Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Banking In Sweden

Part of relocation services is helping clients open bank accounts and I'm about to head off to meet a client to do just that.
Sounds like an easy task right? I mean we have professional people from all around the world coming to Stockholm (in this case) to work, mostly for a very reasonable amount of money. They don't send low-salaried people anywhere....

Yet the banks just don't seem to want their business.... and I say that because it is also important for Swedish residents to have an ID card - after all it shows your personal number and without a personal number you are nothing!! Yet it is only the banks who can provide you, as a resident but not a citizen, with an ID card.

There seems to be just one bank who can do the job! Just one bank who will let you open an account, who will give you an ID card, and who will give you immediate internet access to the account - Handelsbanken. Hats off to them for making their services accessible even to people who have just arrived in the country - people who are willing to pay for a service, who will be putting money in their bank! And all this they offer because I am a customer there and am willing and able to vouch for their identity (once I show my ID card)!

Is there something wrong with this picture or is it just me??


  1. Well we've had our company at Handelsbanken for 14 years & they've been great most of the time, especially when we were doing well for ourselves but recently they seem to have lost interest, could it have anything to do with the fact that not much of our money is going through their system any longer?:D

    Anyway it is strange that it should be so hard!

  2. I had no trouble opening a bank account with SEB when I arrived in Sweden, even though I had no person number when I first came here. They created it with a fiktiv nummer and it was fine. Later on, they issued me happily with ID as well, but I gather that things changed drastically in 2007.

    This craziness has stemmed from a fraud case, where an immigrant obtained an ID from Svensk kassaservice using a fake foreign passport and then cleaned out a bank account. After that, they started demanding that only a FAMILY member who had Swedish ID could verify your identity. Sambo relationship was not considered "family" by them. It's created a nightmare for those here without Swedish family.

    To be fair, it's really not the banks who should be doing this. A government body ought to be in charge of issuing ID or everybody. If Skatteverket issue person numbers, they should also be the authority for issuing ID, not leaving it up to bank counter staff to try and verify if a foreign passport is real or not.

    I hadn't realised that it had now got to the stage where only one bank is playing ball. But I shouldn't be surprised after all these years :_)

  3. There are a lot of problems with identity thefts and so forth so I do think it's good with rather strict regulations concerning these issues. At the same time it's of course important that the situation you describe can be solved fairly easy.

    These types of things are always made more difficult than they should be basically only because there are, and will always be, people that misuse and abuse the system. Sadly and annoyingly.

    I don't think it's a "typical Swedish" thing with difficulties in getting a reliable bank account for foreigners, I have heard of friends and acquaintances who have had major problems with getting that and dealing with banks in the UK too.

  4. This really annoyed me when I first moved here and its chronicled on my blog.

    It was the one thing that frustrated me the most. I have in fact only recently been able to get a Swedish ID card.

    I personally found that SEB were the best but that wasnt exactly a walk in the park either.

    I had a heated discussion with my local bank manager over my application for a Swedish ID card. He said that they were just a bank and shoudlnt really be doing this. I told him that if I didnt get an ID then I couldnt spend money using the credit card they had given me as I refuse to take my passport with me shopping!

    It is equally as stupid in the UK. Apparently the British banks want to see a utility bill (gas/electric) as proof that you live where you say you are...they are only issued quarterly and sometimes the landlord pays the bill and it includes it in the rent, so I have sympathy for foreigners back home as well.

  5. SEB would not give my client an ID card or internet access until she had been a customer with them for 6 months!! Very conservative in a strange kind of way.

    Marie I remember the fuss about the ID card changes but I didn't know the background to it. I can understand a few people got a little stressed but you can't change an entire system just because of one bad apple - or can you? There must be other ways they can reduce the likeliness of that happening again.

    You are right too - Skatteverket should be responsible - good idea! Now who's going to suggest it to them? :D

    And I also remember the ridiculousness of having to show a bill with your name and address on it - or two or three - there could be lots of reasons for why that is not always possible. It is like that in Australia too.

    Hahaha - I bet we could come up with the perfect solution!! Then we could go round selling it to all the governments :D

  6. Strange about SEB. I wonder if every branch is different. I remember one cashier at Sergels Torg, even telling me she couldnt speak English so couldnt advise me!