Foreign doctoral students
As a foreign doctoral student, you will need to contact different authorities about your admission and employment. We have provided more information below.
The bureaucratic procedures surrounding doctoral studies in Sweden may take many months and can be time-consuming. Do not hesitate to contact your human resources officer (HR officer) at Södertörn University if you have any questions, i.e. the same HR officer who sent information to you after your admission.
A Beginner's Guide to Swedish Academia External link, opens in new window., Young Academy of Sweden 2022.
PHD Handbook External link, opens in new window., Sweden’s United Student Unions (SFS).
Residence permit for doctoral studies
If you will be a doctoral student in Sweden for longer than three months, you must apply for a residence permit for higher education. This must be issued before you travel to Sweden. Contact the Swedish Migration Agency (Migrationsverket) and apply for a residence permit for doctoral studies External link, opens in new window. as soon as you receive your letter of admission from Södertörn University. Your HR officer will send you some of the documents required by the Swedish Migration Agency.
Once you have received your residence permit, immediately send a copy to your HR officer and save your residence permit decision - it will be useful when you contact other authorities and organisations.
A residence permit card External link, opens in new window. is needed to prove that you have a permit to stay in Sweden and to receive a personal identity number from the Swedish Tax Agency - see more information below.
If you need a visa to travel to Sweden, you must visit the Swedish embassy or consulate-general to have your picture and be fingerprinted. Read more on the website of the embassy or consulate-general before your visit.
If you don’t need a visa to travel to Sweden, you will be photographed and fingerprinted in Sweden. You must visit the Migration Agency as soon as possible after receiving a residence permit and arriving in Sweden.
Permanent residence permit
To get a permanent residence permit External link, opens in new window., you must have lived in Sweden with a residence permit for doctoral studies for a total of four years over the past seven years. You must also be planning to live in Sweden. This is important if you are planning to apply for a credit transfer from your home country, as this may shorten your employment in Sweden.
Time to a decision
How long does it take to get a decision from the Swedish Migration Agency? See Time to a decision External link, opens in new window. for more information.
For an overview of what to do when you have been granted a residence permit, see: Informationssverige.se External link, opens in new window..
It can be difficult to find rental apartments in Stockholm. If you need accommodation, please visit the Student housing webpage External link, opens in new window. for Södertörn University and read the information about “Finding alternative accommodation”. You can also email email@example.com as soon as you have received your letter of admission and ask if there is a student room available on a temporary basis e.g. for one semester, until you can find somewhere else to live. Unfortunately, the university cannot rent rooms to employees for a longer period. If a room is available, it is important that you start renting this room before your employment as a doctoral student starts.
Once you have received a personal identity number or coordination number from the Tax Agency, you can register with Stockholm Studentbostäder External link, opens in new window. (housing for students in Stockholm) and apply for an apartment. The Stockholm Housing Agency External link, opens in new window. also offers student apartments, but is mainly for long-term rentals. If you receive an apartment from them, you keep your place in the queue so you can continue applying for apartments after your studies. Please note that your position in this queue can be very important if you plan to stay in Sweden after your doctoral studies, because the queue is very long and it may take many years before you are offered an apartment to rent.
Personal identity number
Your residence permit card is needed when you register as a Swedish resident in the Swedish population register, which is kept by the Swedish Tax Agency External link, opens in new window. (Skatteverket). It is very important that you obtain a Swedish personal identity number as soon as possible after your arrival in Sweden. Read more on their Moving to Sweden webpage External link, opens in new window.. Tell your HR officer as soon as you receive your personal identity number from the Swedish Tax Agency.
Population registration certificate and identity card
Some authorities or organisations may request a population registration certificate (“personbevis”) when you apply for something. This certificate is an extract from the population register and shows the information available about you, such as your name, address and civil status. You can order a population registration certificate External link, opens in new window. from the Swedish Tax Agency once you are registered as a Swedish resident, and when you have received a personal identity number.
As a Swedish resident, you can also obtain a Swedish identity card External link, opens in new window. from the Swedish Tax Agency. This ID card is an approved form of identification within Sweden and can be used as proof of your age and identity in places such as pharmacies, banks or shops.
Individuals living in Sweden are liable to pay income tax (A-tax) on all income. See more information on these pages: Declaring taxes – for individuals External link, opens in new window. and Paying taxes - for individuals External link, opens in new window..
Once you have received a personal identity number you can open a private bank account in Sweden – more information about different bank alternatives is available on the website: The Newbie Guide External link, opens in new window..
Your HR officer will send you more details about registering your bank account for salary payments, the amount you will receive during your employment as a doctoral student and the requirement to a certificate of A-tax from the Swedish Tax Agency (“A-skattsedel”). Order an “A-skattsedel” here External link, opens in new window. (in Swedish). The HR officer will also inform you about insurance and pensions and other important employment issues.
When you have been registered in the Swedish population register, you are also entitled to social insurance via the Swedish Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan). More details are available on their Study in Sweden page External link, opens in new window., for both categories of employed students (students from the EU/EEA/Switzerland or from outside the EU/EEA/Switzerland).
Please note: if you are sick you must report your absence due to sickness in Primula, the university’s HR management system. You will need a doctor’s certificate from the eighth day. If you are sick for more than two weeks, you must report this to the Swedish Social Insurance Agency by sending them form 5456 External link, opens in new window. or submit this information by logging in to My Pages External link, opens in new window. ("Mina sidor"). See Sickness benefit External link, opens in new window. for employees, for more information. You can send them this form or submit it in advance before any illness, but unfortunately your case may take many months to process even if you submit it in advance. During your illness, you must finance your stay in Sweden yourself until you can receive your sickness benefit.
For general questions about healthcare, please visit 1177 External link, opens in new window. (Vårdguiden 1177). You can also call 1177 and speak to a nurse, who will be able to advise you about your symptoms and health.
Having unemployment insurance through an unemployment benefit insurance fund ("a-kassa"), can provide you with security if you decide to stay in Sweden after your doctoral studies. You can join an “a-kassa” when you start studying in Sweden. There are several different insurance funds External link, opens in new window. to choose from, e.g. AEA (an unemployment insurance fund for graduates).
As a doctoral student, you can choose to join a trade union. There are three unions represented at the university: Saco-S External link, opens in new window., ST External link, opens in new window. and SEKO External link, opens in new window.. To be assisted by a trade union you generally need to be a member of it.
There is more information about Södertörn University, life in Sweden, planning your studies etc. on this website: Study in Sweden External link, opens in new window.. You may find some useful advice on housing etc. on the university´s website for Incoming students External link, opens in new window., Welcome to Sweden External link, opens in new window., FAQs: Need some help? External link, opens in new window. and Finances and insurance External link, opens in new window..
Information about Swedish society is available in different languages at Informationssverige External link, opens in new window.. For more information, visit the Swedish Institute’s website External link, opens in new window..
If you have children, the municipality you live in will offer child care and schools. Information about the Swedish education system in available from the Swedish National Agency for Education External link, opens in new window. (Skolverket).
Other useful links include:
- The information service at the Swedish Consumer Agency External link, opens in new window. (Konsumentverket) can answer your questions about buying goods and services and about contract terms and conditions.
- For questions about driving licences, visit the Swedish Transport Agency External link, opens in new window. (Transportstyrelsen).
- For questions about the right to vote, contact the Election Authority External link, opens in new window. (Valmyndigheten).
The Learn Swedish page External link, opens in new window. has links to several programmes for learning Swedish on your own. It is also possible to contact the municipality you live in, e.g. the city of Stockholm (‘Stockholms stad’): Swedish for Immigrants External link, opens in new window. (SFI) or Huddinge: Learn Swedish External link, opens in new window..
When you come to Södertörn University on your first day of employment, you will visit the Infocenter External link, opens in new window.. This visit is included in the introduction programme for new doctoral students (if you start your employment at the same date as other doctoral students that year). You can obtain an SH-Account and password even if you have not yet received a personal identity number. But you may need to inform the Infocenter that you are collecting your SH-Account as an employee and not as a student to avoid misunderstandings.
You will also receive an SH-Card from the Infocenter. This is a keycard, as well as a printing and photocopying card and a library card. When you receive your SH-Card you also get a 4-digit PIN code that is used as an access code when the doors are locked after 16:30. Contact the Infocenter at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have forgotten your PIN code or lost your card. Infocenter closes at 16:30, Monday – Friday.
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