A guide to navigating health insurance as a dual citizen

If you are a Dual Citizen (or more!) and are coming to Karolinska Institutet on your European Union passport, but do not currently reside in Europe, this blog is for you. Although having an EU passport is awesome and will make your transition much easier, there also are a few challenges to consider. I came to Sweden on my German passport, but was moving from Canada where my family permanently resides. The main challenge I experienced with this was trying to navigate my options for health insurance. 

Simply, EU citizens are eligible for the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which is issued by your country’s national health insurance provider. While each country may have slightly different regulations, this typically means that you have to have a permanent address in your country of citizenship to first obtain the national health insurance card.  Additionally, Karolinska Institutet provides health insurance for international students, but only to those who are fee-paying (which EU citizens are not). Therefore, as EU citizens we fall in this middle-ground and have to get a head start on the process! 

Here are my four steps for obtaining health insurance:

See if you are eligible for the EHIC

If it is possible to apply and obtain the EHIC from the European country you have citizenship from before you move to Sweden. Provided that you have the country’s national health insurance, they are obligated to provide you with the EHIC free-of-charge. Therefore, it is your best and cheapest option! Each country has different requirements (i.e. some countries automatically include the EHIC on their national health card, while some require you to apply separately for the EHIC) and this whole process may take some time. So start researching this as soon as you know you are moving to Sweden! 

If you find out you are not eligible to apply for this card, do not worry, you have other options!

Get international health insurance

If you were not able to obtain the EHIC, then you will need to get international health insurance for three main reasons:

(1) Karolinska requires students to have it, 

(2) To apply for your Swedish personnummer you will need to have health insurance that covers you for 1 year

(3) Most importantly, so you stay safe and healthy! 

Both KI and the Swedish Skatteverket (the organization that issues the personnummer), provide guidelines for the type of health insurance you will need. Before purchasing your international health insurance, make sure it satisfies their requirements.

Apply for your personnummer

Once you move to Sweden and plan to live there for more than one year (and you have your EHIC or international health insurance) you can apply for your Swedish personnummer. This personnummer will make many things easier for you in your daily life, such as setting up phone plans, online payments, opening a bank account, health insurance, etc. That way all you have to worry about is making the most of your time in Sweden! Here are the basic steps to take:

(1) Make an appointment with Skatteverkat and make sure you bring all the appropriate supplementary documentation to your appointment. You can make this appointment online!

(2) One mandatory document required to apply for the personnummer is proof of comprehensive international health insurance for one year.  This is often a tricky step for many people in terms of what is considered “comprehensive” insurance, which is why it is vital to double-check that the private health insurance you plan to purchase fits their guidelines.

(3) At your appointment, you will provide all your documentation and apply for your personnummer and within a few weeks (or months) they will get back to you on their decision. If they need more information or documentation they will request it or if your application was approved you will be sent your personnummer. Do not stress, if it is not approved the first time. You will get it sorted, it may just take time!

Once you have your personnummer you qualify for the Swedish Health Insurance

Now that you have your personnummer, there are several things you can do including applying for a personal identification card. Most importantly, however, you now have access to the same health insurance that Swedish citizens have. This means that most of your services are free, but for some services (depending on the service and your demographics; ex. age) you may have to pay a small fee.

Overall, I hope you found this blog helpful and feel encouraged that you can and will get it all sorted! Start looking into your options well in advance of your move to Sweden and be patient as bureaucratic systems and processes take time and are often out of your control. 

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions! 




Lauren Wiebe- Health Promotion and Prevention

Lauren Wiebe- Health Promotion and Prevention

Hi! I am Lauren, I was born and raised in Canada, and you probably will hear me talking about how much I love Canada, especially the mountains. I am the blogger for the Master's Public Health Sciences Health Promotion and Prevention stream and I am excited to share my experiences with you!


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