The Ultimate Guide on How to Move to Sweden

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

Moving abroad can be intimidating. It feels like 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. But, this post will focus on how to move to Sweden and my experiences with the process. This varies on which country you want to move to, but some of the steps in this guide are specific to moving to Sweden.

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

I also read a lot about Sweden, so I know what to expect and avoid culture shock. Also, I know for a fact that the Philippines and Sweden are different from each other.

Related: Advantages of Living Abroad

I’ve never experienced snow, and I have no idea how to deal with 4 weather seasons. But, eventually, I got accustomed to the weather, and I love how cold it is now. I’m not sure if I’m going to say the same thing about winter, though!

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

It was fast, right? But, don’t relax yet because there are too many variables that could change the estimated time. I hope that this guide could help you prepare better.

Secure a visa 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 am able to 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.

Where to find jobs in Sweden

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

Hiring process in Sweden

With the technology, interview over Skype 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. Technical exam (if you are applying for a technical position)
  2. Interviews over Skype
  3. Onsite interview
  4. Job offer!

I know you are wondering about the onsite interview!

Yes, it means your employer will ask you to travel to Sweden for a face-to-face interview!

My employer invited me for the onsite interview in the office and 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 have a discussion about the relocation process. This means you are really going to move abroad soon!

How to get a work permit in Sweden

  1. You must have an offer of employment.
  2. Your employer initiates the application.
  3. Enclose the following documents:
    • Passport
    • Power of Attorney to represent you
    • Filled-out application form (this is 4 pages only, and it only contains information about yourself and previous employment)
    • If your family/spouse/partner is applying with you, you need to provide more documents
  4. Pay and submit your application
  5. Biometrics for residence permit card*
  6. Receive your decision

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 ______?

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.

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. Previously, it can be delivered to the Swedish Embassy in Manila. But, unfortunately, they changed the process, and you need to go back to Bangkok again to pick up your residence permit card.

Find accommodation

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. 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.

This is my first apartment in Stockholm and I lived there for more than a year.

First, research about the housing situation in the country. It’s difficult to rent (long-term) an apartment in Stockholm, but you can easily buy your own apartment if you have the money.

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

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 in Airbnb. If you don’t have an account yet, you can signup on my link so you can get a discount on your first booking.

Get home insurance as soon as you can! In the apartment that I am currently renting, there was water leakage and we needed to move out ASAP. Thankfully, my home insurance, Hedvig, provided temporary accommodation for us. 

Get a health insurance

The Swedish healthcare system is accessible and residents don’t need to get a 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 in need of access to the healthcare system, you need to get private health insurance.

Prepare for long nights and short days

As someone who grew up in the Philippines, a tropical country, having four seasons is new to me. The first time I experienced snow was in Sweden! The temperature is not that bad; you can wear layers and feel comfortable.

The problem is dealing with the long nights and short days! It’s normal when we don’t see the sun in autumn and winter.

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.

You need to prepare some documents:

  1. Passport
  2. Residence permit card
  3. Employment contract (if you moved because of a job)
  4. Documents that show your family relationship (if you moved with a family)
  5. Filled-out questionnaire

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

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. Once you received your personnummer, you can now apply for a Swedish ID that costs 400 SEK.

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 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 Union

Open a bank account

Once you have a personnummer and Swedish ID, you can now open a bank account without any problems. Aside from that, you can also apply for a credit card. More importantly, you can have a BankID and Mobile BankID.

BankID is often used to almost all sites as a login. It is Sweden’s more secured way as an 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 about the information the bank requires from you when you visit a branch.

You should consider opening a borderless account with TransferWise for hassle-free and cost-effective international transactions. TransferWise a great tool for sending and receiving money internationally with low fees — much cheaper than using your local bank. You can also get your own local bank account details in Europe, UK, the US, Australia, and New Zealand with the TransferWise Borderless account

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!

More related posts about living abroad

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

    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.

  2. 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.

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