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How difficult it is to open a bank account in Sweden?

How to open a bank account in Sweden without a Swedish personal identity number (personnumber) is one of the hardest challenges in Sweden.

How difficult it is to open a bank account in Sweden?foto: Andre Taissin via unsplash
Matilda Andersson
created at: Fri Jul 16 2021| updated at:Mon Jan 17 2022

This post is part of the integration tutorial we write to people who just arrived. If you find any discrepancy please email us at [email protected] We always love to listen to new ideas.

How to open a bank account in Sweden without a Swedish personal identity number (personnumber)  is one of the hardest challenges in Sweden. Hereunder we write some topics that might help you.


Which types of banks exist in Sweden?

Many new fintech companies (Klarna, Collectors Bank, ICABanken, Minna technologies, nortb) are just some of the examples of companies who  offer a range of different banking services. Some even set you up with an IBAN and a debit card. But just because they might offer similar services, that doesn’t mean that they are all genuine banks. In order to call itself a bank, an institution must have a genuine banking license.

In Sweden there are 4 major banks who operate with genuine banking licenses. SEB, Handelsbanken, SwedBank and Nordea are the four major banks which are backed up by the Swedish state. This means, that in case of insolvency, the Swedish State will inject capital within these four banks in order for the end-customers to not to be severely affected by the insolvency process. 

Sweden requires its banks to undergo a rigorous vetting process before being granted a license. That means complying with regulations set out by Sweden’s Central Bank (Riksbank) and Financial Supervisory Authority, as well as the European Central Bank (ECB).

Once licensed, a bank has the power to offer more advanced banking services like overdraft and lending. Most importantly, a banking license ensures the protection of your data and money—up to €100,000 under an EU-wide deposit guarantee scheme.

What do you need to do in order to open a bank account in Sweden?

This is the golden question for many foreigners who just moved/arrived in Sweden. In most of the countries, in order to open a bank account, a normal individual would need his identification ID-card / passport, and most likely a no-debt statement accredited by a governmental agency. In Sweden this is not so simple.

First it really depends of your type of visa and residency. Most of the banks will require for you to have a Swedish personal identity number (personnumber) and without it you cannot have a bank account. This is due to other major services such as bank ID and Swish, which allows an individual to sign and certify documents and services or respectively to transfer money easily.

Second, it really depends of your social situation. If you are a student or have a registered activity as a freelancer, it will be possible to open a private account/transactions account, however some of the banks will impose that you have a job or grant for study (CSN) and open a salary account (lönkonton). All the accounts usually are created together with a savings account (sparkonto) which functionality is to keep money that is not moved so often. 

Which types of accounts can you open in Sweden?

This really depends of your private life, intentions with a bank account and economy. There are different types of bank accounts in Sweden:

Private persons & Freelancers:

   · Transactions account (transaktionskonton)

   · Savings account ( sparkonton )

   · Investment account ( investeringskonton )


   · Transactions account (transaktionskonton)

   · Savings account ( sparkonton )

   · Investment account ( investeringskonton )

   · Buffer accounts (buffertkonton)

As mentioned before, as private person you will be offered to open a private account together with a savings account. There are other two major types of accounts that you can open as a private person and those are the so called placeringskonton and the investeringskonton.

A placeringskonton is a type of bank account that has a fix rate of return, but you are binded to invest every month on it a fixed value or to have the money invested for a minimum of 3 months up to 5 years.

The second type of account is the investment account investeringssparkonto (ISK) and this one is for people more comfortable in buying stocks and other financial instruments. The advantage of this account within a bank rather than a broker, is that all the banks are obliged to communicate all the information both to finansinspektionen and skatteverket, and all the tax deductions will be done automatically. Moreover, they also send the information for the declaration, which makes the same being pre filled upon the moment to declare taxes.

As a limited liability company (Aktierbolag), you can open the same types of accounts except for the private account which is a company account and needs you to authenticate every transaction as the authorised person by the company to do such transaction

Some banks also offer the Lichenstein buffer account type for middle-size companies / enterprises. 

How to open an account with a Swedish bank physically.

1. Identify and print the documents required by your bank

2. Make an appointment and bring your documents to a local bank branch

3. Answer some questions and verify your identity with the clerk

4. Wait for your confirmation, card, PIN, and other necessary documents to arrive by post

5. Activate your account and online banking with BankID

How to opening an account with a Swedish bank digitally.

1. Confirm your phone number or email

2. Download your bank’s mobile app and select the type of account you want

3. Finish the registration process

4. Complete in-app ID verification 

5. Create a PIN and wait for your card to arrive by mail, if included

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