Practical information for living in Sweden


EU/EEA Residents

For the duration of your exchange, you can live and study in Sweden without applying for any visa or residence permit, thanks to your home citizenship in the EU or EEA. However, if you’re going to be there for more than 12 months (for completing a full degree course, for instance) then you should register with the Swedish Tax Agency.

Swiss Nationals

You can move to, and live in, Sweden for up to 3 months without any visa or residence permit. However, if your studies are going to last more than 3 months, you must apply for a residency permit for studying.

Non-EU/EEA/Swiss Nationals

The Swedish government provides a list of foreign nationalities who require Visa for entry into Sweden], so if yours falls in this list then that’s what you’ll have to do. You can apply for a Swedish visa online, in advance of moving over. If your studies are going to last more than 3 months (which will be the case for most exchange students) then you must apply for a residency permit.

To obtain the permit, you’ll need to follow a few steps:

  • Pay your first tuition fee instalment

  • Provide supporting documentation, including:

  • Submit the application 3 months or more before your start date

  • Pay your application fee (SEK 1000, or around €100)

Swedish ID Card

In order to open a bank account (and to save you taking your passport everywhere for ID) you’ll need to obtain a Swedish ID Card. This is simply done:

  • Pay an application fee (SEK 400, or €40)

  • Visit the local tax agency which issues the ID card

  • Bring documentation:

    • Passport

    • Residence permit/proof

That’s it! They’ll send off your application and it should process within about a fortnight. You’ll receive a letter through the post telling you when the card is ready to be picked up, which you must do in person.

Working part-time

It’s pretty common to seek out a part-time job to help manage the high cost of living in Sweden. Fortunately the Swedish government make the matter fairly simple: you can work part-time without a work visa, as long as you have a residence permit which covers the entire duration of your stay. If you are from the EU/EEA, you can work part-time without the residence permit. You will have to register with the Swedish Migration Agency.

Opening a Swedish bank account

Much of Sweden is now cashless, so setting up your bank account ASAP should be one of your main priorities once you land in the country. To do this, you’ll need your personnummer, which is obtained through applying to the Swedish Population Register - in person. You’ll need:

  • A valid passport

  • Your residency permit (if applicable)

  • Proof of address (in Sweden)

Once you’ve obtained your number, it’s time to arrange a meeting at the bank to get set up. You can choose any bank, though SEB, Swedbank, Handelsbanken and Nordea Bank are all vetted, secure options.

Simply choose a bank, and go for a meeting to set up. You don’t strictly need a meeting appointment, but the banks are usually open between 10:00-15:00, so aim to arrive early-ish to get it over and done with quickly. You’ll need to present the following documents:

  • Valid passport

  • Residence permit

  • Employment contract/letter of admission from the university

  • Personnummer

  • Swedish ID card

This process is usually over-and-done-with after a single business day, so you’ll be up and running before long.

Getting a SIM card in Sweden

There are 4 main operators in Sweden: Telia, Tele 2, 3 Sverige and Telenord. Each offers good deals to try and undercut the others, so you should be able to get a good contract without too much hassle.

It might be worth picking up a prepaid SIM when you first arrive so that you can make calls home or locally for the first couple of weeks while you adjust and sort out accommodation etc. A better option if you’re there for a while would be to get a contract: it offers better rates overall, and has less chance of containing hidden charges. Be careful not to exceed any of your allowances on a contract though as the penalties can be costly.

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