Work and Travel in Greenland
VOLUNTEER AND PAID WORK OPPORTUNITIES IN GREENLAND FOR TRAVELLERS
Greenland is one of the most alluring places in the world to work and travel in. Work in Greenland and you’ll gain access to the world’s largest non-continental island and a country with some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. But the changing seasons and the climate will limit what working travellers in Greenland can do with their time, volunteer wise.
It should be said that Greenland does have extremely limited transport options, and the remoteness of the region means many working travellers decide to prepare volunteer opportunities in advance with specific organisations. That’s not to say it’s impossible to find work and travel opportunities in Greenland by yourself, though. But it’s highly recommended that you already have a host ready before making the trip.
There are only a few types of work that are possible for volunteers in Greenland, and extra ones if you have specific skills in scientific and conservation areas. This guide is going to discuss what options are available to you, and how the seasons will impact your volunteering opportunities.
VOLUNTEER WORK VISA / PERMIT REQUIREMENTS FOR GREENLAND
Greenland is an autonomous territory, but its foreign policy and defensive policy remain under the control of Denmark. Despite this, a lot of people believe that their Schengen visas are still valid for Greenland. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark is responsible for Greenland’s entry policy, but Schengen visas are not valid here. You need to specifically make it clear you will enter Greenland when you receive your Schengen visa, and you will receive a slightly different stamp.
You should also bear in mind that if you intend on volunteering in the mountains, and national parks this requires a separate permit.
All nationalities, including European, Russian, American, and Australian nationalities, require a work permit. Unfortunately, you have to go through the same process as you would to obtain a visa for paid work. This requires a written application to be sent to the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration.
Take note that if you happen to come from a Nordic country, such as Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, and Finland, you have the right to work and live in Greenland automatically.
We recommend that you apply for your work visa before you travel to Greenland, since applications tend to be processed in Denmark anyway. It will make the process faster and you’ll be able to avoid disappointment if your application is declined.
SEASONAL BACKPACKER SKILLS NEEDED IN GREENLAND
Spring in Greenland is extremely short, lasting only a month. There is no telling in advance whether you’re likely going to experience harsh wintery weather or relatively calm summery weather. This is where much of the ice recedes, but temperatures will remain frigid.
Due to the shortness of the season, there is no specific work to be found in Greenland. You can easily find housekeeping opportunities around the country, but you may well be outside the few cities the territory has. Working travellers volunteering in Greenland can find themselves doing anything from painting to the basics of keeping the house clean. It all depends whether you want to work in an urban or rural area.
If you want to work in Greenland the summer is by far the best time to begin your journey. Lasting from the middle of June to the middle of September, temperatures are still likely not what you’re used to, but summer in Greenland develops a host of opportunities for work and travel.
Since this is one of two main tourist seasons, the museums of East Greenland are always searching for volunteer help. With low funds for restoration and renovation, if you can supply any DIY skills, a position like this would be perfect for you. You will be able to not only put your skills to good use, but you’ll also discover the intricacies of building and maintaining an arctic house.
Do you have any guiding skills?
The receding of large snow drifts mean that you can enjoy guiding groups around the winding fjord networks and along the coasts, where you can show them floating sea ice in the Atlantic Ocean.
The reindeer farms operate all throughout the year in South Greenland, but the summer months are where farmers prefer to take on volunteers. If you have a passion for animals and you love spending time outdoors, a position like this could suit you. You’ll take part in the various functions of the farm, including herding, mending fences, and slaughtering.
These farms tend to be remote and you may be required to take a helicopter to get to where you need to be.
Working travellers in Greenland should take autumn as the opportunity to begin applying for English teaching jobs. This is the traditional hiring period and Greenland is one territory that has a significant lack of English skills. Children tend to focus on Greenlandic and Danish, due to Denmark being their parent power. English teaching skills from working travellers in Greenland are highly coveted.
Take note that if you intend on volunteering in Greenland in the winter months, now is the time to fly to Greenland. Many flights from both Iceland and Denmark to the capital Nuuk are cut off due to bad weather. They will only fly to East Greenland.
Winter lasts from November until April. This is the second biggest tourist season, so if you have experience with guiding in extreme conditions you can find work in the tourism industry. Most roles for non-skilled working travellers in Greenland are either filled up or aren’t capable of being carried out because of the harsh winter conditions.
Winter is perhaps the worst season for volunteering in Greenland.
ATTITUDE TO FOREIGNERS WORKING OR VOLUNTEERING IN GREENLAND
85% of Greenlandic people are Inuit, and thus share a lot in common with their Canadian cousins. They tend to be warm and welcoming towards backpackers in Greenland. Due to low unemployment, Greenlandic people have little hostility towards foreigners in volunteer roles.
Most of them will likely be wondering why you’re there in the first place!
- Edited on Aug 4 2017 by Artem