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Information for people that just arrived in Sweden

Welcome to the Oskar Klein Centre. This page is written by postdocs to potsdocs. Here we collect all the information that people before you found out the hard way, and they though could be useful to new comers. If you find out something useful that is not written here, please edit this page and add your experience. Thanks!

Setting down at AlbaNova

Hopefully somebody helped you to get an office and send you a link to this page. Once you have an email account, please subscribe to relevant mailing lists here: NewAtOKC and contact serena@fysik.su.se


How to find an apartment

Finding housing can be one of the most difficult parts of coming to Stockholm.

Reserved housing for foreign researchers

There are a few places that provide housing specifically for foreign researchers.

  • Wenner-Gren Center [1]
Subsidised and fully furnished apartments for foreign researchers. The Wenner-Gren Center is located at the end of Sveavägen, only 10 min walk away from the OKC. The waiting queue is around 18 months (*so apply as early as possible*). Applications [2] must be sent by e-mail or fax and should be submitted prior to arriving in Stockholm or shortly thereafter; applications cannot be submitted if you have been in Stockholm for more than six months. You'll need to put a contact person and the address of the host institute in the applications:
Contact person: Petra Nodler
Email: petra.nodler@fysik.su.se [3]
Tel: (+46)(0)8-5537 8600
Fax: (+46)(0)8-5537 8601
Institute address: Stockholm University, The Oskar Klein Centre, AlbaNova University Center, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
You'll get offered two apartments. If you refuse both, you won't be able to reapply for another apartment again.
  • University Accommodation Center [4]
The UAC also provides housing for foreign researchers, but appears to now be restricted to Karolinska-affiliated researchers only (as of 2014).
Free market

As with other online advertisement sites, be wary of scam postings. Money orders are a very unusual method of payment in Sweden, so use caution with any posting that requires this form of payment. You may wish to ask someone already at the OKC to arrange a visit to the apartment to ensure the posting is legitimate.

Lot of offers (mostly in Swedish), but you have to call quickly.
Do not pay anything in advance!
  • Bostad Direkt [6]
Free search, but in order to get the contact information of the landlords you need to sign up. They charge 695 SEK for full access to their residential database during 45 days, as well as your own ”tenant advert” so landlords can find you if they are looking for a tenant that matches your description. E-mails with new residences matching your specifications are sent to you as a complimentary service, and for an extra 50 SEK these new residences can also be texted (one hour prior to the e-mails) to your mobile phone.
  • Stockholms Universitets Studentkår (SUS) - Help with accomodation [7]
Listing of private rooms and flats for rent.
  • Akademisk Kvart [8]
Mostly rooms, but also some apartment offers. Most offers in Swedish.
KTH-affiliated researchers (includes Nordita researchers)

The KTH relocation service [9] provides help with finding housing (includes free access to Bostad Direkt).

Getting a residence permit

If you would like to stay longer than three months in Sweden, you have to register with the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket) [10].

EU/EEA citizens [11]

As an EU/EEA citizen you have the right to work in Sweden without a work and residence permit. A person who has a right of residence must register with the Swedish Migration Board no later than three months after entering the country. You can register on-line [12]. For your right of residence to be registered, you must enclose:

  • a copy of a valid passport or national identity card proving your citizenship
  • a certificate of employment from the employer, the form no. 227021 [13] (in Swedish) filled out and signed by the employer
Employees from countries outside the EU [14]

You must have a residence permit if you wish to stay as a visiting researcher in Sweden for a period exceeding three months. The residence permit includes permission to work; a separate work permit is thus not required. You must apply for a residence permit several months in advance of arrival in Sweden: do it from your native country or other country outside Sweden where you are living. Those who receive a residence permit will be given a residence permit card. You can apply on the Migration Board's website or at a Swedish embassy or consulate in the country you are living in. If you go to the website,there are two ways to get a residence permit: (i) fully online or (ii) print out a form and send it into the embassy. The best way to do it is online, as the decision time is much faster (2-4 weeks instead of 2-4 months). To do it online, go to this link: [15] and clink on "Continue to the Application" at the bottom. It takes you to a form entitled "Apply online for permission to work in Sweden" but don't worry, residence permits do fall under this category (you request to be visiting researcher). The alternative approach is to print out a different form and send it in to the embassy, but this may take months: "Application for a residence permit for a visiting researcher", no. 127011 [16]. In either case (online or mail-in), attach or enclose the following documents with your application:

  • copies of the pages of your valid passport that show your identity, the validity period of your passport and whether you have permits to be in countries other than your native country
  • hosting agreement, the form no. 231011 [17]. It must be signed by both parties.
  • a receipt of paid application fee. The amount can be found here [18]. The fee will not be refunded, regardless of whether your application is granted or rejected.

The Swedish migration board will notify you when the decision is made. However, they do not notify you what the decision is. The English instructions on the Migration Board's website do not clearly state what you likely need to do at this point: call your the Swedish embassy for your country to obtain the actual decision. If approved, the embassy can send the decision via email in minutes (at least in my case). The next step depends on your country of origin:

  • Non-visa waiver countries
If you need a visa to visit Sweden for any reason (including tourism), you may be required to visit a Swedish mission abroad (embassy or consulate) to have your biometric data (photo and fingerprints) taken, after which the residence permit card will be sent to you.
  • Visa waiver countries (includes USA & Canada)
If your citizenship allows you to enter Sweden without a visa or you have a valid EU residence permit that will overlap with your initial stay in Sweden, you may be able to perform the biometric data collection and obtain your residence permit card after arriving in Sweden. Print out the decision letter and show it when passing through immigration control (it will be in Swedish, but should include the dates for which your residence permit will be valid). If entering the Schengen area at an airport outside of Sweden, you may be taken out of the passport control line while they check your status (in my case for about 10 minutes). When you arrive in Sweden, you must visit the Migration Board office in Solna [19]. You can and should make an appointment [20] as the waiting time can otherwise be hours long. The residence card will be ready in 10-14 days and will either be mailed to you or you will need to return to retrieve it; in the latter case, expect to wait in line again. Whether or not you have an appointment, you should talk to the staff member or security guard standing in the middle as they will either provide you a queue number or check you in for your appointment.

Getting a civic registration number (personnummer)

People from abroad moving to Sweden and intending to stay one year or longer must register at the Swedish Tax Authority (Skatteverket) [21]. To do so, you have first to register at the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket). Then, you must go personally to a tax or service office and bring the following documents:

  • a valid passport or national ID card (for EEA countries)
  • a certificate of registration from the Swedish Migration Board as well as documents showing that you have right of residence (if you are from EEA countries)
  • a residence permit if you are stateless or citizen of a country outside the EEA. A residence application decision letter is not sufficient; you must have the actual residence permit card. Those coming from visa-waiver countries should therefore visit the Migration Board office and complete their biometrics as soon as possible after arriving (see above).
  • a marriage certificate or a residence card from the Migration Board if you are a family member of an EEA national who has a right of residence in Sweden
  • a proof of your marital status (required even if your spouse is not applying for residency in Sweden)
  • a birth certificate for each of your children, if any

You will typically be issued a civic registration number (personnummer) which is your unique reference that is often used in Sweden. Until this is issued, you may get a temporary coordination number (samordningsnummer). Skatteverket says the personnummer takes 4-6 weeks to process, but sometimes it will be completed in only 1-2 weeks.

The closest Skatteverket office is at Regeringsgatan 109, just off of Birger Jarlsgatan.

Getting a bank account

You can get a bank account even without your personnummer if you are an employed researcher (at least for SEB and Nordea, see below). What you need to open the bank account is the following:

  • Passport
  • A copy of your employment contract from OKC

You may have to be a little persistent in how you ask to open the account. At first, they may say they can't open an account without a personnummer. However, once you tell them that you are an employed visiting researcher and show them your employment contract they should be able to help you. Please note that if you want to open a joint account (for example, with your spouse), you need to tell them that right at the start. Your spouse cannot be "added to the account" after it is already open.

List of some banks:

  • SEB [22] Offices close to OKC.
  • Handelsbanken [23] Only Swedish bank with internet banking in English. Offices close to OKC.
  • Nordea [24] This is the bank used by the OKC. However, some are of the opinion that it is not a very good bank. Offices close to OKC.

If you open a bank somewhere other than Nordea, you will probably want your paycheck to be directly deposited in your account, rather than having to deposit it every month. Bring your bank account information to Mona Holgerstrand at the OKC. She will help you to fill out a direct deposit form, which you then need to bring to any Nordea branch. After that, your future paychecks will directly credit your bank account.

American citizens and permanent residents: Expect to have difficulties opening a bank account in Sweden due to complications from American tax laws imposed upon Swedish banks (in effect since 2014). Banks will not provide a regular account to American citizens and permanent residents without a personnummer, which can take up to two months to obtain, so plan accordingly. A limited temporary account may be obtained if you have a residence card but are still waiting for the personnummer, though intervention from someone in administration (e.g. Mona) may be required to get the bank to provide such an account. The limited account includes a debit card for ATM withdrawals and local purchases, but does not include internet banking: to make rent, utility, or similar payments, you will have to visit a bank branch (for a fee). You can return to the bank and switch to a regular account once you obtain your personnummer.

Getting an ID card

ID cards are very useful, many aspects of daily life assumes you have one. ID cards are issued by Skatteverket [25] (page in English: [26]). As of 2011, there is no longer any difficulty in non-EU citizens obtaining an ID card.

Foreign Driver's licences

Validity of driver’s licences from EEA countries
The following requirements apply in order for a driver's licence from an EEA country to be valid in Sweden
  • The driver's licence must be valid in the country where it was issued.
  • The driver's licence must not have been exchanged for a Swedish driver's licence.
  • The owner must not also have a Swedish driver's licence that has been confiscated or revoked.
If you have a driver's licence from an EEA country which meets these requirements, then your licence is valid in Sweden. This applies regardless of if you are registered in Sweden and for how long you have been registered. In addition, you can also be approved as a private tutor for driving practice, if you meet the requirements.
Validity of driver’s licences from other countries
The following requirements apply in order for driver‟s licences from other countries to be valid in Sweden
  • The driver's licence must be valid in the country it was issued.
  • The owner must not have been registered in Sweden for more than one year.
  • The driver's licence must not have been exchanged for a Swedish driver's licence.
  • The owner must not also have a Swedish driver's licence that has been confiscated or revoked.
There are international agreements on how a driver's licence is to be designed (the Conventions on Road Traffic of 1949 and 1968). A driver's licence which has not been designed according to these rules, and which has not been issued in English, German or French, is only valid together with a certified translation into English, German, French, Swedish, Danish or Norwegian. If the driver's licence does not have a photograph, then it is only valid together with an identification document that has a photograph.

Sign-up for Swedish courses

Swedish Course at Stockholm University
If you are a visiting researcher or student of Stockholm Univeristy, you can apply for free Swedish courses. See the web page at [27].
* Note the link on that page which says "Registration for courses ...". Looking at it, you will see that there are only a few days of registration. Also, the classes are in high demand and fill up quickly. So go to the earliest registration you can. If you are a student, you register simply with your student number.
* If you are a visiting researcher, it is very important that you get a special form filled out by the department before you go to register for the Swedish course. First, make sure you are employed by Stockholm Univeristy. Next, you may contact Eva Bogren (eva.bogren@nordiska.su.se) to acquire the form. Fill out the form and get the department head to sign it for you. (It may not have to be the department head. Sometimes it will work if you just get your supervisor or whoever hired you to sign it.)
Swedish For Immigrants
If you are not employed by Stockholm University, there are other free Swedish lessons you can take. Check out this webpage [28]. There is a lot of information there about applying, taking placement tests, etc. Note that you will need to have your personnummer and some ID (like a passport) in order to apply.

Exercise/Sports

Up to 1500 SEK in fitness activity related fees can be reimbursed each year, subject to some conditions [29]. Contact Mona Holgerstrand for details.

Gyms

A staff gym is located in the Allhuset building on the main Stockholm University campus [30]. Several students and post-docs make regular use of this gym and frequently workout together. The 500 SEK annual fee is usually covered by the department (as part of the fitness activity stipend).

A smaller, free-of-charge gym is located in AlbaNova C2:3075 with shower rooms nearby. You must take part in an orientation session before being allowed to use the gym. The orientation sessions occur only at specific times (currently Wed @ 16:00 or Friday @ 08:00). Check the door to the gym for information about gym use and signing up for an orientation session. The orientation session has a 200 SEK fee, which can be split by up to four people attending the session; this is the only fee associated with the gym is now free. There are several students and post-docs that also make regular use of this gym.

KTH has its own gym in KTH-Hallen [31] which is subsidised for KTH employees.

Running
Sign up for your running club
Climbing
Klättercentret
Rowing
more details coming soon

English-speaking preschool

There is an English-speaking preschool with very low subscription (so you can get in immediately) in Lappis. There are also a number of new privately-run preschools in the city which are English-speaking. Also, Johannes Skola, an elementary school near Albanova, has English and Swedish bilingual education. A list of international schools is here : http://www.globalexpatpartners.com/international-schools-in-stockholm/

Sign up for unemployment insurance

Okay, maybe this is a bit pessimistic and depressing but your contract will probably end at some point. If you sign up for this at least 12 months before that happens then you'll have a financial buffer to help you transition. It takes 5 minutes online here : http://www.aea.se/ If you want more than their full level of coverage (~14k per month after taxes) then you should also join a union.