Home > daily life > I am not a number … I am a PERSONNUMBER!

I am not a number … I am a PERSONNUMBER!

2 July, 2007; 20:53 Leave a comment Go to comments

One of the most important steps to becoming an active participant in Swedish society…well, actually the most important step…is to be registered at the national tax authority and given a “personnummer”. Your personnumber is required to sign up for many, if not most, types of accounts, subscriptions, memberships, etc. in Sweden…most importantly, getting a bank account.

I registered on the afternoon of my first day of work, but they told me it would take three weeks to process. Well, only one week later, it arrived! OK, I was set, good to go, I’m a full bona fide member of Swedish society.

Except that, having a personnumber is useless if you can’t show formal identification with that number on it. ID cards are issued by the Swedish Counter Service, a quasi-governmental bank, and by a few commercial banks. As The Local.se reported back in February, this year the Counter Service stopped issuing ID cards to immigrants unless they have Swedish blood relatives or are married to a Swede, and soon the other banks followed suit. This could have turned into a big problem — I might have had to live here without and ID card indefinitely, until a government inquiry is completed and new laws are passed, which could take a year, maybe more. Fortunately, KTH seems to have worked out an agreement with one bank branch so that new immigrant employees can get a card…whew!

But wait…that’s not the end of the story. It took fully 3 1/2 hours running around Stockholm just to get the application in for the ID card. First, it turned out I had to bring in my own photo of myself. I headed just down the street to the Metro station, where there was a photomat for just this kind of purpose. But I found that the machine wouldn’t take any coins. But there was a sign saying the next nearest photomat was at the Karlaplan station, so I just needed to head 2 stations down the Red Line, then go back the other way on the other branch of the Red Line for one stop. After barely missing one train and waiting 7 minutes, then barely missing another one and waiting 10 minutes, I finally got to the photomat, where I was third in line to use it. Finally, I got in and it took my photos, and I wised-up and took the #4 bus back to the bank.

The bank took a look at my new photos, fresh from the photomat (“get your ID cards here”), and said No, these won’t do. My head was too big (keep your comments to yourself, eh?), and they said that the photomat photos never seem to work quite right. I asked where else I could go, and they had no idea. No idea! Am I the first person ever to ask this question? Well, after some running around to find a phone book, I finally found the address of a photo boutique only 2 minutes away in the other direction of the #4 bus. I went there, and they had a setup with a small room, a white wall, a digital camera, and a color printer. Hmm, well without much choice, I got the photo, and paid three times what the photomat cost, but the photos actually looked much better, and they measured the photos to be sure they would work for ID cards. Sure enough, back at the bank, they accepted the photos. Now I just have to wait for the ID card to arrive. Naturally, since it’s July, the vacation month, it will take 4 weeks instead of 3.

Categories: daily life
  1. Janet Franklin
    2 July, 2007; 22:03 at 22:03

    I was waiting for you to write that the card shown was the one given to you.

  2. Paul Franklin
    3 July, 2007; 17:06 at 17:06

    Oh dear. I now am even more regretting having misplaced my Norwegian bank ID card. It was quite handy, not just while I was living there, but throughout Scandinavia on future visits, until I misplaced it.

    Glad it sounds like you have it all squared away!

  3. Patrick Gilroy
    3 July, 2007; 22:16 at 22:16

    Wasn’t that photo taken from “The Prisoner?” What an excellent TV series… I’d love it if they would run that instead of the the nightly M*A*S*H re-runs on the WB (not that I don’t like the occasional dose of Colnel Potter, Hawkeye, BJ, Hotlips, Winchester and Klinger, mind you, but a little variety is the spice of life).

  4. Bekkah
    6 July, 2007; 16:26 at 16:26

    HeyJoel! Congratulations on solving many of your identity crises. Enjoy those grey-blue midnight skies – before long you know daylight will be very precious. How’s the Swedish??

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