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The system of banking in Sweden is efficient and highly sophisticated. Nevertheless, there are several distinct features of dealing with money in Sweden that, combined with the language difference, can be challenging for expats.
Depending on how long they stay in the country, expats may be expected to pay tax in Sweden. The Skatteverket, the Swedish tax agency, plays a larger role than expats may be used to – it is responsible for everything from population registration to issuing burial certificates. It is, however, highly efficient, trusted and even popular with the general population.
Money in Sweden
The currency in Sweden has been the krona (SEK) since 1873. One krona is equal to 100 öre, and the plural for krona is kronor. While prices in Sweden might be quoted using öre, they are usually rounded up as öre coins are no longer in circulation.
Notes: 20 SEK, 50 SEK, 100 SEK, 500 SEK and 1,000 SEK
Coins: 1 SEK, 5 SEK and 10 SEK
Banking in Sweden
Expats should be able to open a local account at one of the main commercial banks, such as Handelsbanken, Föreningssparbanken, Nordbanken and Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken (SEB). All of these offer full internet banking services, but most are only available in Swedish.
Opening a bank account
When opening a bank account in Sweden, expats will need a variety of documents including proof of address, passport, employment details, and a personal tax number (personnummer). A personnummer can be obtained from an expat’s local tax office and allows one to do everything from opening a bank account to getting a mobile phone contract.
Regular banking hours in Sweden are 10am to 3pm, Monday to Friday.
ATMs and credit cards
Major credit and charge cards are accepted throughout the country, and in many cases are more commonly used than cash. However, ATMs are prevalent too, and can be found outside all banks, as well as in most supermarkets and shopping centres
Taxes in Sweden
Expats moving to Sweden are taxed depending on the length of their stay. To be considered a Swedish resident for tax purposes, an expat must either have a permanent home in Sweden or have stayed in the country for more than six months in a year.
Taxes in Sweden are paid according to a sliding scale. Residents are taxed on their worldwide income, whereas non-residents who are temporarily working in Sweden are usually taxed only on their income earned in the country.
Expats may also be eligible for tax relief under certain conditions. Those who benefit usually include specialists, qualified scientists or experts with scarce knowledge and skills, and key senior employees. Expatriate tax relief reduces salary tax and relieves expenses related to moving, returning to one’s home country and school fees.
In order to qualify for tax relief, an expat must apply in person at the Tax Committee (Forskarskattenämnden) within three months of starting employment in Sweden. This can be done when the personnummer is issued.
Expats who intend on staying in Sweden for less than a year will usually receive a coordination number (samordningsnummer) instead of a personnummer. This is mostly for tax purposes and may not be accepted by local banks and businesses.
Given that the system of taxation in Sweden is so different from that in many expats’ home countries, they are advised to seek the help of a local registered tax professional.