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BANKID

Which Swedish banks still let foreign citizens apply for a BankID?

New rules mean that foreign citizens may no longer be able to apply for their first BankID online. And some banks have as a result blocked the service entirely for those who don't hold a Swedish passport or national ID. Here's what The Local has been told by banks.

Which Swedish banks still let foreign citizens apply for a BankID?
BankID is the most common form of electronic ID in Sweden. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

More than eight million people in Sweden use electronic IDs in their daily lives, to do their banking, shop online or access vital public services. Issued by ten banks, BankID is the most widely used. But as The Local writes HERE, a recent rule change requires new users to have a Swedish passport or a national ID card issued by the Swedish police to verify the user’s identity when applying online for their first BankID (existing BankIDs won’t be revoked).

This is because these IDs contain a scannable chip, which can be validated digitally, meaning that the applicant can prove their identity online. But these forms of ID are only available to Swedish citizens, and other generally valid IDs – such as an ID card issued by the Swedish Tax Agency or a Swedish driving licence, which are both available to foreigners – does not contain that chip.

However, it remains possible for banks to accept these IDs, which some banks in Sweden have chosen to do.

The Local contacted ten Swedish banks to ask if and how their foreign customers can get a BankID. Scroll down to read more. Please note that as before, a BankID can only be issued to people who are customers of the bank and have a Swedish personal number.

Handelsbanken

A foreign citizen with a valid Swedish ID (such as an ID card issued by the Tax Agency) and a personal number (personnummer) can as before get a BankID from Handelsbanken at an in-person meeting. A Swedish passport or national ID from the police are only required for remote applications, such as online. “These are the only documents that we can check and verify at a distance. This routine is in line with the authorities’ new guidelines for issuing ID documents,” a Handelsbanken digital security solutions officer told The Local.

ICA-banken

It is possible to use an existing BankID to verify your identity, but if you don’t have one you need a Swedish passport or national ID card issued by the police. The Tax Agency ID or a Swedish driving licence are not valid.

A spokesperson told The Local: “Each bank must answer for its own checks and requirements, and we are aware that there are banks that are able to for example verify the customer’s identity at an office, which ICA Banken cannot. (…) We have assessed the risk we see based on our capacity as a distance bank, and decided that we were not able to offer driving licences as an option in certain circumstances where the customer does not have a previous BankID.”

Nordea

Nordea writes on its website: “If you don’t have a Swedish passport or a Swedish national ID card issued by the Swedish police, call customer service and we will help you. In a few cases, you have to visit one of our branches for in-person identification.”

Länsförsäkringar

A Swedish passport or national ID card is required to download a mobile BankID online, but people who have neither can visit one of Länsförsäkringar’s branches. “There, they can use a valid Swedish SIS-marked ID card (for example the Tax Agency’s ID card or a Swedish driving licence) to identify themselves. When their physical ID has been checked, the office staff will help the customer download a mobile BankID to their phone,” a spokesperson told The Local.

SEB

If a customer applies for a BankID via SEB’s internet bank, they may in some cases be asked to verify their identity using a Swedish passport or national ID card. But if you have neither you can book a meeting at one of SEB’s branches instead. “You then show your ID (for example driving licence or SIS ID card) and get a mobile BankID from the bank,” a spokesperson told The Local.

Skandia

A Skandia customer service officer told The Local that you need a Swedish passport or national ID issued by the police to download a BankID for the first time, but stressed that people who have neither of these can still use their banking services by instead downloading a certificate to their web reader.

Sparbanken Syd

Only customers with a Swedish passport or national ID card issued by the police can get a BankID.

Swedbank

Swedbank still accepts valid IDs other than passports and the police’s national ID, so a foreign citizen who has a Tax Agency-issued ID card and a personal number can order a BankID if they visit a Swedbank branch.

Ålandsbanken

Ålandsbanken’s customer services told The Local that all customers who need a BankID for the first time have to visit one of its branches in person. “Those who do not meet BankID’s criteria for mobile BankID can apply for a mobile security ID (Mobilt SäkerhetsID) with us, if they can verify their identity in a reliable way (they too need to visit the office),” said a customer service officer, adding that the latter gives customers’ access to the bank’s own digital services, but cannot be used for identification in other situations.

Danske Bank had not responded to requests for comments by the time of publication.

Member comments

  1. My Skatteverket ID card (issued early 2020) has a chip in it, and I have a reader that is capable of scanning it, however it only works on the Skatteverket website (it’s called “AB Svenska Pass” on their login page)

    The card reader is/was available for about 200kr online but it’s not widely promoted. Not like you can just walk into a tax office and buy one.

    Seems to me like banks – and every other business in Sweden – would rather just not put the work in to support a range of eID because BankID is so ubiquitous.

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MEMBERSHIP EXCLUSIVES

Everything you need to know about Sweden’s BankID and its alternatives

Sweden is a country that loves technology. In fact, more than eight million people in the country of ten million use electronic IDs in their daily lives, to access services or shop online.

Everything you need to know about Sweden's BankID and its alternatives
Swedish electronic ID is used for everything from doing your taxes to booking a Covid vaccine. Photo: Isabell Höjman/TT

An electronic ID (eID) can be helpful and make your life more simple. But to receive one in Sweden you need to have a personnummer (a 10 or 12-digit code you get when you’re registered as living in Sweden).

Unlike in other countries, Sweden’s eID system is privately-owned, meaning there is no central governmental authority responsible for issuing eIDs in Sweden. This has led to the current situation, where there are a few different choices for eID providers.

There are three types of electronic ID you can use in Sweden:

BankID

Set up in 2005 and issued by Finansiell ID-Teknik (which is owned by several Swedish banks), this is by far the most dominant eID used in Sweden.

You can use your BankID for multiple different services, including mobile payment app Swish, online shopping and logging into your bank account.

There are three ways of using your BankID. You can use it as an app, downloaded from Google Play or the Apple store. Alternatively, it can be connected to your bank card. Your bank will provide you with a card reader to connect the card with your computer. Finally, you can access BankID as a downloadable file. Simply log into your online banking service, download the BankID file to your computer and set up a password.

A BankID file is active for a limited period of time. The validity period can vary, but is often around three months, after which you will need to download a new one. 

You can order a BankID through your bank. Each bank will have their own application process, so you will have to check with each one for further instructions. In general though, you must have a personnummer and be a client at the bank.

The following banks issue BankIDs, although some require that those wishing to be issued a new BankID hold a Swedish passport or police-issued national ID card, which in practice makes them unavailable to foreigners. See here for our in-depth article on each banks’ requirements.

  • Danske Bank
  • Handelsbanken
  • Ica Banken
  • Länsförsäkringar
  • Nordea
  • SEB
  • Skandia
  • Sparbanken Syd
  • Swedbank
  • Ålandsbanken

Freja eID

Freja eID is another app you can use to prove your identity. You can download it from your phone’s app store and use it to identify yourself online.

Although Freja eID has been approved by the Swedish Agency for Digital Government and is a valid form for online ID, it is not accepted as widely as BankID. One example of this is the payment app Swish, which does not accept Freja eID.

Despite this, Freja eID can be used at many government agencies, including the Tax Agency, the Pensions Agency and the Employment Agency.

Again, you need a personnummer to set up Freja eID. You also need to be living in Sweden. 

Freja eID is available to those aged 13 and above. Those wishing to apply for Freja eID who are under 13 must have permission from a legal guardian.

The Swedish Tax Agency’s electronic ID card (Skatteverkets ID card)

Skatteverket’s ID cards issued after 2017 contain an electronic ID, although this can currently only be used on Skatteverket’s own website. The agency state that “the idea is that this will also work on other agency’s websites in the future”, but this is not yet the case.

Skatteverket’s ID card can be used as a regular ID in Sweden, but not abroad. It is not the same as a Swedish national ID card, which is only available to Swedish citizens and is issued by the Swedish police.

A letter with a personal unblocking key (PUK) will be sent to your home when you receive your ID card, and you will select a PIN code when logging in for the first time.

If your ID card was issued before 2017, it will use a Telia eID. Telia eIDs are not available any more, but the ones in circulation still work. Again, you will have been sent a PUK and PIN code to your home. If you have lost your codes for this card, you will have to apply for an entirely new ID card.

To receive a Skatteverket ID card you need to be at least 13 years old, registered as living in Sweden and be able to prove your identity. If you are under 18 you need permission from your legal guardian.

To apply for a Tax Agency ID card you must make an appointment at a Tax Agency office. The application fee is 400 kronor.

You can apply for a Swedish Tax Agency ID card here.

Article written by Emilia Jansson in June 2021, updated by Becky Waterton in April 2022.

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