Getting Started in Sweden

Eric: It has, as always, been a busy few days! 

Moving out of the country of your birth, and emigrating somewhere else is a tricky little mine field. But I have been researching like crazy! And what I have found is that Sweden has a very strategic set of rules and regulations in place that (if followed in order) should allow you to get to where you want to be.

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As with everything Scandinavian, it is a structured and well thought out process. A simple (well….) step by step guide to emigrating and gaining citizenship.

(Unfortunately, Brexit plans in the UK mean that this process could be rudely interrupted, but right now, all I can do is begin the process.)

So how is it done?

Step 1: I’m going to need to get a resident permit. This can be acheived through Sweden’s Migration Agency. It is called Migrationsverket and deals with everything at the beginning of the process. Asylum, immigration, visas and permits. You can apply online under a variety of different reasons that you are moving. Whether you are studying, moving to be with a loved one or working. Migrationsverket has everything that you need for those first steps.

As an EU citizen (I currently am but maybe not for long) there is something called a “right of residence” or a “right to reside.” So what exactly does that mean?

“The term “right to reside” means that an EU/EEA citizen and his or her family members are permitted to stay in Sweden for more than three months without a residence permit.

If you can support yourself, you automatically have right of residence and do not need to contact the Swedish Migration Board.”

Ok that, I think is a good start.

Step 2: Register with the Swedish Tax Agency and get a personal number. Now what I can gather, this personal number is the most important thing for living in Sweden. Literally, nothing happens without one. Without a personal number, or personnummer, you can’t get paid, open a bank account or even get a mobile phone. So this is very high on the priority list. However, you can’t get one unless you are registered with the tax agency, Skatteverket. 

“This registration process (folkbokföring) ensures you’re added into the system for tax collection, personal identification, marital status monitoring, mailing address information and insurance purposes.”

So, you actually need to go in and take a few documents with you, but it basically puts you on the list.

“If you are moving to Sweden from abroad and are planning to live in Sweden for one year or more, you are generally required to be registered in the Swedish Population Register. When you have been registered you will be given a Swedish personal identity number and be registered as living in a building with an address. Your civil status and any relationship to your spouse, children or parent will be registered.

 In order to be registered in the Swedish Population Register (folkbokförd) you need to notify the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket) that you intend to move to Sweden. This can be done by visiting one of our Tax Agency offices (servicekontor).”
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Step 3: Insurance. By sorting out health insurance and social insurance, that entitles you to certain benefits. You can get an EU health card which allows you a certain amount of medical care in Sweden.
“Introduction benefit: Those who are newly arrived in Sweden may be eligible for introduction benefit. Applications for introduction benefit are submitted to the Public Employment Service which makes decisions on the introduction benefit and its size. Försäkringskassan disburses the introduction benefit when the newly arrived immigrant has an introduction plan established at the Public Employment Service.Those receiving introduction benefit may can also receive supplementary introduction benefit and introduction benefit for housing. It is Försäkringskassan that makes decisions on and disburses these benefits.”

It is important to do this as you never know what is around the corner. Social Insurance gives benefits such as basic healthcare, parental benefits, child allowances, disability coverage and other insurance payments, and will ensure that you are covered just in case.

Step 4: The resident ID card. A Swedish ID card is your main form of identification. You need one when you open a bank accounts, get a credit card, picking up packages from the post office, and verifying your age before entering certain clubs or purchasing alcohol.

“Please note: When you’re obtaining the Swedish ID card for the first time, you will need someone else who is already registered and has their own Swedish ID card to accompany you to the Tax Agency in person to verify your identity. For those relocating to Sweden without family, this means taking your work boss, a colleague or a friend with you.”

Step 5: A bank account and Swish. Cash is no longer a value commodity in Sweden and most places offer alternative ways of paying, called Swish. To use this, you need a mobil ID… which means you need a Swedish bank account. What you don’t want to do is continue using your British card, and paying the extortionate exchange rates for every purchase. Opening an account is quite simple… as long as you have completed the steps above. Internet banking is a big deal in Sweden, with little to no cash changing hands. So this step comes highly recommended by every Swedish person that I asked.

Step 6: Get a job. This one is tricky if your Swedish language skills are less than desirable. “Min svenska är inte bra” so I’m in the same boat. There are jobs in Sweden that require a fluency in English, so it is worth keeping your eyes open. English pubs and Irish bars are also a good place to start, but be prepared to work from the ground and up.

There are a good few sites that can help you. Work.sweden.se is a good starting point, and also registering with Arbetsförmedlingen (Public Employment Agency) will help you to match your skills with employers around the country.

It is also perfectly acceptable to set up your own company in Sweden. So you can register your new idea with Bolagsverket and obtain F-Skatt status throught the Tax Agency.

For more information visit Business-sweden.se and verksamt.se

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That’s basically it. It’s certainly a good start to get you up and running. After that, it’s accomodation, pay your taxes, find a girl and settle down (in the muddled words of Cat Stevens.)

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Above all else… and this is one that I’m working on…. LEARN SWEDISH! If you want to get the best out of your time in another country, you need to learn the language. Without it, you will miss those little details that make the Swedes…. well…. Swedish. Lagom, fika, Kanelbullar, amongst others….

Embrace the culture. Embrace the country. And in time… It will embrace you right back. Even if you are leaving the EU.

 

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