As The Local has just discovered, it’s not as easy as it used to be for immigrants to get their hands on Swedish ID cards.
On Wednesday I went to my local branch of Svensk Kassaservice (Swedish Cashier Service) to have my certified Swedish identity card renewed.
The card expired in May of last year and somehow I never got round to updating it. As a newcomer to Sweden the card was indispensable for opening bank accounts, joining video rental chains, and all the other practicalities of life in a new country.
Nowadays it isn’t so vital but the card is still an essential accessory when travelling on internal flights and conducting the odd credit card transaction.
All things considered I really shouldn’t have left it so long, but I didn’t foresee any problems.
I couldn’t have been any more wrong.
The woman at Svensk Kassaservice was friendly and helpful but, after asking me a few questions, she was also the bearer of bad tidings.
Is it more than six months since the card expired?
It is indeed.
Do you have a Swedish EU passport?
No, but I do have an EU passport.
Sorry, it has to be Swedish.
Not for the first time, I wondered why Sweden had even bothered joining the EU if it wasn’t going to grant equal rights to citizens of the Union.
Do you have a Swedish parent or a Swedish wife?
Then I’m afraid you can’t have an ID card.
Until nothing it seemed. I just plain can’t have one.
After she had so successfully burst my bubble, I asked the nice woman when the rule book had been changed.
The new directive from head office came into force at the beginning of the year, she explained.
And every day of the year so far she has had to deal with lines of frustrated new immigrants desperate to gain possession of the certified ID cards, without which they are effectively powerless.
For weeks she has been hoping that somebody will take the issue by the scruff of the neck in an attempt to make these people’s lives easier.
They can’t open a bank account unless they have a job. And they can’t get a job until they have a bank account.
It is a curious circular logic. The question now is, who can rewrite the rulebook and remove Catch-22?
Update: It seems that Liberal Party MP Fredrik Malm is on the case. Here’s hoping that his party’s motion succeeds in jump-starting the engine of Swedish bureaucracy sooner rather than later.