Living and working in Sweden

Last changed: 23 May 2022

This page contains practical information about life in Sweden and at SLU. Here, you can learn more about daily life and employment, and read about various practical matters to take into consideration before and after your arrival in Sweden and starting work at SLU. You can also find out what you need to do when the time comes for you to leave Sweden and SLU.

Residence permit/Work permit

Necessary documentation

When you travel to Sweden, make sure you have all the necessary official documentation for you and your family with you. You will need your identity documents, any residence permit cards or other official documents from the Swedish Migration Agency.

Entry conditions, visas and residence permit

Your nationality will determine which entry requirements apply for you. You might need an entry visa, residence permit or a work permit. As your employer and host organisation, SLU will provide you with the documents you need to submit with your application. You can read about the requirements for different nationalities below.

Citizens of a Nordic country

If you are a citizen of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Iceland, you do not need a residence permit to be able to live and work in Sweden. However, you will need to register with the Swedish Tax Agency. Here you can find more information about the Nordic Co-operation.

EU/EEA and Swiss citizens

EU citizens have the right to live, work, and study in Sweden without needing a residence permit. The right of EU/EEA citizens to stay in Sweden without a residence permit is called right of residence. You have right of residence if you are employed, self-employed, a student or have sufficient means to support yourself. If you have right of residence in Sweden you do not need to contact the Swedish Migration Agency. You will need a valid passport or national ID card when you enter Sweden, in order to prove your nationality. If you will be staying in Sweden for one year or more you must register with the Swedish Tax Agency.


Citizens of Switzerland may move to Sweden to work, study, start your own business or, for example, live on a pension from your country of origin. If you wish to stay for longer than three months, you will need a residence permit. For more information, see the Swedish Migration Agency.

Non-EU citizens

For non-EU citizens the length of the assignment/employment and the extent of research included in the employment determine which kind of permit you should apply for.

If you plan to work in Sweden for shorter than three months as a visiting researchers you do not need a residence permit. However, citizens of certain countries will need a visa. If you plan to work in Sweden for shorter than three months as a teacher or a lecturer you will however need a work permit.

If you plan to work in Sweden for longer than three months as a visiting researchers will need a residence permit and a hosting agreement from the university. For a non-EU citizens who will mostly be teaching and lecturing for longer than three months a work permit is required.

You must apply for the permit from your home country or the country outside of Sweden where you are a resident. A residence permit card will be issued to people who have been granted a residence permit. This card is proof of your right of residence. You will need to show your card along with a valid passport when you enter Sweden. Remember to make sure your passport is valid and extend it if it is about to expire. You cannot obtain a residence/work permit for a period longer than your passport’s validity. This also applies for members of your family who will be accompanying you.

Applications submitted via the Migration Agency’s website are usually processed faster. You need to make sure that you send in all the documents required since the processing will take much longer time if the migration agency needs to request further information from you. Please note that the processing times vary and can take very long time. SLU cannot influence the processing time for your visa or permit, nor can SLU contact the migration agency and ask about your permit. You need to contact migration agency yourself to get information about your case.

Your spouse/partner and your children can accompany you to Sweden for the duration of your stay. Depending on their nationality and length of stay, they may also need to apply for a visa and/or residence permit.

Visit the Swedish Migration Agency website for more information about permits, visas and the application forms for both you and your family.

Accommodation

Once you have decided to move to Sweden, you will need to find somewhere to live. Give yourself plenty of time to make all necessary arrangements before leaving your home country. SLU cannot guarantee housing for you, but talk to your contact person/employer at SLU as they might be able to provide you with useful information. There is no national system that processes accommodation requests for researchers.

The availability and costs of accommodation vary considerably depending on where you will live. Usually, it is easier to find housing in smaller and middle-sized towns and cities. Demand is higher in the larger cities and the university cities of Lund and Uppsala.

Below are two links to websites with information about different housing types, how to look for housing, what rights and obligations you have when living in multi-family accommodation etc.

Information Sverige – Living in Sweden

Uppsala International Hub

Living costs in Sweden depend largely on your lifestyle. Your rent or mortgage payments will usually take up a large portion of your budget. You can compare and calculate the cost of living in Sweden at Numebo webpage.

Below is a list of different landlords in SLUs principal sites; Alnarp, Umeå and Uppsala.

Umeå

Umeå kommun
Bostaden 
Blocket 
Kvalster 
Bostadsportal 
Hyra Bostad 
Hyresvärdslistan
Uthyrningsportal.se
 

Uppsala 

Uppsala Bostadsförmedling 
Blocket 
Kvalster 
Heimstaden 
Bostadsportal 
Studentboet 
Hyra Bostad 
Hyresvärdslistan 
Eklundshofs fastigheter
Uthyrningsportal.se
  

Alnarp - Malmö

Boplats Syd 
Ikano Bostad 
Blocket 
Kvalster 
Bostadsportal 
Hyra Bostad 
Hyresvärdslistan
Uthyrningsportal.se 

Alnarp - Lund

Lunds Kommuns Fastighets AB
Blocket 
Kvalster 
Bostadsportal 
Hyra Bostad 
Hyresvärdslistan
Uthyrningsportal.se
 

Skara

Centrumbostäder 
Blocket 
Kvalster 
Bostadsportal
Hyra Bostad 
Hyresvärdslistan
Uthyrningsportal.se

Register with the Swedish authorities

You will need to contact several Swedish authorities as soon as possible after your arrival. These include:

Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket)

Before you arrive the department will apply for a coordination number for you. The coordination number will be need for registrations with Swedish authorities in the first period of time of your arrival.

If you will be living in Sweden for one year or longer, you must visit your local Swedish Tax Agency office to register yourself on the population register. After registration, you will be allocated a unique 10-digit personal identity number (personnummer) that will replace your temporary coordination number. You will need the personal identity number for a range of things, such as obtaining an ID card, opening a bank account and visiting a doctor.

For more information about where to find your local office and which documents you will need to be able to register, visit Skatteverket.

You can read more about coordination number and personal identity number here.

ID- card

Once you have received your personal identity number, you can apply for an ID card from the Swedish Tax Agency. Read more about ID-card here. 

Health care

If you or someone in your family needs medical care, you can usually get help at a healthcare centre (vårdcentral). A healthcare centre is a clinic that is usually close to where you live. It may also be called a health centre (hälsocentral), a GP surgery (husläkarmottagning) or a doctor’s office (familjeläkarmottagning). You can also call 1177 helpline if you or someone in your family is ill. They can give you advice from a nurse in English or Swedish and you can call any time of day. Read more on their website.

In Sweden, the healthcare system is decentralised, which means that it is managed and run either by the regions, local authority or municipality. Health, medical and dental care is divided into public and private sectors. Patient fees are set by each region and vary across the country, but is subsidized by the Swedish healthcare system. See more on which medical insurance cover you have based on length of stay and citizenship below under Insurance.

Swedish Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan)

Sweden has a social insurance system to provide financial security during different stages of life. It includes social insurance benefits for families with children, people with a disability or illness and the elderly. For example, compensation for sick leave or care of children (vab in Swedish). The system is publicly funded through taxes and dues.

The benefits someone is entitled to vary depending on whether the person is employed, studying, or only resident in Sweden. Social security is divided into residence-based and work-based benefits. More information is available on Försäkringskassan’s website.

Residence-based benefits are based on registration in the Swedish population register and include:

  • parental benefits
  • child allowance
  • housing allowance.

Work-based benefits are based on employment with a Swedish employer and having a permanent address in Sweden. They include:

  • parental benefits
  • sickness benefits (sick leave from work)
  • income-based old-age pension benefits.

Register with Försäkringskassan

To be eligible for social security benefits, you need to be register at Försäkringskassan. You can apply for registration as soon you arrived in Sweden and received your Swedish personal identity number or coordination number. The application will be received by Försäkringskassan but not processed until you apply for one of above benefits. If you don’t apply for registration you will instead be contacted by Försäkringkassan when you want to apply for one of above benefits. The process of payment can then be delayed since you need to send it additional information before a decision can be made.

Please observe that is you have children coming to Sweden with you who are younger than 16 years old, you need to apply for registration as soon as possible in order to get child allowance.

To apply, use the form Information when moving to or working in Sweden, which you will find here along with more information: Försäkringskassan’s website.

If you have questions about the social insurance system in Sweden, contact Försäkringskassan.

Bank account

If you have the legal right to be in Sweden, i.e. you have a right to residence as an EU/EEA citizen, or a valid residence permit/work permit as a non-EU citizen, you have the right to open a bank account without delay in accordance with the Payment Services Directive. Each Swedish bank can set their own routines and rules for opening an account and making sure there is no suspicion of money laundering, bribery or similar. Note that opening a bank account can be difficult and a lot of the responsibility is up to you.

You can freely choose the bank of your choice. Contact your chosen bank to book an appointment to open an account. During the appointment the bank will ask many questions to find out if you are a secure customer. Some questions might seem unnecessary and private, but it is very important that you answer all questions carefully.  It is also important that you bring requested document and identification to the appointment.

See Guidance to opening a Swedish bank account for detailed information. We also recommend that you bring this guide with you to the appointment.

At the Swedish Banker´s Association you can also find more information about becoming a bank customer.

Once you have opened your Swedish bank account, you will be sent a bank card as well as information about online and telephone banking services. Note that if you have opened a bank account without a Swedish personal identity number the account will have limited features. As part of anti-money laundering legislation, customers will undergo thorough background checks.

You can use your international bank/credit card in Sweden to make payments in shops, banks, or withdraw cash from ATMs. Many banks, shops and restaurants in Sweden no longer handle cash or accept cash payments.

If you will be staying in Sweden for less than six months, it can be easiest to simply use your bank account from your home country, even if you will incur additional charges and currency conversion fees. You can also continue to use your online banking service. We strongly recommend that you have a Visa or MasterCard as card is the most common way to pay in Sweden.

The right to an bank account

You have the right open a bank account without a Swedish personal identity number or coordination number. However many banks can still be reluctant and request a Swedish personal identity number and Swedish ID-card. You can refer to your rights according to the Payment Service Act 4 a kap. Betalkonto.

If the bank denies you an account, you have the right to receive written information about where you can turn with a complaint and how you can appeal the decision. Turn to the National Board for Con­sumer Disputes (ARN*) if you are uncertain.

Tax in Sweden

Sweden uses a pay-as-you-earn tax system, meaning your tax is withheld on your income payment. There are some exceptions – such as tax relief for skilled workers from abroad and a special income tax for non-residents (SINK) if your stay in Sweden is less than six months.

Please note, if your time in Sweden will be funded by a tax-free scholarship, you will not be entitled to the same social security benefits from the Swedish Social Insurance Agency as tax payers.

You can read more about tax in Sweden at Skatteverket.

Less than six months

If you reside in another country and will be coming to work in Sweden for less than six months, you will normally pay Swedish income tax. In most cases you will need to apply for special income tax for non-residents (SINK). However, this will depend on the length of your stay in Sweden.

If you will pay SINK, you will also have to pay tax on any remuneration you have received for your expenses.

Contact the payroll unit for more information about SINK.

More than six months

You must register for income tax if you will be living and working in Sweden for a continuous period of six months or more. You must register with the Swedish population register if you will be staying in Sweden for 12 months or more. You will then be allocated a personal identity number.

If you will be living in Sweden for six months or more, for tax purposes, you will be classed as a resident. Therefore, you will be taxed in Sweden for all of your income, regardless of which country it is earned. You must also submit an income tax return. The deadline for submission is usually the first week of May.

Tax relief for foreign skilled workers

Skilled workers such as executives, scientists and researchers may be entitled to tax relief where tax is only paid on 75 per cent of their income. This tax reduction applies to both salaries and benefits such as an employer’s contribution to housing and living costs. Foreign skilled workers may reside in Sweden for up to five years, however the tax relief is only available for the first three years of this period. Swedish citizens are not entitled to tax relief.

Contact your department to find out more about tax relief and how to apply. An application must be made within three months of starting the employment.

Read more on Forskarskattenämnden.

Insurance

You must have comprehensive insurance cover for the duration of your time in Sweden. This also applies for anyone who will be accompanying you. They will also need to take out healthcare insurance.

As a university employee, you will be covered by several policies. You can read all about the University’s insurance here

Citizens of Nordic countries

There is a Nordic agreement which means that citizens of Nordic countries have the right to the necessary medical care and healthcare and emergency dental care in Sweden on the same terms as people with Swedish citizenship. The person only needs to show a valid identity document and provide a residential address in their Nordic country of residence.

EU/EEA citizens who will be remaining in Sweden for LESS than 1 year

  • Medical care: EU/EEA citizens must apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC card) in their home country. This card provides access to the same conditions and costs for medical care in Sweden as are applicable to Swedish citizens. The insurance for foreign visitors covers emergency medical and dental care when they are working/staying in Sweden for less than one year.
  • Home insurance: The insurance for foreign visitors covers some personal belongings, but not all. The person is therefore advised to take out home insurance before entering Sweden so that they have full insurance cover for their personal belongings.
  • Accident insurance: The insurance for foreign visitors partially covers accidents.

EU/EEA citizens who will be remaining in Sweden for MORE than 1 year

  • Medical care: People who will be remaining in Sweden for more than one year will normally be registered by the Swedish Tax Agency and assigned a personal identity number. This makes them eligible for care for a patient fee. The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC card) can be used before a personal identity number is assigned.
  • Home insurance: Prospective employees are advised to take out home insurance before entering Sweden so that they have adequate insurance cover for their personal belongings. Employees who will be staying for more than 1 year can also take out home insurance after entering Sweden.
  • Accident insurance: Personal injury insurance does not apply if you are injured at home in your spare time. Employees need to take out private accident insurance if they are to be fully insured during their spare time.

Citizens from outside the EU/EEA who will be remaining in Sweden for LESS than 1 year

  • Medical care: The insurance for foreign visitors covers emergency medical and dental care when a person is working/staying in Sweden for less than one year. However, the policy does not cover planned care; in these cases, employees must pay the cost themselves.
  • Home insurance: The insurance for foreign visitors covers some personal belongings, but not all. The person is therefore advised to take out home insurance before entering Sweden so that they have full insurance cover for their personal belongings.
  • Accident insurance: The insurance for foreign visitors partially covers accidents. 

Citizens from outside the EU/EEA who will be remaining in Sweden for MORE than 1 year

  • Medical care: People who will be remaining in Sweden for more than one year will normally be registered by the Swedish Tax Agency and assigned a personal identity number. This makes them eligible for care for a patient fee.
  • Home insurance: Prospective employees are advised to take out home insurance before entering Sweden so that they have adequate insurance cover for their personal belongings. Employees who will be staying for more than 1 year can also take out home insurance after entering Sweden.
  • Accident insurance: Personal injury insurance does not apply if you are injured at home in your spare time. Employees need to take out private accident insurance if they are to be fully insured during their spare time.

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC card)

EU nationals, and others covered by a state social security scheme in an EU country, need to take their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with them when travelling in the EU. You can read more about the EHIC here. For those covered by Swedish social insurance, the EHIC card can be ordered on the Swedish Social Insurance Agency’s website. 

Planed healthcare and coordination number

A coordination number does not by itself give you access to subsidized patient fee when visiting a doctor. You need to have received your personal identity number or have an EHIC card to have subsidized planed health and medical care. (The insurance for foreign visitors, as above, only covers emergency medical care and not planed care.)

Learning Swedish

Before arrival

SLU uses English and Swedish in parallel, but English might be the working language at your department or faculty. Most Swedes speak good English, and you should be able to get by in everyday life without learning Swedish. However, Swedish skills will help you get to grips with your new life in Sweden and will also help you to integrate more easily.

You can start learning Swedish before your arrival. Courses in Swedish language and culture are taught in several countries and online courses are also available. Below are some alternatives for online courses:

  • Study in Sweden - Distance learning online or in App
  • Duolingo - Distance learning online or in App
  • Forvo: how to pronounce +100,000 Swedish words
  • Memrise: useful Swedish phrases, also available as an app (Google Play and Appstore)
  • Swedish 101: vocabulary flashcards, verb conjugator and more
  • Quizlet: flashcards with basic vocabulary
  • 8sidor.se: news in easy-to-read Swedish

Folkuniversitetet also offers a number of distance learning courses. Please note that you will have to pay for these courses.

Learning Swedish in Sweden

There are various options for learning Swedish once you have arrived in Sweden. SLU’s Division of Human Resources organises beginner and intermediate Swedish courses for SLU staff.

FolkuniversitetetMedborgarskolan and other organisations also offer Swedish courses around Sweden.

SFI (Swedish for Immigrants) is courses in Swedish provided by each municipality in Sweden for immigrants free of charge. The courses are given either part- or fulltime, and with different study pace.

SFI in Uppsala

Folkuniversitetet in Uppsala also provides for SFI Courses in central Uppsala

SFI in Malmö

SFI in Lund

SFI in Umeå

Pension

The Swedish Pensions Agency provides a national public pension that is based on your income in Sweden throughout your life. As a government employee, you will receive an additional government employee occupational pension. You can also save towards a private pension.

More information about pensions for SLU staff can be found on the staff web.

Find out more about pensions, visit the Swedish Pensions Agency website or the National Government Employee Pensions Board (SPV).

Introductions for new SLU employees

The introduction sessions are a way of welcoming new employees to the university and providing them with information about SLU and their workplace.

Since SLU operates all over Sweden, the introduction has been divided into three parts:

Workplace introduction: takes place in the department.

Introduction to SLU, Part 1: takes place on campus.

Introduction to SLU Part, 2: takes place in Uppsala or via Zoom.

You will get more information about the introduction for new SLU employees from your department upon arrival.

Arrange childcare or school

If you have children, you will need to find a preschool or school for them as soon as possible. Contact the municipality where you will be living to register your child/children with a school. International preschools and schools are available.

Read more about the Swedish school system at Skolverket. 

Driving licenses

Nordic licences

A driving licence issued in a Nordic country is valid throughout your stay. Permanent residents will need to apply to exchange their original licence for a Swedish one.

EU/EEA and Swiss licences

A driving licence issued in an EU/EEA country or Switzerland is valid throughout your stay. Permanent residents will need to apply to exchange their original licence for a Swedish one.

Non-EU licences

Driving licences that were issued in a non-EU/EEA country (excluding Switzerland and Japan) are valid for a maximum of twelve months.

A non-EU/EEA driving licence cannot be exchanged for a Swedish one. If you want to continue driving in Sweden you will need to take the risk awareness course as well as the theory and practical driving tests.

Swiss and Japanese licences can be exchanged for a Swedish one within one year of arrival in Sweden.

For more information about driving in Sweden and exchanging foreign licences, visit Körkortsportalen and read this PDF brochure.

Other

Bringing your belongings

Check with Swedish Customs for information about the rules regarding bringing certain items into Sweden, especially foods, medicines, tobacco, alcohol, vehicles and high-value items.

Bringing a pet?

Check the current regulations for bringing animals into Sweden to ensure your pet’s migration process goes as smoothly as your own.

Bringing your car to Sweden?

If you live in another EU country and bring your car to Sweden, you will need to register it and pay the relevant taxes.

The Swedish Transport Agency has a step-by-step guide on importing your car to Sweden. Please note that you cannot register your car until you have arrived in.

Culture

It is only natural to be curious about the culture of the country you will be moving to. The Swedish Government has created an official website with information about things such as Swedish national dress, the weather, public holidays and much more.

Links to various Swedish authorities

The Swedish Migration Agency (Migrationsverket)

The Swedish Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan)

The Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket)


Contact

HR-specialists
HR Unit, Division of Human Resources