I can’t believe it’s already been two months since we moved from Paris to Stockholm! Time has been flying as we have been busy settling in and taking care of the admin and formalities. Now that we are past all of that, here is a quick quide to help you navigate the formalities when moving to Sweden.
1) Get a residence permit
You may have already secured a residence permit that allows you to live and work in Sweden, even before you arrive. But if not, then this is the first step. If you are applying for the permit outside of Sweden, then just contact the Swedish embassy in that country for details & appointments. You will be able to enter Sweden with this permit.
If applying from within Sweden or for extensions, you will need to contact Migrationsverket – the Swedish migration agency. But in order to enter Sweden, you will need to have the requisite visa if you are not a EU-citizen.
In our case, we applied for it in France as appointments were more freely available than in Sweden and we received the cards in about two weeks.
2) Obtain your personnummer
In my opinion, this is THE most important number to have if you live in Sweden as everything you do going forward, will be connected to this number. The personnummer or the Swedish tax number is similar to the US social security number or the British National Insurance number. To apply, you need to visit the tax office or Skatteverket and fill out a form. It’s the most painless process ever. In a few weeks you should receive your personnummer by email and post. It’s easy to memorise this number because the first eight numbers are actually your date of birth and just the last four are unique. You will need it for everything so keep it handy.
3) Get your resident identity card
The identity card (ID) is not to be confused with the residence permit. They are two different things. You can only get your ID once you are in Sweden and after you have obtained your personnummer. The ID is your main form of identification in Sweden and you can use it in lieu of your passport or drivers licence. Note that the drivers licence is not an accepted form of ID if it has not been issued by Sweden. If you want to open a bank account in Sweden, most banks will ask for the ID card.
In order to get the ID card you will need to make an appointment with the Skatteverket again. You will need to give them your personnummer and biometrics when you apply. The card takes about two to three weeks and you will receive a text message when it’s ready for collection. Note that each applicant will need to pick up their card personally.
4) Open a bank account
Once you have your personnummer and ID card, getting a bank account is super easy. All you need to do visit the bank of your choice, provide them with your personnummer, ID card and work contract in some cases and voila, you have a bank account! Hardly any paperwork and all ready in under 15 minutes.
The issue lies in opening an account when you don’t have your ID card yet. For the first 6 weeks, we needed an account but didn’t have the ID. So SEB offered to open a basic account for K that would allow him to receive his salary and use his debit card for payments and cash withdrawals but did not allow bank transfers or online shopping. This is one way to go if you need a bank account immediately. However, he was able to upgrade it to a normal account as soon as he received his ID card.
Along with your bank account, make sure you set up and activate your mobile Bank ID – an electronic identification app that authenticates your identity and allows you to seamlessly connect to your bank, utility providers, etc. It’s one of the most nifty apps I’ve seen. The bank personnel can help you set it up.
Another good to have app is Swish– a mobile payment app used by a majority of the people. You can make payments to people without ever having to use your banking app or setting up tedious payees!
5) Find a place to live
Of all the things, finding a place to live tends to be the most daunting and it’s especially so for Stockholm, given the short supply of housing. However, it might be difficult but not impossible. The best way to go about it is to continuously scour the rental market websites. Most of them are in Swedish, however, you can use Google Chrome to translate them. A few that we used were:
Also joining some Facebook expat groups is useful for this as members tend to post available apartments for rent from time to time. Networking and working with relocation agencies are also good ways of finding accommodation.
6) Setting up utilities – electricity, insurance, internet, etc.
Once you have completed all the steps up to #5, this one will be fairly simple. Since everything is connected to your personnummer and bank ID by now, all you need to do is pick your service providers. The rest will be taken care of by them!
7) Happy living in Sweden!
Now that you have moved to Sweden and completed all the necessary admin, it’s time to just enjoy your new life and explore everything that this beautiful country has to offer.