Practical information and advice for living and working in Sweden and at SLU

Last changed: 07 April 2017

This page contains practical information concerning professional and daily life in Sweden and SLU. In the following you will be able to read information regarding different practical issues you need to look into during different moments: before arriving to Sweden and SLU, upon your arrival and before you leave Sweden and SLU.

Before arriving to Sweden and SLU

There are a number of practical issues to look into before moving to another country and we hope to answer some of your questions. In this section you will find practicalities that must be dealt with before travelling to Sweden such as applying for a visa, residence permit for visiting researchers or a work permit depending on where you come from.

Necessary documentation

Make sure to bring all official documentation for you and your family with you when travelling to Sweden, including identity documents, any residence permit cards and any official documents from the Swedish Migration Agency.

Entry conditions, visas and resident permit

Depending on your nationality, entry conditions may apply, such as the need to have an entry visa, a residence permit or work permit. If so, SLU as your employer and host organization will assist you by providing necessary documents. See below regarding the requirements depending on where you come from.

Nordic citizens

Citizens of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Iceland may live and work in Sweden without registering or obtaining a residence permit. If your stay in Sweden will be one year or more, you must generally be entered into the Swedish population register. Read more about this under the heading of Upon arrival to Sweden and SLU. Read more about the Nordic countries cooperation and how it works.

EU/EEA and Citizens of Switzerland

EU citizens have the right to work, study or live in Sweden without a residence permit. The right of EU 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. When entering Sweden, you need a valid passport or ID card showing your citizenship. If your stay in Sweden will be one year or more, you must generally be entered into the Swedish population register. Read more about this under the heading of Civil registration.

Citizens of Switzerland
If you are a Swiss citizen, you 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. www.migrationsverket.se

Non-EU citizens

Most important regarding entry conditions: Is your passport valid? Make sure to extend your passport if it is about to expire – you cannot obtain a work/residence permit for longer than your passport's period of validity. This also applies to your family, if they accompany you.

You do not need a permit to work for less than three months. However, citizens of certain countries need a visa, see visa external link, opens in new window.

If you plan to work in Sweden for longer than three months you will instead need a residence permit (applies for visiting researchers from a non-EU country who are exempt from a work permit, if there is a hosting agreement with the hosting university) or work permit (applies for those not doing any research and who will mostly do teaching and lecturing).

You must apply for the permit 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. The card is proof of your residence permit. When you enter Sweden, you must therefore show your card along with a valid passport.

If you apply on line, using the Migration Board website, you will get a decision sooner, providing that the Migration Board does not need to request further information. However, this time to get a decision from the Migration Board can vary and you need to be patient and follow their instructions. Notice also that SLU cannot and will not try to influence the decision-making time for your visa or residance permit at the Migration Board.

Your spouse/cohabitant and your children can accompany you to Sweden for the duration of your stay. They may also need to get a visa or a residence permit, depending on their citizenship and length of stay.

More information about permits, visas and application forms for both you and your family accompanying you can be found at www.migrationsverket.se

Bringing your things

Check with Swedish Customs if you’re unsure of the rules regarding bringing a specific item with you – particularly food, medicine, tobacco, alcohol, vehicles and anything very expensive.

Bringing a pet?

Check current regulations for bringing animals to 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 step-by-step information on how to register your car in Sweden. Please note that you cannot register your car until you have arrived in Sweden and have received your personal identity number. When you have received your personal identity number, you are allowed to drive your car for only seven days without a Swedish registration. However, you can apply for a temporary registration while the permanent registration is being handled. This is done at the same time as you apply for a ‘verification of origin’.

Accommodation

Finding a place to stay will be one of the first issues to look into when you have decided to move to Sweden. Give yourself plenty of time to make all necessary arrangements before leaving your home country. SLU cannot guarantee a housing for you but always check first with your contact person/employer at SLU where you will do your research as they might provide you with information that is very useful regarding finding accommodation. There is no national system that handles requests for researcher accommodation.

The availability and costs of accommodation vary considerably from place to place. Usually, it is easier to find housing in smaller and middle-sized cities or towns. Demand is higher in the larger cities, and in the university cities of Lund and Uppsala.

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

http://www.informationsverige.se/Engelska/Leva-och-bo/Pages/Bostad.aspx

http://work.sweden.se/plan-your-move/finding-a-home/

Costs of living

Living costs in Sweden depend largely on your individual lifestyle. The cost for an apartment/house will usually make up a large post in your budget. Visit Numebo to make calculations on costs of living in Sweden. 

Learn about taxation

In Sweden, taxes are almost always withheld at the time of payment. Your employer is obliged to deduct tax from your salary before you are paid. There are some exceptions to the regular tax system, e.g. tax relief for foreign key personnel and a special income tax for non-residents (SINK) if you stay for less than six months.

Note, if you come to Sweden on a scholarship that is tax free, you will not be entitled to the same benefits from the Swedish Social Insurance Office that the tax-payers are. This means that you need to ensure you have a separate cover. Read more at Social security.

Read more about taxation in Sweden at Skatteverket.se

Less than six months

If you reside in another country, and come to work in Sweden for less than six months, your employment income from work in Sweden will normally be taxed in Sweden. In most cases you will need to file an application for taxation in accordance with the Special Income Tax for Non-Residents Act (SINK). However, this depends on the duration on your stay in Sweden.

If you are to be taxed in accordance with SINK, you are also required to pay tax on the reimbursement of expenses you have received.

More than six months

If you stay and work in Sweden for a continuous period of at least six months you must register for income taxation. If your stay is more than one year you should be registered in the Swedish Population Register and you will then receive a personal number.

When staying for at least six months, you are considered as resident in Sweden for tax purposes, and are liable for taxation in Sweden on all of your worldwide income. You must also file a Swedish income tax return. Your tax return must be filed no later than May 2nd of the year after the fiscal year.

Tax relief for foreign key personnel

Tax relief may apply to foreign experts, executives, scientists, researchers and others whose skills are difficult to find in Sweden. Income taxes are based on only 75 percent of income. The reduced tax applies to all salaries and perks, such as employers' contributions to housing and living costs. It will apply to the first three years of the temporary stay in Sweden. However, foreign key personnel may reside in Sweden for up to five years. Swedish citizens cannot be granted tax relief.

The main feature of Sweden's tax relief legislation will provide a 25 percent reduction of taxable income of a foreign key person. This means that if the relief is granted, a key foreign individual's income tax will be based on only 75 percent of his or her income.

When do you apply for the tax relief and where?

The application for tax relief must be submitted by the employer or the foreign person within three months of the start of employment. Applications are submitted to Forskarskattenämnden by using this application form.

Read more at www.forskarskattenamnden.se.

Insurance

Make sure you are fully insured throughout your entire stay in Sweden. If your spouse/cohabitant and/or children accompany you to Sweden, they too need to make sure that they have some form of healthcare coverage in Sweden.

As an employee at a university, you are generally covered by various insurances, both on or on the way to your workplace, but also during business travels. Check with your department when you sign the contract.

Personal insurance

Depending on the duration of your stay and your country of citizenship, you may be eligible for tax-subsidized healthcare. Without it, medical costs in Sweden can be expensive and you should consider taking out medical insurance.

Nordic citizens

If you come from another Nordic country, you can instead show an ID card and provide your home address

EU/EEA and Switzerland citizens

Staying less than one year
If you come from an EU/EEA country or from Switzerland, you just need to pay the standard Swedish patient fee to receive necessary care. You must present your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which you can order in your home country.

Staying one year or more
If you plan to stay in Sweden for at least one year, you must generally be entered into the Swedish population register. You do this by registering with the Swedish Tax Agency. Once you are registered in Sweden, you are entitled to healthcare as other residents of Sweden. This means that you pay the regular Swedish patient fee for medical care in the public healthcare system. You may also be entitled to different types of compensation and allowances from Försäkringskassan. If in doubt, always check with Försäkingskassan regarding your rights and obligations.

Non-EU citizens

Staying less than one year
If your residence permit is for less than a year, you cannot be listed in the Swedish civil registry, rendering you ineligible for Swedish healthcare benefits. Instead you have to make arrangements for health insurance coverage for the duration of your stay in Sweden before you arrive. SLU has you covered by a GIF insurance (GIF-försäkring) which is an emergency insurance. Contact your host department or HR Division of SLU for more information about the GIF-insurance.

Staying one year or more
If you plan to stay in Sweden for at least one year, you must generally be entered into the Swedish population register. You do this by registering with the Swedish Tax Agency. Once you are registered in Sweden, you are entitled to healthcare as other residents of Sweden. This means that you pay the regular Swedish patient fee for medical care in the public healthcare system. You may also be entitled to different types of compensation and allowances from Försäkringskassan. If in doubt, always check with Försäkingskassan regarding your rights and obligations.

Home insurance

We recommend that you purchase a home insurance (“hemförsäkring”) for the duration of your stay here. If anything is stolen from your residence, or if any property is damaged or lost during your stay, you are responsible for repair or replacement costs. In addition to personal property, home insurance should also cover liability, legal expenses and travel insurance.
Home insurances are sold by most insurance companies in Sweden.

If you are in Sweden for a shorter period of time (less than one year), you will not receive a personal identity number and thus might find it difficult to take out an insurance in Sweden. It is therefore recommended that you buy a householders' comprehensive insurance before you leave your country.

Life Insurance

As a government employee, you have life insurance through occupational group life insurance. The insurance provides a lump sum payment and a contribution towards funeral expenses to your surviving relatives, such as your spouse/common law spouse and children.

Your life insurance is in effect from the day you begin working at SLU. It also applies during holidays, illness and leave of absence.

The insurance applies for as long as you are employed, but no longer than the age of 65 (67). If you leave your employment before turning 65, your insurance contains a run-off cover which applies:

less than 180 days

during unemployment ­– maximum of 2 years

if you receive full parental benefit ­– maximum of 2 years

during illness, for as long as the illness lasts

The insurance does not cover employees who at the beginning of their employment receive more than half of their early retirement pension/sickness compensation or who receive full sickness benefit.

Be sure to remind your immediate family that you have life insurance!

Personal injury insurance

Most government employees are insured against personal injury in connection with work. Work injuries are injuries and illnesses which have occurred through accidents or other work-related injuries. Accidents which occur on the way to and from work may count as well.

If you receive a work injury, please contact your manager. You and your manager must report the work injury.

Read more about the personal injury insurance and SLU.

Driving license

Nordic citizens

A driver’s license that was issued in a Nordic country is valid throughout your stay. If you are a permanent resident in Sweden, you can even apply to exchange your license for an equivalent Swedish driver’s license.

EU/EEA and citizens of Switzerland

A driver’s license that was issued in an EEA country is valid throughout your stay. If you are a permanent resident in Sweden, you can even apply to exchange your license for an equivalent Swedish driver’s license.

Non-EU citizens

A driver’s license that was issued in non-EEA countries (excluding Switzerland and Japan) is valid for a maximum of one year in Sweden.

A non-EEA driving license cannot be exchanged for a Swedish equivalent. If you want to continue driving in Sweden you will have to complete the risk education, and theory and practical examinations.

Licenses issued in Japan and Switzerland can be exchanged into a Swedish equivalent as long as it is done within one year.

For more information on driving in Sweden and exchanging your foreign license, please see www.korkortsportalen.se and the Pdf leaflet.

Learn Swedish in advance

English may be the working language at research institutions and it may also be sufficient to use English in everyday life, since most Swedes are reasonably fluent in English. However, good Swedish skills facilitate the start of your new life in Sweden very much and you may find that learning Swedish will help you to integrate more easily.

You can study Swedish before coming here! Swedish language and culture are taught in several countries and there are also web courses in Swedish. More information at Swedish teaching abroad.

Folkuniversitetet also offers a number of distance learning courses. Kindly notice that distance learning language courses given by Folkunivesitetet cost.

Other possibilities on the internet to learn Swedish are, Pronunciation exercises, Linguanet and Learning Swedish

Pension

It is very important that you inform yourself regarding the pension-system in Sweden before your arrival and start of your employment at SLU. Here comes the most important information regarding the pension:

When entering into government employment, you will receive pension from several sources.

The base is formed by the national retirement pension paid by the Swedish Pensions Agency. Most employees also receive a collectively bargained occupational pension from their employer. If you have worked in a government job, you will receive government employee pension. Some people also have a private savings scheme. The pensions add up to form your total pension.

For more information on how SLU as your employer influences your pension please visit our information about pension on Staff web.

The Swedish Pensions Agency is in charge of the national retirement pension in Sweden. They help both those who are still working and earning their pension and those who are already retired.

Read more about pension at The National Government Employee Pensions Board (SPV)

Culture

Being curious about the culture you are about to move to is natural. The Swedish government has tried to make it little easier for all who wish to understand and find out more about the Swedish costumes, weather, holidays, and much more through an official website that you can visit and read through before you move to Sweden.

Enjoy!

Arrange your travel

It is always good and most probably cheaper to book your travel in advance. Kindly book it accordingly to your entry conditions.

Upon arrival to Sweden and SLU

Introduction for new employees at SLU and your department

The aim of the introduction is that all new staff members receive a well-planned introduction that makes it easier for them to get up to speed on their job, feel comfortable at the workplace and take part of SLU’s operation.

SLU operates all over Sweden – therefore, we have split the introduction into three parts:

Workplace introduction: carried out at the department.

University Introduction, Step 1: carried out at the respective campus.

University Introduction, Step 2: carried out in Uppsala.

You can read more about the introduction for new employees at SLU and your department on Staff Webb.

Register with the Swedish authorities

You should as soon as possible contact certain authorities:

Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket)

If you move to Sweden and intend to live here for a year or more, you should normally register as a resident at the nearest office of the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket). Once you do so, you will receive a unique 10-digit personal identification number (personnummer). You will be able to use this number to simplify a whole range of transactions in the Swedish society, such as acquiring an identity card, opening a bank account and visiting a doctor.

More information at www.skatteverket.se about which office to visit and what documents to bring for registering!

ID card

After receiving your Swedish personal number (personnummer) you are able to apply for an ID card. Apply for one at Skatteverket (The Swedish Tax Agency) and read more about the application process.

The Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan)

If you have a Swedish personal number, you do not have to register for Social Insurance until you request a benefit; for example if you are planning to see a dentist or order the European Health Insurance Card.

If you work in Sweden and have a coordination number, you should apply for registration for Social Insurance.

How to register?
Fill in the form "5456 Registration information" on the website and send it to Försäkringskassan. You need to state your Swedish personal number or coordination number. You can add a personal letter explaining your situation, if you e.g. are on postdoc scholarship.

Banking and bank-account

Bank offices are generally open Monday–Friday, 10 am–4 pm.
Sweden’s four main banks are Swedbank, SEB, Nordea and Handelsbanken. You will find those close by to all main SLU campuses.

Once in Sweden, you will be able to use your international pay card in any store, bank and cash machines/ATM’s. Banks, in general, do not handle any cash anymore and even some stores and restaurants. It surprises many people that cash doesn't work everywhere, as it does in some other places.

If you will reside in Sweden a year or longer: When you open a bank account in Sweden, you may receive an ATM card and link internet and telephone banking services to your account. Under anti-money laundering legislation, banks are required to stringently verify customer identity.

We suggest that you contact the bank and make an appointment first if you want to open a bank account, since the matter takes some time. Generally you need to bring the following to the bank:

Valid passport

Letter of acceptance including the duration of your studies or employment contract.

Details of address in Sweden

Document proving that you have a personal number or coordination number. Some banks also require a Swedish ID-card

Residence permit/Work permit

If you are staying in Sweden for only a short time (less than six months): If you will reside in Sweden for only a short time, it is normally easier to use your bank account and bank card from your home country, even if this means that your transactions will result in currency exchanges. Via the Internet, you can continue to use your Internet bank which you are familiar with and is in your own language. We strongly recommend that you bring a Visa or MasterCard to Sweden, as cards are widely used all over the country.

Please note that opening a bank account may only be possible if you will be staying for longer than one year. This is an unfortunate side-effect of recent policy changes aimed at combating money laundry.

Useful links to different Swedish authorities

The Swedish Migration Agency (Migrationsverket)

The Swedish Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan)

The Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket)

Arrange daycare or school

If you have children, you should locate a preschool or school as early as possible. Contact the municipality where you are going to live in order to enroll the child, either to a Swedish-speaking preschool/school or an international preschool/school.

Read more about the Swedish school system at http://skolnet.skolverket.se/polopoly/utbsys-eng/

Learning the language

Depending on the location of your stay, there are different options for learning Swedish while in the country. More information at: www.sweden.se.

Folkuniversitetet, Medborgarskolan and other organizations offer Swedish courses in many areas of Sweden. See also the Regional information section.

Swedish for immigrants (SFI) provides knowledge of the Swedish language and Swedish society. Municipalities have an obligation to offer SFI to newly arrived adult immigrants with a personal identity number. Programs may be organized differently from municipality to municipality.

 


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