• Sweden's news in English

Immigrants blocked from getting Swedish ID

The Local · 15 Feb 2007, 17:35

Published: 15 Feb 2007 17:35 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The new rules have been introduced by Svensk Kassaservice, an agency formerly part of Posten, the Swedish post office. The agency, along with some banks, is responsible for issuing ID cards in Sweden.

According to Svensk Kassaservice's new rules, anyone who is not a Swedish citizen or married to a Swedish citizen will be refused ID – despite being legal Swedish residents with the papers to prove it.

The rules were introduced with little warning at the start of January. Since then, thousands of unmarried immigrants and legal residents of Sweden are effectively locked out and denied many basic rights and privileges.

Mariana Martins, a newly arrived immigrant with Brazilian citizenship, has a story that resembles a growing number of immigrants arriving in Sweden. She explains, “I waited a long time for my visa and my personal identification number. When I thought my problems were over I got this ID problem.”

Mariana discovered she was frozen out of the system when she applied for a Svensk Kassaservice ID. “I took my Swedish partner, both our passports, the required photos, the personbevis (document issued by the tax authority), money, everything. I only heard ‘No’s’.”

No Swedish state authority currently issues IDs to newly welcomed immigrants. The state has traditionally relied on a variety of issuers, primarily Svensk Kassaservice, once a part of Posten, to provide this service.

Svensk Kassaservice asserts that the increasing number of fraudulent applications requires a stricter policy when issuing ID cards. That means that only people with the new Swedish passports, other forms of recognized Swedish ID or applicants vouched for by a close family member will be issued ID cards.

'Family member' includes spouses but not 'sambos' (cohabiting partners). That family member must have an approved Swedish ID.

Banks, the only other issuers of officially recognized Swedish ID, now have adopted similar polices. The police also issue ID, but only to Swedish citizens.

Mariana added. “The thing that frustrates me the most is that they make this sambo thing sound very practical and reasonable in the beginning, you can get a residency and work permit just by declaring that you live together in a serious relationship with a Swede. However, you can’t get an ID card.”

Mariana’s story has reached a dead end. “I’ve basically given up on trying to get a Swedish ID card. It’s very sad but I feel that my efforts are useless.”

She is hoping to function in Swedish society despite not having the right to a Swedish ID. “I will have to carry on showing my Brazilian passport and praying for them to accept it as a form of ID in places like Systembolaget, bars, clubs, doctors or when I'm picking up packages.”

The inability to get a Swedish ID also affects EU nationals here to work. They are in a similar catch-22: they have been issued a personal number and are granted the right to work. However, they cannot provide a bank account for the new employer to pay their salary. Most banks require a Swedish ID to open an account.

Lucie Komarkova, a citizen of the Czech Republic, discovered this first hand. “I really needed an account it because I wanted to be paid officially. But even though I had my personal number there was no chance to open bank account in most banks without a Swedish ID card.”

She followed the bank’s recommendation to get an ID from Svensk Kassaservice. “The officer gave me all the application forms and explained me that I had to take a person with me to confirm my identity. When I said, I was alone because I had come to work here – I was informed that I could not ask for ID in Kassaservice and I had to go to the bank.”

The Local understands that the problem is also affecting thousands of long-standing residents of Sweden who have failed to renew existing ID cards. While Svensk Kassaservice accepts ID cards up to six months out of date from those trying to renew, people who have left it longer will end up in the same predicament as new arrivals.

Svensk Kassaservice asserts on its website that it has voluntarily been filling the gap left by the government not providing identification cards. It points out that in most other countries an official government agency would be responsible for issuing IDs.

Charlotta Malm, Head of Information at Svensk Kassaservice told The Local, “We would like the government to issue identification cards.” She pointed out that Svensk Kassaservice doesn’t have the ability to properly assess the validity of a great number of forms of international identification. “We don’t have access to the system to determine if an ID is legitimate.”

The newly issued regulation for granting a Svensk Kassaservice ID is rattling the bars of a number of Swedish institutions, agencies and the Integration Ministry.

The Minister of Integration, Nyamko Sabuni, was unable to talk to The Local about the issue. She would only give The Local the following statement:

Story continues below…

“The ombudsman for discrimination (DO) has recently noticed the problem and has started an inquiry. The government will follow this case closely.”

The offices of the Ombudsman for Discrimination are indeed aware of the Catch-22 problem. “We’re looking into the matter.” Linus Kyrklund, a lawyer at DO told The Local. “We have a handful of cases since the new year that center around [getting an ID.]”

Mariana Martins sums up the Catch-22 scenario for Swedish immigrants. “It sounds like a small thing, not being able to get an ID, but in practice it has serious implications.”

Elizabeth Dacey-Fondelius

See also: Paul O'Mahony talks of his ID troubles on The Local's blog.

Have you faced problems getting Swedish ID? We want to hear from you! Email us at news@thelocal.se

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Löfven: 'Sweden will double its number of troops in Iraq'
Stefan Löfven and Haider al-Abadi during the visit on Monday. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has promised to double his country's number of troops in Iraq following a meeting with Iraqi counterpart Haider al-Abadi on Monday.

Will Swedes soon be looking for fairtrade porn?
Should Swedes think fairtrade with porn? Photo: Karin Malmhav/SvD/TT

A fairtrade attitude to pornography would be beneficial, Sweden's health minister told The Local.

Presented by Stockholm University
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se

Nordic fashion took centre stage in the Swedish capital last week as Stockholm University hosted the “first-ever” academic conference looking at luxury and sustainability in the fashion industry.

Referee, coach and parents in Swedish youth football fight
File photo of a referee holding a red card not related to the story. Photo: Stefan Jerrevång/TT

A football dad broke his leg in the brawl in front of 11-year-old kids after a Hammarby youth football game.

Illicit abattoir kept more than 100 bulls' penises
A couple of young bulls not related to the story. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Dried cattle genitalia, goats' heads and hundreds of litres of lard were just a few of the many strange finds discovered when police raided a property in Sweden.

This is officially Sweden's most beautiful beard
The most beautiful beard in Sweden. Photo: Memo Göcek

According to a jury of barbers and 'well known bearded profiles', that is.

Presented by Invest Stockholm
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm

You might think it’s hard to make friends in a new city. But if at first you don’t succeed – try something else!

Injured Swedish photographer protected by 'guardian angel'
Swedish photographer Paul Hansen on another occasion. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Photographer Paul Hansen thanked his lucky stars for surviving sniper fire while covering the battle for the Isis-held city of Mosul in Iraq.

How Sweden is trying to smooth relations with Saudis
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven meeting Saudi Arabia's Trade Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al Qasabi. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has visited Saudi Arabia a year and a half after relations turned frosty in a major diplomatic row.

My Swedish Career
'Swedish people love it, but they find it quite odd'
Scottish entrepreneur William Macdonald. Photo: Michael Campanella

Meet the web developer and entrepreneur using traditional Scottish ceilidh dancing to break the ice with Swedes.

Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
Nobel Prize 2016: Chemistry
jobs available