Who is an au pair?

An au pair is an unmarried young adult aged 18 to 30 years, who has no children and travels to a foreign country for a defined period of time to live with a host family. The au pair is considered as a full member of the family during the entire stay.

The au pair program is one of educational cultural exchange and open for young people seeking international adventure in exchange for childcare and light work. The au pairs are expected to benefit from an educational and mutual cultural exchange with their host families. As the term “au pair” indicates, the au pair is to be an equal member of the host family with whom she or he lives. Exactly who is eligible to work as an au pair varies slightly from country to country; there are for instance different rules regarding how old an au pair is allowed to be. The main focus of this topic is the au pairs working in Denmark and out of thus, use the definition set forward by the Danish Agency for Labour Market and Recruitment /Styrelsen for International Rekruttering og Integration (SIRI).


According to the SIRI an au pair is

“A foreign national who is between eighteen and thirty years of age and wishes to acquire the Danish language and learn more about Danish culture and society, may be granted a residence permit as an au pair.

The term au pair means 'on equal terms'. The idea of an au pair stay is for a young person to stay with a host family with children under the age of 18 'on equal terms' with the other members of the family. The purpose is for the au pair, to improve language and/or professional skills as well as broaden his/her cultural horizon by becoming more acquainted with Denmark. In return, the au pair participates in the host family's domestic chores (e.g. cleaning, washing clothes, cooking, babysitting) for a maximum of five hours a day, and no more than six days a week.

To ensure that an au pair has a chance to improve her/his language and/or professional skills and broaden her/his cultural horizon as described above, it is a condition for getting a residence permit as an au pair that she/he already have the necessary linguistic and cultural foundation to receive the full benefit of her/his stay in Denmark”.

This means that an au pair can be either a young woman or man from a foreign country, and that this person will be granted permission to stay in Denmark by a specific host family. In exchange for help in domestic chores and taking care of host family’s children, they are given the opportunity to learn about Denmark, the Danish culture and language. Au pair is the cultural exchange agreement; though it is not possible to be an au pair in ones own country. The au pair is to be regarded as a family member that means being equal to the other family members and participating in the everyday life of the host family. The au pair usually are allow to stay with their host family maximum period of 24 month, but no longer than stated in the contract. Though, the au pair visa does not constitute the grounds for a settlement either work permit.

The criteria mentioned above are the most important, when applying for au pair position in Denmark. But, especially when applying through agencies, the applicant might be asked to provide other additional information, such as medical certificate, police rapport and proven experience in childcare (meaning anything from babysitting the neighbours’ children to having a professional training in childcare), most agencies will require at least one reference. Agencies as a rule thoroughly check the background of every au pair applicant they consider before hiring.

The rules by SIRI are guided by an agreement on au pair placement, worked out by The Council of Europe. In addition to these two sources of rules regarding the au pairs, the rules/guidelines of the different au pair agencies might vary slightly. It is the SIRI that is granting the au pair's residence permit and this means that there are certain conditions which must be met, either by au pair, host family, or both of them.

Article date: 11-04-2018