How to open a bank account in Sweden

Zorica Lončar
17.08.21
6 minute read

Sweden is a popular destination for expats, especially given its world-renowned efficiency and standard of living. It’s also famous for being one of the happiest, most tolerant nations, which also makes it even more attractive. Whether you’re starting a new career, furthering your education or just visiting, Sweden boasts a thriving community of expats.

If you’re going to be living there for a medium to long-term stay (of more than a year), then you’ll likely be thinking about opening a bank account in Sweden. This could really benefit you, making receiving a salary from Swedish employers and paying bills easier. The country is also largely cashless¹, so you’ll need to pay by card in most places you go.

Our guide takes you through the key things you need to know when opening a bank account in Sweden, as well as providing an overview of the top banks around. We'll also show you a cheaper way to manage your finances while you're between countries. But first, let's look at how to go about opening a Swedish bank account.

What documents do I need to open a bank account in Sweden

Once you’re in Sweden you’ll be able to open an account at your bank’s local branch. And, usually you’ll need the following documents¹:

  • Passport/Swedish ID card
  • Proof of address
  • Personnummer (Swedish personal identification number)

You may also be asked to provide further documentation, such as an employment contract, so it’s best to check with the bank you’re intending to apply with ahead of time. In compliance with financial regulations, bank officers will also ask you the purpose of your account.

Can I open a bank account in Sweden without a personnummer?

It’s usually a requirement for UK citizens wanting to open a bank account in Sweden, to have a Swedish personal identification number (otherwise known as a personnummer)

To open a Swedbank account, for example, you need to have one before you can even apply. Potentially, you may be able to open a basic account at some banks without a personnummer, but with restrictions². For example, without a debit card and without access to online banking.

You’ll need a personnummer not only for banking, but for many other situations when living in Sweden. You’ll need it to work, to get a driver's license and to access the healthcare and pension systems. So, for most people it’s best to get one as quickly as possible.

To obtain yours, you’ll need to register with the Swedish Population Register through Skatteverket, the government tax agency. You, and all your accompanying family members, must apply in person as there is no online option³.

The items you’ll need are³:

  • A valid passport
  • A Swedish residence permit (unless you have a family member that is an EU/EEA citizen registered in Sweden)
  • Proof of your Swedish address
  • One year of coverage of health insurance with a limit of at least 246,500 SEK

Depending on your circumstances you may also need to provide marriage and birth certificates⁴.

It can take between 2 - 4 weeks for the tax agency to process the documents and provide you with your Swedish ID card and personnummer⁵.

Can I open a Swedish bank account online?

Sweden has very strict guidelines on opening bank accounts. Due to anti-terrorism and anti-money laundering policies, many banks don't offer the option to open an account online.

Many banks do however offer the ability to open accounts with a Mobile BankingID. This is an e-identification for smartphones and tablets that you can use for internet and mobile banking, including while you’re abroad. But, you’ll still need to open a bank account in person before obtaining your mobile BankingID.

How long does it take to open a bank account in Sweden?

The easiest and fastest way for expats to open a new account is to actually visit the local branch upon arrival in Sweden. Bank offices are usually open Monday–Friday, 10am–4 pm¹.

Provided you have your personnummer ready, the branch should be able to open an account for you during your visit. If you need to apply for a personnummer because the bank or type of services require it, the process will take longer, as you’ll need to do this first.

Which Swedish bank is best for my needs?

Choosing which bank to have an account with will depend on your situation and personal preferences, but we’re here to help with an overview of some of the best options. Although the banking system tends to be complicated in Sweden, it can actually serve as a blessing in disguise for expats by narrowing down the options available for your personal banking needs.

The great thing is that Sweden’s banking system is heavily technologically focused. That means nearly all banks offer the latest apps and digital services to help you manage your finances daily, both quickly and conveniently.

Sweden’s top banks are Handelsbanken, Swedbank, Nordea and SEB¹. All of these banks are set up to offer services to UK expats, so you’re likely to find what you need with one of them. With the proper documentation, they should provide you with a relatively simple process for opening a personal account.

Handelsbanken

A major bank in Sweden, Handelsbanken also operates internationally, with extensive branch networks across its home markets. They pride themselves on their excellent credit rating and with many branches available, they can provide good local customer support.

Services and products include:

  • Current account
  • Savings accounts
  • Debit cards
  • Digital and telephone banking
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Mortgages and loans

Handelsbanken have a useful checklist for travellers and expats wanting to become customers with them, after applying for a personnummer.

Swedbank

Swedbank proudly states that they’re the bank in Sweden with the most customers - with about 7.3 million private customers and about 547,000 corporate customers⁶. Their customer services department offers services in English, as well as Swedish.

Swedbank’s services include:

  • Current account
  • Savings accounts and funds
  • Debit and credit cards
  • Digital and telephone banking
  • Mortgages
  • Insurance (including home, vehicle, life and health) + a 15% discount on all insurance if you choose both house and vehicle insurance⁷

Nordea

Nordea is a Nordic bank which operates internationally, and is one of the top ten financial services companies in Europe based on market capitalisation⁸.

Services and products on offer include:

  • Personal account
  • Savings account
  • Digital banking - online and mobile
  • Comprehensive Insurance (home, vehicle, life, health, child and pet)
  • Debit and credit cards
  • Mortgages and loans
  • Customer support - 8:00 - 20:00

SEB (Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken)

A leading banking group in Northern Europe, SEB are customer, technology and sustainability focused. They are well-known for their apps and award-winning funds⁹.

SEB offers the following:

  • Personal account
  • SEB Maestro charge card
  • Savings funds
  • Pension savings
  • Digital banking
  • Green mortgage and sustainable savings
  • Loans
  • 24/7 customer support

SEB have produced a useful document for non-EU citizens moving to Sweden looking to access their services.

International banks in Sweden

It’s worth pointing out here that there are also lots of international banks operating throughout Sweden too. So if you don’t want a Swedish bank account, foreign bank branches are available including Barclays, HSBC, Citibank and Santander, among many others.

Banking fees in Sweden - what to expect

Maintenance fees

While Swedish banks tend not to require a minimum deposit, and most don’t charge ATM fees, they’ll likely charge a yearly maintenance fee instead. This is usually around 250 SEK (£21.00)¹⁰.

Cheques¹⁰

Cheques are rare in Sweden so be prepared to have to pay a sizable fee if you try and deposit one. And some banks might not even accept them.

Foreign transfer fees

If you’re planning to send money between countries using your bank, then it pays off to do your research about foreign transfer fees.

This is particularly relevant now that the UK has left the EU, and there will most likely be higher fees to send money to and from a Swedish account to a UK account. For example, Handelsbanken charges SEK 60 online (about £5.00) and SEK 150 in branch (about £13.00) to send a payment to a non-EU country, for arrival within 2-3 business days¹¹. There may also be further fees charged by the beneficiary’s bank.

Many expats use bank transfers to send and receive funds. However, this kind of payment generally comes with not only international transfer fees from your Swedish bank, but also fees from intermediary banks and the destination/originating bank. All in all, though the fees for these transfers (generally via an international transfer method called SWIFT)

Another fee that’s generally levied against international transfers is hidden in the poor exchange rate that a bank gives its customers when transferring money abroad.

To easily and reliably check on the current mid-market exchange rate between your home currency and SEK to see what your money should actually be worth, use an online currency converter.

Save on international transfer fees with Wise

To avoid steep charges when sending money overseas and to get the best exchange rate, you could choose to transfer your money with Wise.

Wise uses the real, mid-market exchange rate and not only do you get transparent pricing, but it could be up to 7x cheaper than traditional banks and up to 10x cheaper than PayPal.

In the digital age, we know it can be stressful moving money around online. That’s why Wise uses the latest 2-factor authentication to protect your account and transactions. And, there’s also a 24/7 fraud team working round the clock, so you can rest assured that your money is safe.

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All in all, opening a bank account in Sweden should be a fairly easy process after you obtain your* personnummer*. Having the right documents ready, you can hopefully open an account without too much hassle.

The best of luck with your move to Sweden!


Sources used for this article:

  1. Move to Gothenburg - set up a Swedish bank account
  2. Inter Nations - banks and taxes in Sweden
  3. Open Borders Immigration - getting a personal number (personnummer) in Sweden
  4. Skatteverket - moving to Sweden as a non-EU citizen
  5. Inter Nations - working in Sweden
  6. Swedbank - about
  7. Swedbank - insurance
  8. Nordea - who we are
  9. SEB.se - SEB savings accounts
  10. Inter Nations - banks and taxes in Sweden
  11. Handelsbanken - cross-border payments

Sources checked on 30-July-2021.


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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