Good to know when coming to Stockholm

Visas & Permits 

The Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs maintains a list of countries whose citizens need a Visa as a tourist, business traveler, while visiting friends and relatives, or when passing through Sweden in transit.  You can find that list, by clicking here, from the Swedish government. 

For those wishing to study in Sweden read everything you need to know here from  If you are a citizen from outside of the E. U. and the Nordic countries, and plan to study for longer than three months, in addition to your Visa, you will need a resident permit.  This must be obtained in your home country prior to your arrival in Sweden.  Resident permits are issued by the Swedish Migration Board.  You can apply for this permit at the Swedish Embassy in your home country.  Students are allowed to work during their stay in Sweden. 

A resident permit may also be obtained if you are married, cohabiting, or intend to marry or cohabit with someone who is a Swedish citizen or permanent Swedish resident. It also applies to unmarried children under 18.  You can get an application for a resident permit under these circumstances from the migration office here  

If you want to work as an employee in Sweden and you are not a student or an E. U. citizen, you must obtain a work permit prior to arriving in Sweden.  Check with the Swedish authorities in your home country for information on how to apply for a work permit.  

What to do once you arrive 

Once you are in Sweden you will need a personnummer.  You need this number to get an ID card, bank account, loyalty card at the department stores, medical appointment, basically everything.  You may apply for your personnummer at your local Skattemyndigheten. When you arrive at the office, ask which button you should push for a number for the queue, so you don't wait in the wrong place.  Once you have your personnummer you can apply for an ID card at the post office.  A Swedish resident will have to go with you with their personbevis, and you will need two passport photos.  NOTE:  The requirements for getting an ID card have dramatically changed

Keeping in touch with friends and family back home


Use your mobile phone to make inexpensive international calls.  Rebtel is designed for making super low-cost international calls from your mobile phone.  Skype, a great Swedish invention, is a great way to keep in touch with friends and family back home. With a SkypeIn number your family and friend can call you at their local call rate.  Just choose a number that starts with the same area code as home.  Get a SkypeOut number and make inexpensive calls around the world.  Get the accessories you need at the Skype Store Europe . If your new apartment doesn't come with Internet, you can find a list of low cost Internet providers here. And to keep from getting too lonely, you can also connect with other expatriates in an online group on XING.  If you are not a member of XING you can join for free

Driving in Sweden 

EU citizens with valid driving licenses can continue to use their license or trade it in for a Swedish license.  Citizens outside of the E. U. can use their valid permits for one year, but then must pass the Swedish driving permit exam.  You can find more details here from the authorities, along with information on registering your foreign car.   Be warned that Sweden has a zero tolerance policy against drinking and driving.

Swedish language lessons

  Travel with Confidence: Rosetta Stone

Currently adult immigrants to Sweden can take a course called Swedish For Immigrants (SFI) in your local municipality.  This course is free of charge to the students.  The recently elected government has made cuts to this program which may reduce the number of classes offered.  Once you have your personnumer ask the tax office where you can take the SFI course where you live.  Other in class choices include Berlitz.  To learn Swedish at your own pace you may want to use Rosetta Stone Language Software
or try Linguaguide, Learn a New Language in Just a Few Days, How to Learn Any Language or The Ultimate Language Secrets.  And to help you while you are out and about getting your personummer, etc., get a good language guide.  One to try is Lonely Planet Language Guides in Swedish.  $30 off Complete Language Learning Suites™ plus FREE two-day shipping!.

 Transparent Language

The Employment Office 

With your ID card in hand you have the right to register with the Arbetsformedlingen, the Swedish Employment Agency in your region.  You will be asked to enter your education and work details in their database, receive a login and password, and be given an appointment with a counselor who will work with you until you are employed.  If you don't speak Swedish your counselor can find language classes for you.  You will also learn how to prepare a Swedish CV and application letter, interview etiquette, and how to get your university diplomas evaluated for the Swedish job market.  This will determine if you will need additional qualifications.

Working in Sweden 

The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that Sweden’s jobless rate is 15%.  The government gives lower figures, around 5%, so perhaps the truth lies somewhere in the middle.  However, there are lots of jobs advertised in Sweden, particularly in the technical and production sectors.   There are lots of jobs for English speakers, be sure to visit daily for updates.  If you speak Swedish it will be easier to find a job in the small towns.  But depending on your location, English as a working language is a reasonable expectation.  I personally know expatriates working in the hospitality industry as well as the IT industry.  As in any job market, your education, professional and work experience, and determination will best determine your prospects of finding a job in Sweden.  Average monthly salaries in Sweden are 21,239 Swedish Kronor, and in most industries salaries are negotiated by a union.  Use this free salary calculator to learn what you should be earning. The average work week is 40 hours, with 32 days vacation.  

Employment Contracts

Legally, any employment contract can be oral or in writing, but the employer has an obligation to inform the employee in writing of the terms of the employment within a month. The information must include the name and address of each party, date when the employment starts, place of work, specifics regarding the work to be done and the title of the job, what kind of employment in question i.e. full-time, part time, temporary employment etc., the salary, vacation and working hours, denote if any union agreement is applicable, and state if it is an employment abroad, specifics regarding the length thereof, in what currency the salary is paid and eventual benefits.  



Before a person can be fired from his job the employer is to consider alternative employment. If no other position can be found within the company then notice of termination can be issued.  The notice must be in writing and contain terms to be upheld by the employee if he wants to dispute the notice or claim damages. Furthermore the notice shall inform the employee that s/he has a right to reemployment and state those terms. This notice must be given in person.  If applicable, the union must also be notified.

Taxes - Individual taxes

The Invest in Sweden Agency provides the following information on taxes in Sweden.  Individual earned income is taxed mainly by municipality of residence, at rates ranging from 28.9 to 34.04 percent. On taxable earnings above SEK 291,800, individuals pay another 20 percent and above SEK 441,300 another 5 percent in national income tax. In addition, compulsory pension contributions effectively increase the tax rate by roughly 1 percent on incomes below SEK 342,168.   


Sweden's Value Added Tax (VAT) referred to as "moms" (short for mervardesskatt), is 25 percent. However, a reduced rate of 12 percent applies to for example food and hotel charges. A rate of 6 percent applies to personal transportation, newspapers, books and magazines, entrance fees to commercial sport activities and cultural events.  Certain services are exempt from VAT, including medical and dental care, social services, banking and financial services etc. 

Paying taxes in your home country

For information about paying taxes in your home country (outside of the EU), please go the the Links section of this website.  Information is posted for Australians and Canadians.  Information for Americans and New Zealanders is coming soon.

Voting at home while abroad

For information on how to vote in your home country (non-EU), please go to the Links section of this website.  Information is posted for Americans, Australians, Brits, Canadians and New Zealanders.

Find a place to live in Sweden 

Depending on where you live finding an apartment may be hard to do.  For example, affordable places are hard to come by in Stockholm.  However, starting your search early can make it easier in the long run.  Get a good map, like one from Lonely Planet MapsHere are just a few places to look:

Apartment Service
Specialist serviced apartment search facility.

Check in Apartments
Checkin provides businesses and individuals with outstanding rental accommodations in Stockholm.

Craig's List
Apartments and housing for rent.
Housing listing

Public Transportation

Public transportation covers all of Sweden. Here is the link to a website that provides links to the companies, county by county, that operate the busses, streetcars and underground trains that make up Swedish mass transit. Please note, most of these websites are in Swedish only. 

Finding a doctor and dentist

Finding a doctor in Sweden is easy as they actually find you.  You will receive a letter in the mail from your regional medical agency telling you to which medical facility you have been assigned.  You are given a list of additional facilities in your region from which you can choose if you do not want to accept their assignment.  Finding a dentist is more of a challenge since they work outside of the medical system.  Ask for a recommendation from a neighbor or colleague to find a good dentist near you.  Your first visit will include an exam and x-rays.  Cleanings are performed by dental hygienists who share the dentist's office.  A separate appointment must be made with them.  If you use contact lenses and have a prescription you can order them online from LensWay – vi har dina kontaktlinser!


Grocery Stores

Shopping for food in Sweden can usually been done until 20h00 (8pm), 7 days a week.  Here is a list of some popular
grocery chains.  Bottles and plastic containers can be recycled at the big and medium size stores.  If you don't bring your own, be prepared to purchase plastic or paper bags at the checkout, and to bag your own groceries after paying.

Library Card

You will need to take your ID card with you to the local library to get a library card.  Here is a link to a list of the regional libraries in Sweden.

Swedish Celebrations

Po Tildom (Po Tidholm, who lives in Halsingland, is a freelance journalist and a critic with the Stockholm daily, Dagens Nyheter) says the nice thing about customs and traditions is that they are constantly changing. When no longer of use, they are either forgotten or re-cast in a different mould. They often have ancient roots, and some date as far back as pagan Sweden. Many traditions have been introduced from other countries, for example by German traders or by the Protestant church.  Click here to read Po's take on celebrating the Swedish way.

Swedish Etiquette

It's not easy knowing how to act when you arrive in a new country.  But to succeed socially and in business you must not behave badly.  For example, do not be surprised by "straight talking" in Sweden as it is normal practice to be direct.  And spouses are often invited to business dinners, but not to lunches.  Here's a source for learning Swedish etiquette.

Travelling to, from and around Sweden  

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The Ice Hotel
Situated in the village of Jukkasjarvi, 200 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle in Sweden.

SAS Airlines
The Nordic region's largest listed airline and travel group.

Train information
The train has many advantages. It is quick, safe, cheap and environmentally-friendly.


Foreign Embassiess

If you re a non-EU citizen you'll need to start your Visa application for Sweden in your home country.  Here is a link to the Foreign Ministryy where you can find an embassy or consulate near you.  Below are several additional embassy links.

Australian Embassy in Stockholm

British Embassy in Stockholm

Canadian Embassy in Stockholm

Swedish Embassy in Canberra

Swedish Embassy in London

Swedish Embassy in Ottawa

Swedish Embassy in Washington, DC

US Embassy in Stockholm

Shopping for clothes, shoes and more

Sizes in Sweden are the same as continental sizes.  If you are unfamiliar with continental sizes, a sizing chart for women, men and children can be found here. You can always bid for Klader (clothes) online.  And to compare prices on a variety of goods try Pricerunner

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