Denmark > Asylum

Last update: February 2016

Overview: The asylum procedure in Denmark

There are different steps in the Asylum procedure. The Immigration Service is the first instance responsible for assessing a claim for asylum and the Refugee Appeals Board is the second instance.

On you can find a good graphic good presentation of the asylum procedure:

There are different language versions:


Below is a description of the different steps in the asylum procedure:

1: Police - registration 

You apply for asylum at the police or by going to Center Sandholm (The biggest camp in Denmark, north of Copenhagen). At this first step you will be interviewed by the police. The police will take your fingerprints (if you are more than 14 years old) and your picture. They will also question you about your travel route and why you are applying for asylum. After that you will be accommodated in one of the asylum camps.

2: Form filling: Center Sandholm 

Here you need to fill in a form with specific questions. This is the only place in the process where the translation and mistakes can be checked. So if you are capable of writing  your asylum reasons, it is really important to fill this formular.

Before filling in the formular it is good to do a time-line: Make a graphic illustration of all important events, so it is easier to remember. Write all the information from your case. 

The form filling takes place at Center Sandholm.

3: First interview with Immigration Service: Information and motivation interview 

This is supposed to be shortly after your registration and the form filling, but at the moment (January 2016) there is a long waiting time for this, in some cases 8-10 months.

Based on the initial questioning the Immigration Service will decide whether your asylum claim is going to be treated in Denmark. Your application can be declined for different reasons. If you have already lodged an asylum claim/had your fingerprints taken in another European country (due to the Dublin Regulation, see "Dublin III") or if the Immigration Service considers you application manifestly unfounded which means that you clearly cannot be granted asylum in Denmark.

4: Second interview with the Immigration Service

This interview is detailed and might take a whole day.  Based on the form, your interview and general information about the country you have fled, the immigration Service will decide whether you get asylum or not.

5: Appeal: the Refugee Appeals Board

If your Asylum claim is rejected by the Immigration Service, it will automatically be assessed by the Refugee Appeals board, the second and last legal instance in the Asylum process. At this point you will get a free attorney. You can ask for a specific attorney or you will be appointed one. Usually this step consists of an oral hearing where you will meet up at the Refugee Appeals Board with your Attorney and an interpreter. Before that your attorney and yourself has prepared your case. The Refugee Appeals Board can accept your case or give you a final rejection. 

6. If you are rejected

If you are rejected by the Refugee appeals board, on your case can only be reopenened if you get new information or proof to back up your asylum claim. You can also complain to Human Rights organs, such as the UN Human Rights Committee or the European Court of Human Rights. In this situation it is very important to talk with a lawyer or a legal aid group.

What kinds of protections?

You get protection in Denmark according to the rules in the Danish Aliens act § 7, para 1 - 3.

§ 7, para 1: Convention status. Here you get protection after the UN Refugee Convention, 1951. Article 1 of the UN Refugee Convention defines a refugee as someone who "owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is out-side the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his formerhabitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it." 

§ 7, para 2: Protection status. Section 7 (2) of the Aliens Act deals is called the 'protection status'. Here you get protection if you are in danger of capital punishment, torture or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment, returning to your country of origin. 

§ 7, para 3: Temporary protection status

In some cases, where a person is included in the protection in § 7, para 2, but where the risc is due to severe instability and indiscriminate violence against civilians in their home country, a temporary protection status will be granted. This is temporrary and is granted for one year, with the possibility of extention.

Overview - allocation of permits: By September 2015, out of a total of 8.100 permits:

Convention status: appr. 6.000 

Protection status: appr. 1.200

Temporary protection status: 600

Safe third country

If the authorities asses that you can be protected by a safe third country, where you already have obtained protection or have a close connection to. Protection after § 7, para 1-3 can be denied.

Duration of protection

As of January 2016,  the length of the permit to stay according to § 7, para 1-3 have changed, so the duration of the protection has been decresead drastically.

See the immigration authorities website for updates on the duration of the different permits:


Advice before seeking asylum

Before you talk to the authorities and seek asylum there are some things that are good to know about how the migrations authorities assess your case and how you can prepare. Contact one of the legal aid groups in the contact list.

Coherence and details

The police is the first authority to interview you. This interview is not very detailed and is not supposed to be, however it is important that you shortly explain that you are seeking asylum.

When presenting your story to the Immigration Service tell your story in as much detail and as coherently as you possibly can. This is important for the credibility of your case since it is you as an asylum seeker who has to prove that the claims made are true. Details like dates and the chronology of events are important factors. It is also important that you stick to the same story everytime you are interviewed, and in the form you fill out. Throughout the process you will be interviewed by the police, the Immigration Service and the Refugee Appeals Board. They will make a credibility assessment of your story, which is why it is important to be prepared and tell all the details from the beginning. You will also be asked questions about geography, political situation and other developments relating to your country of origin. So it can be good to think about this beforehand. So, the Immigration authorities will assess whether they believe that you are from the country you inform them.

Don't expect to get any comprehensive legal advice about the asylum process from the immigration authorities.

If you have experienced traumatic events like torture or personal abuse it might be very difficult to talk about it. However these experiences can be important aspects of your asylum claim and it is important that you don't hold the information back, or think that it is better to tell it later. Know that the persons who are interviewing you and the interpreter has a duty of confidentially and are not allowed to share your history with anyone not part of the legal process. 

If you e.g. want a female interviewer or translater, then ask the Immigration authorities for it. You are also allowed to bring someone (a 'bisidder' in danish) with you for your interviews with the Immigration Service.


If you have any evidence bring it to your first interview with the Immigration Service. Generally it is valuable to have evidence such as legal documents, arrest warrants, newspaper articles etc. that can back up your asylumclaim. Be very careful with false documents. Even though you cannot expect the immigration authorities to know very much about the situation in your home country, they are generally good at spotting false documents and that can harm the credibility of your case.


If you need it, there will be a interpreter present everytime you are interviewed. If you experience any difficulties understanding eachother, make sure to say so from the beginning. If you don't feel comfortable with the interpreter - of political, religious, ethnic or whatever reasons you might have, tell it to the person interviewing you and ask for another interpreter. If you are a woman you have the right to a female interpreter. Don't be afraid to ask questions and make sure you and your interpreter understand eachother well.

Individual assesment

Each case is tried on an individual basis. That means that to get asylum it is not enough being part of a vulnerable or persecuted group or people in your country of origin. It is not enough to refer to the general situation of your country either. You have to prove that you are individually persecuted and then relate your story to the general situation in your country.

Focus your story on what specifically has happened to you and what you fear will happen if you return. However relate it to the political context of your country of origin. For example, if you have fled because of a personal conflict it is important that you relate it to the wider political differences or ethnic problems in your local area.

Have in mind that the immigration Authorities do not have an interest in you getting asylum. The immigration authorities will look for holes in your story and the question of credibility is very important for gaining asylum.

It is a good idea to seek legal advice early in the asylum process. Use the contact list to find relevant contact information.

Agreement with a lawyer

In the danish asylum process, you will get an attorney, without any costs if your asylumclaim is rejected. Your case will be a appealed to the Refugee Appeals Board, the appeal authority for your asylum case. However, depending on your case and needs, you might need a paid attorney if you want to apply for residency of humanitarian reasons, family reunification or a reopening of your asylum case.

There are cases, where people pay a lot of money to an attorney without the attorney actually doing anything, or very little.

Make sure to agree on exactly what you can expect of the lawyer, what information you should gather and what will he/she do? Don't be afraid to ask questions and expect that the attorney will work professionally with your case. Furthermore, it is not always a good idea just to apply for everything possible. For instance you need to have good documentation if you are ill and want to apply for a permit to stay on humanitarian reasons. Good lawyers will know that and advice you, bad lawyers will not. Don't be afraid to ask what your attorney is doing on behalf of you. It is important to make sure that you have a proper agreement with your lawyer about what you can expect, and make sure to settle on a fair price. You have the right to be informed what the attorney expect to be the price and what the price covers. If the price is more expensive than expected you furthermore have the right to know the attorneys fee rate.

On the contact list, there are some legal support groups you can contact. They are not professional but will often be able to assist you in making a good choice. Some of the groups can also help with making the applications for free.

Advice about the Danish asylum procedure

Last update: November 2016

The asylum interview

You have to go through a number of interviews with the Danish Immigration Service where you have to explain why you are seeking asylum in Denmark, this means explaining the problems you have in your home country. Based on these interviews the Danish Immigration Service will decide whether you should be granted asylum or not. Basically, the Immigration Service looks at two things: 1) Do you have a problem that is serious enough for granting you asylum – meaning a problem with the authorities in your country or a problem that the authorities cannot protect you from? 2) Are you reliable – or in other words: Does the Immigration Service believe your personal story?

After your arrival in Denmark there is a written interview where you have to fill out a form (called the form filling). The written interview is not done in every case, but you can always ask for it, and you can get help from a translator to write it. Then comes the first oral interview (normally 3-4 hours long). If the Immigration Service decides to process your case in Denmark you will then have a second interview (normally 6-8 hours long). At both interviews you are asked to tell your personal story but the second interview will be much more detailed. There can be several months between the interviews.

After the interviews, the Immigration Service will decide on your case. If you get a negative answer, you should immediately choose a lawyer (otherwise you will get one appointed) who will help you to appeal your case to the Danish Refugee Appeals Board, which is considered similar to a court. The court meeting is like a trial where the lawyer asks you questions and afterwards you get questions from the board and a member from the Immigration Service.


The 4 big topics of the interview



The interviewer from the Immigration Service will ask you about your name, your family, your city, your religion, your ethnicity, your education, your civil status and family members etc. You have to be ready to describe your country/city/area in order to prove your identity. Maybe you will be asked to describe your city/village and the area around the city, the distance to and the size of neighboring cities, the names of rivers or lakes etc. Maybe you have to explain about the history and culture of your country/area or mention names of famous people and other things that would be considered common knowledge for people from your country/area.

In some cases it is possible to get asylum due to the general situation in your country or area, for instance if you are from Syria or from an area where Denmark agrees that the citizens are exposed to danger and extreme difficulties - but you should always make sure to tell about all the individual conflicts you have experienced. Insist on telling about your individual conflicts if it seems like the interviewer is only interested in the general conditions in your country.


Travel route

You have to explain how you left your country, the route you took to get to Denmark, and tell about the means of transportation (ship, car, bus, walking etc.). You will be asked if you travelled alone or how many others you travelled with. You also have to explain how you escaped – if you paid an agent, travelled on false papers or you got a legal visa. You are asked to explain about the different steps of your journey, for example how long time you approximately spent in different cities and countries – and the time you spent in different cities/countries of course has to fit with the total duration of your journey. This information is used to judge your reliability and to decide whether your case should be processed in Denmark or another European country (Dublin Regulation). It can be difficult to remember a stressful journey, so take time before the interview to remember the details about time and place.


Asylum Motive

This is a very important and intensive part of the interview. Say precisely why you should be given asylum in Denmark, why you are persecuted in your country. If you did not flee right after your problems started, you should explain why you did not leave immediately. You have to explain the personal problems you have in your country. Make sure you include all the important details. Again, it can be difficult to remember so stressful events, so take your time to remember details about time, place, persons, incidents etc.

If you were arrested, attacked, and/or threatened etc., you have to be very precise about when the things happened and how they happened. If you have other problems than the main reason for seeking asylum, you should mention them as well, but be clear about what are the primary and the secondary issues in your case.

It is important to explain about your religion/ethnicity/sexuality, if you belong to a specific group with serious problems in your country, but you have to explain why belonging to this group is a problem for you personally. As a woman you should explain the interviewer if you are in danger in your country because you are a woman. You can read more about women and asylum on


What will happen if you return

You will be asked what you fear will happen if you go back to your country. Remember that problems with money and health are not accepted reasons for asylum. You can get asylum if you are persecuted – for example if you will be badly mistreated by the authorities or if your life is in danger because of a group that the authorities cannot protect you from. Your problem must be very serious, but don’t exaggerate in order to convince the interviewer. Say what realistically could happen to you if you return.


10 general recommendations

1) Listen carefully and answer directly

You will be interviewed by a person from the Immigration Service. Listen to the questions carefully and answer as directly as possible. If you want to explain more, do it after answering the actual question.

2) Tell your personal story as it is

Tell the truth and your personal story as it is. Be yourself and behave in a natural way. Forget about advice from the camp about what is good to say. Each case is different and it’s important that you tell your personal story.

3) Be polite and patient

The interview can be a difficult situation and you may feel nervous and insecure. The questions can be hard and you will be under pressure. You are often asked the same question many times. Be patient and continue to answer the question directly and precisely.

4) Don’t panic and don’t exaggerate

The interview can be a difficult situation and you may feel nervous and insecure. The questions can be hard and you will be under pressure. You are often asked the same question many times. Be patient and continue to answer the question directly and precisely.

5) If the interviewer says “I think it’s strange that…”

Many interviewers point to issues that they find strange in your case. This does not mean that the interviewer does not believe you, but that he/she may want a more detailed explanation from you - so don’t panic, but try to explain yourself the best way possible. Never change your story because you think it’s better for your case, only if you remember that you actually said something wrong.

6) Make sure the translation is good

You will speak in your mother tongue (and your dialect) and there will be a translator. Stop the interview if you don’t understand the translator perfectly or if you can’t trust the translator. You have the right to stop the interview and have a new interview arranged with a new translator. It is better to have to wait for another interview than to have a badly translated interview, which can be very bad for your case. You can ask for an English translator if you are fluent in English.

7) Take note of mistakes in the interview summary
and try to include all relevant things from the beginning

The translator will read a summary of the interview at the end. Listen carefully and make sure to correct any mistakes.

8) Each adult member of the family has to go to an interview

Sometimes two family members share the same problem and asylum case, but you will be asked to tell your stories separately because every interview is individual. It is important that your stories are compatible and similar, but it’s of course natural that two people experience things in different ways. Again, make sure to just tell the truth as you remember it with your own words.

9) You can bring a person along to the interview

You can bring a person along to the interview, and it’s a good idea to bring a Danish speaking person. This person (in Danish “bisidder”) can be a moral support and a kind of witness at the interview. But you have to do the talking yourself.

10) Share all relevant personal information

The Danish authorities and the people who work with your case (the lawyer, the interviewer, the translator, the Refugee Board, the police) are not allowed to tell anybody about the information you give. Your information is confidential. Don’t withhold any relevant information, such as things about your personal life, sexuality, religion, habits, money if they are relevant for your case.


Tell your friends

Share this advice with friends and people in the asylum camp who do not read well. The interview process is demanding and we find it useful to look at the interview process as a new job or a new study.

Advice about the Danish asylum procedure - PDF in English, Aabic, Farsi and French

application/pdf Denmark-Asylinterview Guidelines Nov 24.pdf (275.3 KiB)

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