Adventures with Swedish ID Cards

Thanks to a comment from Anonymous, the rules at Skatteverket have changed. You can get an ID if you allow Skatteverket to match your features and data in the Migrationsverket system. Takes several weeks long this way than using a living Swede as reference however. See his comment below.

This is part of the living in Sweden series.  Getting your id card is almost as important as getting a roof over your head; System Bolaget and Posten hate you if you use foreign passports.
The Misery of Finding an Apartment in Stockholm
Being a Foreign Housewife
Job Interview Tips in Sweden
Apartment Hunting in Stockholm: Part 42
Living in Sweden: Finding a Job
Job Posting in Sweden
Living in Sweden: Swedish CVs and Job Interviews
Living in Sweden: Finding an Apartment: Part 1
Living in Sweden: English Bookstores
Learn Swedish: Don’t Sätt på en Skygg Lapp

I have been lazy. I should have applied for my Swedish ID card several months ago but I just wanted a break from all things bureaucratic in Sweden.

Getting a Swedish identity card is anything but simple if you’re not: 1. Swedish; 2. European.

Obviously I’m not Swedish otherwise I wouldn’t need to have this discussion. For Europeans, it’s easy as pie to get an ID card if you have biometrics passport issued after September 1st, 2006. Otherwise, you’re in the same boat as me.

For all of us other aliens? We need an attester. Basically in order to get your Swedish ID card you need a Swede to prove who you are.   A passport is not good enough for Skatteverket.   Because I guess there are thousands of immigrants running around with fake US passports and residency stamps begging for id cards! Yes, I know some immigrants come from lawless countries, but if the Swedish government is dumb enough to give them a visa, then I think them obtaining and ID card with stricter guidelines is moot.

Back to the attester. You cannot just bring anyone in to vouch for you. Your attester has to fulfull the following requirements:
An approved attestor must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Accompany you when you go to the Skatteverket office
  • Know you well and be able to prove his/her relationship with you
  • Be able to identify himself/herself by showing an approved ID document
  • Certify your personal data in writing and confirm that your photograph on your application is correct. The form may be completed in advance, but must always be signed by the attestor at the office at the time of submitting the application.

Your attester can be:

  • Your spouse or registered partner
  • Your child or grandchild, if at least 18 years of age
  • Your parent/guardian
  • Your brother/sister or half-brother/half-sister, if at least 18 years of age
  • Your maternal or paternal grandparent.

Regarding your spouse or register partner: For you and your attestor to be considered as cohabitants, all of the following conditions must be satisfied:

  • You are permanently cohabiting or have children together. As a rule of thumb, you should have cohabited for at least six months.
  • You have a relationship as a couple.
  • You have a joint household, meaning that you share tasks and expenditure.

Finally, any of the following persons may act as an attestor if he or she can present a decision or certificate showing the relationship you have with each other:

  • A trustee or administrator
  • A foster home parent
  • An official at a local or central government agency, with whom you have a professional relationship.   For example, a social welfare secretary, introductions officer (or equivalent), head of department or international supervisor at a government institute of higher education
  • Your employer for at least a year.

Got that?

Before you show yourself up to the Skatteverket office waiving around your passport and your buddy, you need to pay them first. An id cards costs 400sek and has to be bank wired to Skatteverket. You should keep a copy of the wire transfer and take that with you as proof of payment. Here are bank account numbers to pay: Bankgiro 389-0100 or Plusgiro 50 40 62-1.

When you get to Skatteverket with your passport, buddy, and payment printout, you have to fill out a silly (so does the attester) and get a photo taken and your height measured. You get to sign some documents too.

After two weeks, you will get a notice to get a lovely, homegrown identity card made in Sweden.

Occam’s Razor: The Handelsbanken way

There are a couple Handelsbanken in Sweden that process id cards for foreigners. I applied for mine at the Stureplan office. One, it is one the largest banks and two, it is well know to service foreign employees (all my ex-coworkers also got their id cards from that branch office). Of course depending on the mood of the bank teller, they may tell you otherwise. If you are persistent and nice, you can get lucky and get the card there.

If you do get an id card from Handelsbanken, you need: 1. attester; 2. 500sek; 3. a photo. You fill out a receipt and four weeks later, an id card arrives at the bank.

Now that I have my ID card, I can be like “bitch, I know you hate American passports so here’s my Swedish ID so you know my age!”

Either way, get that attester, your passport isn’t good enough to identify yourself.

23 thoughts on “Adventures with Swedish ID Cards”

  1. This is not true! Since 1st October one does not need an attester for getting the Swedish ID card (please see below). I recently applied for my ID card from Skatteverket. I went with my Pakistani passport and payment receipt of 400 SEK. They measured my height and took my photo and signature. I got my ID card in about two weeks.

    “Beginning 1 October 2010, anyone who has a permit to reside in Sweden but cannot prove their identity with approved ID documentation can allow the Tax Agency to compare the information in their application with the corresponding information at the Migration Board. The information the Tax Agency will compare is the name, height, photo, signature, travel documents, and proof of residence permit. It is therefore a good idea to bring your passport with you or, if you don´t have a passport, your proof of residence permit. If you wish to prove your identity this way, you must state this when applying.”


  2. Aye, getting that damn piece of plastic is frackin annoying! On of the bigger problems is they keep changing the damn rules!

    I got mine at Handelsbanken in March/April of 2010 (when I got my personal number) cause Skatteverket wasn’t issuing them to immigrants like me (yet). After I got mine, a few months later I found out Skatteverket started doing issuing them and the banks were slowly stopping.

    I wonder what it would take to change my ID over from the Handelsbanken one to Skatteverket’s. Only one way to find out!

  3. Not been yet due to being snowbound and terminally lazy..but apparently min sambo is dragging me to the main police station to get my ID card.
    I’m assuming they do them there too, as she’s Swedish and supposed to know this stuff? Dunno,will let you know later.

  4. Oh yes, when I came here nearly 3 years ago, Skatteverket did NOT issue id cards, only banks did. Now, it’s the other way around.

    Dano – As far as I know you have to be a Swedish citizen to get id cards at the police station. That’s how it was when I was at Polishuset in Stockholm (almost a year ago though). Who knows, they could have changed rules too!

  5. Hmm I didn’t know that. I’ve lived here almost 3 years now and never had a problem or dirty look for using my American passport. I did if I used my Florida ID but the passport works just fine, so far anyway. Never saw a need for a Swede ID. But good to know anyway, luckily I do not frequent systembolaget very often XD

    Also I think your use of ‘mute’ should be ‘moot’. Dunno though, I fail at grammar D:

  6. Emery – In order to pick up mail at the post office, you need to have Swedish id (been there done that). If you argue long enough, they will make an exception.

    Your DL is not valid id in Systemet nor at clubs (btdt). It can really piss them off.

    Passports work but sometimes not. If you use a Swedish credit/debit they may demand to see a Swedish id as well.

    You’re right…it should be moot…change made.

    If you also go to the doctor, they want a Swedish id but accept a US passport (though they’re not happy about it).

  7. I’ve never had a problem with my DL at systemet or clubs, but yeah, it’s technically not valid where a passport is; but who caries their passport around with them?! I don’t. I sure don’t want to lose it and have to deal with all the issues around that.

  8. I guess I’ve just been lucky :p I’ve ordered tons of things I had to get from the post office as well as a lot of care packages from family back in the states and they never expected a swedish ID. I guess they just assumed I was a tourist and didn’t bother to give me trouble about it.

  9. I guess anyone asking for Swedish ID just wants to know that you’ve been through all the same crap that they’ve had to go through? :))

  10. @ Andrew

    “but who caries their passport around with them?!”

    That is the only form of identification Ive had since 2003 lol. One of the older versions too that is viable for 10 years. Its getting a bit worn out though…..

    It works like a charm, and perfect if you find your self wanting to leave the country on a whim!.

  11. @Björn – Fair enough. I just don’t want to lose mine as I have my residency permit in there, and having to get a new passport + new visa = headaches.

  12. Well hey, at least you don’t have to fill out forms with questions like “Were you allied with Nazi Germany during the 2nd world war?” and “Did you participate in the genocide in Rwanda back in the 90’s?” or “Do you plan on committing any crimes when visiting the US?” and then wait in line for 2-3 hours to pass customs, have your picture taken, you fingerprint scanned PLUS then answer questions from the customs police just to cross in to the country. Oh, did I mention that you have to pay for the forms as well? That you have to, if you’re unlucky, fill out twice. So please, you Americans invented the use of silly forms, questions and payments. And I haven’t even started on the whole visa and Green Card business. But hey, I’m not bitter, I’m just sayin’, you started it!

    (Small tip, if the US joins the EU, it will be super easy for you to get an ID here, I promise!)

    Oh, and you don’t need a Swedish passport/ID to get packages from the post-office. You just ask them to select “foreign passport” in the drop down menu and then type in US+passportnr. (I work extra at an ICA store with the post there so I know, obviously they don’t).

    Good luck in the future! ;)

  13. You can gripe all you want about the immigration system sucking in American but every year 56 million foreigners cross the border. If that means you have to fill out a form and get a photo taken for border security, so be it. I’ve been treated like crap at Swedish immigration so just because you guys don’t have forms, doesn’t mean you do a great job welcoming foreigners.

    I’ve been to three post offices here and all refused to give me packages unless I had Swedish ID. I was stupid though to answer that I was not a tourist and because of that, my passport was invalid. Since I’ve heard this story from a couple other people, I wonder if these are new rules or just very asinine people working there. But if I had you working there, it would be way easier at least!

  14. With the above said, I realize when I intentionally try to act like a tourist Swedes treat me like a god and let me get away with so much shit o.o it’s crazy.

  15. I’ve found that when entering the USA, it’s far quicker to land in Mexico and then find a “mule” to get you across the border!
    This also gets you added benefits like…well, benefits,cheaper healthcare,a job and any children you may have while still there become instant Americans!
    No customs,no fingerprinting,no pictures,no forms to fill in…fantastic! (It helps to know a little of Americas national language – Spanish, Although some forms and road signs are still written in English…for now!)

  16. I’ve never had a problem entering the USA. But then I’m Canadian who lived a whole 10 minutes from the boarder and would cross regularly.

  17. @ Sapphire: First of all, it was really meant as a joke, not an attack, I wasn’t clear enough, sorry! And I didn’t complain about the customs officers not treating me like royalty when I arrived, I did however complain about the amount of paperwork and the stupid questions you have to answer. And the money you have to pay just to answer the stupid questions. Twice. And just in general being treated like a criminal when you arrive. That’s nothing a single customs officer can change however much he wanted to.

    And really Sapphire “You can gripe all you want about the immigration system sucking”? I see you griping A LOT in this blog about the Swedish system but when I just do a comparison with the US system I get the “well we’re special since we blablabla” answer. Come one. I bet a lot of people are crossing in to EU every year, probably more then 56 million, but you still don’t have to go through the same procedure.

    I’m sure Swedish custom officers can act like total asses, I mean, they work at the customs office. In what country do they smile at you and say “You are most welcome and have a pleasant stay!”? I haven’t been to any yet.

    And about the post office, maybe that depends on what they are handing out to you? If they are handing out bank statements or your new passport and stuff like that I’m not sure I would accept a foreign passport. I mean, you could probably make one at home and say “hey, this is my passport, I promise!” and I would have no idea if you’re lying or not. It’s not like we have all the issued passports across the globe on file. We can however, with the help of the computer, see if your Swedish personnr. and ID is valid or not. It’s kinda for your own security so there is no identity theft going on.

  18. Hej!

    I filed for Swedish ID in December 2010 and I did not bring any attestors. I called Skatteverket to find out who can be my attestor and they said that I don’t need one as rules have changed.
    I received it in some two weeks, without any problems.
    And I don’t even have permanent resident permit, only student temporary for one year.

  19. Helenita – are you from the EU? The requirements on the site still say you need an attester from non EU countries.

    Or you got very lucky? =)

  20. As an immigrant in Sweden with à swedish ID card obtained from skatteverket, can this be used to fly within Europe (EEA/EU) instead of passport, i have swedish friends, who say they use there’s all the time but they are citizens, I’m not

  21. Philip,

    That is for EU citizens only. You can always try to fly without a passport, but you may not get far.

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