Columnist Julia Kryuk comes from Belarus and is surprised by the system of Swedish banks. However, not getting a social security, she experienced hardship in opening a bank account. Hereby, she shares some useful tips on how not to get lost with the bank question.
It took me 3 weeks to open an account and get a card, and, must say – I am a lucky one. Many study mates of mine are still trying to cope with this.
Here I would like to give some tips for those who would like to sort the bank problem in two weeks at most after their arrival.
First, visit different banks. Try all of them by calling or dropping in, fill in the application forms for international students. Be ready that some banks (like SEB, for instance) need to request permission from your native country for opening a bank account for you, because of some restrictions, regarding your home country. If this happens, don’t rely on such a bank – better to leave an application, but at the same time search for another option.
Second, it is weird but it’s true that the banks in Sweden choose a lottery method, granting accounts to international students without social security numbers. You will see at the start of your “bank hardship”, that the same bank opens an account to one international student and refuses it to another. Some say, that it depends on the staff that administers you upon your visit and I really trust this assumption, as a good friend of mine had such experience. The conclusion: go to the same bank affiliate, but try different bank staff. When I was finally granted a bank account in Handelsbanken, I was super happy, that my sufferings came to end.
Third, once they are ready to open account, make sure they write your address correct. It really differs from my country, where we need to visit the bank affiliate to take the issued card, PIN-code and do online-banking. In Sweden they send everything by post at your home address.
Fourth, inquire about the procedure of getting your bank card, your PIN-code and online-banking operation. I wasn’t explained the procedure, so I had to reissue my card and PIN-code, just because I didn’t know, that the PIN-code arrives later than the bank and online-banking card with cable. Imagine how it was when I came to the bank saying that I didn’t get the PIN-code! Of course, they decided that the post failed to deliver it and issued a new card and PIN-code. And when the same day I came home, I found this PIN to my surprise in my post box, having understood that I need to wait additional week for the new card and PIN-code.
So this is a real story of what ‘bureaucracy discoveries’ an international student is going to face in dealing with banks upon arrival in Lund.
So, what is really left to say is – good luck!