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Banking in Sweden

Welcome to the second article in our series for international students, written by Nabil El Kaouay. When you live abroad, a local bank account can help a lot with financial transactions. Sweden is almost cash-free, and using a card or contactless payments is very easy.

Busy shopping street in central Stockholm

Good things to know when you do not have a Swedish bank account

Before arriving, my first instinct was to change some cash into Swedish currency (SEK). I was so surprised to discover that paying in cash was no longer the main way of paying, or even accepted, in a lot of places. Maybe the pandemic accelerated the process, but this is very advanced here compared to other countries. The good news is that you can usually use cash to buy groceries, for instance!

As your home country will not use SEK, you must be careful about banking fees. Whenever you withdraw cash or pay in a different currency, banking fees can be added to the financial transaction. Make sure you check with your bank about these fees.

Useful tips

  • Use a Visa or MasterCard credit card. In my case, with an EU bank account, I can use a credit card with no banking fees, and they convert every transaction from SEK to Euros.
  • Activate the international option with your bank.
  • Check other ways of paying or withdrawing cash such as Revolut, PayPal or Western Union.

In the long-term, you should assess whether you really need a bank account. You can manage without a Swedish bank account for months, especially if you are not planning to stay after your studies.

Good things to know when you want to open a Swedish bank account

Compared to the process in other countries, you will soon realise that opening a bank account could involve challenging administration. Depending on your situation, you will need a Swedish personal or coordination number to open a bank account. Even with those, you will have to justify your sources of income.

Every bank and their branches have different rules. In general, you will have to go to one located in your city and take a number to queue. They will give you documents to fill in or to come back later with additional documents. The next appointment can be weeks later and the whole process takes time. What you usually need is a valid ID (passport) and/or residence permit, a certificate of employment or studies, or other income, and an address in Huddinge. Students who do not live in Huddinge will need to go to their local bank.

If you are only studying and want to open a bank account as a student

If you obtained a Swedish personal ID number based on being a student, you may also want to open a Swedish bank account as one. It is possible, but you will have to prove the source of your income. If your parents are supporting you financially, you will have to bring proof of their incomes and bank statements translated into English or Swedish.

If you are employed

Working for a Swedish employer is one of the easiest ways to get a bank account, because they pay you in SEK. In addition, you will have to pay taxes, so the bank will ask you for the official documents that show that you will pay taxes (called A-skatt), how much you will earn per month and payslips (called lönespecifikation), if you have them.

After going to your appointment with all the documents and finishing the process, you will receive a bank card at your registered address a week or so later.

About the author: Nabil El Kaouay is an international student at Södertörn University, where he studies Journalism, and is also an international student ambassador for the university's International Office. Nabil originally comes from France and is eager to share his experiences at Södertörn University and in Stockholm with other international students.

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