Local Laws in Denmark: How to Stay Out of Trouble

Drugs, guns, photography. There are laws around these things in Denmark. Find out how to stay on the right side of the law in Denmark.

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Photo © iStock/SeanPavonePhoto

LGBTIQ

Homosexuality is legal in Denmark as are same-sex marriages. Copenhagen has a lively gay community, and there are plenty of gay-friendly venues around town. LGBTIQ travelers will also find this to be the case in other towns and cities around Denmark.

Importing Goods

Denmark is strict about its natural resources, on the mainland as well as its territories. You cannot take certain gemstones or precious and semi-precious metals from Greenland and, while whale meat is available in the Faroe Islands, importing it to other EU territories may incur a fine or even imprisonment.

Drugs

Offenses involving illicit drugs carry strict fines. Marijuana is considered a soft drug in Denmark, and penalties for possessing it won't be nearly as strict as they are for carrying a substance like cocaine. However, there are still consequences to breaking the law and those found carrying drugs deemed to be for personal consumption will receive a 500 kroner fine (US$80 or 67 Euros). Denmark's Euphoriants Act (1955) states that drug violations can result in up to two years' jail time. Being under the influence of illegal substances or alcohol while driving or riding a bike can lead to large fines and long jail terms.

The area of Freetown Christiania is an interesting outlier in Danish society. It became an autonomous neighborhood in 1971 and has fewer than 1,000 residents. The area operated under its own set of rules separate from Danish government and banned all violence, weapons, theft, illicit drugs and gang affiliation. Christiania specialized in selling marijuana and hash on the aptly named Pusher Street until trading was banned in 2004. Since then, it has gradually been reentering normal Danish society. Despite the ban, sellers still vend their green wares.

Perhaps it's for these reasons that residents are strict on certain things, such as taking pictures anywhere in the neighborhood (visitors should note it is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings elsewhere in Denmark) and visiting just to buy drugs, which are still sold, just not openly.

Drink Driving

Authorities are quite strict regarding drink driving and rightly so. The legal limit in Denmark is 0.05% and if you get caught over the limit, you will cop a harsh financial penalty and possible time in a Danish prison. Should you be convicted in Denmark, you could be banned from entering other countries in the Schengen area for up to six years.

Photography

Some venues and government buildings do not allow photography, so always ask before you start to snap away. It's also a nice gesture to ask someone if they mind being photographed if you are photographing a subject up close.

Little Mermaid Statue

The Little Mermaid statue is one of Copenhagen's most famous landmarks however there is a law governing the use of any photographs taken. The family of the sculptor, Edvard Erikson are very protective of the statue's copyright, so much that anyone who takes a photo and uses it in any publication or for business purposes will receive an invoice for the use of the image. Several Danish newspapers have been slugged a fee for using images of the bronzed ocean beauty.

Pornography

Pornography is legal in Denmark, and it became the first country in the world to legalize it in 1969. Pornographic publications are freely available, and there is a dedicated porn TV channel. Be careful however if you decide to sample some magazines for souvenirs, you may not be allowed to bring them home or take them into another country if you are traveling on.

Nudity

Nudity is permitted on Danish beaches, with several beaches dedicated to those who want to be sun-kissed in the buff (with the exception of Henne Strand and Holmsland Klit). Always look out for signage before you strip off, to avoid embarrassment.

Prostitution

Prostitution was decriminalized in Denmark in 1999. However, there are some associated activities which are still classified illegal such as prostitution by non-residents, operating a brothel and pimping.

Guns

Guns are rarely carried by regular citizens in Denmark, and a special license and test are required. Police officers and military personnel carry guns. If you're caught with a gun without a license, you could face a jail term. Since so few civilians own guns, weapon-related crimes often involve knives. 

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4 Comments

  • scarce said

    heywhatsupguyzitsscarcehere

  • Tom said

    What about laws involving bikes? Every 3 months bikes are removed from student places and left for another 6 months to rot. Can I take them (if they're unlocked) fix them and sell them on?

  • Erik Mueller said

    So are ALL drugs illegal in Denmark? Like ALL of them. Including X.

  • Kathryn Tweedy said

    Denmark is a lovely country we travel there in November to see family/friends the laws are lenient I think there has never been no major crime I once lived there for five years. But it is a beautiful country

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