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Sweden - Banking

Opening a bank account is less about listening to advice about which bank is best and more about going in person and finding out information face to face. Each bank has their own procedure and opening an account for a foreigner can mean stringent ID and document checking or a less regimented procedure depending on who you meet. Armed with your personnummer (personal identity number), proof of address such as utility bill, passport and employment details, you may be able to open an account. You will need to fill in some paperwork once there provided by the bank, which is likely to be in Swedish. By EU law, an EU passport is valid ID in a bank so if the customer is from a non EU country they may need to show additional identification papers.

It is likely the bank will ask for a Swedish ID so head to the tax office (Skatteverket) to apply for one and within three weeks you should have it. EU citizens and non EU citizens should be aware that a personnummer is a vital piece of identification, without which you will not be able to open an account. It can only be obtained if you have a residence permit which is valid for 12 months or more for Sweden. Also requested may be evidence of your income from your employer. Once the process is complete, you will receive a debit card (Betalkort) in the post anywhere from one week to a few months later, depending on whether the bank wishes to see regular proof of income first.

The main commercial banks in Sweden are SEB (Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken), Swedbank AB and Nordea Bank AB. Skandiabanken is a popular choice; they undertake banking by phone and internet only. Local banks are Sparbanken Lidkoping and Resurs Bank. UK and US banks do not have a presence in Sweden but some international banks in Sweden have branches in the UK such as Svenska Handelsbanken AB (Handelsbanken), and Swedbank has branches in New York. Some expats also use Forex Bank, a Swedish financial services company specialising in currency exchange services, where you can change currency and pay bills in person.

Swedish banks on the whole don’t generally offer specific accounts or services aimed at expats. A few offer telephone banking, online banking and statements in English which is an improvement on a previously Swedish-only system. Below are the most commonly used banks by expats.

Svenska Handelsbanken AB
The bank has internet banking and a website available in English. Account statements, contracts and notes are also available in English. It offers traditional banking services, mortgages and pensions. Email for advice on a local branch to visit then book an appointment for an English speaking consultant to help you open an account in person.
Address: Kungsträdgårdsgatan 2, SE-106 70 Stockholm (head office)
Tel: 00 46 0771 22 55 88

Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken
This bank is popular with locals. It is a full-range supplier of payment cards and card-related services to businesses and individuals. In 2016 SEB was awarded the Best Private Bank in Sweden, the Nordics and the Baltics award at the Global Private Banking Awards. Online banking is not available in English yet. Like with other banks, contacting them individually to see what they can offer for your situation is suggested.
Address: SEB Sweden Head Office, Kungsträdgårdsg 8, Stockholm, SE-106 40, Sweden
Tel: 00 46 8763 50 00

The website is in English, as is the online banking and telephone banking. Expats sometimes go with the specialised savings accounts which calculate how much money you will have in 12 months’ time.
The bank offers standard accounts, mortgages and insurance. Swedbank has an introductory offer of standard current account, payment service and bank card (Maestro). Swedbank usually requires a Swedish ID to open an account.
Address: Landsvägen 40, 172 63 Sundbyberg, 105 34 Stockholm, Sweden
Tel: +46-8-585 900 00 (in English)

Normal banking hours in Sweden are from Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm. On Thursday banks are normally open until 6pm. Banks close on public holidays and at weekends.

Current / checking account (nuvarande konto)

This account is a standard account which provides a debit card and online banking. Usually there is little to no interest on the funds in the account. Such accounts will not give you a debit card until they see income come into the account after some months. Cards may be Visa or Maestro with an annual fee.

Savings / deposit account (kapitalkonto)

Banking in Sweden is considered reliable and efficient. Sweden enjoys one of the highest rates of internet banking in the world. Once accounts are set up people generally prefer online banking, telephone banking and mobile app banking. Popular mobile apps include BankID which allows customers to transfer money, pay invoices and verify money transfers. Swish is another popular app which allows for the transfer of money between banks with no charge.

It is very rare to use cheques in Sweden. Travellers’ cheques, however, are accepted in many places. In shops and restaurants generally people pay with cards rather than cash and contactless is a popular method. Visa is accepted anywhere, with Maestro widely accepted too. Mastercard is also commonly used, with Amex being accepted in some places too. ATMs accept many UK and US cards.

Credit card account (Kreditkort)

The annual fee varies per card, as does the interest. Customers commonly choose Kreditkort MasterCard from Swedbank, Bank Norwegian credit card or SAS EuroBonus from American Express. Some offer benefits such as cash back, sign on bonuses and discounts in shops.

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