After you get a job offer, you can start preparing for a move to Sweden. Many employers in this country offer visa sponsorship and relocation packages. Services may be different depending on the company and can include the following:
- Assistance with obtaining a visa
- Help with finding a rental apartment
- Compensation for plane tickets for the whole family
- Paying for initial expenses related to your move to Sweden (up to SEK 10,000)
The relocation process in Sweden consists of several steps.
1. Apply for work and residence permits
Unless you’re a citizen of an EU/EEA country, you need a permit to live and work in Sweden, including a visa and a work permit. You should apply for and have your work permit and a visa ready before you travel to Sweden.
You most likely will apply for work and residence permits at the same time.
IT professionals usually apply for an EU Blue Card, which is a residence permit accepted in the European Union except for Denmark and Ireland. When you have had an EU Blue Card in Sweden or other countries in the EU for 5 years, you can apply for the status of long-term resident in the country where you are living if you have been residing in that country for the last 2 years.
To get an EU Blue Card, you must have:
- 180 credits of tertiary education (equivalent of a Bachelor’s degree or 3 years of higher education) or 5 years of relevant professional experience
- Health insurance that should cover the first 3 months in Sweden
- Contract or job offer for at least 1 year
- Salary offer that is at least 1.5 times bigger than an average salary in Sweden. As of 2019/20, the salary threshold is SEK 51,900 per month
There is also an Intra-Corporate Transfer (ICT) residence permit that can be issued to workers who are transferred to Sweden within an international company.
When you apply for a work permit, you can also apply for residence permits for your spouse or a common-law partner and unmarried children under 21. Your family members can start to work or study right away when you get to Sweden.
To apply for a work permit, you will need the following documents (scanned or photographed):
- Offer of employment in Sweden with an opinion of a trade union
- Completed application form for applicants currently outside Sweden (Form 149011)
- Completed application for permit for family members (Form 133011)
- Application for an EU Blue Card (Form 181011 if you’re outside of Sweden or Form 183011 if you’re in Sweden)
- Copies of the pages of your passport (and your family members’ passports) that show personal data, a period of validity, and information on other visas or residence permits
- Copy of your marriage certificate, if you’re married
- Documents showing that you have lived together in your country of origin if you’re relocating with a partner. Shared photos, a lease or proof of purchase for your residence, or a shared bank account are enough to prove your relationship
- Birth certificates for children and adoption documents if they were adopted
- Copies of the translations into Swedish or English (translations should be made by an authorized translator)
- Application fees: SEK 2,000 plus SEK 1,500 for adult family members and SEK 750 for children under 18 (Japanese citizens don’t need to pay these fees)
1. When your employer completes an offer of employment, you receive an email with information about how to apply for a work permit.
2. You submit your application online or in paper to your nearest Swedish embassy or consulate.
3. The Swedish Migration Agency considers your application and informs you of its decision within 2 weeks to 8 months (depending on whether your employer has a special agreement with the Agency). You will receive an email confirming that a decision has been made.
4. You go to the Swedish embassy or consulate for a decision with your passport.
5. You submit data for a visa and residence permit card. If you’re granted a permit for more than 3 months, you will receive a residence permit card. If you need an entry visa to travel to Sweden, you should visit the Swedish embassy or consulate as soon as possible to be photographed and fingerprinted. If you don’t need an entry visa, you can submit information for the residence permit card at the Migration Agency after arriving in Sweden.
6. If you have been granted a work permit, you will receive the residence permit card within 2–4 weeks of being photographed and fingerprinted at the embassy or consulate. A residence permit is a plastic card that contains your photograph, fingerprints, and some other information about you. With this card, you can freely move within the Schengen area.
A work permit is usually issued for up to 2 years, with the possibility of extension provided you work for the same employer and in the same industry. In other words, if you change jobs or industries within these 2 years, you will have to get a new work permit. The second work permit is given for the next 2 years, but this time you don’t have to work with one employer, you just need to keep working within one industry. The third one is issued for 2 more years, without any limitations.
2. Apply for a visa to enter Sweden
Non-EU citizens generally need a visa to enter Sweden. You need to apply to your nearest Swedish embassy or consulate with the following documents:
- Passport and copies of pages with your personal data
- One photograph
- Completed and signed application form
- Travel insurance with a minimum coverage of €30,000
- Birth certificates for children
- Confirmation of financial means at the rate of €40 (SEK 370) per person per day
- Job offer
- Evidence of paying fees: €60 for a D visa (more than 90 days) or €80 for a short-term visa (less than 90 days)
Visa applications are processed within about 1–2 months.
3. Find temporary accommodation
After you obtain a visa, if you need any, you can come to Sweden. The first thing you should do after arriving is finding a place to live. As it may be hard to find a permanent apartment at once due to the high rental demand and the need to gather all the necessary documents, allow at least 3 weeks to hunt for a home.
Temporary accommodation can be offered by your employer. If not, you can find it on Airbnb, Forenom.com, or similar websites before you arrive in Sweden. You may need a temporary or permanent address in the country to open a bank account.
4. Get a personal number
If you come to Sweden to live and work for more than one year, you are usually required to register with the Swedish Population Registry (Folkbokföringsregistret). You will then receive a personal identity number (personnummer).
To be registered in the Swedish Population Register, you need to visit one of the service offices (servicekontor).
5. Obtain an identification card
Next, you need to obtain a Swedish resident identification card (identitetskort) from the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket). You will need the following documents:
- Passport or valid residence permit
- Swedish personal identity number (personnummer)
- Receipt or a bank statement proving that you have paid the application fee of SEK 400 You can pay the fee via Bankgiro number 389-0100 (Swedbank)
To apply for an ID card, you must visit one of the offices that issue them. Typically, it takes about 2 weeks before the ID card is ready.
You will need a Swedish ID card to use in your contacts with the health care system, banks, and other authorities, as well as to use it as a form of identification when picking up packages from the post office, collecting prescription medication from the pharmacy, or verifying your age.
6. Get insured
Once you’ve obtained your personal identity number, you should register with the Swedish Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan).
If you move to Sweden with children under 16, Försäkringskassan will contact you once you are registered in the Swedish Population Register. They will do it to investigate whether you’re eligible for a child allowance.
If you move to Sweden without children and want to receive a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or other benefits and allowances, you need to submit information using My pages (Mina sidor).
7. Buy a Swedish SIM card
To live and work in Sweden, you may also need a local SIM card. You can buy it at airports, Stockholm Central Station, supermarkets, from one of the retail stores of mobile phone service providers (Telia, Tele2, Telenor, 3 (Tre)), or online using a personal number (personnummer).
A prepaid SIM card is called “Kontantkort” (“kontant” meaning “cash” in Swedish) in Sweden. A SIM card can cost up to 45 SEK but may be free if you top up at the same time.
According to Too Many Adapters, Tele2 is a universal option, Telia is good if you’re heading to remote parts of the country, and 3’s data-only SIM is convenient if you don’t care about calls and texts.
Unlimited calls and texts are common on many plans. Telia packages cost around SEK 369 per month, Tele2 offers vary between SEK 339 and 549, Telenor monthly packages cost SEK 219–569, and Tre packages cost from SEK 199.
8. Open a bank account in Sweden
To get your salary in Sweden and pay for your rental home, you need to have a bank account in the country. Many other payments may also require a local bank account. Sweden is a cash-free society, it has an extensive network of internet banking, and most bills are paid online.
Here are popular banks in Sweden:
- Danske Bank (danskebank.se)
- Handelsbanken (handelsbanken.se)
- Nordea (nordea.se)
- Swedbank (swedbank.se)
- SEB (sebgroup.com)
Bank offices are generally open Monday to Friday, from 10 am to 3–4 pm. To open an account, you usually need to visit an office in person. In some banks, e. g. in Handelsbanken, you can email your documents to the bank, wait until they book your appointment, and then visit their office in person.
You will need the following documents to open a bank account in Sweden:
- Swedish ID card or a Swedish personal identity number
- Passport or residence permit
- Proof of address in Sweden
- Employment contract
- Bank forms related to customer due diligence and Certification of residence for tax purposes (you can get these forms at the bank)
You can also get a BankID — an electronic identity document that allows you to digitally sign documents and contracts, complete transactions, use bank websites, the Swedish Social Insurance Agency, and the Swedish Tax Agency.
Most Swedish banks charge an annual fee of about SEK 250. ATM withdrawals are usually free around the world. Most Swedish banks won’t charge you for sending money within the EU. But transferring money outside of Europe can be expensive — for example, Nordea will charge SEK 60 to send money to another country or SEK 350 for an express transfer. Also, note that many banks in Sweden no longer handle cash.
9. Find a permanent place to live
Rental demand in Sweden’s large cities, such as Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö, is high, so hunting for a home may take a minimum of 2–3 weeks or even up to 3 months. There can be several prospective tenants at one viewing at the same time, so the first person to make an offer is usually the one who gets the apartment.
Rental contracts in Sweden can be either “first-hand” (“första hand”) — when you sign an agreement directly with the owner of the building or “second-hand” (“andra hand”) — when you sublet an apartment.
To get a first-hand contract, you need to register to be put on the municipal waiting list (bostadskö). It can take anywhere from a few days in some municipalities to up to 10 years in Stockholm’s central locations.
As a newcomer, you’ll probably be renting a flat from someone who sublets in a second-hand arrangement. It’s important to make sure that the cooperation board of the building (Bostadsrättsförening) or the landlord has signed a second-hand agreement. If you rent a flat from a subletter who doesn’t have permission, you run the risk of being evicted.
Long-term rentals in Sweden can be found on the following property websites:
Some of these sites are in Swedish, so familiarize yourself with some basic Swedish housing vocabulary:
- Lägenhet/hyresrätt = flat / rental flat
- Hyra lägenhet = rent a flat
- Uthyres (i andra hand) = to let (sublet)
- 2 rum och kök = 2-room flat with a kitchen
When renting an apartment or house for the long term in Sweden, you may be required to provide the following:
- Passport or another ID
- Reference letters from previous landlords and/or your current employer
- Salary slips for the past few months or employment contract
- Joint photo of you and your family members
While renting a property in Sweden, you will normally pay a security deposit (usually 1 month of rent) and rent for the first month.
Many apartments in Sweden are rented unfurnished, but they normally have kitchen furniture, a fridge, and a stove. There can also be access to a washer, either in the apartment or in a laundry room.
To avoid scams, never pay the deposit before the viewing and signing the contract, never pay in cash, and never send your scanned ID or passport. Also, verify the landlord’s personal information and check the property address on Google Maps.