Info Denmark

Here is all you need to know about au-pair life in Denmark.

"Au-pair" is a French expression meaning "at the same level" - the expression is used because an au-pair is supposed to be treated as a member of the family and not as a servant. This means that you will not be employed in the traditional meaning of the word and thus most families will expect you to participate in some of their activities. An international agreement, signed by several countries, says that an au-pair is a person who joins a host family to help around the house and look after children. In return the au-pair is to receive board and lodgings plus pocket money and must also be given the opportunity to study the language and the culture of the host country.

To become an au-pair you have to be between 18 and not turned 30 years of age. Other qualifications are not required, but it's an advantage to have experience with children and housework - and you must have at least basic knowledge of the English language to be able to communicate with your host family. As an au-pair in Denmark you will have an excellent opportunity to experience the everyday life of the Danes and you will be introduced to a language very different from your own. You will probably find the local language very hard to understand, but you will soon discover that most Danes speak quite good English and/or German, so you can almost always get by with basic knowledge of the English or German language.

Initially Denmark will probably seem very different from your home country. There is a definite cultural difference and you must be willing to adjust somewhat to the Danish way of life. No family will expect you to change completely, give up your religion or become totally Danish - but you will be expected to settle in and to get used to Danish habits. You may find Danes a little forward, but please be aware that in Denmark we tend to be more open and frank than you are used to at home.

Your host family will do their best to introduce you to the Danish way of life, which in lots of ways will be different - when you first arrive it may seem so different that you become homesick and start comparing everything to what you are used to. The best way of curing homesickness is to do things and meet people.

Scandinavian Au-Pair Center will contact you shortly after your arrival and we will send you a list of other au-pairs in this country. Do contact the other au-pairs - it's an excellent opportunity to make new friends and it will be good for you to talk to someone in the same situation as yourself. Your host family is likely to include you in some of their activities such as family outings, visits to friends etc, but be aware that although you are supposed to be treated as a member of the family you cannot expect to feel part of the family the minute you arrive - remember that it does take time to build a relationship.

To enjoy a successful stay as an au-pair you must be prepared to contribute - try to be open and talk to the family. Be prepared to spend time with the family and do not always go to your room or leave the house the minute you are "off duty". If the family invites you to join them for an outing on your day off, please do not regard the time spent with the family as "work", but enjoy their company and try to become part of the family.

Although you are advised to spend time with the family, please be aware that not all families are interested in including their au-pair in everything they do, and they might like some privacy, so it's not advisable to spend every single evening with the family. Do try to make friends and go out at least a couple of evenings each week. You are likely to have most week-ends off and the family might regard some of your days off as an opportunity to be on their own. They are not, however, supposed to ask you to leave the house when you are "off duty" and you should not feel that you have to stay in your room if you don't go out.

You must also be aware that families are as different as au-pairs and not every single family wants their au-pair to become completely part of the family. Some families prefer their au-pair to be independent and others like a close relationship. When the families apply for an au-pair they write a letter about themselves - and when you are offered a position you will receive a copy of their letter, which will give you a good idea of what the family will expect from you.

The duties of an au-pair

As an au-pair your duties will include ordinary housework such as dusting, vacuum cleaning, ironing etc. You are not supposed to do heavy housework such as the spring cleaning or the gardening, and your working hours are not supposed to exceed 5 hours a day with one full day off every week. In addition to this you must be prepared to babysit up to 3 evenings per week.

Most of the host families offering au-pair positions have children, and the children are often away at school or nursery during the day. Most au-pairs are therefore expected to help with getting the children ready in the mornings and to clear up after breakfast. The mornings and sometimes early afternoons will often be free time - work then starts again when the children have to be picked up from school or nursery and looked after until early evening when the parents return home. After dinner most au-pairs will be free to go out unless babysitting is required.

Some families will expect you to do the ordinary, general housework during the day while the children are away, but others may expect you to do the housework in between looking after the children or - if you are looking after a young baby during the day - when the baby is asleep in the morning or afternoon. As an au-pair you will find that housework is a considerable part of your duties. The family might ask you to work as an "au-pair plus". An "au-pair plus" has the same duties as an au-pair but in addition does more babysitting. As an "au-pair plus" you would take care of the children during the day in addition to the evening babysitting and you could be left with a baby in the day time.

Duties vary quite a bit from host family to host family. Some will expect their au-pair to go shopping or prepare the evening meal, some will need you to drive a car, and some will leave you with a very young baby. Not many families expect you to cook other than a snack meal for the children, but if you like cooking, try suggesting that you cook a meal - the family is bound to be pleased and it's a very good way to get closer to them. Remember that not every minute you spend with the family is regarded as work. Helping clear the table and assisting with the washing up after dinner (when you have eaten with the family) is regarded as a normal task for someone who is part of the family - not as work.

When you go out for an evening please let your host family know where you are going and when you expect to be back. Remember that the host family is likely to feel responsible for your safety and always let them know in advance if you plan to stay out very late. Also please be aware that your host family probably does not like you handing out your (their) telephone number to strangers - and never give anyone your address unless you have asked the family and they agree.

As you will be staying with a family and not working in an office with fixed hours, please try to be flexible - you may be needed extra hours or full time for a few days if the children get sick and both parents are working, in which case of course you will receive compensation in some form.

We ask our host families to fill in an application form and to write a letter of introduction. Several of our host families have been recommended by other host families and we try our best to make sure that the new families know what is expected from a host family. Once we have found a host family for you their letter of introduction together with photos of the family will be sent to you to make sure that you know what the family expects from you. Please note that when you receive this information you have probably already spoken to the family, who is likely to call you on the phone.

As an au-pair you will receive board and lodgings plus at least DKK 550 per week as pocket money. If you are an "au-pair plus" your pocket money will be at least DKK 650 per week. You will, of course, have your own room and you will be entitled to three meals a day, also on days off.

Our host families have agreed to the terms and conditions of Scandinavian Au-Pair Center which helps to ensure that your work as an au-pair runs as smoothly as possible.

Although every care is taken to ensure that your stay in Denmark is a success, Scandinavian Au-Pair Center cannot give you any guarantees. Please also be aware that Scandinavian Au-Pair Center cannot be held responsible for anything that might happen to you before, during or after your stay.

Should any problem occur during your stay, the first thing to do is to talk to your host family about it. Your will find that most problems are due to misunderstandings and are thus easily solved. If talking does not work, or in case of a more serious problem, please do not hesitate to contact us at Scandinavian Au-Pair Center. We will help you settle in when you arrive and we are always ready to assist you throughout your stay. Shortly after your arrival we will call you to make sure that you have arrived safely and settled in.

Staying with a family is the best possible way to discover the ways of life in a foreign country. Children are excellent teachers. Looking after young children gives you the possibility of learning the language from their books and children can be taken to parks and playgroups where you may meet other au-pairs or perhaps Danish mother's helps. To live in a foreign country for a period of time is also a very good way to become much more mature and independent. Last but not least - it's an experience you will always remember.

Mother's help

As a mother's help your duties will be much the same as those of an au-pair, although your working hours will be longer - normally around 8 hours a day - and you are very likely to be left in sole charge of children, sometimes very young children, for part of the day or all day.

You would be treated as part of the family and the terms would be much the same as those applying to an au-pair.

To become a mother's help you must be between 17 and 29 years old.

As a mother's help you would receive board and lodgings, plus a minimum pay of DKK 700 - 850 per week.


A position as a nanny is a possibility if you are qualified. You must have education in child care and good references.

In this case your main duty would be to look after the children full time. Duties would probably include tidying their rooms, keeping their clothes in order etc. As a nanny you would be paid according to your duties and qualifications - DKK 1200+ per week.

Practical information

 Driving: You will need an international driving licence to drive a car in Denmark. If your host family requires you to drive please make sure that you have an international licence before leaving your country. Please do not expect to have full use of a car while in Denmark.

Health insurance: Non-EU-citizens are not covered by the Danish Health Insurance until 6 weeks after registering with the Danish Authorities - after your arrival in Denmark. It's therefore advisable to take out insurance for the initial period of time before you leave your home country. EU-citizens are covered by the Danish Health Insurance. To seek medical help you need a civil registration number (in Denmark this is called a "CPR number") which you will receive automatically when registered with the Danish Authorities (see residence permit) together with a health insurance card ("sygesikringskort"). Form E104 from your local health service within the EU will ensure that you are covered until registered. Treatment is free of charge but you pay for medicine. Please note that only treatment locally in Denmark is covered, not transportation to your home country.

Holidays: If you stay with the family for six months or longer you will be entitled to a minimum of one week off and often two weeks or more. You will not receive payment during your holiday.

Insurance: The host family is asked to make sure that you are covered by their insurance.

Language classes: Danish classes are available in most places. If you are over 18 and registered with the Danish authorities (see residence permit) Danish classes are almost free of charge or quite cheap. The best place to find out about local classes is at the local library.

Leaving the host family: If you for some reason decide to leave the family earlier than planned you must give them at least two week's notice. If the host family asks you to leave earlier than planned they must also give you at least two week's notice. Scandinavian Au-Pair Center must be notified immediately.

Public transport: The public transport system is very efficient in Denmark. Almost anywhere in the country you will find a local bus to the nearest town. Trains are frequent until quite late. In larger cities you will find frequent bus services during the day and night buses throughout the night.

Residence permit: As a non-EU-citizen you must apply for a visa before you arrive in Denmark. At Scandinavian Au-Pair Center we will of course assist you with your application for a visa. Please note that it normally takes 6 - 8 weeks for your visa to come through. As an EU-citizen you are given permission to stay for three months upon your arrival in Denmark. Upon your arrival in Denmark we will send you and your host family the form needed for your application. You will receive your civil registration number ("CPR number") with your residence permit. Your CPR number is needed for seeking medical help (among other things) - see health insurance.

Tax: You are liable to pay tax on your earnings plus board and lodgings and you are responsible for advising the tax office of your income. Board and lodgings are assessed as an income of DKK 2033 per month. You are allowed a total income of approx DKK 2616 per month before being taxed.

Telephone: The use of telephone must be agreed with the family. Most families accept you using their telephone for local calls to some extent, but will expect you to pay for your long distance calls. Please do not misuse the telephone!

Time off: You will have two full days off per week.

Travelling costs: If you stay with the host family for more than six months, the family is supposed to pay the full cost of your return journey when you leave the family - provided that you have stayed for the length of time agreed. Do not expect the host family to pay for your journey unless it's specifically agreed upon. You will have to pay for your journey to Denmark initially. If you leave the family before the agreed time the family is not likely to pay for your journey. If you go home for a holiday (e.g. at Christmas) the family will not pay for your travel.

Travelling arrangements: Once you have agreed a date with the host family you make your own travel arrangements. If you have agreed with the family that they refund the cost of the ticket when you leave, please make sure that they accept the price of your ticket before you book.

Fill in your application

When we receive your application, we will put it on file and start the search. You will be notified as soon as the right host family has been found. They will also contact you. This is a good time to find out more about the host family and what they expect from you. Prepare a list of things you would like to know in advance.

If there's a match, we will go ahead with the rest of the procedure. Travel arrangements will be made. Contracts will be prepared. You and the host family will both receive a copy.

If you don't prefer the host family we have found, we will continue our search until you are fully satisfied.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to call us at +46 42 20 44 02 or mail us at