Immigrant ID: Readers’ reactions

The Local's recent series of articles on the problems faced by immigrants in getting Swedish identity cards has provoked a strong reaction from readers. People from all around the world who live in Sweden and have been affected by the problem have been in touch to share their experiences..

The articles also brought to light a diverse range of related issues, such as the problems faced by diplomats, who are unable to get proper personal numbers. This can make arranging basic utilities such as Internet connections and electricity supplies a very frustrating task.

Below is a selection of the comments we received:

The Students

“I reached Sweden in September 2006, as a student from Pakistan. Because of my initial workload and lack of information I couldn’t apply for a Swedish ID card. But when I got time after the new year holidays I was simply refused any ID by Kassaservice. I was told that if I have relatives in Sweden then would be possible to get one. But don’t students without relatives in Sweden also need ID?

This is discrimination against thousands of international students doing research in Swedish institutions. There are more than a thousand students from Pakistan alone in Sweden.”

Badar Kamal (Pakistan)

I have to take my passport when I am going for a student party, and I have to show my passport when buying with my Visa card. Sometimes they do not accept my national passport. Imagine if I lose it – then I will have more problems. I really wonder why the Swedish authorities fail to realize the problems associated with their rule.

If someone has a residence permit according to the rules, why should he/she not have the ID card?

Esmaeil H. Moghaddam, (Iran – PhD student in Sweden)

The EU Citizens

I moved to Sweden in 2000 and have only been out of the country for a 12 month period since then.

I am tax registered, pay my taxes, I have only been officially unemployed for 2 weeks in my entire time here, have an ID number, own a property and speak/write fluent Swedish – I even dream in Swedish!

Like a majority of people I let my ID go out of date and constantly forgot. Last week I went to Svensk kassaservice in the centre of town and was told the same: it’s not our fault – it’s the government’s.

I am also able to get Swedish citizenship this year – so before I can get an ID card I can have a passport? One word – crazy.

Simon Barrington (UK)

“Three weeks ago, I transferred from my job in the UK to a job in Sweden, working for the same company. I have a job, the right to work and now a personal number, but I can not get an ID card and so can not get a bank account. Luckily for me my boyfriend, also English, moved to Sweden in Oct 2004, so he already has an ID card and bank account and my employer has agreed to pay my salary into his account for the time being. This is obviously not ideal, as I don’t like having to ask him for money all the time, but at least I can get some money this way.

“I was not told this would be an issue when I arrived, so I can only assume my Swedish employer did not know of the problem either. How many other ex-pats will move to Sweden in the near future and find themselves in the same boat?”

Ragen Nelson (UK)

“I’ve lived in Sweden for 15 years, have two sons (both born in Sweden) but an American wife. My Bank ID card expired on January 31st – and I was not contacted by my bank. After a quick call to the bank, they confirmed for me – that as a ‘non-Swede’ I would have problems renewing my ID card with them.

“I ‘suggested’ I’d have problems keeping my various accounts with them. After about an hour they came back to me and we seem to have solved the issue. They will accept a Skattverket form confirming that I pay my tax here, live here and have a personal number as enough to issue a new ID card. We’ll see if it all goes smoothly.”

Julian Stubbs (UK)

If you’re an EU citizen and you have lived in Sweden for a few years (and therefore have an ID card), the best way out of the issue is to get a driver’s license. I converted my UK driver’s license to a Swedish one a couple of years back. It’s as good as an ID for everything here and it doesn’t have an expiry date like the one on the ID card. In fact, since getting my Swedish license I haven’t ever bothered carrying the ID card. It’s due for renewal I think this year but I’m not going to bother – the driver’s license is accepted everywhere.

Dawn Möller (UK)

The diplomat

“I realize that the position of diplomats is different from the group of foreigners you are referring to, but it illustrates the inflexibilty of the Swedish regulations once you do not have a personal number. Diplomats are admitted by the Swedish Government and they do have a residence permit (issued by the foreign ministry) and an ID-card (also issued by the ministry), but with 4 zeros in your person-number you still do not exist.”

Frans van der Kleij

Royal Netherlands Embassy, Stockholm

Boardmember of the Association of Diplomats in Stockholm (ADS)

The partner

“I am a New Zealand passport holder on partnership visa and have been living in Sweden since April 05. I have had a huge problem getting my ID from my local Swedish post office. I have been in there now 7 different times.

I have had an absolute gut-full of this system. I am to the point of giving up. In all my life I have never had so much trouble with such a simple thing – to be told in banks,shop, and anywhere I may need a ID check that my passport – the most legal document in the world – is not welcome. I’m just fuming.

Hamish (New Zealand)

…and how things used to work

When I first arrived in Sweden and attempted to get an I.D. card (this is in 2001), I faced the very same problems people face today. I could not get an I.D. card despite being a resident, my passport being unacceptable according to Swedish law as identification. I tried every bureau that issues I.D. cards.

In the end, I managed to get the card, by flagging down a Swede I had seen on occasion while going to my new job in the morning. I asked her to accompany me to the bank and sign the form. Though she knew me only from occasional eye contact, she agreed. She signed and scribbled her personal number, showed her I.D. card and Bob’s your uncle!

Francois Lavigne, (Canada)