced during the last five years or so.

B. Buy a new phone for only DKK 1*!!!! Well that's what the ad says but watch for the asterisk. The law here states that companies selling phones bundled with subscription prices must list the total expected charges for the first six months of use and that's the price you will pay it total. It's at the bottom of the ad in small print (natch). But there are hundreds of plans.
A real can of worms but if you plan to yak a lot or send thousands of SMSes it might be worth investigating and, again, you can always switch plans.
Thanks to Stephen Dworkin for this contribution.

Vote in U.S. Elections From Over Here
The exact requirements differ state by state, but in general, you use your last stateside residence as your voting residence, and send a form to the election jurisdiction for that address. The form is only a page long, and is very simple to fill out. They basically just need to know who you are and where to send your absentee ballot. To register, request your ballot, or update your address, visit the Overseas Vote Foundation for step-by-step instructions and a downloadable PDF version of the form you need.
Thanks to Allan Jenkins for this contribution.

You may also find help from your party, especially if you'd like to stay politically active in more ways than just casting a ballot. Take your pick: Republicans Abroad, Democrats Abroad, United States Greens Abroad.

Table of Contents

Page title Most recent update Last edited by
How do I... August 17, 2009 11:37 PM former member
Where do I buy... August 16, 2009 4:40 PM Suchi
Information About the Mailing List from Meetup.Com February 22, 2009 11:40 PM Suchi
Pre-arrival: What Should I Bring? November 19, 2009 11:41 AM Suchi
Who Are We? September 4, 2009 2:42 PM Suchi
Ground Rules September 11, 2010 12:59 PM Suchi
Just Enough Danish August 17, 2009 9:17 PM Suchi
Riding Public Transit September 4, 2009 2:39 PM Suchi
The Little Things September 4, 2009 2:41 PM Suchi
The Frugal Expat July 13, 2009 11:57 PM former member
About American Expats in Copenhagen November 22, 2009 8:01 PM Suchi

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