Do you have an ID?
To prove that you exist in Sweden, you need to get a Swedish ID card. To get an ID card, you need an ID number - Personnummer. To get an ID number, go to Skatteverket – the Tax agency and register. As a European citizen, it should be straightforward.
It’s at this point that you are told it takes 2-4 weeks to get a Personnumber (if everything goes well) and that this number is the holy grail that opens all doors. Did I mention that without it, you can’t do anything – no phone, no house, no bank account.
In addition to your European passport, you need either proof of employment by a Swedish company (Sköna office is scheduled to open March 1st), or proof of an activated European (ie for me, French) social security number (tricky after 6 years in the US).
That’s when things actually start to get complicated and frustrating, especially for those used to the fast pace of the Silicon Valley. Oh, and then there’s more waiting and paperwork to begin.(That said, that Silicon Valley speed and the ability to anticipate and react to its ever-changing environment will become a true advantage as we launch Sköna in Europe.)
But, the main lesson I’ve learned so far: Just ask and don't take no for an answer.
No ID – no phone: you can still get a prepaid one.
No ID – no bank account: persist; ask around and eventually one bank will say yes.
No ID – no house: pretend that you don't know, be nice, gain people’s’ trust and eventually it will just work out.
Other things I’ve learned so far:
- Fika is REAL. Do you remember our skonafika.com? Well, Fika here is not your Grandma’s tradition, it’s a way of life.
- You need to queue for everything – grab a ticket and get in line. At the bank. At the hospital. At the bakery. Everywhere.
- You can only buy alcohol (except some light beers) at the Systembolaget. It is basically like an airport duty free store where you need to go to even buy a bottle of wine.
- Station wagons are the way to go – preferably a Volvo. And don’t worry about keeping it clean. That’s mission impossible.
- Doors open outward – it takes a while to understand why your front door won’t open when you push.
- At first contact, Swedes can appear cold. But spend five minutes talking to anyone and they will answer all the questions you want or even give you their number to grab a beer together later. So far everyone we’ve met have been extremely welcoming, friendly and helpful.
Stay tuned for more news from Sweden soon!