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What's a Swedish 'coordination number' and why do I need one?

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What's a Swedish 'coordination number' and why do I need one?
An interview takes place at a Migration Agency office. Photo: Marcus Ericsson / TT
19:58 CET+01:00
Many foreigners who arrive in Sweden are given a samordningsnummer or 'coordination number' in English. But what does this ten-digit code mean, and what do you need to know about it?

What is a samordningssnummer?

The coordination number is a ten-digit code used to identify individuals who have any sort of contact with Swedish authorities. Some of the most common circumstances in which a coordination number would be given out are to people who work in Sweden, are seeking asylum in Sweden, live abroad but have a business registered in Sweden, are resident and job-hunting in Sweden, or are studying in Sweden.

People receive a coordination number if they are not eligible for a personnummer. A personnummer ('personal number' or social security number) is granted to people who can prove they will be living in Sweden for at least a year, such as long-term students or employees. 

Like personal numbers, coordination numbers are unique, are linked to the same person throughout their lifetime, and the first six digits are based on a person's birthdate (although for a coordination number, 60 is added to the date of birth).

They were introduced in 2000, partly due to an increasing number of foreign individuals who had contact with Swedish authorities but didn't meet the requirements for a personnummer. EU membership was one factor that meant more foreigners were suddenly eligible to work in Sweden, or buy a summer cottage here for example.

Skatteverket is one of the authorities that can issue the codes. Photo: Christine Olsson/Scanpix/TT

Who exactly can get a coordination number in Sweden?

As mentioned, a coordination number is given out to people who are not eligible for a personnummer but still need to be registered with the authorities, for example in order to work, pay taxes, own property or a car. These numbers may be issued by state authorities including the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket), Migration Agency (Migrationsverket), Swedish police, the Swedish Transport Agency (Transportstyrelsen), as well as some institutions of higher education.

You can only receive a personal identity number if you plan to stay in Sweden for longer than one year, and can prove that you'll be able to do so. 

So there are two categories of people who tend to be recipients of a coordination number. The first category is people who do not plan to reside in Sweden at all, or only plan to do so for less than a year, such as cross-border workers, people with holiday homes or business activities in Sweden, or short-term students. People who are not resident in Sweden but are prosecuted or jailed in Sweden would also receive the number.

The second category is people who do plan to live in Sweden long-term, but are not yet able to prove that they will have right of residence for at least a year.

For example, EU citizens are able to move to Sweden and live and work here under freedom of movement, but they only have the right to live here as job-seekers for six months. Therefore EU citizens who move to Sweden as job-seekers would receive a coordination number, and would not be eligible for a personnummer until they found a job. Another group falling into this category would be asylum seekers who have not yet received a decision on their case. 


Holiday home owners are required to apply for the number. Photo: Hasse Holmberg / SCANPIX/TT

How does having a coordination number affect your life in Sweden?

It allows you to receive benefits such as sick pay if you work in Sweden, and to take part in basic aspects of life such as opening a bank account, registering your child at a school or preschool, joining a municipal housing queue, sign up for Swedish for Immigrants (SFI) lessons and sign up as a job-seeker at the Public Employment Service (Arbetsförmedlingen). If you work, a coordination number also entitles you to any occupational pension paid for by your employer.

But it is still a step below a personnummer, which means many parts of society remain off limits to people who only have a coordination number. For example, you cannot get electronic BankID, which means payment services like Swish or online shopping can't be used, you cannot join most shops' loyalty schemes or join many gyms, nor can you rent cars or get a phone contract from many providers.

Joining a gym generally requires a personnummer. Photo: Vilhelm Stokstad / TT

Are there any problems with the coordination number system?

For individuals, the main problem is the lack of access to things like online payments, gyms, and phone contracts which make day-to-day life simpler and more comfortable. 

And meanwhile, both Swedish police and government agencies have warned that the system allows many people to live in Sweden without their identity being confirmed. There is no general requirement that people prove their identity in order to receive the number (although different authorities have different rules), and according to Skatteverket figures obtained by Dagens Nyheter based on a sample of 4,000, around 45 percent of people living with a coordination number have not done so.

The same Skatteverket figures showed that in ten percent of the cases investigated, it was suspected that the person in question may have been exploited on the illegal labour market, since they had not paid tax. Dagens Nyheter also found adverts on websites in different countries which offered to sell coordination number, for example through buying a car.

Most authorities have processes to confirm the individual's identity before granting the coordination number, but how this is done can vary, and sometimes a scanned copy of a passport is enough. Meanwhile, the police, Migration Agency (Migrationsverket) and Skatteverket can issue the numbers without confirming identity, although Skatteverket recently opted to tighten its own procedures. Now, anyone who asks to be registered in Sweden with a coordination number needs to show a work permit.

Do you have a question about the samordningsnummer or Swedish ID? Or would you like to share your experience of applying for the number, or any bureaucracy you faced due to it? Members of The Local can log in to comment below, otherwise you can email news@thelocal.se with 'Samordningsnummer' in the subject line to help us report on the issues that matter to you.

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