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Getting started with Swedish banks

Opening a bank account should be one of your top priorities when arriving in Sweden, particularly if you’re staying here for more than one semester. In this blog post, I’ll give you a brief introduction to what you need to know about the Swedish banking system, along with my experience.

A picture of T-Centralen.
You can find most banks’ offices around T-Centralen. What about an afternoon stroll?

Why open a bank account?

There are different reasons why you may want to open a bank account in Sweden.

The first is related to salary: if you’re planning to start working, you will most likely be required to open a Swedish account by your employer.

Secondly, having a bank account here allows you to use different digital services such as Swish (a quick way to exchange money between individuals) or BankID, an electronic identification system that lets you sign agreements (e.g. gym or mobile phone plans), deal with taxes, and much more. But watch out: ONLY physical banks can issue BankID – always be sure to ask the bank before signing anything since legislation in this regard has recently changed.

Sweden is a very digitalised country; hence, it heavily relies on these “virtual shortcuts” to make things easier. Having BankID means more than just saving time – it makes you easily blend into the Swedish rhythm!

If you’re interested in the topic, here you can find more information on banking and paying.

What do you need to open a bank account?

Although some banks will let you open an account with just your passport, the majority will still ask for your personal identity number and ID card. So, I highly recommend you check our previous blog posts on how to get a personal identity number and then apply for an ID Card through Skatteverket – this will make the entire process smoother. Remember also to bring your admission letter and VISA with you, plus any additional forms/documents that your particular bank may require (just call them before going there)!

Finally, by surfing the banks’ websites, you may find some offers for students. Always read the requirements carefully: many of these offers only apply to students who transfer their CSN loans to that bank (CSN is the Swedish Board of Student Finance – it provides loans for students to be repaid with interest).

The whole process may require a lot of time, so get started as soon as possible!

My experience

Choosing the right bank for me was the hardest thing to do since I moved here, mainly because finding the correct information on banks’ websites wasn’t always easy. What I suggest you to do is to think about what you actually need the bank for. If you’re only interested in having a debit card and getting your salary, then maybe a virtual bank will be the best option since they’re typically cheaper/free and have faster approval times. Otherwise, when dealing with physical banks, the best option is always going to their offices: trust me, this will be MUCH faster than surfing for hours on their websites!

I hope this brief post has been helpful; finding the right bank can be tricky and tedious, but it’s something that everyone had to do at some point. Shall we say “trouble shared is trouble halved”?

See you at the next post; good luck with your banking adventure!

// Lorenzo