How to get parental leave allowance in Denmark (barselsdagpenge) if you are self-employed?

Sophie is from the UK and has been living in Denmark for the last four years. A couple of months ago she started her own business in Denmark (enkeltmandsvirksomhed) and now she has found out that she is pregnant. Does Sophie have the right to barselsdagpenge – allowance for the parental leave – in the same way that her Danish employed husband?

In Denmark, parents have the following rights for parental leave:


✔ Mother has the right to four weeks of paid pregnancy leave (many public companies allow for eight weeks)

✔ Mother has the right to 14 weeks of maternity leave after the child is born

✔ Father has the right to two weeks of paternity leave in the first 14 weeks of the child’s life

✔ Parents have the right to share among them (as they wish) 32 weeks of parental leave.


Many parents in Denmark use additionally their vacation time to prolong the parental leave.

The rules are pretty much straightforward if you are employed or are getting unemployment benefits (dagpenge). The rules are a bit more complicated if parents (or one of the parents) are self-employed.

But don’t be mistaken: As self-employed, you have the right to be on paid parental/maternity leave, so that you can have a break from your business while the child is little.

If you have just started your company, like Sophie in the example above, make sure to sign up for the health insurance for self-employed at Udbetaling Danmark (see the link below).

You can choose between the minimum rate insurance and maximum rate insurance. In the first case, you will get ⅔ of the highest amount for parental leave, no matter how much you earn in your company. In the second case (maximum rate insurance), you will get ⅔ of the highest amount or more if you earn enough in your company.

If you have a new start-up where you don’t yet have a full-year company accounts, your latest annual tax return (årsopgørelse) will be used in calculation of parental leave allowance. In this case, if you previously have had a job with a salary, those numbers will be used.

If you haven’t signed up for the health insurance and you don’t yet earn enough money in your new business, you won’t get any money for your parental/maternity leave.

How much can you get in parental leave allowance:

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How mush does it cost to sign up for the health insurance (sygedagpengeforsikring):

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The important thing here is to sign up for this insurance as soon as possible, because it will come into force earliest after 6 months after the sign-up date.

You have the right to the highest amount of the parental leave allowance if the profit from your company was at least 226,460 DKK cf. company’s accounts for the last year. In this case, you don’t need to have the insurance from Udbetaling Danmark.


The links to support information in this article:

Price for the health insurance (sygedagpengeforsikring):

Link where you can sign up for the health insurance:

General rules for parental leave allowance on


Founder of Finance Guide Denmark – helping internationals in Denmark with the financial side of their integration

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