Saturday, January 30, 2010

Text Messages from the Swedish Police

Polisen. The police. It’s kind of a disconcerting thing to see pop up on your cell phone. Especially when they are sending you text messages. Notice the s. Multiple text messages from the Swedish police.

Last week I wandered over to my friendly neighborhood police station. I needed a new passport. Mine was falling apart, which I was reminded of after being berated by the friendly EasyJet employee at Arlanda (the worst airport in the world) who said that because we were in Sweden she would let me fly on it, but she couldn’t make any guarantees when trying to get back into the country. Of course, aside from this Swedish ray of sunshine, no one in France or Switzerland seemed to be too concerned about it.

Anyway, I decided it was time to upgrade my passport and, because it has been almost three years since I moved to Sweden, to pick up a Swedish ID card. Really the only reason I need this is so I don’t have to take my passport with me to the liquor store. Strangely enough, the receding hairline and my beard suggest to the people working there that I might be under the age of twenty so I am constantly asked to show ID. And they won’t accept an American one.

I’ve heard horror stories of people trying to get an ID and spending inordinate amounts of time trying to convince the Swedish police that they are who they say they are. Not for me though. The benefits of already having a Swedish passport. The process was incredibly easy.

I walked into the police station, took a kölapp, of course, and sat down. Ten minutes later I was speaking with the good looking blonde, of course, police officer. She explained that for the low low cost of 400 SEK I could get a new passport and for another 400 SEK I could get an ID card. I was convinced. So I stared in the camera and waited for the clicks.

But I got antsy and moved after the first click. Turns out I don’t take directions well. The second time was the charm though and I was well on my way to being very official. 970 days later. The good looking police officer then asked for my phone number. Which I promptly gave her. She explained that my ID’s would be ready for pick up in a little over a week or so and that they would let me know by phone. I winked and nudged her and said sure, sure, whatever you need to tell the chief. That’s not true; I thanked her and left quietly. Come on now.

Three days later, I was receiving text messages from Polisen. My ID was ready to be picked up. My passport was ready to be picked up. The good looking police officer did not send me a text message.

I was impressed by the entire process. In just a few days I had brand new forms of ID and am now ready when they ask me if I’ve got ID at Systembolaget. Plus I’m constantly amazed at the use of text messages in this country. I shouldn’t be, considering you can file your taxes via text message, but still, it gets me every time.

Welcome to Sweden. And a technologically savvy police force.

To receive A Swedish American in Sweden in your inbox enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner


  1. Nice. That would be more memorable if she had sent you text messages though! Of course just joking. But about Systembolaget that's funny, because once they asked me for id which stunned me. "What !? you wanna see my id!!?" but i took it as a compliment.An underestimated guess which pleased me. Thanks goodness though could convince the checker that i was in a rush and certainly over the age.

  2. Bahaha. You can file taxes via text message? That made my day. XD

  3. yes. SJ tickets on mobiles have saved my life.

    swedish mobile tech is one of the best things i love about sweden

    that is, until my phone dies. but thats mostly my clumsy fault.

    ps: aren't MOST swedish lady officers good looking? thats what i noticed! :D

  4. woah, you can file your taxes via sms?? Umm, i would think that taxes would be a bit too complex to fit into a text! at least my canadian taxes are, i wouldnt know about sweden.

    i did get an sms from IKEA reminding me about my delivery time. quite convenient! i guess we are also entering a stage where why would we want to speak with someone directly when we can simply avoid all means of direct communication and send a text?? *guilty as charged*

  5. LOL - oh Hairy, next time you should ask for HER number! Because waiting and hoping is a bitch, better to have the ball in your court ;)

    And I agree with @Lost in Translation - women police officers here in Sweden are smokin' (you should check out my sister, I have a post on her somewhere on my blog)! Unfortunately the same can't be said about the men...

  6. @Tod – its probably the boyish good looks I would imagine that confuses the cashier.

    @Victoria – you sure can.

    @Lost – it is nice being able to do so much with a cell phone. But youre right, those times the battery died because you forgot to charge the phone… those times suck.

    @swedishyogi – the Swedish tax system has got to be one of the easiest in the world. And I base that solely on my knowledge of the American and Swedish My theory is that they try to make it as easy as possible so as to lull you to sleep when they take so much of your money.

    @terander – I don’t know if asking a police officer for her number while she is working is a really good idea though.

  7. I had quite a frustrating experience with this whole driver's license and ID thing here.

    Did the whole process... Learning permit - check. drug alcohol awareness class - check. Slippery road class - check. Made an appointment for the test - check... wait...

    Finally after all these steps the paperwork that came for my written and driving test appointments indicated that I needed a Swedish ID to verify my identity (which was irritating since that was basically why I went through all these steps in the first place... (I don't have a car) because I come from a Non EU land. You might think an American passport would be sufficient proof of who you are to get a driver's license, I mean it gets me into the country, gets me a permanent residency permit, gets me a job, verify's my identity at countless other places.... but I guess not!

    So I had to make the pilgrimage to Skatteverket myself for the ID-kort. Here is the interesting part. I did a little research before going down there and it turns out I can't use my American passport to get a Swedish ID-kort either! Not sufficient proof of identity apparently.

    All I actually needed to proof to Skatteverket who I am is my girlfriend, who is swedish and her ID. PERIOD. All she needed to do is point her little finger at me and say "that's him." So I showed zero identification and got a Swedish ID.

    What a bunch of crap. I mean seriously...................? This is the security? Now I get to pay 400 kr for a ID-kort to show so I can pay another 400 kr for a driving license.


  8. I can't think of any other reason :P On a different note don't trust to System staff. i asked the guy about a good beer, he told me of some it was just the same as my favorite (Åbro in case you were wondering ) but more expensive. Damn!

  9. I've been in Sweden for 2 weeks (I'm an exchange student from Washington, DC) and I used my US driver's license at the systembolaget and never had a problem...and I last weekend I went up to the polis and asked to take pictures with them. They are very nice!

  10. @Colin - those are the horror stories I've heard a lot of.

    @Tod - I just stick with what I know. I fear change.

    @Kali - clearly my boyish charm is failing me then. I have been denied with my American ID plenty of times. And there is no risk of me looking young I can tell you that much.

  11. @ hairy

    I ALWAYS use my Canadian ID card when im in systembolaget. I've never had a problem with it.Other than when they read the expiration date as my birthday and i yell " omg i'm from the future" followed by weird looks. That's as bad as it gets.

  12. First time here.

    I am Swedish living in Stockholm.

    Very enjoyable and interesting to read about your experiences of Sweden and Swedish people.

    Funny with your view of the "kölapp" system, text messages and blond women police officers.

    My dentist always send me a SMS reminder a few days before the appointment.

    Well, I feel glad that there are some Americans in Sweden. Sorry for the American bashing experiences, we Swedes can be quite negative about almost everything, so it is very refreshing with some broad minded American optimism and spirit.

    May a say Welcome to Sweden even if you been here for three years already.

    Looking forward to read more from you.

  13. I got a new passport while I was there in November since mine was about to expire and not wanting to adopt american citizenship I need a valid Swedish one at all times. What surprised me most, and what you mentioned as well, was how hot the police officers were! The first lady, the one who took my picture, was older, probably my mom's age, but way hot! The lady working when I went to pick it up was younger and hotter! This was in Västerås. I now have fantasies of moving back to Sweden and marrying me a police woman. Mmmmm...svenska polis tjejer.

  14. That's one thing I miss about Sweden (among some other things): the efficiency....How everything is run so simple, smoothly and always with the latest tech in mind. These text messaging reminders could for sure be something other countries should look into and possibly copy into their systems, instead of calling around or wasting more paper(sending snail mail).

  15. @lost - damn you and your superior boyish good looks.

    @Per - thanks!

    I love that everyone sends an sms, even the dentist.

    @bazarov - Im guessing youre not the only person to have fantasies about blonde swedish police officers.

    @anonymous - its true, these should just be standard practice.

  16. @ hairy.

    did you just call me a boy????

    hahahaha I dont even know how to react. hahahahahah

  17. ^oh. well, if thats what you did, then I must be very sexually confused.
    what brought upon this revelation

  18. well I was trying to reference back to the joke I made in my comment to Tod. but it wasn't very funny. and now youre just rubbing it in. and Ill beat you to it, thats what she said.

  19. Perhaps if you had acted suspiciously the good looking blond female police office would have frisked you. I'm just sayin'.

  20. I'm glad your experience was better than mine...I applied at the tax office and it was a total gong show because I'm not Swedish so I had to have an attester. Said attester was from the University and had proof of this and that he was responsible for the international students in our department. Except he was German. Which technically means his passport is acceptable to prove identity (US passports are not). Except they weren't too happy he was German and did not speak Swedish. And that he was young. And that he wasn't a citizen. And that we didn't speak Swedish.

    It took three hours for two of us to apply. I imagine I just wasted 400SEK because I doubt they will accept our application.

    If only I was Swedish....

  21. thats one of those classic messy situations that the ID process is infamous for here in Sweden.