Nonlinear effects on the receptivity of cross-flow in the swept Hiemenz boundary layer are investigated. Numerical simulations are generated using a vorticity form of the Navier–Stokes equations. Steady perturbations are established using surface suction and blowing distributed along the spanwise direction as either a periodic strip or a band of small holes. The method of excitation, the size and the location of the prescribed forcing are shown to have a significant influence on the receptivity of the boundary layer. Blowing holes are found to excite perturbations with considerably larger magnitudes than those generated using a periodic suction and blowing strip. A semi-logarithmic relationship is derived that relates the initial amplitude of the linear-only disturbances with the location at which the absolute magnitude of the chordwise primary Fourier harmonic attains a stationary point or a size of approximately one-tenth of the free-stream spanwise velocity. Furthermore, the size of the physical chordwise velocity perturbation about this position can be estimated directly from the linear-only solutions. This would suggest that, for sufficiently small initial amplitudes, the onset of some nonlinear flow development properties can be predicted directly from a linear receptivity analysis.