Anyone moving to Sweden with the purpose of living there for more than 12 months has to register him/herself to the Swedish population registry. In order to be registered it is necessary to apply for the Swedish personal number, personnummer. This process has caused lots of headache to many European citizens so far, and will continue in the future, as bureocracy in Sweden can be surprisingly very tricky.
In this short article I will explain how I got my personnummer in just 10 days.
There are basically 4 ways to obtain this number:
- Working as an employee in a Swedish company or as a self-employed
- Having sufficient means
- Living with a family member who already has his/her personnummer
You find more information about each of the process in the following webpages of the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket):
- General starting information: http://www.skatteverket.se/servicelankar/otherlanguages/inenglish/individualsandemployees/movingtosweden.4.7be5268414bea064694c40c.html
- Sub-sections for EU citizens: http://www.skatteverket.se/servicelankar/otherlanguages/inenglish/individualsandemployees/movingtosweden/citizenofeueeacountry.4.5a85666214dbad743ffff2f.html
- You are working in Sweden: http://www.skatteverket.se/servicelankar/otherlanguages/inenglish/individualsandemployees/movingtosweden/citizenofeueeacountry/youareworking.4.5a85666214dbad743ffff42.html
- You are looking for work: http://www.skatteverket.se/servicelankar/otherlanguages/inenglish/individualsandemployees/movingtosweden/citizenofeueeacountry/youarelookingforwork.4.5a85666214dbad743ffff66.html
- You are studying in Sweden: http://www.skatteverket.se/servicelankar/otherlanguages/inenglish/individualsandemployees/movingtosweden/citizenofeueeacountry/youarestudying.4.5a85666214dbad743ffff78.html
- You are self-sufficient: http://www.skatteverket.se/servicelankar/otherlanguages/inenglish/individualsandemployees/movingtosweden/citizenofeueeacountry/youareselfsufficient.4.5a85666214dbad743ffff8a.html
- You belong to a family that lives in or are moving to Sweden: http://www.skatteverket.se/servicelankar/otherlanguages/inenglish/individualsandemployees/movingtosweden/youbelongtoafamily.4.5a85666214dbad743ff16b1d.html
The easiest way to apply for a personnummer is having a valid working contract containing all the necessary information, such as contract duration, working hours, and all signatures needed. In my case, I had no contract and no family member, and I wasn’t studying. I had read some articles from other blogs and forum posts saying that applying for a personnummer as a job seeking had turned out to be unsuccessful in most cases because tax agency employees are well aware of the fact that a foreigner needs almost 6 months to more than 1 year to find a job in Sweden without speaking Swedish and without having any Swedish friends or contacts, for this reason I just chose the quickest way: Proving that I had sufficient means to support me for 12 months.
Things I did before literally taking the plane to Sweden:
- Order my birthday certificate from the population registry office of my city of residence
- Get the authorized translation in English of my birth certificate (you can also get an authorized translation into Swedish)
- Transfer 150,000 SEK (to simplify, a little more than 15,000 euros) to my bank account and print a bank statement containing the total amount available (more than 150,000 SEK) – IMPORTANT AND ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY!
- Print a letter (in English) signed by my local bank director specifying that I would have been able to support for myself in Sweden during 12 months
- Struggle to obtain Model S1 from the Italian Healthcare Agency covering healthcare assistance in Sweden for 12 months (a specific post in Italian language is available here, contact the Healthcare Agency of your country to know if you are eligible to apply for it)
Things I did the day after my arrival in Sweden:
- Go to the Swedish Tax Agency office of my city of residence taking with me all the above mentioned documents, plus my passport and my house rental contract signed by both parts
- Fill in and sign an application form (blankett) which has to be asked for in person to one of the employees (the employee will help you to fill in this form)
- My personnummer was assigned to me the day after and I received in my mailbox the letter containing the number in only 10 days. I was finally registered as resident in Sweden!
Why personnummer is so important?
With your personnummer you can easily open a bank account, register yourself to the job center and hopefully get a job, buy an apartment and a car, apply for the free Swedish language courses (SFI, Swedish for Immigrants), prove that you have the right to receive the healthcare services as a resident and also to get the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), last but not least get your correspondence to your mailbox without problems. The personnummer proves essentially that you “exist” in Sweden.
Why it is so difficult to get a personnummer?
The crucial problem in Sweden, as in other European countries nowadays, is that the healthcare system costs very very much, therefore anyone not paying for his/her healthcare assurance will experience difficulties in obtaining this magic number, as having it gives you full rights to healtchare services as Swedish residents and citizens. Instead, anyone having a job or sufficient means (plus healthcare coverage by the country of origin, as in my case) can actually participate in those costs. Having a private health insurance won’t help, because it will not cover in any possible way the huge amount required by the Tax Agency and the Social Insurance Agency.
So fight hard, get your personnummer, and live happily in Sweden! Good luck with that!