No Dark Magic

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How to Register a Limited Company in Sweden: Part 2

Posted at — Apr 24, 2020

Paying in the capital

By far, the most complicated step of the whole process of registering a company was this one, about the capital. It is required to complete the application to register the company with Bolagsverket on Without a proof from the bank that you’ve got the starting capital on a special account (bankintyg), it is not possible to finalize the application. I thought that getting an account to put 25k into would be easy, but boy, was I wrong. This post is about all the dead-ends I’ve stumbled upon before making it work — the lessons learned are summarized at the bottom of the page.

Different banks, different approaches

Attempt #1

After checking out Swedish banks' user ratings and some articles, I’ve reached out to the bank which seemed to have a good reputation among business customers in particular. Their conditions looked great — they provide bankintyg for free, and the “business customer package” also costs nothing in the first year (around 1000 SEK/year afterwards). Nice and easy, right?

Wrong. It took them three weeks to send me the form I had to fill out before we could start any discussion. To finally get the form, I had to call them three times and go to their office twice. The form had questions like “who are your three biggest competitors” and demanded to write up a SWOT analysis of my business.

I was not asking for a loan, and I was not trying to get going with an innovative startup. I was trying to get paid for a pretty boring side hustle, with customers waiting for me to register an AB. This made no difference to the bank, they wanted “as much details as possible” in my SWOT analysis, on top of an “as detailed as possible” business plan, and a few more things.

They said that after I’m done writing all that, I’ll get to wait for another three weeks to have a meeting with them discussing my business. Just to reiterate — all I wanted was to prove to Bolagsverket that I have 25000 SEK of a starting capital, and (later) open an account to accept payment.

Attempt #2

I tried calling other banks, and their first question was, invariably, “Are you already a private customer with us”, followed by “Why don’t you go to the bank where you’re a private customer already”. My answer was “Because my bank doesn’t do business customers who haven’t been running their business for a year”, but I was mistaken. The mistake was believing what was written on their website. Almost by accident, I found out from a colleague that the bank actually works with such customers just fine, and even provides the service of bankintyg.

And so I went to the bank where I was a private customer. Their conditions were slightly worse than the previous bank’s, and their estimate to get a meeting after filling out the forms was a whopping 8 weeks. But at least they gave me the forms right away, and lo and behold, there was no analysis of irrelevant competitors required, just some reasonable money-laundering-oriented questions like “from which countries do you intend to get the money”. I decided to give it a go. Finally, the bankintyg in my hand, right?

Wrong. After several weeks, the bank denied my request to give them money on the basis of me not spending all my salary using their card, but rather transferring some of it to a card of another bank. Apparently, this makes me utterly unworthy of a business account (and no, this requirement was not mentioned at any point before or in any document). They said that if I “changed my behavior pattern” to only use their card, and kept at it for a month or two, they might warm up to me and finally let me give them my money. When I asked to confirm this in writing, they sent a generic text and stopped answering my calls and emails.

Attempt #3

The offer of changing my card-using habits so that someone can have an insight into how I spend every krona and waiting for two more months was of course greatly appealing. So in the end, I used a young, online-only bank which charges 2500 SEK for the privilege of putting 25000 SEK into an account and getting the bankintyg confirming that it happened. It took them less than a week, and they did not need a SWOT analysis to do it.

When I fucked up with the number of shares in my application, they reached out very fast, advised how to go about it, and finalized the process in the late afternoon. I would’ve cried of happiness if it didn’t cost 2.5 grand.

The reason I didn’t go with them from the very beginning was because they can’t do international transactions yet, and because they don’t have physical offices. Now I see how they can compete with their more traditional counterparts nonetheless.

Lessons learned

  • when choosing a bank for private use, it’s a good idea to check their conditions for business customers

  • when checking a bank’s conditions for business customers, it’s a good idea to not trust the information written on their website too much (a call or a personal visit is better)

  • Swedish banks take very great care getting to know their customer before they let them to actually become a customer, even if the customer does not ask for a loan, and is already a customer in another sense

  • Swedish banks block the process of registering a business because they entangle the service of confirming the existence of the starting capital with the service of opening a business bank account and providing a “business package”

  • everything takes weeks or months unless you pay a few thousand SEK and use a non-traditional bank.

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