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Banks & Taxes in Sweden
A Comprehensive Guide about Opening a Bank Account and Managing Your Taxes
In a country as expensive as Sweden, managing your finances is one of the first things you should look into. Non-residents are able to open a bank account with little documentation but will be restricted to the type of account they can open until they are registered with the Swedish Tax Authority.
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As a nonresident in Sweden, it is important that you understand both how to open a bank account and how the tax system within the country operates. Whether or not you are an EU/EEA citizen, you are legally allowed to open a bank account in Sweden. Non-EU/EEA residents without a personnummer (Swedish tax number) will face some restrictions, but they should still have no problem at least opening and accessing a Swedish bank account.
Likewise, as a nonresident, you will be expected to register with the Swedish tax system if you plan on living in Sweden for six months to a year. Sweden is renowned for its high tax rates, and expats may be surprised to learn that Swedish citizen not only tolerate these high taxes, but the majority embrace them. According to a recent national survey in Sweden, the Swedish Tax Agency is one of the Top Five most popular government agencies within the country.
How to Open a Bank Account in Sweden
Expats wondering how to open a bank account in Sweden as a nonresident will find the process easy, but cumbersome. Easy because, like most official business in Sweden, the process is laid out simply and there is typically nothing required other than a few documents and an in-person visit.
The only problem non-Swedish residents may encounter is if they have yet to receive or apply for their personnummer. A personnummer is your Swedish tax identification number and it is required to open a bank account in Sweden. You can read about how to obtain this number in our Working in Sweden section.
If you do not have a personnummer, read on to learn how you can still open a bank account in Sweden.
Can I Open a Bank Account in Sweden?
The requirements to open a bank account as a non-resident in Sweden will vary slightly depending on whether you are already an EU/EEA national or not. If you are an EU/EEA resident, you have a right of residence in Sweden and therefore are legally allowed to open a basic account without a personnummer.
For EU/EEA citizens, these are the main documents you need to open a Swedish bank account:
- resident permit
- employment contract
- Swedish ID card
Some banks may require extra documentation such as a utility bill to prove your address or a salary pay slip to provide proof of income.
Opening a Bank Account as a Non-EU Citizen
To open a basic bank account, non-EU/EEA citizens should not need to produce more than what is listed for EU/EEA citizens:
- resident permit
- employment contract
- Swedish ID card
The main additional document required of a non-EU/EEA resident is the personnummer. Without a personnummer non-EU/EEA residents will only be allowed to open a basic bank account with restrictions. Such restrictions include no debit card and no online banking access until you are able to produce a personnummer. This means you will have to visit the bank in person for most transactions. Luckily, Sweden is largely a non-cash-based society, so simply having a credit card should not be much of a hassle.
In addition, non-EU/EEA residents will need to contact their chosen bank before opening their account. While it is a legal obligation that everyone be allowed to open a bank account in Sweden, non-EU/EEA expats have often faced problems when simply walking into a bank and trying to open an account on the spot. Therefore, it is advisable to call a bank ahead of time and make sure you can both open a non-resident account, and that someone will be there to help you. This is also when you can ask to verify if any other documents are required by that specific bank.
If you arrive at a bank and are told it is not possible to open a bank account without a personnummer, you should ask to speak with a manager. According to Swedish law, banks can only deny you if they cannot confirm your identity or if they believe you have insufficient reasons for opening up an account (such as you are not planning on remaining in Sweden for long).
Can I Open a Bank Account from Abroad?
If you are planning to move to Sweden, but have not yet arrived in the country, you may be wondering if it is possible to open a Swedish bank account online as a non-resident. Unfortunately, Sweden has very strict laws regarding opening a bank account online. Some banks offer a Mobile Banking ID, which is an e-identification that can be used for apps and mobile banking, but to register this ID you will need to visit a bank in-person. Therefore, it is not possible to set up a bank account in Sweden online.
Top Banks in Sweden
Nearly 115 different banks currently operate in Sweden. The most prominent ones are:
- SEB (Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken)
In addition, if you do not want to open a Swedish bank account, there are plenty of international banks throughout Sweden. Such banks include Bank of America, Barclays, Citibank, and HSBC, among many others.
Best Online Banks
In such a technology-friendly country, expats will find that many Swedish banks have high functioning mobile apps and online platforms. However, some of the top rated online banks are:
- Nordea Bank
- SEB Bank
- Forex Bank AB
While most Swedish banks do not require a minimum deposit, it is rare to find a bank account in Sweden with absolutely no fees. Most Swedish banks do not charge a regular ATM fee, but the majority will include a yearly maintenance fee. For most banks, this will be about 250 SEK (25 USD). Be advised that checks are rare, and trying to deposit one may incur a fee.
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What is the Tax System in Sweden?
When you think about what the tax system is like in Sweden, you may not think about the word “treasure,” but you should. The Swedish word for tax, skatt, also means treasure, which hints at the fact that Swedish citizens generally do not mind their exorbitantly high taxes. In fact, in recent polls, the Swedish Tax Agency has been ranked in the Top Five most popular government organizations.
Tax System in Sweden
The Swedish Tax Agency has more power in Sweden than most expats may be used to in their home countries. For example, when a child is born in Sweden, they are automatically issued a personnummer, a Swedish tax ID number. Translated into English, this means “personal number.” When parents register their child’s name with this number, the Swedish Tax Agency has the right to deny the name of the child. While this has only happened in extreme cases with names that were seen as not in the best interest of the child (such as Sickboy or Dotcom), this is a power that many expats may be surprised is yielded by a tax authority.
Furthermore, the Swedish Tax Agency is responsible for marriage and death certificates. Thus, if you plan on remaining in Sweden long-term, the tax system is something you will have to get used to.
Three Levels of Government
To begin understanding how taxes work in Sweden, you need to remember that the Swedish government is split into three different levels:
- stat: federal level; highest level of government
- landsting: county; mid-level and similar to a state or province
- kommun: municipality; lowest level of government and basically the city in which you live
The tax you pay in Sweden will differ based on where you live. As with most countries, the closer you live to large cities, the more tax you can assume you will pay.
Personal Income Tax
What is the income tax? Everyone in Sweden pays kommun and landsting tax. Generally, kommun tax will take around 24% of your income. These taxes go towards city services such as the maintenance of roads, schools, libraries, etc. Landsting tax will take about 8% of your income. These taxes go towards more regional matters such as healthcare.
Only the highest earners pay the stat tax. This tax is usually about 20% of one’s income, but only on the amount that makes them a high earner. For example, if 50,000 SEK is the wage threshold of a high earner, and your salary is 55,000 SEK, then your stat tax will only apply to 20% of 5,000 SEK (the difference between 55,000 and 50,000 SEK). Every year the Swedish government determines the threshold that makes someone a high earner.
Social Security Tax
In addition to the three government levels of taxes, employers need to pay an additional 30% on the employee’s income for social security tax. This 30% contributes to the high salaries in Sweden, because it is a tax that the employer pays, not the employee. Thus, this 30% is added to an employee’s salary.
Taxes for Expats
As an expat, you will not be taxed the same as a native Swede. For example, Swedes are taxed on their worldwide income, meaning money they make at home and abroad. Expats who are only in the country temporarily will be taxed just on what they make in Sweden. Expats will also only be taxed based on the length of their stay (i.e., the longer you stay, the higher taxes you will pay).
Expats in certain careers may be eligible for tax relief. These careers include highly specialized positions such as scientists and those with specialty knowledge and skills. If you think you may qualify, you will need to contact the Swedish Tax Committee (Forskarskattenämnden) at least three months before your arrival in Sweden.
While living in Sweden, there are several other types of taxes you may come across in addition to the usual income and social security tax. Keep in mind that tax brackets will vary based on your municipality.
Depending on where you live in Sweden, this tax rate will range from 29 to 35%.
National Income Tax
Capital Gains Income Tax
The capital gains income tax is generally around 30%, although the rate may vary slightly.
Corporate Income Tax
The corporate income tax is between 20-21%.
Taxes for Self-Employed People in Sweden
Self-employed workers in Sweden will need to register their business with the Swedish Tax Authority by filling out an F-tax form. To calculate the amount of tax you must pay, you need to submit a preliminary tax return to the Swedish Tax Authority. Based on your income, they will calculate how much tax is to be paid each month. On average, you should expect to be taxed between 22–30%.
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