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Five top tips if you don't have a personal number in Sweden

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Five top tips if you don't have a personal number in Sweden
Not having a personal ID number can be frustrating. Photo: Bertil Ericsson/TT
07:49 CET+01:00
Still waiting to receive a personal ID number in Sweden? Surviving comfortably in the meantime can be frustrating, so with that in mind, we've pulled together some tips for getting by.

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1. Know your rights

One of the most important places to start is to be clued up on what you are or are not entitled to. Did you know for example that EU citizens without a personal number are still entitled to study Swedish for Immigrants – contrary to what many people may believe?

The SOLVIT centre at Sweden's National Board of Trade, which helps people with issues related to EU freedom of movement, has pulled together a list of some of the key points to be aware of when it comes to rights. EU citizens in Sweden have the right to seek employment for example – personal number or otherwise. Their children residing in Sweden also have the right to compulsory education. Read the full list here.

On top of that, there's also this extensive list from Your Europe in multiple languages, breaking down the rights of EU citizens within the union, including healthcare, qualifications and elections-related questions.

Non-EU citizens do not automatically have the rights afforded to EU citizens in Sweden, and unlike the latter group cannot study SFI without one of the ID numbers. Some municipalities like Gothenburg explicitly state that includes non-EU citizens who have a co-ordination number (samordningsnummer), which are assigned to individuals staying in the country for less than 365 days, but check with your local municipality to be sure.

Read our investigation into life without a personal number for more examples of what you can and cannot get.

2. Make other people aware of your rights

If you know that you're entitled to something, but you're still finding it difficult to be granted access to it, then one thing SOLVIT recommends is to simply make the person dealing with the matter aware of your rights.

"People could print out the information on our website and take it to a meeting with their municipality and say 'look, the National Board of Trade says I have the right to this'. That's one thing you can do," Lena Nordquist at Sweden's SOLVIT centre told The Local.

"In the past there have been people who have directed the municipality towards the explanation of the rules we have and the municipality has realized 'ah, OK'," she added.

If you're not an EU citizen matters are more complicated. Contact the Swedish Migration Agency and ask for details of the rights afforded with your particular kind of residence permit.

3. If possible, use your connections

Though definitely not a one-size-fits-all solution, it could be a good idea to get creative and try to use your family connections – if you have them – as a stop-gap solution to some smaller problems while waiting for a personal number.

Could a partner for example take out a mobile phone subscription for you until you get a personal number, after which point the name on the contract could be changed? That's a solution one provider suggested to us, and while not all companies will allow it, it's worth asking to be sure.

READERS: Share YOUR experience of the Swedish personal number


Your dream of Snapchatting in Sweden may not be over just yet. Photo: Mia Oshiro Junge/TT

4. Don't take no for an answer (at least the first time)

Knowledge of the complicated rules regarding personal numbers can vary in Sweden, as SOLVIT's Nordquist told us was their experience when it comes to the example of EU nationals' right to study SFI:

"With SFI in particular we've made a big push and contacted all municipalities. We saw the most of the bigger municipalities have a good grasp of the situation – some were already in contact with us. But there are almost 300, and some didn't respond to the question, maybe because they haven't had someone in that situation wanting to study SFI. So there's a big difference between for example Stockholm municipality, to a tiny municipality in the north of Sweden."

That knowledge doesn't just vary between locations: many people who have moved to Sweden (present writer included) will have first-hand experiences of being told one thing by one person, then something different by the next. The Local's own investigation also found that it is always worth asking around.

If you get an answer that doesn't seem correct regarding what you're entitled to without a personal number, don't give up straight away: try asking someone else at the same entity. Perhaps call at a later time of the day when shifts may have changed, or ask to speak to a supervisor or someone further up the chain.

In the end you may get the same response, but it never hurts to double or triple check if it has the potential to make life easier.

5. If necessary, make a complaint

If you're an EU citizen and still not successful in getting what you have the right to or get a decision that doesn't appear to be in line with your rights, you can contact SOLVIT directly through the online form on their site.

If they judge your case to fall within their remit, the aim is to find a solution no more than 10 weeks after taking it on. Issues they can typically help with range from questions over driving licences, to access to education and getting professional qualifications recognized. Consumer-related problems however (like for example a company deciding not to grant you a subscription) are not within their scope.

"We've worked with these matters for a long time and everyone we work with is aware of the problems, including the European Commission and the Swedish government," Nordquist explained regarding their work.

"The last thing we did was to write a number of proposals for how to solve these issues in April. Skatteverket has been given the task of revising its routines around these things and also to look at whether the coordination number (samordningsnummer) could be a viable alternative (to a personal number)."

Unfortunately there is no organization representing the rights of non-EU citizens in Sweden as a collective group, but for advice according to your nationality, try contacting interest groups like The American Club of Sweden and the Indian Association in Sweden, as well as embassies. 

CLICK HERE to read The Local's full study into life without a personal number in Sweden.

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