How to Open a Bank Account in Sweden: A Step-by-Step Guide (2024)



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Moving to a new country brings a myriad of challenges, and one of the most crucial steps for settling in is managing your finances effectively. In Sweden, having a local bank account is not just a convenience; it’s a necessity for daily life. Whether you are an expat, a new resident, or an international student, a Swedish bank account will streamline your financial transactions, from receiving a salary to paying for groceries.

The prospect of opening a bank account in a foreign country, especially when you are not fluent in the local language, can seem daunting. However, the process in Sweden is straightforward and expat-friendly. This guide aims to teach you how to open a bank account in Sweden, ensuring that you feel informed and confident throughout the process. With this practical, step-by-step approach, you’ll find that setting up your Swedish bank account can be a smooth and hassle-free experience.


  • A Swedish bank account is essential for daily financial transactions in Sweden.
  • Sweden’s banking system offers checking, savings, and investment accounts.
  • Eligibility for a bank account includes age, residency, and specific documents.
  • Required documents include a valid ID, Swedish personal identity number, and proof of address.
  • Choose a bank based on services, fees, location, and language support.
  • The account application involves document submission and possibly a branch visit.
  • Set up your account by depositing money and activating online banking.
  • Explore additional services like credit options and international transfers.

Understanding the Swedish Banking System

Sweden’s banking system is renowned for its efficiency and innovation, making it an ideal environment for expats and international residents to manage their finances. The system is characterized by a strong regulatory framework, ensuring safety and reliability for account holders. Most banks in Sweden offer a wide range of services, including online banking, which is highly convenient and user-friendly.

Types of Bank Accounts

In Sweden, you’ll typically find several types of bank accounts, each designed to cater to different banking needs:

  • Checking Accounts (Brukskonto): These are everyday accounts used for regular transactions like receiving salaries and paying bills. They usually come with a debit card and online banking facilities.
  • Savings Accounts (Sparkonto): Ideal for setting aside money, these accounts often offer interest on your savings, though the rates may vary.
  • Investment Accounts: For those interested in investments, several banks offer accounts that allow you to invest in stocks, bonds, and other financial instruments.

Key Banking Institutions

Sweden is home to a range of banking institutions, both local and international. Some of the major banks include:

Swedbank: Known for its extensive branch network across Sweden.

Handelsbanken: Offers personalized banking services and has a strong presence in rural and urban areas.

SEB: Popular among professionals and businesses, known for its comprehensive banking services.

Nordea: The largest financial group in the Nordic region, offering a wide range of banking services.

Many of these banks provide services in English, catering to the needs of the international community in Sweden.

Related: Best Banks in Sweden for Foreigners

Eligibility Criteria

Who Can Open a Bank Account in Sweden?

Understanding who is eligible to open a bank account in Sweden is a crucial first step. The good news is that Sweden’s banking system is inclusive, catering to a wide range of residents including expats and international students. Here are the key eligibility criteria:

  • Age: You must be at least 18 years old to open a bank account in Sweden. This is a standard requirement across most banks.
  • Residency Status: Both residents and non-residents can open bank accounts. However, the process and requirements may vary slightly for non-residents.

Specifics for Non-Residents and International Students

Non-Residents: If you are not a resident but need a bank account in Sweden (for example, if you are working temporarily in the country), you can still apply. However, additional documentation, such as proof of employment or reason for staying in Sweden, may be required.

International Students: Students from abroad are generally welcome to open bank accounts in Sweden. You will need to provide your student ID and proof of admission to a Swedish educational institution.

Required Documents

Essential Documentation for Opening a Bank Account

To open a bank account in Sweden, certain documents are essential. These documents help the bank verify your identity and eligibility. Here’s a list of what you’ll generally need:

Document TypeDescriptionSpecifics for Non-Residents/Students
Valid Passport or ID CardPrimary identity verification document.Mandatory for all applicants.
Swedish Personal Identity NumberUnique ID number in Sweden.Essential for residents.
Proof of AddressRental agreement or utility bill in Sweden.Required to verify local address.
Residence PermitFor non-EU residents living in Sweden.Necessary for non-EU residents.
Additional for StudentsStudent ID and admission letter.Required for international students.
Additional for EmployedEmployment contract or recent payslip.Necessary for employed individuals.

  • Valid Passport or National ID Card: This is a primary requirement for identity verification.
  • Swedish Personal Identity Number (Personnummer): This is a unique identification number assigned to you when you register in Sweden. It’s vital for almost all administrative processes, including banking.
  • Proof of Address in Sweden: This could be a rental agreement or a utility bill showing your address in Sweden.
  • Residence Permit (if applicable): For non-EU residents, a valid residence permit is necessary.

Additional Requirements for Specific Groups

Students: Along with the above documents, international students should provide their student ID and admission letter from their educational institution in Sweden.

Employed Individuals: If you are employed in Sweden, you may need to show your employment contract or a recent payslip as proof of steady income.

Special Considerations

Digital Verification: Some banks may offer digital verification methods, allowing you to complete part of the process online. However, be prepared to visit a branch if required, especially for your first account opening in Sweden.

Language Assistance: For those not fluent in Swedish, ensure to ask if the bank provides services in English or other languages. Most major banks in Sweden offer English-speaking services to cater to the international community.

Choosing the Right Bank

Factors to Consider

When selecting a bank in Sweden, considering your specific needs and circumstances is key to finding the best fit. Here are some factors to keep in mind:

Bank Services and Fees: Compare the services offered by different banks, such as online banking, international transfers, and account types. Also, be mindful of any fees for account maintenance, transactions, or ATM withdrawals.

Branch and ATM Availability: Consider the convenience of the bank’s locations. If you prefer in-person banking, choose a bank with a branch near your home or workplace. Also, check the availability and distribution of ATMs.

English Language Services: For those who are not fluent in Swedish, it’s important to choose a bank that offers services in English. Many Swedish banks provide English-speaking staff and documentation.

Expatriate-Friendly Services: Some banks offer special services for expats, such as international account management or assistance with setting up utility payments.

Recommended Banks for Expats and International Students

While there are many banks in Sweden, some are particularly known for their expatriate-friendly services. These include:

Handelsbanken: Known for its personalized customer service and extensive branch network.

Nordea: Offers a wide range of services and is the largest bank in the Nordic region.

SEB: Particularly favored by professionals and businesses for its comprehensive services.

Swedbank: Widely accessible with a large number of branches and ATMs across Sweden.

Online-Only Banks

In addition to traditional banks, Sweden also has several online-only banks. These banks typically offer lower fees and convenient digital banking solutions. If you are comfortable managing your finances entirely online, this might be a suitable option.

The Application Process

How to Open a Bank Account in Sweden: A Step-by-Step Guide

Opening a bank account in Sweden is a streamlined process, especially when you’re well-prepared with all the necessary documents. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you through the application process:

  1. Choose Your Bank: Based on the factors discussed earlier, select the bank that best suits your needs.
  2. Visit a Branch or Apply Online: Depending on the bank, you can start the process either by visiting a branch in person or applying online. For some banks, an initial online application may be followed by a visit to the branch.
  3. Fill Out the Application Form: Whether online or in person, you’ll be required to fill out an application form. This typically includes personal details, your current address in Sweden, and your employment or student status.
  4. Submit Required Documents: Present your identification (passport or national ID), Swedish personal identity number, proof of address, and any additional documents (like a residence permit, student ID, or employment contract).
  5. Verification Process: The bank will verify your documents. This process may take a few days. Some banks may require a face-to-face meeting for final verification, especially for your first bank account in Sweden.
  6. Account Approval and Setup: Once your application is approved, you will receive your account details. This includes your account number and online banking information.
  7. Receiving and Activating Your Bank Card: If your account comes with a debit card, it will typically be mailed to your address. Follow the bank’s instructions to activate it.
  8. Setting Up Online Banking: Set up and familiarize yourself with the bank’s online and mobile banking services. This is essential for easy management of your finances.

Tips for a Smooth Application Process

  • Make an Appointment: If you choose to visit a branch, it’s advisable to make an appointment in advance to avoid long waiting times.
  • Ask Questions: Don’t hesitate to ask for clarification on any part of the process, especially about fees, account features, or services.
  • Digital Banking Options: If you prefer digital solutions, inquire about the bank’s online and mobile banking features during the application process.

Setting Up Your Account

Activating and Using Your New Bank Account

Once your application is approved and your account is open, there are a few key steps to fully set up your account and start using it effectively:

Depositing Money into Your Account: The first step is to deposit money into your new account. You can do this through a bank transfer from your previous account, or by depositing cash at a bank branch or ATM, if available.

Receiving and Activating Your Bank Card: If your account comes with a debit card, you will usually receive it by mail at your registered address. Follow the instructions provided by the bank to activate your card, which may include setting a PIN.

Setting Up Online and Mobile Banking: Most Swedish banks offer comprehensive online and mobile banking services. Setting these up will allow you to manage your account, pay bills, and perform transactions conveniently. Download the bank’s app and follow the instructions to set up and secure your online banking access.

Understanding the Features of Your Account: Familiarize yourself with the various features of your account. This includes understanding how to check your balance, make transfers, set up automatic payments, and what fees may apply for different services.

Tips for Efficient Account Management

  • Online Banking Security: Ensure you follow the security protocols recommended by your bank for online banking. This includes using strong passwords and never sharing your banking details with others.
  • Regular Monitoring: Regularly monitor your account for any unfamiliar transactions. This is important for catching any unauthorized activity early.
  • Setting Up Notifications: Many banks offer the option to set up SMS or email notifications for certain activities on your account, such as when a transaction is made or when your balance falls below a certain amount.
  • Understanding Banking Fees: Be aware of any fees associated with your account, such as for international transfers, overdrafts, or ATM withdrawals outside the bank’s network.

Additional Services and Considerations

Once your basic bank account is set up, you might want to explore additional services offered by your bank to enhance your financial management in Sweden. Here are some of the key services to consider:

Credit Facilities: Many banks offer credit cards, overdraft facilities, or personal loans. These can be useful for managing larger expenses or unforeseen costs. Be sure to understand the terms and interest rates before opting for credit services.

International Transfers: If you need to send or receive money from abroad, inquire about your bank’s international transfer services. Check for transfer fees, exchange rates, and transaction times.

Savings and Investment Options: For long-term financial planning, consider setting up a savings account or exploring investment options. Many banks offer savings accounts with favorable interest rates and investment services, including stocks and mutual funds.

Insurance Services: Some banks also offer insurance products, such as travel insurance or home insurance, which can be convenient to manage alongside your banking.

Key Considerations for Effective Banking

Stay Informed About Changes: Banks may update their policies, fees, or services. Keep an eye on any communication from your bank regarding such changes.

Understand Tax Implications: Be aware of any tax obligations related to your bank accounts, especially if you have accounts or financial interests in more than one country.

Seek Financial Advice: If you’re considering complex financial products or services, it might be beneficial to seek advice from a financial advisor.

Building a Credit History in Sweden: If you plan to stay in Sweden long-term, building a good credit history can be important. Using a credit card responsibly and ensuring timely bill payments can help in this regard.

Troubleshooting and Support

English-Speaking Customer Support: Make sure you know how to get in touch with English-speaking customer support for any queries or issues you might encounter.

Online and Mobile Banking Support: Familiarize yourself with the support options for online and mobile banking, which can often be the quickest way to resolve technical issues.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Even with careful planning, you might encounter some issues while banking in Sweden, especially as a foreigner. Here’s how to troubleshoot common problems:

Document Verification Delays

Verification of foreign documents can sometimes take longer. Ensure all your documents are correctly submitted. If there’s a delay, contact the bank to check the status. Sometimes, a visit to the branch can expedite the process.

Communication Barriers

If language is a barrier, ask for an English-speaking representative. Most banks in Sweden have staff who can assist in English. Alternatively, use digital banking services, which often have English language options.

Online Banking Difficulties

For issues with online or mobile banking, first check the bank’s FAQ or help section. If the problem persists, contact customer support. Many banks also offer tutorials or guides for their digital services.

Unrecognized Transactions

Immediately report any unrecognized transactions to your bank. It’s crucial for security to monitor your account regularly and act quickly in case of any suspicious activity.

Understanding Banking Fees

If you’re unclear about certain fees, reach out to your bank for a detailed explanation. It’s important to understand the fee structure to manage your finances effectively and avoid unexpected charges.

Seeking Assistance and Support

  • Customer Service: Don’t hesitate to contact your bank’s customer service for any issues or queries. It’s their job to assist you, and they can provide valuable guidance.
  • Visit a Branch: If you’re struggling to resolve an issue online or over the phone, visiting a branch can often lead to quicker and more effective solutions.
  • Online Community Forums: Online expat forums in Sweden can also be a helpful resource where you can seek advice from others who might have faced similar issues.


Sofia is our Relocation Expert, who brings first-hand experience in moving to Sweden from abroad. She moved to Sweden over a decade ago and navigated the complexities of relocation herself.

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