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HEALTH INSURANCE

The essential insurance many foreigners in Sweden forget to sign up for

When moving to Sweden, a lot of the paperwork is mercifully simpler than in many places – at least once you arrive. But one crucial insurance can be easily missed, and can end up costing a lot if you fail to apply.

The essential insurance many foreigners in Sweden forget to sign up for
Making sure you sign up for this important insurance could save you thousands of kronor. Photo: Emelie Asplund/imagebank.sweden.se

The Swedish Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan) is responsible for providing a range of benefits and allowances, including sick and disability pay, child allowance, and many other forms of social security. 

In order to receive these benefits, you need to be insured in Sweden. You don’t pay anything for this insurance, but you do need to actively apply to be completely covered.

Some benefits are linked to your employment. Work-based benefits like sick pay, parental benefit, and injury compensation are available to people who work in Sweden – employees, self-employed people, and contractors are all insured for these.

Other benefits are available to everyone legally resident in Sweden, regardless of whether you’re working, but only if you sign up with Försäkringskassan.

This includes child allowance, parental benefit at the basic level, income support for the elderly, and several other benefits. 


You need to register with Försäkringskassan to be eligible for dental care subsidies in Sweden. Photo: Simon Paulin/SvD/TT

One important one is dental care.

You will be eligible to receive medical care in Sweden on the same terms as Swedish citizens as soon as you are registered with the Tax Agency and have a personal identity number, personnummer (non-EU citizens should arrange insurance to cover them before this point).

But for dental care, you need to register with Försäkringskassan in order to be eligible for Sweden’s dental subsidies.

Dental care is free of charge for people under the age of 23. After this age you are required to pay, but are entitled to an annual subsidy depending on your age, as well as high cost protection which means you never pay above a certain amount for dental care in a given year.

So how do you apply?

If you move to Sweden together with a child (aged under 16), the agency should contact you once you have registered with the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket) and received your personal identity number. 

But for people moving here without children, you need to actively register with the agency – simply having your personnummer is not enough. It is important to do this as soon as possible after the move. Even if none of the benefits are relevant at the time when you move, it’s a key step just in case something unexpected happens.

One reason for that is that registration is not automatic. In fact, the process can take several months, and you are not insured during the waiting time. 


Registration is not automatic, and can take several months. Photo: Gorm Kallestad/NTB Scanpix/TT

Once you have got either a residence permit or have registered with the Tax Agency, you can register either online at forsakringskassan.se, if you have Swedish BankID, or by sending off a form, which you can find in English here. You will need to provide copies of your permit or, if moving from an EU/EEA country or Switzerland, proof that you are no longer covered by social insurance in that country. 

If you are not able to be added to the population register, for example if you cannot prove that your stay will be over a year, you should still apply either online or via the same form, and the agency will check if there are any forms of compensation you may still be eligible for.

When you register with Försäkringskassan, you can also apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) at the same time. The benefit of this is that when you travel within the EU, you will be eligible for the same healthcare at the same prices as local residents. 

If you become eligible for a benefit, for example if you need long-term sickness compensation or are expecting a child, you will need to let the agency know by either filling out a form or using the My Pages section of the website to apply for that compensation.

The exception is the dental subsidy, which you do not need to apply for because everyone is eligible. All you need to do is tell your dentist that you are registered with Försäkringskassan and would like to use your subsidy towards your payment.

Member comments

  1. The interesting thing was that when I applied for personnummer at Skatteverket I actually asked if I need to go to the Försäkringskassan to apply and the answer I got was that I am insured and I do not need to contact them. 2 years later when I had problems with my teeth I got the surprise that I was not insured. Have a lot of colleagues that had the same issue. So one solution would be better online documentation.

  2. I faced the same issue as Tudor!
    Försäkringskassan has one of the worst online interfaces when it comes to dealing with expat residents in Sweden. When I got a job offer starting in March, I applied to be registered at Försäkringskassan. First of all, it is really difficult to find the page where you can register yourself, the page in English does not give any useful information about registration, you have to translate the page from Swedish which is not efficient. The registration was mainly so I can get dental subsidy. I filled up the form as usual giving all the details that were asked for and left the ‘other information’ part blank. 3 months later I got a letter stating that my case was closed and no action was taken since I had not mentioned which benefit I wanted to be registered for. I was also told that once I register for a particular benefit, I would be registered for all the benefits. When I mentioned that there was no place in the form to mention the benefit, they told me that I was supposed to put it down in ‘Other Information’. How is one supposed to know that without any instructions?! It has been 8 months since I originally applied and 3 months since they reopened my case when I requested that I needed dental subsidy. I have called them twice during this time, the first time I got good help and customer service from them, but the second time the representative was really rude and demeaning.
    This page needs to be better and easier to understand if it is to be inclusive of everyone living in Sweden!

  3. The service from FK is appalling. Their website is badly designed, difficult to interact with and their response times completely unacceptable. I have been living and working in Sweden for 22 years (!) and during that time I have been fully insured for health and dental subsidies. Now, my EU Kort has expired and they refuse to renew it! All because I said 2 years ago that I would spend half of my time living in Portugal and the other half in Sweden. I am still registered in Sweden as a resident and I am folkbokförd here. I am a Swedish citizen, as is my wife. I am fully taxable in Sweden, and pay all my taxes here. And although I now spend less then half-year in Portugal every year, they are asking for a complete record of my working time in the UK (where I come from). Why now? I had all the qualifying attributes for receiving full access to public health services before, so why do they ask me for information which they already have? It seems like I am dealing with a really stupid person. FK seems to have no sense of customer service. In the meantime I have no valid EU Kort and don’t know when, or if, I will get one. Who can I complain to outside of FK?

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For members

IMMIGRATION

Card, status, or permit? The different types of permanent residence document in Sweden

There are multiple types of permanent residence documents in Sweden, which can lead to confusion about residency status. The application processes and rights granted depend on your citizenship and what you're doing in Sweden.

Sweden's law on residence permits (uppehåstillstånd)
What do the different residence documents mean for your rights? Photo: Janerik Henriksson / TT

Certificate of permanent right of residence (Intyg om permanent uppehållsrätt)

For EU/EEA citizens

This applies to EU or EEA citizens who have lived in Sweden with right of residence under EU law for at least five years. EU/EEA citizens have right of residence in Sweden if they work, study, run their own business or have sufficient funds to support themselves, and their family members also have right of residence as long as they live together in Sweden. After five years, they automatically gain permanent right of residence.

A certificate of permanent residence is a document which shows that the holder has permanent right of residence. This certificate documents the residency status the holder already has, rather than granting a new residency status. It’s not a necessity in Sweden, because your EU citizenship is enough to grant you permanent right of residence after five years, but it may be used when contacting other national authorities, for example. It can be ordered from the Swedish Migration Agency (Migrationsverket) and is free. Certificates of permanent right of residence can only be issued to those who have (or had) right of residence as EU/EEA citizens.

You can lose your permanent right of residence if you move away from Sweden for more than two years.

Permanent residence card (Permanent uppehållskort)

For non-EU/EEA citizens living with a non-Swedish EU/EEA citizen

Permanent residence cards apply to non-EU/EEA citizens (also referred to as third country citizens) who have lived in Sweden continuously for at least five years together with an EU/EEA citizen who has right of residence (discussed above). Swedes are not usually considered EU/EEA citizens in this context, but Swedes who have recently lived in another EU/EEA country or Switzerland may qualify.

A permanent residence card shows that a non-EU/EEA citizen has the permanent right to live and work in Sweden through living with an EU/EEA citizen in Sweden for over five years. It is free to apply for. While the EU/EEA family member does not need to apply for the permanent residence certificate, the non-EU/EEA member does need to apply for the card, because they are more likely to need to prove their right of residence.

You can lose your permanent residence card if you move away from Sweden for more than two years.

Note: a permanent residence card (permanent uppehållskort) is not the same as a permanent residence permit card (permanent uppehållstillståndskort), discussed below.

Permanent residence permit (Permanent uppehållstillstånd/PUT) and permanent residence permit card (Permanent uppehållstillståndskort/PUT-kort)

For EU/EEA and non-EU/EEA citizens

This applies to non-EU/EEA citizens, as well as EU/EEA citizens who do not qualify for right of residence under EU rules, but qualify for a residence permit under Swedish rules (e.g. if they are not working, studying or able to support themselves, but moved to Sweden as a family member of a Swedish citizen).

Permanent residence permits can be granted to both EU and non-EU citizens. A permanent residence permit (Permanent uppehållstillstånd) is a permit granted by the Swedish Migration Agency (Migrationsverket) under Swedish law, rather than under EU law.

There are different permits for workers, students, family members and researchers, and there are certain specific criteria that must be met (for example, workers must earn above a salary threshold) as well as a fee to pay.

If the permit is granted, the applicant will receive a residence permit card (uppehållstillståndskort/UT-kort). After between two or four years depending on your type of permit, residence permit holders can apply for a permanent residence permit card.

In most cases, you will have to apply for a work permit if you also wish to work, but check with the Swedish Migration Agency if you are unsure.

Although described as a permanent residence permit, this residence permit can be revoked if you leave Sweden for more than one year. If you inform the Swedish Migration Agency before you depart, you can be away from Sweden for up to two years before losing your residence permit. 

Permanent residence status (permanent uppehållsstatus) and residence status (uppehållsstatus)

For British citizens and their family members who moved before the Brexit transition period ended

This only applies to British citizens after Brexit, and it is available to those Brits and their close family members who moved to Sweden and were resident under EU law (ie. were working, studying, or had the means to support themselves) before the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31st 2020.

Brits and their family members who fulfil the requirements were until December 31st 2021 able to apply for either residence status or permanent residence status, depending on how long they have been living in Sweden. Those who have lived in Sweden for at least five years with EU right of residence can receive permanent residence status; those who have lived in Sweden a shorter time receive temporary residence status which can be upgraded to permanent once they reach the five-year mark. The post-Brexit residence status grants them the same rights they had under EU law regarding living and working in Sweden, meaning that they do not need to meet the stricter requirements for permanent residence permit holders.

You lose the permanent residence status if you are away from Sweden for five years or more.

Swedish citizenship

The only type of residence document which is truly permanent – as in, it cannot be revoked – is Swedish citizenship. The rules for becoming a Swedish citizen vary somewhat depending on whether you are a Nordic, EU or non-EU citizen, but as a general rule you must have lived in Sweden for five consecutive years (or three if you live with a Swedish partner), have lived an “orderly” life during your time in Sweden (no large debts or crimes), be over 18 and be able to verify your identity. 

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