Horror stories about getting the personnummer abound. However, I actually found the process of applying pretty painless. This website suggests going straight to the Tax Office (Skatterverket) in person, immediately, the day you arrive in Sweden, BEFORE unpacking or doing anything else. This is smart as just about everything else (bank account, cell phone, even your frequent shopper discount card at the grocery store!) will require you to have one.
I went to the Skatterverket office at Stora Södergatan 45 in Lund. (List of the location of offices in Sweden here; contact info for the Lund office here). I had heard I need an appointment with a translator- no. I took a number from the machine to be in the queue (ended up waiting about 30 minutes). The man at the counter gave me the form to apply for a personnummer (in Swedish) and a laminated copy in English, so I knew how to fill it out.
Various sources differ in listing the required documents. The Skatterverket brochure 717B says you need:
2. *proof of residency ("uppehållstillstånd")/residence permit
3.* Official papers that certify civil status (married or sambo)
4. *Birth certificate for children
The thing is, your proof of residency and your work permit are both contained in your visa, which is in your passport... so what you need is your passport & your marriage certificate. And birth certificates, if you have kids. There is no charge to apply for a personnummer.
When your number is called, the person helping you will make sure the form is filled out correctly, make exacting color copies of your passports & marriage certificate, and put at least 3 extremely official-looking stamps on every page of the copies. He said that the decision will be delivered by mail within one month. This will consist of both registration ("folkbokförd") and the personnummer.
I was getting desperate when I hadn't gotten my personnummer after a month, and therefore couldn't open a bank account and access my money, couldn't have a regular cell phone instead of pre-paid, etc. I called the Skatteverket number and spoke to the customer service agent, and then her manager, and asked nicely if there was any way to speed up the process. Apparently there was enough desperation in my voice, as the guy helped me, and my personnummer arrived in the mail the next day.
When you have received this info by mail and you have a personnummer, you can return to your friends at Skatterverket to get your "personbevis."
The "personbevis" is an "extract from the population registry." Some sources imply that the personbevis is important. No one I talked to seemed to think so. The guy at Skatterverket asked why I needed it, and said it was basically superfluous since I had my personnummer and that was what was important, and meant I was in the system. (He said it was largely used by people who wanted to bring over other family members for later immigration.) However, he printed out a piece of paper for me saying "personbevis" on it (this was the guy behind the counter, I didn't have to wait in the queue to see someone).
Since I was already at Skatterverket, I asked if there was anything else I should do there. I was told that I had to go to the office in Malmö to apply for my ID card, since they don't offer that service in Lund. (You can get a bank giro slip from the office here, and then take it to the bank or Forex to pay.)
However, I was able to sign up for the social services program while I was at the Skatterverket office. Once I get my card in the mail (maybe a month or so?), I will be eligible for social benefits like health care, the pension system, etc. So this is important to take care of as soon as you get your personnummer, as otherwise you'll pay out of pocket for doctors visits, etc.
The LUFF website has additional info, but some of this did not apply for me or seems to be outdated.
OK, now it's time to apply for your ID card! (Identitetskort)
This will be your official ID in Sweden (as an alternative to your passport). Some sources state that you can apply at a bank or post office for this card. I asked at Nordea and they said they do not offer this service. As there are no longer real post offices in Sweden, just small service centers, I doubt that that would work, but you could always try.
In any case, at Skatteverket in Lund they told me I had to go to the Malmö office to apply for my ID card. Not the main Malmö office, mind you; the Malmö office at 7 Kattsundsgatan (open daily 08:00-18:00, located about a 15 minute walk from the train station).
I needed to bring:
- My personnummer
- My passport with the visa in it
- The receipt showing I had paid the 400 SEK fee for the service (had to be done ahead of time, using Skatteverket bank giro note at Nordea; paying at Forex would be cheaper. I did it the same day and this was fine since I had the receipt showing I had paid. I believe you could go straight to the bank and pay the fee to bankgiro 389-0100, on a form showing your personnummer, but perhaps you need the official bankgiro form from Skatteverket.)
- A Swedish person, who has a Swedish ID card (also personbevis) who can vouch for the identity of the applicant. The Skatteverket brochure SKV 721 specifies who this person can be (supposed to be a family member, or your boss, and/or someone who has known you for over one year).