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US immigrant sent on Swedish bank run-around

Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 5 Mar 2010, 12:21

Published: 04 Mar 2010 17:10 GMT+01:00
Updated: 05 Mar 2010 12:21 GMT+01:00

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Sylvie Acra has been issued with a Swedish personal identification number and holds a valid Swedish work and residence permit. Despite this, she has been unable to open what she describes as a "functional bank account".

"I first went to SEB and Nordea and they both told me that, as I was only looking for a job but did not yet have one, they were unable to accommodate me," she told The Local on Thursday.

Ragnar Ros at Nordea confirmed to The Local on Friday that the bank's policy requires "regular deposits" in order to open a bank account.

"It is not the same as having a job and there is no fixed amount required. We are currently looking over the issue as several people have pointed this out to us," he said.

SEB's press spokesperson, Eva Odefalk, told The Local on Friday that there is no explicit requirement for a prospective client to have a job but that their purpose for opening a bank account has to be assessed.

"We have to check to ensure that there is a legitimate purpose for opening the bank account and what it is going to be used for. This we do on a case by case basis," she said.

Sylvie Acra also decided to try her luck at Swedbank, where her Swedish boyfriend keeps his money. She decided to call the bank first to see if her visit would be worthwhile.

"They told me that yes, I could open a bank account and told me that they had

never heard of the policies to which Nordea and SEB had referred," she said.

But when Acra arrived at a Malmö branch of Swedbank she was told that, as her US passport was not considered valid identification, she could not be given a Visa debit card and had to make do without internet banking.

"They told me that I needed a Swedish identification card from the tax office - but the tax office told me that I had to wait six months, despite the fact that I have a (personal identification) number and a residence permit."

"My US passport was sufficient to get that work permit, which will be enough to get me that ID card - but it is not enough to get me a standard bank account?" she said.

This is a situation that Anna Sundblad at Swedbank has recognised as something of a "Catch 22" for newly arrived immigrants.

"The question is: who has responsibility for this issue? We have issued ID cards before, and still do, but they are valid all over Sweden and we have to be certain [of a passport's validity]. We are working with the Banker's Association (Svenska Bankföreningen) to help the sector clarify the issue," Sundblad said.

Lena Barkman at the Swedish Banker's Association confirmed to The Local on Friday that according to tax agency regulations for applying for an ID card, a US passport is not classified as valid identification within Sweden.

"The tax agency (Skatteverket) has taken over responsibility for the issue. Many banks offer a service to their customers, but there is no obligation for them to issue ID cards," Lena Barkman told The Local.

When she returned home, Acra decided to call Swedbank's head office in Stockholm to check the bank's policy. The bank's customer service agent told her that although she would indeed have to make do with a Maestro card, there was no reason for her to be denied internet banking.

Story continues below…

"This is a judgement that is made from case to case. We have no general rules for this and we have to make an overall assessment of the client's financial position," Sundblad said.

While Sylvie Acra is now able to deposit money in the bank and to withdraw it from ATM machines in Sweden with her Maestro card, she remains unhappy at the service she was given and intends to report the matter to the Swedish Consumers' Association (Sveriges Konsumenter).

"I want to integrate in society and be a contributing member. And it seems that I am being excluded from basic things that are a part of moving into that country, such as having a bank account to be able to monitor expenses, and pay bills."

Lena Barkman said that the clarification of rules and responsibilities for ID cards is a prioritized issue for the banker's association.

"This is a problem that we are working actively with. We are part of the tax agency's working group on the issue," she told The Local.

The Swedish Tax Agency assumed responsibility for issuing Swedish national identity cards on June 1st 2009, ending a period of uncertainty since the now shuttered Svensk Kassaservice announced in early 2007 that it would no longer be issuing ID cards to non-Swedes.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

16:45 March 4, 2010 by Kaethar
*beats dead horse*
16:45 March 4, 2010 by livinginsweden
Hej... as Lail**1 would say, you follow our Swedish rules when you are in our country or if you don't like it .... feel free to leave.

ha ha
16:59 March 4, 2010 by canuk
i followed the rules and got all this, it took a bit longer then normal but i did it. if you dont like it, perhaps sweden is not your cup of tea, so leave.
17:03 March 4, 2010 by backtoblack
hej sounds like she was lucky to get any type of bank account!!

Im english and have lived in Stockholm perfectully legally for 5 months but I have been refused a bank account at 3 banks I visited, the reason being, 'not having a permanant work contract' even tho i have a permanent ID no and residency status due to my boyfriend being swedish..

I even went to one bank with a signed letter from an organisation who employ me to teach occasionally, this was not enough! Ive also been told that I won't be allowed an ID card as Im not swedish! This is so frustrating as any work I do gets payed into my boyfriends bank account, so tax being payed under his ID no. meaning according to the tax authorities Ive been living here and paying no tax!! great!

I've lived in other european countries before where its easy to get a bank account if you are from the E.U but it seems not here!!
17:06 March 4, 2010 by California Girl 3
Welcome to life as an immigrant. It's no different for people moving to the U.S. My husband had to fight for his own bank account there and that was married to a U.S. citizen, with a green card, and a job in hand. I got an Austrian bank to finally agree to give me an account but they flatly refused to give me any sort of ATM card until I had "proven" myself for 6 months (and that was with a job in hand). To get any of my money out I had to go into the bank and show id. Fun times!
17:09 March 4, 2010 by calebian22
Why didn't she just add her name to her boyfriend's account? It must really be love....
17:13 March 4, 2010 by rdx
i was seven months pregnant when i went round the stockholm banks to get an account. i had proper job , wp, swedidh id everthng..............and still the banks wanted to know why did i want to open an account. all asked for a swedish person to come and verify my legimitation............surprise surprise, they dont trust passports but a person is fine. finally i took my swedish friend with me to SEB bank and voila.......they say i dont need his verification , i can get an account opened...............so much trouble to get one damn bank account.....all banks have different reasons just to return u empty handed.
17:16 March 4, 2010 by pinkjess
I hope your joking.

She has every right to get a bank account. Im a US citizen, I am married to a swede but my passport was enough to get me a visa bank card. You cant have a business/ bank or anything else that's not clear about their own rules... sometime I Wonder how this country runs? They should have a Better Business Bureau like we do in the United States and Canada so COSTUMERS can report company's that have bad costumer service.

We should all get treated equally, weather it be applying at a bank or ordering something form a company. I don't know how many times i have been given the run around by a bunch or morons because the company doesn't even know what the hell they are talking about.
17:17 March 4, 2010 by pennsylvn
well Acra,I am against the idea of you not having the ability to do your transaction via internet banking but I know as a foreigner just like me,there are much criteria to fulfill in order to be issued a visa card. If you are not having a Swedish I.D card and a job, I am afraid it may take you long to get the visa card in Swedbank. Acra, don´t worry I have a solution for that, immediately you find yourself in Handlesbanken, you shall be granted a visa card that very day. Why struggling to belong in a bank where you are not treated the way you expect, just go to Handlesbanken and that problem will be history.
17:18 March 4, 2010 by albert1974
Nothing new!

When I moved to Sweden 3 years ago, I had a valid EU passport, a Swedish state employment, a personal number, the status as permanent resident...

However SEB (Uppsala) told me that they do not open bank accounts to non-Swedish speaking people. Uppland Bank (Uppsala) told me that they do not open bank accounts to non Swedish citizens. Swedbank told me that they had problems with not Swedish speaking people in that Agency and therfore they advised me to go to another bank. Handelsbanken sent me to Nordea.

And Nordea allowed me (having to come back several time, with several documents and after a phone call of my employer) to open a bank account, of course only with Visa Electron Card for the first year.

Unfortunately I did not know about discrimination ombudsman at that time, otherwise I was going to sue all of them!
17:19 March 4, 2010 by mablog
I just opened my bank account in Swedbank yesterday. No problem whatsover so long as you bring your EU passport and the Swedish Number. It sounds a bit exaggerated to make it the most important new of the day.
17:24 March 4, 2010 by ChomskyReader
There seems to be a lot of red tape in Sweden. Why was her passport that she travelled to Sweden with and given entry to the country with, not considered a form of ID? This country always amazes me!

Some years ago my son's mother and I went back to England, the country I am from for 6 months, during which she was able to find work. The only problem she encountered was getting a bank account, every bank told her they needed to run a credit check and as she had never lived in England before she has no credit history, so was unable to get a bank account open, this was almost 10 years ago, things may have changed, one bank said the only type of account they said they could offer her was an offshore account.

We lived in Norway for a year and after 7 days we had new personal indentification numbers and new bank accounts all sorted out by the bank, and Norway is not even part of the EU!!
17:24 March 4, 2010 by Tiddler
Money talks, s*** walks.

Bank accounts cost money to set up and administer, if you are some grubby minimum wage prole then you will have problems, people with money don't.
17:41 March 4, 2010 by Wetallica
It's worse in the US
17:52 March 4, 2010 by pinkjess
I dont know about that cause I'm not an immigrant of the USA, Im a citizen. But at least the US is consistent and they know the rules they set.
17:54 March 4, 2010 by David S
Hmmm ... I just thought of one possible reason for the banks reluctance. If I recall correctly the EU introduced a law a while back where if you sell something to someone, like a bank service, then you have to provide them service in the language you used to sell it to them. So if you speak english, and they speak english back, and you open the account, they're forever legally obliged to deal with you in english.

If I was a bank that would make me think twice about a non-swedish speaking customer
18:19 March 4, 2010 by Nemesis
I opened a bank account with a care of address, without a personal number. The bank gave me a temporary personal number until I applied for one, as did HSB when I bought my apartment.

I then over the next two weeks purchased an apartment. A month after that I applied for my personal number, without having a job at the time. The only identification I had was my passport, nothing else.

What she is saying does not sound right. If she has a valid passport and personal number there should be no problem unless she has outstanding debts in another country.
18:22 March 4, 2010 by Curious Expat
Related Question:

In mostEuropen countries, there are branches of international banks (like Santander, Barclay's, Deutsche Bank etc.).

In Sweden I have never seen any branches of these. Only swedish banks.

18:56 March 4, 2010 by Beavis
"A spokesperson for Nordea said he would look into the matter and provide an answer of Friday. "

Thats a first! Usually they just say its not possible (Whatever it is!) without checking.

Most Swedish bank staff lack any sort of training to deal with customers or to do their job.

I found like most people if you get an idiot who wont help go to another branch.

Take 2 tickets in the queue and if you dont like the answer one muppet gives you go to the next.

I went tough the same crap "Your EU passort is not valid ID you need a Swedish passport" Bring a Swede (Any Swede at all, can be a convicted bank robber!) with you and they will opena an account straight away!
19:09 March 4, 2010 by ChomskyReader
@ Curious Expat

In relation to your question, In mostEuropen countries, there are branches of international banks (like Santander, Barclay's, Deutsche Bank etc.).

In Sweden I have never seen any branches of these. Only swedish banks.


If you look at the amount of international businesses in general in many other countries across the world, many of them companies do not exist here, one thing I know Swedish brands are successful world over, due to the fact that Swedes support Swedish products in every industry sector.

Many companies although they use Sweden as a test market for products and services don't find it a viable place to set up shop due to the market size being small as well as the red tape and for many US companies that don't like employing union members as employees, where in Sweden as you know the unions in many cases are far more stronger than many of the companies, just a thought, I would like to hear anyone else opinion on the matter...
20:26 March 4, 2010 by Beavis
It is possible to get an "online" Danske bank account in Sweden.
20:40 March 4, 2010 by mannorun
@Beavis you deserve a glass of wine!! :D

I have been in the accounting/finance field for long and i must say that the staffs you meet at some of these banks are just bullshit.They are absolutely dumb-asses because each day you go to the bank, each person has his or her own interpretation. This is particularly evident in Nordea.

I share in the anguish of this lady, but these things do happen especially in the South of Sweden. May be in the North, it is easier to get things done and fast too.

I will recommend Handelsbanken to you, though of late, they have started recruiting "Nordea-like and SEB-like" staffs.

20:40 March 4, 2010 by bambam
unfortunately, you've got to have a swedish 'sponsor" go to the bank with you to get account opened. i did this, and did the same to get an ID card--issued by handelsbanken--as a local ID card. if they refuse or the runaround starts, i recommend 'going yank' on them. raise your voice, ask to see the manager, get the refusal or excuses IN WRITING, get the name(s) of each person you deal with, and don't be afraid to drop the words discrimination ombudsman. be firm, have all your paperwork in order, and don't take NO for an answer. good luck. miraculously, suddenly, doors will open.
20:52 March 4, 2010 by mannorun
@bambam, i hope you didnot take a "convicted swedish bank robber" as a sponsor? hehehhe. I like the part of raising your voice and it can really scare especially when you are 'Svart' hehehehhe
21:23 March 4, 2010 by Atlas
Back in 2003, when i was an exchange student in Sweden, i had the option of opening a bank account, due to university having an arraingment with the bank (don't remember the name of the bank now), of course sans Visa/Mastercard, just an ATM card, but i could do money transfer...

Here in Denmark, when i came, i got a bank account, with a Visa/Dankort and an ATM card within the first 2 months, as soon as i deposited some money, and after i got a part time job (was a student at that time), they even allowed me to get a credit, which is great, since no background checks or anything else, just showed them a part time working contract and thats all. And the bank, where i still do business is Nordea. Wonder if they have a different Nordea in Sweden?
21:28 March 4, 2010 by scandinavian leather
"At the end of the day your passport is good enough to get you into the country but not good enough to be used as ID at our bank"

The VP of customer relations at a large Swedish bank told me that and then promptly blamed the government.

This was five years ago and things may have changed but from what I see here, they haven't.
22:19 March 4, 2010 by hjoian
i got treated really well at my small local branch of swedebank. Passport was enough. If you tell them you want to open an account in order to transfer capital from your home country,they seem most obliging.

Unfortunately,the ID thing is raising its head a lot these days,however, EU law states your passport is a valid form of ID,REGARDLESS OF SWEDISH BANK STAFF AND SWEDISH LAW!! IF YOU SWEDES DONT LIKE THAT,THEN LEAVE THE EU!!
23:00 March 4, 2010 by soultraveler3
I also find this strange.

I went to the local branch of Swedbank and was able to open an account with visa privillages just by showing my passport and telling them my perssonummer.

The thing that p#ssed me off with swedish banks was the whole stupid ID card thing. I still don't have one, we have to travel 45 mins to Västerås and fill out a bunch of papers then wait approx. 6 months.

I find it so stupid that my passport is valid enough to give me an account and a mortage with Swedbank but it's not valid enough for a swedish ID card. A passport should trump all other forms of ID, and it does everywhere else, just not here for some reason.

Another weird thing is that I can use my pass at systembolåget as ID but my swedish friends cannot use their swedish passports. How does that make sense?
23:21 March 4, 2010 by Potrero
I think it depends a lot on the branch and even the particular employee. I was able to get a Swedbank account with online banking opened on the spot once I had my personnummer. The online system is only available in Swedish, but the teller was happy to walk me through the process of paying a Bankgirot online. I suspect the language issue is why other immigrants get it denied. Kind of paternalistic, really.

I also was only given a Maestro card, but got an offer to upgrade for free to a Visa debit after nine months. This is much better than Nordea, who told me that they didn't deal with foreign students at all unless they had a job here.
23:55 March 4, 2010 by iridesce
I had to smile at 'going yank' - I can remember being young ( and a little scared ) stuck in a tire dealer's showroom in the middle of nowhere as my father ranted to each and every person who came to the dealer's door about how the dealer would not make good on the tire we were sold earlier in the day that blew out 15 miles down the road. It took about 10 minutes of such behavior until the dealer replaced the tire and we were on our way. It was ugly ... and effective.

So in the states this may well be the default response to nonsensical red tape. I can't decide if I should be proud or embarassed as being characterized thusly.
00:06 March 5, 2010 by Beavis
Funniest thing with Nordea... After bringing along a random Swede (who never showed thier ID) No problem ,sign this we will send you the card.This after trying to argue EU law to 2 seperate muppets who told me its a security/fraud risk to open an account to a non-Swede (even if they had won the lottery!). Here the crazy bit.. they send me a VISA card with the wrong name on it. So I got back in and say, "sorry you gave me a card with the wrong name", bank muppet: "Oh that happens quite a lot its not a problem"me: "So do I fake the signature each time", bank muppet:"No, but it is no problem to use this card". So much for their security excuse!

Whats even funnier is a once applied for a job to train these very muppets at the very same bank. I think I was waayy to qualified though and should have gotten an 8 year old to re-write my cv. I mean come on the first thing they gotta learn in customer service, if you dont know go and ask someone! Dont guess, have every employee giving the same correct answers.
03:30 March 5, 2010 by albert1974
Yes, as Beavis said, just tale a random Swede! It worked for my Bank ID!

In the US my EU passport (not Swedish) was accepted as a valid ID to open a bank account. Everything was done in 15 minutes, VISA debit card included.

In Japan the same. I could open a bank account just with my EU passport!

Just Sweden do not consider EU passports valid documents, and the reason, as far as I understand, is that there is no personal number on them. And in Sweden does not really matter your name, your date of birth, your pass number... you are just a presonnummar!
07:40 March 5, 2010 by neo572
Well...welcome to stockholm...where bank have idiotic polices....i dunno when would they realise things...let me say frankly bank in sweden sucks...i would suggest go to "citibank" if u have already account opened in ur coutry, they provide excellent services to their customer as far my experience.....Among all these worst bank's in sweden SwedBank top's for providing regretful services,but they would open a account even for alien coming form outter space.....[presonnummar.."up in my ass"]
09:12 March 5, 2010 by stuscotland
The bank staff are dicks! I was told yes you can have a bank account at Swedbank and internet banking with just my UK passport. I also had internet banking. I then cancelled it as i had no bills to pay through this account and they were charging me 40kr a month. Then a few months later I wanted the internet facility reinstated. I was told I could not as I was not earning enough money! I then went into the Swedbank I opened the account at and ten minutes later my internet banking was reinstated.

It seems it depends on who you get at what branch on what day. Not great customer service, shocking customer service in fact .
10:34 March 5, 2010 by Rebel
All I have to say to the "tough luck, don't gripe if you are an immigrant to Sweden" crowd is contained here:

11:51 March 5, 2010 by ckn
I am an American and Danske bank will issue you an account with visa ATM card with a US Passport, provided you have a Swedish personal number.
12:14 March 5, 2010 by Donald Liddiard
My experience re Swedish Banks was the opposite .

I am not resident in Sweden but am a UK resident. In late 2004 my wife and I bought a holiday house in Sweden. Swedbank (Was Föreningssparbanken) were very helpful and efficient.

The purchase sum plus a further amount was transferred from the UK to the makalare's account within our local branch. Our Swedish account was mainly set up in advance of our visit. Upon our attendance in person to sign the paperwork re the house purchase we exhibited our passports and the balance of the sum we had transferred was switched into a Swedish account in our name. We were issued at the same time with bank debit cards, advised how to reset pin numbers in machine outside branch, had internet banking set up and the entire transaction, conducted in German (sellers), English (ourselves) and Swedish (bank staff) was faultless.

In the over five years we have held the account there have been no issues.

It may be rules have been tightened in recent years, it may be as EU citizens we are treated differently re ID etc, however the Swedish banks operate at a level of efficiency far ahead of those in the UK.
13:06 March 5, 2010 by The Baldchemist
Can't have colonials running around opening bank accounts of all things! What on Earth is the country coming to?

Sylvie, it maybe because you hold a non EU passport. If you have a driving license then get it transfered and us ethe Swedish license as your ID.

The other problem is of course that you do look very suspicious. I can imagine that if you wore a fullface birka then you would certainly get what you wanted on the grounds of "human rights and discrimination".

Go for it and enjoy your stay. Swedes are fabulous people and not half as paranoid as your countrymen.
13:09 March 5, 2010 by hilt_m
yes it is a stupid system here, I got my swedish id from the tax dept but then just had my name added to my wifes account otherwise all I could get was a kids account. It was much easier for my wife to get an account back in australia, just a 100 point system and forign passports were fine. The strange thing I find is that the bank wants a history from you. But you are giving them your money, so really it should be the other way around.

To many people talking about the problem with id's and bank accounts, not enough trying to fix it.
13:10 March 5, 2010 by snag1111
I got my bank account without having personal no. But SEB refused to allow me the internet banking. Then I went to Nordea, they allowed me internet banking and gave me visa electron card. It seems strange what happened with her.............poor girl...
13:10 March 5, 2010 by PonceDeLeon
Welcome to xenophobic Sweden. I had similiar problems with the banks here. Seems the left hand has no idea what the right hand is doing in this country. Try to remember customer service is not a part of the curricullum here. Do what your told. Stand in line. Never question authority. Never be critical. Keep your expectations low, don't expect change or improvement and you will never be dissappointed and you should be very happy here.
13:10 March 5, 2010 by Nemesis
@ Donald Liddiard

It looks like you have had similar experience to myself.
13:14 March 5, 2010 by here for the summer
I wonder how much money she wanted to deposit. In the US they won't open bank accounts without sufficient funds. In Sweden we were able to get bank accounts even though we're not residents to pay bills in Sweden.
14:19 March 5, 2010 by Jeanette
Whilst this must be very irritating for the woman in the article, this is entirely up to the banks - they are commercial entities and are entitled to make their own rules about how to decide who can open an account.

It may well be a case of 'computer says no' but that's not something unique to Sweden, is it? And to see what happens when 'computer says yes' to everyone, just look at what's happened in banking in the last 18 months - US, Iceland....
14:37 March 5, 2010 by StockholmSam
Interesting that, after all of the pain and misery the banking industry has inflicted on regular people, so many of us continue to bend over and take it up the *ss just so we can put our money in their vaults. Wouldn't it be great to just say a big f*ck you to the banks and all their money-grubbing fees and keep our money in our mattresses? At least then the tax authorities would have no monitoring ability of your income. I say we do all we can to inflict pain on the banks. Unfortunately, our jobs will always send us checks or require electronic deposit of wages instead of offering us a cash alternative.

I know this is all unrealistic, but perhaps it would send a strong message if, the day after payday, everyone simply removed all of their money from the bank and budgeted with cash every month. In that way, the banks would serve a depository function without being a repository function. All the fees they charge us would fund the depositing and processing of paychecks, but then the banks would not get piles of money from us to loan out to others at higher rates. They would get screwed. Too bad life would be suddenly so inconvenient when we would need to pay bills. Seems the banks have us by the balls.
14:42 March 5, 2010 by kenny8076
i moved here on Nov.28th and got my bank account at Nordea two weeks later, the day i got my personal number in the mail. i had no problems except that i opened it with about $4000 all 100 dollar bills so it took another week in a half for them to send the bills to Stockholm to verify they are real. Which i though was lame and outdated process(do they not have the little bill markers here?). after they checked and the bills were real they deposited it into my account. though i had little money while there process took place. My only argument and frustration is with the ID cards. like the lady in this story i have to wait 6 months for one? WHY?!?! why are they so ass backwards here? you go through the process of getting passports, visa's, and permits..... all of which SWEDEN approves (except the US passport ofcoarse). they assign you your very own personal number, which SWEDEN gives you once they have investigated all your papers and legal status. then go to Skatteverket and be denied a stupid little ID card that does nothing for you but get you into bars and identify you god forbid something happens to you!!! my father stressed to me not to carry my passport around once i got here because its a hassle and expensive to replace along with my visa. but now i have no choice because Swedish people just cant ever take the next step. they look down the tunnel and cant see anything around them, its like there just not capable of seeing flaws...... just like the lack of housing in this country. They make these ID's out to be something so special. My swedish girlfriend got her walkers ID in Virginia her first 2 weeks in country from the DMV, Im not asking for the National ID that i know only swedish citizens can get but just the plain old regular ID they offer. Picture, name, address, age, height........ Welcome to 2010 Sweden! Quite making everything seem so third world here!!
14:50 March 5, 2010 by calebian22
Going Yank? Good job with continuing the "ugly American" stereotype. I suggest if you want to "go yank," do it at home in the bathroom.
15:18 March 5, 2010 by Audrian
Bank regulations have become stiffer since Bush declared "war onterrorism." One of the policy tools of this war is control of the flow of money, which countries that trade with the US are required to follow.
15:56 March 5, 2010 by Beavis
@Jeanette. "this is entirely up to the banks - they are commercial entities and are entitled to make their own rules about how to decide who can open an account"

Yes the banks have rules, as does the EU, and according too the rules if you have valid ID (which an EU passport is) you are entitled to open an account. Otherwise its called discrimination.

What the problem is, is bank staff training, one muppet working there will refuse to open an account, whilst another will open it no problem.
16:26 March 5, 2010 by kenny8076
with all do respect Audrian i think it started when Terrorism declared war on democracy!!
16:38 March 5, 2010 by grantike
different bank different policies.i opened an account with nordea two days in sweden no personal number just school indentification and my passport(id).there were no haste at all.got internet banking,visa electron, and bank personal identity.when i fnally got personal number i was told they cant change it.i have to continue using that number or close that account and open new one if i want which i did quitely.just talk to one staff in morning if not satisfied talk to another in 5 mins there could be solutions.OR GET THIS ANSWER "AM SORRY I CANNOT HELP YOU SORRY" LOLOLLO
17:20 March 5, 2010 by Texrusso
I just hate Swedish Banks! They are not flexible!
17:39 March 5, 2010 by stoffer
@Texrusso - so true! I wanted to open a bank account in Swedish Nordea in Danish Kroner, they didn't let me to, even though I have an account in PLN in Nordea Denmark and accounts in SEK and DKK in Nordea Poland. Swedish Nordea is so far the worst of all Nordeas, but still the best bank in Sweden (for my purposes). When I am done with my work I will probably go to Denmark again if I won't get a position in Czech Republic.
17:46 March 5, 2010 by Caribbean guy/Swedish Gal
Hang in there they are sure to pay you 15000kr for your loss of time and them lack of competence...

Book a flight back to USA with it !!!!

I dont know about the USA but in Canada you must have a Canadian ID and Health Cards arent considered proper form of identification either
18:05 March 5, 2010 by MyFire
I have been living in stockholm now for 2 weeks. (On a 2 year Residents permit) I do not speak Swedish (start lessons on Monday) and on the 3rd day of being here - I managed to open a Bank Account with Skandia Banken within 3 minutes!

It was painless and all that was required was my personnummer - which I obviously have.

I am very happy that I was advised to go to this bank first.....the alternative(s) sound like one big headache.
18:22 March 5, 2010 by Lucyspeak
For me it was a little different. I lived in Sweden for a year and had a visa card bank account with Handelsbanken. I went back to Australia for two years and returned to Handelsbanken to re-open the account, which is something you can do in my country because they keep your details on file. I first went in alone and was told I could not re-open my account despite me having a valid ID that they had issued me prior because the rules had changed since the last time I opened the account. The woman I spoke to told me I had to go back to my bank in Australia and get them to write a letter to Handelsbanken to confirm I was a client of theirs and when I had that, I could go back and re-open my account. So, months later after a trip to Australia, letter from my bank in hand, I returned to Handelsbanken, the same branch, and asked again. This time a different woman dealt with my enquiry and granted it straight away without even asking for this document from my Australian bank. So I never mentioned it. The only difference was that my partner was with me, but she only asked if he was also a customer, and that was that, she re-opened my account no questions asked and issued me a visa debit stating that she had no idea why the first woman turned me down. I honestly don't know what the issue the first time was but I think it may be due to the banks not having a standard set of guidelines on the issuing of accounts to foreigners, not discrimination.

A friend of mine works for Swedbank and we have talked about this many times and she says that this is the main reason. There is no standard guideline and cases are dealt with on a person to person basis... which creates uncertainty for the tellers working at the banks and issuing the accounts. I think another issue for some people, especially with passports not being considered as identity in Sweden is because a passport is not a personal document, it belongs to the government of the country that issued it. This to me is strange but I guess that's how it works. Now, for some immigrants, especially from the experiences my friend has had working in a Swedish bank, they do not even have passports, especially if they are refugees seeking asylum. A lot of the time, they only have a document that stands in as a passport, which is more like an A4 piece of paper that gets put in your passport (like if you get a J1 visa for the US). These documents are easily forged and may be used as valid temporary passports for refugees who've never needed or could afford a passport until their arrival in Sweden. So in that case, the banks are not discriminating by saying passports are not valid as ID, it's just their policy... no matter how flawed.... continued in next post...
20:07 March 5, 2010 by booka
It all depends on who you talk to.
22:53 March 5, 2010 by violet76
Me too! i had no problem I came here last October and am married to a Swede from Asia. Got my ID card, and banking account smoothly without any problem with my passport . They even gave me a Debit card in my name and expect me to pay for the card.. I guess some of you are right.. I probably had a " sponsor" which makes it easy ..
23:37 March 5, 2010 by badgerknox
This girl's troubles sound frustrating. I'm American and got a swedish bank account with little problem, but then, my wife worked at Nordea at the time.

So if I U.S. passport is not considered valid identification in Sweden, what am I supposed to show at Arlanda when I get ready to board a plane? What am I supposed to show a police officer if I get pulled over for speeding? Surely my U.S. driver's license won't be valid either.

Here, a passport IS considered valid and my wife had to show it to get her U.S bank account, her green card, etc. I wonder why Sweden doesn't follow what EVERY other country does and recognize a passport as valid ID....
01:34 March 6, 2010 by telzey
This is interesting. I'm amused to note comments stating that it would be just as difficult for an immigrant to get a bank account in the US. That is absolutely false. You do realize that most illegal immigrants in the US have bank accounts, and that banks here aggressively market accounts and services to them? And these are people with no valid permits of any kind, often lacking even a driver's license.

I'm also surprised at the "Sweden: Love it or leave it" attitude in many of the comments. I didn't know so many Swedes were American red necks.
03:11 March 6, 2010 by MD1
If you live outside the EU, then its nearly impossible to get a bank account. My engagement to my Sweidsh girlfriend got me residency and the ability to work here. After I came, I got my personnummer and have an address. HOWEVER, this whole ID situation is a total joke. Yeah, the tax agency was willing to accept my time (2 different two-hour visits) and my money (490kr) to process my 'case' to receive an ID card. Then, after 8 weeks of waiting, I decided to call the tax agency about the development of my 'case.' Apparently, it had been processed, but I was never contacted. Of course, my girlfriend could not act to verify my status here. Made me feel like a total outsider.

Thanks for the good welcoming. I was told by friends that the climate in Stockholm was frigid. I only wish it was referring to the weather.
08:43 March 6, 2010 by Kronaboy

Handelsbanken, yeah OK dream on, they may have been throwing VISA cards before the buble burst but now you have to get a reference from your previous bank just to get a Maestro card. I´'m afraid the good old days where you were thrown credit cards regardless of your abilty to pay are long gone, so you youngsters had better get used to the way we used to do things in the early 80's, save your money and start purchasing with cold hard cash.......
09:34 March 6, 2010 by Blackman_for_Blondes
The only way to deal with this stubborn Swedish policy is for other EU countries and US to have special rules for swedes just like here..Now that would leave 100,000 swedes in London in the same position as immigrants here...and guess what they would scream like little pigs all day long..lol
12:10 March 6, 2010 by Lucyspeak
It's worse where I am from when opening a bank account. A friend of mine doesn't drive and cannot get a birth certificate (for whatever reason). To open a bank account in Australia you need 100 points of legal ID... being a passport (which you can't get without a birth certificate), a birth certificate, a driver's licence (which he can't get due to severe epilepsy), a health care card (if you're even entitled to one), or another bank card... so because of this, he doesn't actually have a bank account and never has. It's also a catch 22... if you don't have that, you can't get this, but to get that, you need something else you can't get because you don't have this... ...It's a little silly not being issued a bank account when you are on a valid working/residency visa and have a swedish personal number (which I think is brilliant... my friend in Australia would have so much less of a problem if Australia had something like it), so it sounds to me like the woman in this article may have been rejected a bank account due to these new rules on issuing accounts to foreigners, like I was. I can understand the banks not wanting to issue an account to someone who has no income and is possibly not eligible for bidrag (dole) because there is no guarantee the bank can make money form the account (form fees and such). To get around this (maybe with pride aside) she could have asked her Swede to make a monthly transfer of a certain amount to her account. She must be getting money from somewhere, so either it's courtesy of her Swede or she has massive savings (if not a job of some sort).. in which case, she could get her Swede to deposit it into his account and then transfer to her own. No?
14:19 March 6, 2010 by Beavis
@lucyspeak"To get around this (maybe with pride aside) she could have asked her Swede to make a monthly transfer of a certain amount to her account. She must be getting money from somewhere, so either it's courtesy of her Swede or she has massive savings (if not a job of some sort).. in which case, she could get her Swede to deposit it into his account and then transfer to her own. No?"

Answer No.. how can she transfer money into an account if they wont let her open one!
22:10 March 6, 2010 by RBAJR223
Almost the same scenario for me 9 months ago. Went to Nordea, which was my Swedish wife's bank, asked for an account of my own and the bank said "No, sorry you have no employment." I asked to speak to a manager about this and he was no help. I said, " I am giving the bank money not asking for it." I am not asking for a loan or a morgage. I want to be able to take out money and add money just like everyone else. (I was still getting paid for my job in the US) I followed the Swedish rules of having a work permit and a personal number with a idkort. Still nothing. After a few stern phone calls to the head office, I was able to open an account. It is a very strange process for a bank. It is much easier to get a phone and rent an appartment/house.
01:13 March 7, 2010 by Nilspet

That is why Norway does not want to be a part of EU :) ...to avoid the problem.
11:36 March 7, 2010 by Essjay
Well I should be feeling really guilty or dead lucky or maybe It,s the way to do it ,just got back from Sweden after going to look at a house that I am going to buy .

The same day I went to see it the estate agent ,who was amazing ,took me to the bank after the viewing and an account was opened for me straight away with just my passport as I do not have a personal number yet ,when I move to Sweden and have my permanent address I will have access to debit cards and internet banking , then I went to get a form for my personal number ,just need a permanent address .

The bank was Handelsbanken ,highly recommended by many posts on the local .
11:54 March 7, 2010 by bambam
there may be 2 more teeny tiny little reasons for norway's reluctance to join EU:

1. oil

2. natural gas
16:30 March 7, 2010 by ameribrit
As someone mentioned earlier. All we ask is that the systems ( it is not only the banks) just standardize there rules. Swedes pride themselves on everything being well run and subject to the rules. I must admit that Sweden does seem to run quite well, but not so well if you are a non Swede without a whole bucket-o-cash. That said I still prefer it here to UK.

As for the "Love it or leave it" crowd.

When people in the US say this, it makes them sound like ignorant idiots. When I here it in Sweden it makes you sound like unoriginal ignorant idiots!
22:18 March 7, 2010 by unhappy camper of the saints
In reply to California Girl 3 :

Mr.Atta was able to open a bank account in Florida without a job or a resident alien card, at Suntrust Bank . I am not an expert, but i believe an alien may still do so in the USA.
10:37 March 8, 2010 by BClifton
Sylvie - I totally sympathise with your situation. In fact it mirrors my own experience with Swedish Banks almost exactly (and the Swedish bureaucracy in general). I had a terrible experience with SEB - the worse and just plain rude. Handelsbanken is better, but it really does depend on the person you speak with.

I am British and I have lived in Sweden for nearly 18 months and still have problems with banks. A passport is simply not a valid form of ID here. Be aware that you can't get the Swedish ID card until you have lived here with your "Sambo" for 6 months. Woe betide you if you forget to register a change of address with Skatteverket - they reset the 6 months time period!
13:26 March 9, 2010 by Lucyspeak
@ Beavis. Banks won't normally let you open an account if there is no money to go in it, and as I said, she obviously has money coming from somewhere, so if the bank is satisfied that money will be coming into the account, then they will open it. It doesn't matter where the money comes from, weather it be from her own employment situation or from her partner or even another source, as long as money comes into the account. If she opens an account, and takes her Swede with her to verify that he will set up a monthly transfer, then it should be fine. She might not want to do this, I have no idea, I was merely suggesting that that is an option I have known other immigrants here have taken. Banks do have their own rules, as stated earlier by myself and many other posters, but it CAN be done.
13:17 August 14, 2010 by iloveamma
Yeah right. Nobody is working on anything.

they do this to everyone I know who is an immigrant.

it is their ploy to keep foreigners out of the country.

they did this to me and I am American.

I still could not open a bank account even though I am married to a Swedish citizen. They have been "working on this" for 3 years now.

Welcome to crappy Sweden.
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