The Swedish personal number (personnummer) is perhaps the most important identification you can receive in Sweden. Nearly all institutions will ask you for your personal number – doctors, employers, banks libraries, even Ikea. So, getting this number should be your top one priority when moving to Sweden as it will facilitate a lot of other administrative things for you. However, in some cases it is not trivial to get this number. Upon arrival in Umeå one of your first stops will be the Swedish tax agency, the Skatteverket (Sveagatan 12). Here, you will apply for the personal number.
For employed postdocs
With a working contract from a Swedish university that lasts longer than 1 year you should have no problems getting the Swedish personal number. For people from outside the EU a visa/resident permit for longer than a year might be necessary, but this is linked to the working contract. So as soon as you get the residence permit with this working contract, the personal number is just a formality.
For stipend holders
For postdocs on fellowships, it can be more difficult to get the personal number. Here it depends also on other factors like your country of origin.
From outside the EU
Before moving to Sweden, you will have to apply for a residence permit/visa. To this end, you will need to show that you will have enough funds in Sweden and give a copy of your scholarship. The university will in addition provide you with a minimal health insurance for foreign researchers. Once you got the residence permit/visa to come to Sweden you can use this to apply for a Swedish personal number. See our After you arrive section for more details about how to go about this.
From other EU countries
If you are a stipend holder from another EU country, you are regarded as “self-sufficient” by the Skatteverket. To fulfil this requirement you must prove, that you have sufficient funds to support your stay as well as a comprehensive health insurance (certificate S1 valid for at least 1 year). Please be aware that every EU country handles the health insurance differently. It might happen that you lose the health insurance from your home country upon moving to another country (e.g. Sweden) and then you are not covered and not eligible for the personal number. Until now, there is no private health insurance available in Sweden that covers enough to compensate this. It is recommended, that you inform yourself before your arrival in Sweden and apply for the needed certificates in time.
In case this is not possible you might be eligible to apply for the Swedish health insurance (at försäkringskassan) before applying for the personal number. However, the Swedish försäkringskassan is very slow and your application can take several months. As soon as you got the Swedish health insurance you could apply for the Swedish personal number. The easier/faster solution would in most cases be to try to keep the health insurance of your home country.
Overall, it is also possible to live without a Swedish personal number. It is for sure more administrative work for you but also people who stay less than a year in Sweden do not get this number.