How to move to Sweden

Over the last year I have been planning to relocate to Sweden from Australia. With our departure date quickly approaching it is quite a strange feeling knowing that everything you have planned for over the last year is actually about to happen.

You are left with a mixture of excitement and nerves, one minute you are totally positive about the experience and the next you are crawling under your bed covers wondering what the hell you have gotten yourself into! I keep reminding myself that the largest hurdle is over, gaining my Swedish Sambo Visa, however I know that there is still a way to go before my life in Sweden is stress free.

I'm the type of person that needs to have a plan, I hate going into a situation unprepared, which is why, over this last year I have been trying to gain an understand of exactly what I need to do in order to settle into Swedish society.

From doing my own research and also talking to my friends and partners family in Sweden, I have put together my fool proof plan once I arrive in Sweden, please note that this list is only for the short term and does not include more longterm tasks like finding an apartment or gaining employment, so here it goes!

#1. Gaining my Swedish Residency Permit

First things first, my Swedish Residency Permit, it took me around 8 months to get this baby approved so this is high priority for me. Before I can get it, I need to have my fingerprints and photo taken, by booking an appointment at Migrationsverket. In true efficient Swedish style each booking slot is approximately 5 minutes in duration, which I assume leaves no room for general chit chat. 

Without your Swedish Residency Permit you can pretty much do jack all, so this is a good option to start with. I'm pretty sure they don't give this to you on the spot, as creating your permit would take much longer than 5 minutes, which would screw with the estimated booking time duration and become inefficient for Swedish standards. Jokes aside, they mail this out to your registered Swedish address so be on the lookout.   

#2. Swedish Personal Number

Yes there is no escape, once I follow through with this option the Swedish Government has got me. Say goodbye to personal privacy, every aliment, missed credit card payment and doctors appointment, regardless of how embarrassing it may be is clocked to my Personal Number. Again without a Swedish Personal Number you don't even have a chance of obtaining a library card so this is a must for any Expat. Your Personal Number can be obtained from the Swedish Tax Department (Skatteverket).

#3. Register for Swedish Social Services

Once you have obtained your Swedish Personal Number it is a good idea to register with Försäkringskassan. This will allow you to be covered for basic healthcare, dental care, parental benefits, unemployment benefits etc. It is a myth that all healthcare in Sweden is free, however there is a maximum that you will pay for doctors appointments per year which is 1,100 SEK. You will find a cap on most medical expenses per year including prescription medications and dental care.

#4. Obtain a Swedish Resident Identification Card

After you have received your Swedish Personal Number you can obtain a Swedish resident ID card. This card will be your primary form of identification while you are in Sweden. You will need your identification card to do most things in Sweden, from opening a bank account to gaining a mobile phone contract. 

To obtain your Swedish ID card you will need to visit the Swedish Tax Department and must prove the following:

  • You have paid the application fee before you visit the office.
  • Be able to prove your ID by producing identification documents.
  • Be registered as living in Sweden.
  • Be at least 13 years of age.
  • Have your parent/guardian´s approval if you are less than 18 years of age.

When obtaining your Swedish ID card for the first time you will need someone who already has their Swedish ID card, and who is registered to live in Sweden to accompany you to the tax department to verify your identity.  

#5. Open a Bank Account

Once you have received your personal number and ID card you can open up a Swedish bank account. Sweden has four main banks, Swedebank, Nordea, SEB and Handelsbanken. 

#6. Learn to Speak Swedish

This is one task that I have been rather lacklustre about completing. However there is no time like the present to start learning another language. While you are living in Sweden there is a number of resources at your disposal to help you take command of the Swedish language. The most common program is called SFI (Swedish For Immigrants).

To register for this program you will need to contact your local municipality. There are 4 different levels A,B,C and D. Each course usually spans over 1.5 - 3 hours per day, several days a week for around 3-4 months. If you have the time these courses can be great to get yourself up-to-speed with the language quickly.

So there you go! This list will be my priority for first few months while I am in Sweden. If you have any other suggestions feel free to drop me a comment.

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