As an academic staff member at the University of Copenhagen you are covered by a mandatory pension scheme. The University pays a total pension contribution equal to currently 17.1% of your pensionable salary. The pension contribution for PhD Fellows is currently 17.1% of 85% of the base salary.
Besides saving up for your old-age pension, you will also be covered by a built-in insurance scheme that covers you and in some cases your family on illness, disability or even death. The insurance coverage in relation to the ordinary and §53a pension contribution is flexible and can be arranged in a way that matches exactly your situation.
Your pension fund will depend on your educational background and details of the relevant pension fund will be included in your letter of employment. For further information about the insurance coverage and if you wish to take out the pension amount when leaving Denmark, you must contact your pension fund. Please note that it is only possible to have your pension savings paid if you leave Denmark (or in special circumstances if the pension amount is very low).
Three different options for internationals
As an international researcher employed at the University of Copenhagen, you can choose between three different pension schemes, please see below.
When you get your employment offer from the University, you will be forwarded to an employment form and asked to choose which pension scheme you would like. If you have not chosen any, you will automatically be placed on the ordinary pension scheme. If you fulfill the requirements, it is possible to change your pension scheme, but not retrospectively.
Ordinary pension contribution scheme
On the ordinary pension scheme, pension contributions are exempt from taxation when they are paid into the pension fund. This means that you do not pay tax on pension contributions transferred to your pension fund.
Instead, tax will be deducted when you request your pension savings to be paid out. If you choose to take out your pension savings if you leave Denmark before you reach the age of retirement, the current taxation rate is 60%. If you choose to have your pension savings paid when you reach the age of retirement, the taxation rate will depend on your tax situation and the prevailing pension tax legislation at that time. Please note that a minor monthly administration fee will be paid from the amount in the pension fund.
§53a pension scheme
Under this scheme, the University will also transfer a monthly pension contribution to the relevant pension fund. However, when the pension contribution is transferred to your pension fund every month, it will be taxed immediately according to your current taxation status. This means that every month you will pay tax on the monthly pension contribution.
If you are under the researcher taxation scheme, your pension contribution will be taxed 31,92 % every month. If you are not eligible for the researcher taxation scheme, you will be taxed according to your income tax rate.
The taxation rate will typically vary between 37-42%. Whether you request your pension savings to be paid out when you leave Denmark, or you keep your savings in your Danish pension fund until you reach the age of retirement, all tax related to the pension earned while employed by the University will already have been paid. In other words, if you leave Denmark before you reach the retirement age, you can take out the remaining amount without paying any future taxes. Please note that a minor monthly administration fee will be paid from the amount in the pension fund.
It is possible for international researchers employed by the University to achieve a pension exemption. This means that an amount equivalent to the pension contribution will be paid out together with your monthly salary.
This amount will be taxed according to your taxation status, whether you are covered by the researcher taxation scheme with a flat rate of 26%, or are taxed on the basis of the ordinary tax scheme. In order to be eligible for the pension exemption, you must meet the following requirements:
- Employment as a researcher – research assistant, PhD fellow, postdoc, assistant professor, associate professor or professor
- Non-Danish citizenship
- Fixed-term employment of maximum five years
- Recruited from outside Denmark.
If you choose pension exemption instead of the ordinary or the §53a pension contributions, you should be aware that you will not be entitled to the insurance coverage that is attached to the ordinary pension contribution. If you have further questions about the insurance coverage, we recommend you contact a pension fund, as they vary between the different funds.