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Sweden is a popular destination for expats, especially given its healthy job market and tolerant attitude. Whether you’re starting a new career, furthering your education, or just visiting, Sweden boasts a thriving community of expats.
If you’re planning your move to Sweden you’ll probably be wondering about how to open a bank account for day to day use once you arrive.
This guide has you covered - plus we’ll look at Wise, a non-bank alternative with a multi-currency digital account you can use to hold, send, spend and exchange SEK alongside USD and 40+ other currencies. More on that later.
Cash is seldom used in Sweden and checks are completely obsolete. Making the bank one of your first stops when you arrive is highly encouraged.
|You’ll usually need the following documents to open a Swedish bank account¹:|
To apply for a personnummer you’ll need to register with the Swedish Population Register through Skatteverket², the government tax agency. You must apply in person as there is no online option.
|Registration will require:|
You may also need proof of status - for example a marriage certificate or birth certificate if you’re applying as a family.
It’s recommended that you get your personnummer before trying to open a bank account to make the process a bit easier.
Sweden has very strict guidelines on opening bank accounts. To comply with local regulations, banks don't usually offer the option to open an account online for customers without a Swedish banking history.
While many banks offer online opening with Mobile BankID³, which is an e-identification for smartphones and tablets that you can use for internet and mobile banking, including while you’re abroad, you’ll still need to open a bank account in person before obtaining your mobile banking ID.
If you’re not a resident of Sweden you won’t be able to open a normal bank account. In some cases you may be able to apply for a specific non-resident account with a Swedish bank - but even for these account types, you may need to fulfill some eligibility criteria, including having an address somewhere else in Europe.
Non-resident bank accounts tend to be more expensive and more limited compared to resident accounts - so do shop around if you’re considering this option.
This is a bit of a Catch 22 situation. If you already have a Swedish bank account you’ll be able to get a Bank ID which means you can open another account online easily.
However, without this you’ll struggle. That may mean it’s not possible to open a Swedish bank account without visiting the country in person.
If you’re still in the US looking for a solution to manage your money in SEK before you even move, you might prefer a service like Wise - more on that later.
This first step in the application process is obtaining your personnummer prior to opening your bank account.
Once you have all of your required documentation in hand, opening a bank account is very simple, with the process typically being completed in a single business day.
If you’re eligible you can apply online - or head to a branch if you’re not able to get set up digitally. Many Swedish banks have English speaking staff, but if you’re concerned about language, call ahead to make sure there’s support on hand.
There are a variety of well-known banks to choose from within Sweden. Although the banking system tends to be complicated, it can actually serve as a blessing in disguise for expats by narrowing down the options available for your personal banking needs.
Luckily, there are multiple financial institutions with proven rapport with expats. With the proper documentation, they should provide you with a relatively simple process for opening a personal account.
Nordea bank⁴ offers a good network of branches and ATM locations in Sweden and in other countries in the region. They offer standard banking services.
SEB bank⁵ is a popular bank with branches and ATM locations throughout Sweden. In addition to standard banking services, they’re well known for their high-functioning mobile app.
Handelsbanken⁶ has multiple branches served by 1,800+ Swedish staff, and a good selection of ATM locations. They offer standard banking options.
Swedbank⁷ is one of the biggest banks based on ATM locations - which can help make life more convenient. They also offer services in both Swedish and English and interpreting services for any other languages.
If you need a simple way to organize your finances in SEK as well as USD before you move to Sweden, check out Wise for a convenient multi-currency account you can open from the US before departure, and use to manage your money across krona, dollars and 40+ other currencies.
Open your Wise account online or with your phone, and order a Wise debit card for convenient spending in 150+ countries.
You can send payments to bank accounts in 160+ countries, and access the mid-market exchange rate with low fees from 0.43%⁸ every time you need to switch from one currency to another.
You’ll also be able to access local bank details to have people send you USD and several other major global currencies conveniently, direct to your Wise account.
Wise isn’t a bank - but it’s a registered Money Service Business in the US and regulated wherever services are offered around the world. That means it’s safe to use, and could save you money too.
Traveling abroad can mean paying many types of fees in connection with banking.
Most banks will charge an ongoing fee for maintaining your account - this can be waived for students or for basic account packages, but for premium tier accounts it can be fairly high.
Different packages are available, which come with their own features and which usually have some fee free transactions thrown in.
You may well find that it's free to use an in-network ATM as part of your overall banking package.
However, out of network ATM withdrawals, and using an ATM overseas will usually mean paying a fee. Overseas ATM use may also mean you’re charged a foreign transaction fee.
Using a check in Sweden is rare and many banks these days don’t accept them. If you were to try and deposit a check in Sweden, be prepared for a sizable fee and several days to clear.
If you’re planning to move money from overseas with any regularity, then It’s important to do your research about foreign transfer fees.
While most Swedish banks won’t charge a fee to transfer within the EU, there’s typically a fee associated with sending money outside of it.
With Wise there’s no hidden markup on the currency conversion rate, minimizing many international bank charges.
There’s also no intermediary charges, which can mean your recipient gets more in the end compared to sending your payment with a bank.
All in all, opening a bank account in Sweden should be a fairly straightforward process after you obtain your personnummer. If you’re keen to get your SEK account up and running before you arrive in Sweden, take a look at Wise instead, for hassle free ways to hold, exchange, send and spend krona as well as dollars and 40+ other currencies.
- Swedish Bank Association - becoming a bank customer
- Statteverket - moving to Sweden
- Mobile BankID
- Nordea Bank
Sources checked 09.12.2023
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 Wise Payments 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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