Moving to Sweden

For future lab members and others who have chosen to immigrate to Sweden for work/study, this is a page with practical information that hopefully can make the process smoother. It's based on my experience in Uppsala in 2022 as a non-EU citizen.   

1) Got a job? Get the visa documents ASAP! 

First, note that ALL work and study positions need to be advertised publicly for 2 weeks in Sweden. If, like me, you got your job another way other than by applying to a posted job ad (I got a grant that required I be at a Swedish university in order to use it), this requirement still exists! For example, did you get a postdoctoral fellowship? Unless it is a certain class of stipend, your employer must create an ad to which you can then apply, and for which you will (probably) be the top candidate. The employer then needs to justify why you are the top candidate and have that approved. Eventually, they will be able to issue you a document that you can use to apply for a work permit (see #2 below). In the case of doctoral students, your supervisor must also craft a detailed individual study plan that must also be approved prior to you getting a hosting agreement document that you can use to apply for a visa.  So.. celebrate getting the position, but then immediately push for the documents you need to apply for the visa. That may require advertising your position so that you can apply to it. Do it quickly, because that process can be slooooowwwwwwwwwwww. 

2) Get in the housing queue! 

It will take your employer some time to issue your documents, so in the meantime you can get in the housing queue. To live in Sweden you either buy, rent from the owner (1st hand, long term / unlimited contracts), or rent from somebody who is renting from the owner (2nd hand, more expensive and short term contracts only). If you want to rent first hand, or want to have the option to rent first hand, you have to wait in a housing queue (up to 2 years for Uppsala area.. but currently the queue is more like 6 months... and possibly up to7-8 years for Stockholm area!!!). It costs a small fee each year to stay in the queue, and it won't be ready when you are ready to move... you will probably rent 2nd hand at first. Even if you hope to buy something, renting 1st hand in the meantime may still be useful.. keep your options open. Get in the queue now. It's called "Bostadsförmedling" and in Uppsala it's this site:


3) Apply for a visa!

Once you have a document from your employer, you can apply online at Migrationsverket ( for a residence permit in Sweden. The online application form is quite easy, but do it carefully. A mistake could cost you months. Also you have to pay an application fee. When I applied this was 1500 SEK per person. When I applied using my laptop, none of my credit cards or ones that I borrowed from family worked. I called the migration agency and after eventually getting through to a person, I was quickly given the answer you must complete the payment section from a mobile phone?!!?!. Somehow the website code can sense that you are on a phone. This is not specified on their website, but from a phone payment worked. I have heard rumor that they have since fixed this glitch. The approval process took 3 months for me. This is despite having a long-term contract from a recognized Swedish university and a valid passport and no criminal convictions, etc. There is no way to see where you are in the queue, but there is a processing time app on the website that can estimate how many months your case will take. There is no way to speed it up. Your employer is powerless to speed it up (unless perhaps your employer IS the migration agency). You just have to wait. You can visit Sweden as a tourist during that time, but you are recommended to inform the migration agency about your plans. You are not supposed to wait in Sweden for a decision because this could potentially cause rejection...please read/call wherever you can to check the current regulations and possibilities.

4) Get your fingerprints and picture taken!

Once your case is approved, you need to have your picture and fingerprints taken (biometrics). Do this right away. If you have the ability to travel to Sweden without the visa, for example if your country has a tourist-visa-on-arrival policy with Sweden or you still have a valid residence permit in another country that gives you that right, you can submit your fingerprints in Sweden by making an appointment at the nearest Migrationsverket office (but see #5 below before you book travel). They will tell you to come back in around 2 weeks to pick up your card (this time without an appointment). However, if you are from a country that requires a visa to enter Sweden, you need to then make an appointment at the Swedish embassy in your own country. They will send your biometrics to Sweden, Sweden will check them out, print a plastic residence permit card, and send it back to your country. Then you can pick it up. Before you book travel, see #5 below. 

5) While waiting for your residence permit...

When writing to landlords, in addition to being polite and describing how great you are and how well you'll take care of the house, you may consider name dropping local people related to your employment (like your PI or head of department) and putting their email address as a reference, to help prove you are really coming and that you know people established here. You may also consider decorating your messages to landlords with a couple touches of Swedish ("Hej", "Tack så mycket!"), because it indicates an intention to be a community member, and could have a calming effect and help you get an interview...

6) Apply for a "personal number"!

The residence permit card, despite looking like an ID, is NOT an ID. It is not even accepted by post offices to pick up packages. You need to next apply for a "personal number", and once you get that, to apply for a SWEDISH ID CARD. Take your residence permit and other documents as mentioned on their website and go as quickly as possible to the nearest Swedish tax agency ( and apply for a "personal number". As discussed earlier, this number not only lets you do so many practical things, but it is also your health insurance.  Getting a personal number can take a long time. They said to us 4-18 weeks. I have heard stories of it taking many months. In our case it took 2 weeks! Great luck. They only mail you a print out of the number. You need a SEPARATE APPOINTMENT to get a card (see below). While waiting for your number, have a look at #7 below, and consider booking an appointment for your ID card because appointments are sometimes not available locally for months! You don't need to make an appointment in your city if none are availble. For example, if there is nothing available in Stockholm, you can go to a Skatteverket in Uppsala. If there is good availability for appointments, you can wait until you get your personal number before trying to book the ID card appointment.   

7) Got a personal number? Do all the following at once:

     In the end, we started with accounts at ICA bank because these are easy to get relatively quickly without yet having a plastic ID card. These accounts let us get bank cards and transfer our money to Sweden. The disadvantage of ICA bank and other internet banks (as a first bank) is that they do not let you get "Bank ID" if you do not yet have it. "Bank ID" is required for many online services. As a foreigner, the bank must have an in-person office in order to grant Bank ID, and ICA bank does not have in-person offices. We next applied to banks with in-person offices. However, many banks (Swedbank, Handelsbanken, SEB bank) illegally denied my partner her own account because she did not yet have a job, citing a money laundering risk. The only bank at which we were both successful was Nordea, a major bank with in-person offices in Uppsala. The waiting time for an appointment was about 2 months, so we used ICA our bank accounts in the meantime and closed those accounts once we got got Nordea accounts. This allowed us to finally get Bank ID. 

     If you want to transfer money from your new Swedish bank account to another country, but they don't let you because you haven't had the account for 6 months yet, you can use a website like to do it.