Identity documents in Sweden

Identity documents in Sweden

There are several identity documents used in Sweden. None are compulsory. Certified identification cards are issued by the banks and the postal service (until 2008). A national identity card was introduced in 2005, which along with passports are issued by the Swedish Police.

Identity documents are needed in Sweden in certain commonly occurring situations, e.g. purchases using debit- or credit cards when not using a PIN, or picking up a package at the postal service representatives, or for age checking when purchasing alcoholic beverages, or to get medical care and medicines. A valid Swedish identity document is also required for opening a bank account or other situations where the use of Swedish personal identity number is required.

Domestic identity documents

National identity card

A national identity card was introduced on October 1, 2005. It is issued by the Police and applications are filed at police stations which have a passport office. The national identity card can only be obtained by Swedish citizens. It allows for travel into and staying in countries that have implemented the Schengen Agreement without needing a passport. The card is valid for five years.cite web|title=Fakta om nationellt id-kort|publisher=Swedish Police Service|url=http://www.polisen.se/inter/nodeid=33378&pageversion=1.jsp|accessdate=2007-08-18] cite web|title=Förordning (2005:661) om nationellt identitetskort|publisher=Parliament of Sweden|url=http://www.riksdagen.se/webbnav/index.aspx?nid=3911&bet=2005:661|date=2005-09-01|accessdate=2007-08-18]

The card is equipped with a contact chip prepared for being able to function as an electronic identity card (eID) at a later date, and also a contactless RFID chip containing the card's printed data in a digital format along with the photograph in a JPEG format along with a digital key to verify the that the data contained is authentic and hasn't been tampered with. The data in the contactless card can only be accessed after using the printed codes on the back side of the card.cite web|title=ID-kort: Datachippet|publisher=Swedish Police Service|url=http://www.polisen.se/inter/nodeid=33380&pageversion=1.jsp|accessdate=2007-08-18]

Certified identification cards

The postal service (through their cashier service)cite web|title=ID-kort|publisher=Svensk Kassaservice|url=http://www.svenskkassaservice.se/tjanster/id_kort.html|accessdate=2007-08-18] and the bankscite web|title=ID-kort och e-legitimation|publisher=Swedbank|url=http://www.swedbank.se/sst/inf/out/infOutWww1/0,,120516,00.html|accessdate=2007-08-18] issue SIS-certified [http://www.sis.se/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabName=%40DocType_1&Doc_ID=36392&PresID=1 Identification cards - Certified identity card type ID-1, Swedish Standard SS 614314:2004. SIS, Swedish Standards Institute] ] identification cards. These cards can be obtained by anyone who is population registered in Sweden, that is, has a Swedish personal identity number. According to security requrirements, a valid Swedish identity document must be used to verify the identity, or a parent or adult child must in person guarantee the identity. This parent or adult child must have a Swedish identity document.In 2008 the Posten cashier service will be dismantled, including the id card service.

Some companies and government authorities issue SIS-certified identification cards to their employees, which are usually accepted as identity documents.

Driver's license

Driver's licenses are issued by the Swedish Road Administrationcite web|title=Körkort och förarbevis|publisher=Swedish Road Administration|url=http://www.vv.se/templates/page2_2____3663.aspx|accessdate=2007-08-18] and are generally accepted as identity documents in the same manner as the identification cards issued by the banks and postal service.

To get a Swedish driver's license, a driving test must be done. For this a valid Swedish identity document is absolutely necessary. A person who has a driver's license from other EU countries, or some more countries, can replace it with a Swedish license. For this a valid Swedish identity document is absolutely necessary to verify the identity. A foreign driver's license is usually not accepted as identity document in Sweden, at least not where the Swedish personal number is used, like for health care and buying prescribed medication.

Passport

The burgundy-colour Swedish passports issued since 1998 are accepted as identity documents. The blue passports issued up until 1998 are not accepted as identity documents due to insufficient security features. Passports issued since October 1, 2005 are of a biometric variety and valid for five years. Passports are issued by the Police and applications are filed at police stations which have a passport office.cite web|title=Fakta om nya passet|publisher=Swedish Police Service|url=http://www.polisen.se/inter/nodeid=33373&pageversion=1.jsp|accessdate=2007-08-18]

The passports issued since October 1, 2005 contain an RFID chip containing the passport's printed data in a digital format along with the photograph in a JPEG format along with a digital key to verify the that the data contained is authentic and hasn't been tampered with. The data in the chip can only be accessed after using the printed codes on the lower part of the passport's person page.cite web|title=Pass: Datachippet|publisher=Swedish Police Service|url=http://www.polisen.se/inter/nodeid=33375&pageversion=1.jsp|accessdate=2007-08-18] The European Union requires fingerprint data to be stored on the member state's passports at latest in June 2009. As of 2007 it hasn't been decided yet when to implement this in Swedish passports.cite web|title=Frågor om nya passet|publisher=Swedish Police Service|url=http://www.polisen.se/inter/nodeid=33377&pageversion=1.jsp|accessdate=2007-08-18]

Foreign identity documents

Foreign passports and other identification documents are often not accepted in Sweden, especially in situations requiring the Swedish personal identity number as such documents do not contain the Swedish personal identity number, also due to the security level of the documents may also be considered insufficient, since the banks have systems to check stolen identity documents, but only Swedish ones. The Schengen Information System has such info for EU/EEA passports but only authorities can use it, not banks/post offices.

Problems obtaining a Swedish identification card

A catch-22 situation can appear when attempting to obtain a Swedish identification card even though if one is eligible for obtaining such. To be able to get an identification card one has to be able to identify oneself by approved means — that is, one has to have a certified Swedish identification card or Swedish passport to be able to obtain an identification card — or have a close relative who is able to identify him/herself by approved means to vouch for oneself. This can cause problems obtaining an identification card for immigrants and exchange students as foreign passports are not accepted as a means of identification for obtaining an identification card.cite web|title=Immigrants blocked from getting Swedish ID|publisher=The Local|url=http://www.thelocal.se/article.php?ID=6421|date=2007-02-15|accessdate=2007-08-18] cite web|title=Immigrant ID: Readers' reactions|publisher=The Local|url=http://www.thelocal.se/6565/20070301/|date=2007-03-01|accessdate=2007-08-18]

This problem comes from the fact that commercial companies issue ID cards and there are no laws preventing them from refusing that. One of them is Posten, the postal service, previously an authority, now a commercial company. The companies have strengthened their security since they might be sued if someone uses a falsely issued card for frauds. In 2008 the Posten service will be totally closed down, increasing this problem. No one has the official duty to issue identity cards for non-Swedish citizens.

A person can get a "personbevis" (personal identity paper) from the tax authority, which contains personal id number, name, etc. It is not valid alone as identity document since it has no photo. Sometimes the combination of it and a foreign passport is accepted, if the birth date, name and citizenship matches. Usually it is not accepted since there is no law requiring anyone in Sweden except the border control to accept a foreign passport.

The banks often accept the identity of a person and issue an id card, if the person has a job, the bank has this company as a customer, the person has a reliable passport, and a manager at the company, well-known at the bank, personally vouches the identity.

This does not work for unemployed foreigners. Not even a welfare support secretary or a prison manager are accepted as a person vouching the identity, because the banks want to avoid this type of customers.

Proposed new Swedish identity card

The government of Sweden has made a law proposal, giving the Swedish Police the authority to issue identity documents for anyone who is population registered in Sweden and is at least 16 years old. If using foreign identity documents when applying for the new identity card, the police will check that they are not forged or stolen. When using a person to vouch for one's identity, a credibility analysis will be made of the voucher's identity and the voucher does not have to be related to the person who is being vouched for. The new identity card was proposed to come into effect on January 1, 2009. [cite web|title=Ett nytt id-kort|publisher=Ministry of Integration and Gender Equality|url=http://www.regeringen.se/sb/d/9877/a/94305|date=2007-12-14|accessdate=2008-06-30] . This time plan is now delayed. The integration department was given the task since mainly immigrants have this problem, but now the justice department has been given it since it is within their responsiblity. The justice department has seen it more in a formal way and is hesitating about the reliability of this routine (On the other hand most ID card fraud are with stolen or fake cards, not wrongly issued ones. However ID cards must be reliable from a legal point of view). The police has not been very entusiastic over this new work task, since they have limited resources and staff availibility. The tax authority has also not been entusiastic , but has been forced by the government to take this responibility. Now this routine is said by the government to come into effect June 1, 2009 [cite web|title=Skatteverket tar fram nytt id-kort|url=http://www.regeringen.se/sb/d/10044/a/112185|date=2008-09-24|accessdate=2008-10-02] . The tax authority has not confirmed this date. They must get equipment and get and train new staff.

Examples of problems

Examples of problems encountered by foreign citizens in Sweden, taken from the investigation made for the law proposal for a new identity card: [cite web|title=Id-kort för folkbokförda i Sverige, SOU 2007:100 |publisher=Ministry of Integration and Gender Equality|url=http://www.regeringen.se/sb/d/108/a/94312|date=2007-12-14|accessdate=2008-06-30]
*A Swede had a Thai fiancée. She could not use her salary at the bank since she had no id card. She could order a credit card, but it could not be picked up at the post office. Her Thai passport was not accepted anywhere.
*A Chilean who has lived in Sweden for 20 years had his Swedish id card stolen. He applied for a new one, but couldn't obtain one, even if he showed his Chilean passport and his brother (a Swedish citizen with a Swedish id card) guaranteed his identity. Brotherhood is not registered by the register authority and can't be checked.
*A Lithuanian physician living in Sweden obtained a Swedish physician's license but couldn't obtain an identity card.
*Municipalities must follow the following procedure to pay financial support to immigrants. A money order is written and sent to the immigrant. It must be stamped by the municipality refugee support by an employee personally knowing the immigrant and there is an agreement between the local post office and the municipality to accept this money order. Normally such support would be sent to a bank account.
*Only people legally resident in Sweden can get (almost) free health care. This is verified through the personal identity number. The identity number is also needed to register the delivered care correctly. A foreign passport is not enough, the patient must verify his or her Swedish personal identity number. Admittedly, the health care system is less strict that the banks or post offices, and they would usually accept a foreign passport plus any printed document from a known source containing name and personal id number.
*A German citizen living in Sweden wanted to obtain a driver's license. He was denied taking a driver's test, since his German passport was not accepted as proof of identity. His father reported Sweden to the European Commission which started an investigation. The Commission has stated that it seems that the Swedish rules makes it very difficult to get a driver's license as a non-Swedish EU citizen. A EU passport shall be accepted all over the EU according to its legislation. Sweden has answered and claimed that high security requirements are needed to issue a driver's license.
*A person who can't use a bank account must have the salary paid in cash. If he or she has a temporary job it might not be extended, because of the practical difficulty with this. If an identity card must be shown before signing the employment contract he or she might not get a job at all.
*From the general election in 2006 and on, identity documents are required to be allowed to vote. The constitution of Sweden says that every Swedish citizen of at least age 18 may vote in the parliamentary election. In addition, every Swedish and foreign citizen resident in Sweden can vote in local elections. But if people without identity cards can't vote, this is a circumvention or violation of the constitution.
*According to the investigation about the id card problem, there is a law against money laundering requiring banks to check the Swedish identity of a customer. Otherwise they could register the foreign passport number when an account is opened, and use it as evidence of account ownership.
*Everyone living in Sweden and not having a parent or an adult child who has a Swedish id card, must be strongly encouraged to have two valid Swedish id documents, one stored at home. If one is stolen, lost or expired, the other one can then be used to replace the first one.
*An Australian living in Sweden with her parents died in a train accident. Her parents could not bury her in Sweden because they don't have identification for their daughter.
*An Italian citizen was refused an identity card at the bank for the reason that only EU citizens could get this service. The text "Unione Europea, Repubblica Italiana" on the passport cover was not considered, since the Italian language is not valid in Sweden. [http://www.thelocal.se/11732/20080513/] .
*A refugee from Burma learned Swedish and got a job as a car driver in Sweden. His Burmese drivers licence is valid only for a year and then he must do a drivers licence test. At the theoretic test he was rejected because a Swedish identity document is needed, and he had been refused to get one and also after that. He lost his job later.

Trivia

When purchasing with a card an identity document will usually be asked for, especially in shops (if no PIN-code equipment is used), less strict in restaurants. There is a story that the king of Sweden during the 1980s bought toys for his children using a card. The sales person asked for an identity document like he always did. The king jokingly showed a one-krona coin (having the kings portrait), which the sales person accepted. The sales person however forgot to remove the alarm tag, so the alarm sounded.

References


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