The Ultimate Guide on How to Move to Sweden

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I was living in the Philippines in 2018 when I got a job opportunity in Stockholm, Sweden. The process of moving abroad is straightforward and usually, your employer will help you with your relocation to Sweden.

Moving abroad can be intimidating. You have to start over in another country, learn the culture, learn the language, and many more. This process can be easy, as long as you prepare in advance.

You can move abroad in different ways. In this post, you will find a comprehensive step-by-step guide on how to move to Sweden and my experiences with the process. This varies on which country you are moving from, but some of the steps in this guide are also related to how I migrated from the Philippines to Sweden.

Before I move to Sweden from the Philippines, I watched videos on YouTube about people moving to another country. And, I also read a lot of blogs about their experiences and tips on living overseas.

Now that I am living in Stockholm for more than 3 years and my husband also moved from the Philippines 2 years later, I have a few things that I love about living abroad.

I know for a fact that the Philippines and Sweden are different from each other. I was culture-shocked when I arrived here.

I’ve never experienced snow, and I didn’t have an idea on how to deal with 4 weather seasons. But, eventually, I got accustomed to the weather. It’s nice to look forward to summer when it is too cold and look forward to the cold weather when it’s too hot!

How to move to Sweden

The hiring process took me two months, and the overall process from applying for the visa to moving to Sweden from the Philippines could take two months if everything goes well.

My husband moved to Sweden as my dependent on my work permit.

Secure a visa to Sweden

The first thing you need to do is research the legal requirements to move to Sweden. 

If you are a non-EU citizen, you need a visa to enter Sweden. A tourist visa will only let you stay in Sweden (or the Schengen area) for a maximum of 90 days. 

But, if you are planning to move to Sweden and stay longer, you need to have a visa (residence permit) based on any of the following:

  1. Work permit
  2. Permit for studies or research in Sweden
  3. Permit for moving to someone in Sweden

Work permit

I can move to Sweden because I got a job offer so my employer initiated my work permit application.

Moving to Sweden with family is also possible if applying together with the family member who got a job. Your family can also apply later.

Family members: wife, husband, cohabiting partner, registered partner, and unmarried children under the age of 21.

If your employer can help you with the relocation, then you don’t have to worry about the visa application. Your employer can hire a relocation agency that processes your visa application and relocation itself.

How to get a work permit in Sweden

You can apply online or send the documents to the office of Migrationsverket. Migrationsverket is the Swedish migration agency that processes the applications from people who want to visit or move to Sweden.

  1. You must have an offer of employment.
  2. Your employer initiates the application.
  3. Fill out the application form that will be sent by the Migrationsverket.
  4. Enclose the following documents:
    • Copies of your biodata page of passport
    • Power of Attorney (if someone is representing you)
    • If your family/spouse/partner is applying with you, you need to provide more documents
  5. Pay and submit your application
  6. Biometrics for residence permit card*
  7. Receive your decision

Permit for studies or research in Sweden

If you plan to study in Sweden for more than 90 days, then you can apply for a residence permit.

Permit for moving to someone in Sweden

If you are non-EU and you want to move to someone living in Sweden, you can also apply for a residence permit.

  • Spouses, regis­tered part­ners or coha­bi­ting part­ners
  • Future spouses or coha­bi­ting part­ners
  • Children
  • A parent or other family members (exceptional cases)

On my work permit extension in 2020, my husband and I applied together so my employer initiated the application. We waited until my work permit extension as it is usually faster to get a decision from Migrationsverket.

Though you can apply for your family member if you have the power of attorney or your family member can apply directly.

Find a job in Sweden

If you want to move to Sweden, then securing a job here can be your best option. There are a lot of companies in Sweden that offer relocation & they have a high demand for IT professionals.

Most IT companies here don’t require Swedish also.

Where to find jobs in Sweden

Here are some of the websites that you can check to find job openings in Sweden. The company will also specify if they offer relocation.

  1. Glassdoor 
  2. LinkedIn Jobs
  3. Jobbatical 
  5. Neuvoo
  6. The Local SE
  7. Company websites

But, if you are already in Sweden and are also looking for a job, you can signup to Arbetförmedlingen, a Swedish public employment service.

Hiring process in Sweden

With the technology, interview over Teams or any communication tool is possible. That’s why it’s also possible to get a job or start with the hiring process without going to that country. It took me only two months before I got an offer.

  1. Phone interview
  2. Interview with the hiring manager 
  3. Technical exam (if you are applying for a technical position)
  4. Onsite interview*
  5. Job offer!

Since I was applying from the Philippines and the job is in Sweden, my employer asked me to travel to Sweden (all expenses paid) for a face-to-face interview!

I stayed in Stockholm for 3 days. The onsite interview will also let you get a feel of what it is like in Stockholm during your stay.

Unfortunately, my onsite interview was in November so the weather wasn’t really good then!

During the onsite interview, you will also have a meeting with HR to discuss the relocation process. This means you are really going to move abroad soon!

Tips when applying for jobs in Sweden

  1. Use a one-page resume.
  2. Update your CV according to the CV style in the country you’re applying to.
  3. Avoid applying in summer or during the Christmas season. Work is slow during that time, and people are usually on vacation.
  4. Research on the working style in that country.
  5. Respond to emails as fast as you can.
  6. Learn more about life in that country.
  7. Prepare to answer the question: Why do you want to move to ______?

Apply for a residence permit card

If you are granted a residence permit, then you will receive a residence permit card. This will serve as your visa to Sweden (and in the Schengen area).

If you don’t need a visa, you can apply for a residence permit card upon arrival. You only need to show a copy of the decision to the immigration upon arrival. Then, you can book an appointment for your biometrics.

NOTE: Book as early as you can because it’s difficult to find a slot especially in Stockholm.

If you need a visa, you need to have a residence permit card first before traveling to Sweden. This usually takes up to 4 weeks before you get your residence permit card.

  1. Contact the embassy in your country, and confirm if you could have your photograph and fingerprints taken. If not, then they’ll suggest you contact another embassy. For Filipinos, our photographs and fingerprints can be taken at the Swedish Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand.
  2. There’s no need to book an appointment; you can go to the embassy as soon as possible.
  3. Wait for up to 4 weeks; they will send you an email if your residence permit card is ready for pickup.
  4. Once your card is ready for pickup, you need to travel to Bangkok again to pick it up.

If traveling is not yet possible, contact the Embassy of Sweden in Bangkok. You might be advised to secure a D-Visa that you can apply from the Embassy of Sweden in Manila.

Upon arrival to Sweden, you can apply for a residence permit card.

Secure an OEC if you are a Philippine passport holder

If you are a Philippine passport holder and leaving the Philippines on a work permit, you need to get an Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) from POEA. This serves as an exit clearance.

This can cause your delay, so you should start gathering information about the OEC once you got a job abroad.

Prepare for the living costs in Sweden

Before packing your bags, you should create your checklist for moving abroad. If you don’t know where to start, you can copy my own moving abroad checklist!

The average cost of living in Stockholm per month is around 10.000 SEK (~$1,200) per person without rent.

The estimated monthly costs depend on the person but to give you an idea, you can read our breakdown of monthly expenses in Stockholm. It will also give you an idea of the cost of living in Stockholm.

Find a home to buy or rent

If you are moving to Sweden on a work permit, most employers provide free accommodation for a month until you find a place to stay.

Finding an apartment for rent in Stockholm is difficult especially if you need a long-term contract. And, apartments are expensive!

You don’t need to live in the city center because almost every place is accessible by the metro, commuter train or bus.

My first apartment in Stockholm is within the city center, and I lived there for more than a year.

I created a more detailed guide on how to find an apartment for rent in Stockholm. Beware of the scams, and only pay your deposit once you confirmed that the apartment is available and after signing a contract.

Foreigners can also buy apartments in Sweden and the process is simple! You just need to be employed for at least 6 months. We bought our apartment in December 2020 and we now live in the outskirts of Stockholm City. It takes us 30 minutes to travel to the city.

I know looking for a place to live in a new country is difficult. Take your time and research properly so you won’t get scammed.

In the meantime, you can book short-term apartments on Airbnb.

Get home insurance as soon as you can! In my previous rental apartment, there was water leakage and we needed to move out ASAP. Thankfully, my home insurance, Hedvig, provided temporary accommodation for us. 

Want a 10 SEK discount per month?

Do you want to get a 10 SEK discount per month on your home insurance with Hedvig? Signup using my code 8O928I to get your discount.

Register your move to Sweden

As soon as you arrive in Sweden, register your move. In Sweden, the Skatteverket or Swedish Tax Agency is responsible for national tax collection and administering the population registration.

Once your application is approved, you will get your personnummer or personal identity number and you can now apply for a Swedish ID.

Don’t miss out on a complete list of important things to do after moving to Sweden.

Get a Swedish ID

In Sweden, they only accept a passport, Swedish driver’s license, and a Swedish ID card as a valid ID. In some cases, only the Swedish ID card is allowed. As soon as you received your personnummer, you can now apply for a Swedish ID that costs 400 SEK.

Here’s a detailed guide on how to get a Swedish personal number & Swedish ID.

Open a Swedish bank account

Once you have a personnummer and Swedish ID, you can now open a bank account without any problems. More importantly, you can have a BankID and Mobile BankID.

BankID is often used on almost all sites as a login. It is Sweden’s more secure way of identification.

You can also open a Swish account which is a mobile payment used in Sweden. It is convenient since you only need to have the person’s mobile number to send money.

In case you don’t have your personnummer or Swedish ID yet, you can still open a bank account. This is what I did when I first arrived here. I visited the bank and explained that I need to open a bank account so I could receive my salary. I only provided my passport, residence permit card, and employment contract, then I got a bank account for payroll.

Read my guide on how to open a Swedish bank account.

Transfer money abroad

I often send money abroad, especially to the Philippines, so I had to find a hassle-free and cost-effective option for international transactions.

Signup for a Wise account!

Wise (formerly TransferWise) is a great bank for sending and receiving money internationally with low fees — much cheaper than using a traditional bank.

With the Wise Borderless account, you can also get your own local bank account details in Europe, UK, the US, Australia, and New Zealand. 

Register with the Swedish Social Insurance Agency

The Swedish healthcare system is accessible and residents don’t need to get private insurance. But, in able to access the Swedish healthcare system for a small fee, you need to be registered in Sweden.

So, expats in Sweden who are not yet registered or are still waiting for their personnummer and need access to the healthcare system need to get private health insurance.

Join the union and social insurance agency in Sweden

You might find this unnecessary, but it’s better to have more insurances. Being part of the union gives you more security with your job. One of the benefits of the union is income insurance (a-kassa) where you can get up to 80% of your income when you become unemployed.

  • Register in the Swedish Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan). This is government-owned and you can get a lot of benefits such as a European Health Insurance card, pregnancy benefit, care for a sick child (VAB), and a lot more!
  • Register in a trade union. I am currently registered with Unionen.
  • Get unemployment insurance. I am currently registered with Unionen A-Kassa.

I still have a long way to go! As people always say, it takes two years to finally settle in another country! At first, I thought that it was too long, but I was wrong. I feel like I could only settle properly if I could speak Swedish already, and if I survived winter for the first time.

I hope this post gives you an idea of how to move abroad. You should also read what I love about living in Sweden!

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More related posts about living abroad

  1. Hi Karen, I would like to ask how to apply for a job there if I came from Czech republic. I am currently holding a long term residence card that lasts for 2 years. Should I find an employer that will agreed to work on my papers or should I just go there and find some decent job that will secure my stay in Sweden. Very helpful blog and appreciate your effort of posting this and replying your comments. Thanks a lot kabayan.

    1. Hi! Currently, most of the interviews are held online so if you can apply online, then it should be fine! Either way, when you apply for a work permit, you are required to be outside Sweden while waiting for the decision.

  2. Hi karen!
    I am very amazed on how you get there in Sweden very quickly. God is so good that I found your page very helpful. I have always dreamed of working in Sweden but I had a hard time on how to start with. I am a bank employee for 24 yrs and wish to get a good job to be able to parsue my dreams. Pls help..

    1. Hi Norma, thank you! Good luck and I hope you will find an opportunity here in Sweden. As far as I know, there are a lot of vacancies in banks. You can checkout banks such as SEB, Handelsbanken, Nordea.

  3. Hi!Caren,
    I am a D-visa holder,what doccuments required for me to get an oec?.and what doccuments do I need to show at the philippines airport immigration.
    I hope you can give me a tip.
    Thank you.

  4. Hi Karen!

    It’s so good I found your site! I want to ask if you have to go to Bangkok because of coronavirus situation now. Also, why did you need to have the Power of Attorney to represent you?

    1. Hi Ramille!

      In my husband’s case, the Embassy of Sweden in Bangkok advised him to get a D-visa and submit the requirements to the Embassy of Sweden in the Philippines! It will be attached to the passport. Then he only applied for the residence permit card when he arrived here.

      I had the Power of Attorney because my employer hired a third party to submit my application.

    1. Hi, Patty! You can submit the requirements online. Once your work permit is approved, that is the only time when you need to visit Bangkok for the residence permit card. But, afaik, because of the current situation, you can get a D-visa and apply for the residence permit card when you arrived in Sweden.

  5. Hi Karen! Which online site can you recommend when applying for a job in Sweden? Kabayan 🙂

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