There is a large chain of coffee shops in Sweden. One of their outlets is very near the Norwegian border. Most of the customers in that shop are Norwegians.

A Norwegian girl applied for a job in this coffee shop. The manager said that she was a great fit for the job, and wanted to hire her. The fact that she was Norwegian was a great plus, since most of the customers are also Norwegian.

They signed a contract and tried to get her into the company system. However, the higher executives of the chain said that she needs a Swedish personal identification number and a Swedish bank account before she could even start working.

She went to the Swedish tax office to apply for such a number. They accepted her application, but said that it may take up to eight weeks before her number is issued (their standard processing time for such applications.)

The girl asked the coffee shop if she could start working as planned, and said that she would be OK with her salary being delayed until she had a personal number.

The upper executives refused, and said that she would need a personal number and a Swedish bank account before starting any work at all.

As she could not afford to go two months without working, she was forced to find a job elsewhere. The shop had to hire someone else.

This whole situation seems to me to be against the spirit of the free movement of labour in the EU/EEA.

First of all, the processing time of the Swedish Tax Administration is rather long. It is a very clear cut case, an EEA national with a work contract.

But also, this chain of coffee shops is de facto discriminating against EU/EEA workers. This eight-week processing time being a fact, many EU/EEA workers will be prevented from working there when such a wait time is imposed by a combination of public and corporate policy.

The issue here seems to be that the problem is caused by the combined policies of these two entities. However, did this girl have her EU freedom of movement rights violated? The company admitted that she was their preferred candidate for the job, nationality and red tape was the only obstacle.

Assume the girl also moves to the Swedish side of the border.

  • 1
    This seems more like a question for Law.
    – phoog
    Jul 20, 2018 at 12:47
  • @phoog My reasoning for posting here is that this particular topic (EU freedom of movement rights) is mostly addressed here on Expats. And while this girl may or may not have been planning to actually live on the Swedish side of the border, the situation with the personal number and employment would be exactly the same regardless.
    – Fiksdal
    Jul 20, 2018 at 13:11
  • 1
    @Revetahw I guess the problem is that the question seems rather academic and does not enquire about practical solutions.
    – Gala
    Jul 20, 2018 at 13:44
  • @Gala I see. Fair point. Could she have asked Solvit for assistance in this case? Can they also help her with the issue with the private company?
    – Fiksdal
    Jul 20, 2018 at 14:00
  • @Revetahw In principle she could have, but in that particular instance I am not sure they would have been able to help. The Solvit process also takes some time so it's most useful when you have reached a dead-end, not so much to speed things along. I don't think they would do anything regarding the private company.
    – Gala
    Aug 5, 2018 at 12:58

1 Answer 1


Yes, it's a problem and the EU is aware of it, e.g. through requests submitted to Solvit, where Sweden has one of the worst resolution rates. The EU internal market scoreboard notes that

Most unresolved cases are related to the structural problem of rights linked to obtaining a personal identification number

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