Public assistance in Greenland

People in Nuuk
Mads Schmidt Rasmussen /
Here you can read about the possibilities for applying for public assistance in Greenland.

If you have legal residence in Greenland and have no other income, you have the right to apply for public assistance on the same terms as Greenlandic citizens, but you must of course meet the same conditions in order to be entitled to benefits.

What benefits can you receive?

In principle, all adult citizens must support themselves and their families, but there may be cases where this is not possible. This may be due to an event such as death, maternity, divorce or unemployment, or becoming unfit for work as a result of an accident or illness.

In Greenland, there are two forms of public financial assistance:

  • Emergency public assistance covers very basic needs such as food and shelter, and may be allocated in cases of urgent necessity.
  • Public assistance for fixed expenses and support is long-term support to cover, for example, expenses towards heating, electricity and water. In addition, you can obtain help to support you and your family.

Special rules apply in the case of registered commercial fishermen and hunters. As the income of a fisher or hunter may be particularly vulnerable during periods of first sales stoppage or bad weather, extra consideration is given to families who support themselves through fishing or hunting.

Individual payments may also be provided for expenses that could not have been foreseen by the applicant, or expenses that will improve the applicant’s future circumstances. This might include relocation assistance, funeral expenses or support for travel in the event of the illness or death of a close relative.

What conditions do you need to meet?

To obtain public assistance, you must have permanent residence in Greenland, be registered in the national register of Greenland, and meet one of the following criteria:

  • Be a Danish citizen
  • Be married to or most recently married to a Danish citizen
  • Be covered by agreements with other countries that guarantee you the right to public support in Greenland, e.g. the Nordic Convention on Social Security.

In addition, you must be able to document the event that makes you unable to support yourself and your family.

How much is the benefit?

The size of the public assistance varies on the basis of your circumstances and approved fixed expenses, but as a starting point you cannot be allocated more than the equivalent of 65% of the minimum wage for an unskilled employee under the SIK collective agreement.

How do you apply for public assistance?

The application procedure varies according to the municipality you live in, but in most cases you will have to book an appointment with a municipal caseworker. The caseworker will help you with the further process. Usually you must:

  • Fill in an application form
  • Document previous income, for example through payslips
  • Document the expenses you cannot pay
  • Document the event underlying the application.

Do you have the right to public assistance immediately after moving to Greenland?

In general, there is no requirement for you to have been resident in Greenland for a certain period before you apply for public assistance, but you must be able to document the social situation that makes you unable to support yourself.  

Can you obtain public assistance abroad?

Public assistance is only available to persons who reside in Greenland and are registered in the national register of Greenland. You cannot therefore continue to receive the public assistance if you move to another country.

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