Eight things to do once you get a job in Sweden

Grattis! You've finally found the sometimes-elusive expat job in Sweden. You've called your mum and uncorked the champagne – but now what?

Eight things to do once you get a job in Sweden
Photo: Getty Images

Swedish work culture can take you off guard if you’re not prepared. Here’s a checklist to make sure you’re ready for what lies ahead….

1. Join a-kassa

Congrats, you now have a salary. But what happens if you should lose it?

No one likes to think in those terms, but it’s good to be prepared – especially given that different types of temporary jobs are common in Sweden. So join an arbetslöshetskassa. (Long name, we know – it’s affectionately dubbed a-kassa for short.)

Being in an unemployment insurance fund means you can get up to 80 percent of your salary if you become unemployed. That includes if you decide to switch careers and end up in between jobs for a while.

Sometimes banks and other institutions also require you to be in an a-kassa before they grant you a loan, for instance for a mortgage. Again, there are multiple a-kassas to choose from – but one of the largest, and most affordable, is Akademikernas a-kassa, which is open to anyone with a Bachelor’s degree and working in Sweden.

You take it for granted that you insure your house and your car – why wouldn’t you insure your salary which pays for it all? Check out 7 reasons to join here.

Read more about the benefits of joining Akademikernas A-kassa

2. Join a union

In some places in the world union is akin to a dirty word. Not so here. In fact, some Swedes might raise an eyebrow if you’re not in a union.

Yes, a union. There are many. There’s a union for civil economics, for physical therapists, for lawyers, for architects, for dentists, for veterinarians…you get the idea. Check out this list for more.

It’s certainly not a requirement to join a union, and you don’t have to, but there are many perks to being a member.

Not only will they back you up if there’s a conflict at work and give you advice on things like salary discussions, but many unions also have some sort of scholarship or stipend for members to take ”competence development” (kompetensutveckling) classes. Depending on your union that could be anything from learning French to an industry conference to a social media intensive course.

3. Brace yourself for taxes

You’ve heard it said: Sweden has some of the highest tax rates in the world. This is both true and false. Actually the rates are quite reasonable, and comparable to many other places in the world. But it’s true that about 30 percent of your paycheck might magically ‘disappear’ each month.

However, the real magic is what you get in return. Free education (as long as you have a residence permit in Sweden, for the main purpose of something other than studies), almost-free healthcare and prescriptions, remarkably clean streets, paid vacation….In short, it’s worth it.

Read also: 9 reasons Sweden is heaven for employees

Still, knowledge is power – so be prepared and plan the tax rates into your budget, don’t expect to get your full salary in your account each month or you’ll be disappointed!

Photo: Jenny Jurnelius

4. Remember to get dressed before video meetings!

Swedish work culture is known for being pretty relaxed in terms of what you can wear. In most industries, smart casual wear is just fine and you can be fairly liberal in your interpretation of that.

Since the pandemic began, however, the temptation to work all day (or all week!) in your pyjamas may have become overwhelming. 

Don’t make the mistake of joining a video call looking like you just rolled out of bed. Giving a little attention to your hair and what you’re wearing – at least above the waist – won’t be that challenging, surely?

5. Plan your (very long) vacation months in advance

Hooray, you have a job! Now it’s time to start planning when you’re not going to work.

It might sound counterintuitive, but one of the most important parts of Swedish work culture is the time you take off.  Everyone working in Sweden is entitled to 25 days of paid vacation each year, and some companies offer even more than that.

It’s also encouraged to not spread it out too much but to rather take a long period off – even a month at a time in the summer. But obviously Swedish companies have to plan around that, and hire temporary cover during that period – so make sure to notify your boss well in advance of when you’re planning your Swedish holidays.

Oh, and be prepared to get even more in your bank account than you expected – not only is vacation paid, you get an extra amount (semestertillägg) to make sure you have the money to do something fun on your holidays!

6. Learn about types of leave

Speaking of not working, there are plenty of other reasons you might be gone from work.

You’ve probably heard about Sweden’s outstanding parental leave. But did you know you can also get leave for studying? In the public sector you can even get leave for trying out a new job….check out the details about this and other types of leave here.

7. Beware long notice periods

On that note, if you do end up looking for a new job or receive another offer, double-check your contract to see how much notice (uppsägningstid) you have to give.

Americans might be used to giving something like two weeks’ notice, and may be shocked to discover their contract in Sweden might require three months. Anything from one to three months falls in the ”normal” range – so check that out before you tell a new job when you can start!

8. Do your taxes (on your phone)

Finally, with all these perks and all those taxes comes one final duty: to file your Swedish taxes, of course.

Luckily, in Sweden it’s easy! Many Swedes just send a text and voila, they’re done. You can also do it online or via the tax authority’s app. Read more about how to do your taxes here.

There’s a long list of things to do when you first get a job in Sweden, but signing up for an A-kassa is a good start. Click here to find out more about Akademikernas a-kassa.

For members


CHECKLIST: Here’s what you need to do if you move away from Sweden

What authorities do you need to inform before you leave, are you liable to Swedish tax and how can you access your Swedish pension? Here's a checklist.

CHECKLIST: Here's what you need to do if you move away from Sweden

Tell the relevant authorities if you’re leaving for more than a year

If you’re planning on leaving Sweden for more than a year, you will have to let the authorities know. The main authorities in question are Skatteverket (the Tax Agency) and Försäkringskassan (the Social Insurance Agency).


You have to tell Försäkringskassan when you leave so they can assess whether or not you still qualify for Swedish social insurance. As a general rule, you aren’t eligible for Swedish social insurance if you move away from Sweden, but there are exceptions, such as maternity or paternity benefits if you’re moving to another EU country.

This also applies to any family members who move with you – any over-18’s should send in their own documentation to Försäkingskassan about their move abroad. If you’re moving abroad with anyone under 18, you can include them in your own report to Försäkringskassan.

If both legal guardians are moving abroad together, both need to include any children in their application. If one legal guardian is moving abroad and the other is staying in Sweden, you need the guardian staying in Sweden to co-sign your application. If you are the sole legal guardian of any under-18’s travelling with you, you don’t need any documentation from the other parent.

You can register a move abroad with Försäkringskassan on the Mina sidor service on their website, here (log in with BankID).


If you are moving abroad for a year or longer, you also need to tell the Tax Agency. This also applies if you were planning on moving abroad for less than a year but ended up staying for longer.

If you move to another Nordic country, you will also need to register your move with that country’s authorities if you will be there for six months or more. You’ll be deregistered from the Swedish population register the same day you become registered in another Nordic country’s register.

This doesn’t mean that you’ll lose your personnummer – you’ll still be able to use it if you ever move back to Sweden – but you will no longer be registered as resident in Sweden.

Similarly to Försäkringskassan, you will also need to report any children you are bringing with you, and both legal guardians must sign the form, whether or not both guardians are moving abroad or not.

In some cases, you may still be liable to pay tax in Sweden even if you live abroad – particularly if you are a Swedish citizen or have lived in Sweden for at least ten years. This could be due to owning or renting out property in Sweden, having family in Sweden, or owning a business in Sweden.

You can tell the tax agency of your plans to move abroad here.

Contact your a-kassa, if relevant

If you are member of a Swedish a-kassa (unemployment insurance), make sure you tell them that you’re leaving the country. As a general rule, you have unemployment insurance in the country you work in, so you will most likely have to cancel your a-kassa subscription.

If you are moving to another country with the a-kassa system, such as Denmark or Finland, it may pay to wait until you have joined a new a-kassa in that country before you cancel your membership in Sweden.

This is due to the fact, in some countries, you only qualify for benefits once you fulfil a membership and employment requirement. In Sweden and Denmark, you must have been a member for 12 months before you qualify. In Finland, the membership requirement is 26 weeks.

If you qualify for a-kassa in Sweden before you leave the country, you may be able to transfer your a-kassa membership period over to your new a-kassa abroad and qualify there straight away, but this usually only applies if your period of a-kassa membership is unbroken.

Check what applies in your new country before you cancel your membership in Sweden – your a-kassa should be able to help you with this.

Contact your union, if relevant

Similarly, if you are a member of a Swedish union or fackförbund, let them know you’re moving abroad.

If you’re moving to another Nordic country, they might be able to point you in the direction of the relevant union in that country, if you want to remain a member of a union in your new country.

If you’re moving to another EU country, you may be able to remain a member of your Swedish union as a foreign worker with the status utlandsvistelse.

If you chose to do this, you will usually pay a lower monthly fee than you do in Sweden, and they can still provide assistance with work related issues – although it may make more sense to join a local union in your field with more knowledge of the labout market.

If you don’t want to be a member of a union in your new country and don’t want to be a member of a Swedish union, you should contact your  union and ask them to cancel your membership.

Collect relevant documents regarding your Swedish pension

If you have worked in Sweden and paid tax for any length of time, you will have paid in to a Swedish pension. You retain this pension wherever you move, but you must apply for it yourself.

To do so, you will need to give details of when you lived and worked in Sweden, as well as providing copies of work contracts, if you have them. If you have these documents before you leave Sweden, make copies so that you can provide them when asked.

If you move to the EU/EES or Switzerland, you may also have the right to other, non-work based pensions, such as guarantee pension for low- or no-income earners, or the income pension complement (inkomstpensionstillägg).

Currently, you can receive your Swedish pension once you turn 62 – although there is a proposal in parliament due to raise pension age to 63 for those born after 1961 from 2023, so this may change.