Can expatriates drive in Sweden? Is your original driver's license valid in the country? Find out in this article.
When moving to Sweden, you will probably want to drive. Driving in a foreign country can be quite tricky at first, but if you have a valid driver's license and you are aware of the road traffic regulations, you should be able to manage fairly. Nationals of some countries, especially those coming from European Union countries and from the European Economic Area, can drive with their original driver's license in Sweden provided the document is still valid in their home country. Note, however, that less than 18 years old people are not allowed to drive.
Note that you must not be in possession of a Swedish driver's license that has been confiscated by related authorities in the country.
When driving in Sweden with your original driver's license, the document must be valid and complete, accompanied by proof of insurance and your identity card or passport.
Converting your driver's license
If you come from the European Economic Area, you can convert your national driver's license into a local one provided the document is recognized in Sweden and you are a permanent resident. You will start by filling the application for exchange of foreign driver’s license form, that is the Ansökan om utbyte av utländskt Körkort, which is available on the Swedish Transport Agency website in the Blanketter section (in Swedish). Note that your personal registration number and a postal address in Sweden will be required.
Headlight beam deflectors: stickers or to be adjusted manually.
Headlights on: compulsory for all automotive vehicles at traffic signals during the day, all year round on all roads.
Warning triangle: compulsory for all vehicles which have been registered abroad.
Bikers: both the pilot and the passenger have to wear a helmet (it also applies to motorbikes, mopeds and sidecars).
As you will be driving on the right, you are required to overtake on the left.
Tramways can be overtaken on the right according to the railway position. If there is no stop, vehicles which are behind the tramway have to stop to allow passengers get in and off. Note that tramway is available in the following three major cities: Stockholm, Göteborg and Norrköping.
You are also allowed to overtake on the right in the following cases:
- when driving on a road having double or multiple lanes going the same way and whereby speed is limited at 70 km/h or less
- when you have clearly signaled that you intend to turn left.
Vehicles circulating on designated and signposted roads other than primary ones always have the priority.
On other roads, you are required to let the way to vehicles coming from the right. However, this regulation is often ignored by drivers, especially those driving on main roads. This can be quite dangerous.
Priority goes to vehicles which have already undertaken roundabouts, that is those coming from the left.
You are advised to use your car honk only when necessary, for instance to prevent an accident.
Trailers, camping cars and luggage racks can be transported temporarily without requiring any specific formality. However, the following specifications apply:
- height – no limit
- width – 2.60 meters
- total length – 24 meters.
Wearing the seat belt is compulsory both in the front and in the rear.
Transporting more passengers than as indicated in the car registration document is forbidden.
Traveling with kids
Less than 1 m 35 cm long kids have to travel in a car seat.
Less than 1 m 40 cm long kids are allowed to sit in the front seat provided the passenger airbag has been deactivated.
Driving in winter
From December 1st to March 31st, all vehicles are required to use winter tires marked M S (with or without spikes) when roads are covered with ice or snow or when these are humid and temperatures turn around 0 °C or less.
You can fix snow chains on your vehicle and use these according to road or meteorological conditions.
Your vehicle's windscreen cleaner must have an anti-freezing product. You should also have a shovel to excavate snow.
Your vehicle must also be equipped with a towing cable, starting cables and a reflective jacket.
Speed is limited on all roads as follows:
- 30, 40, 50, 60 or 70 km/h for motorcycles, private cars and less than 3,5 tons camping cars in built-up areas
- 70, 80, 90 or 100 km/h outside built-up areas, including highways.
If you have a doubt or in the case of absence of speed limit signs, you are required to drive at a speed of 70 km/h till the next sign.
On the highway, you will come across speed limit signs indicating 90, 100, 110 and 120 km/h.
You are likely to find automatic speed cameras on several roads. In case of speed excess, the vehicle's owner is liable to the offense. In the case of car rental, the owner is not legally obliged to reveal the driver's name.
Police officers are allowed to take fines on the spot in the case of minor breaches of the road traffic regulations. In general, fines have to be settled at the bank within 2 to 3 weeks. Non-residents, for their part, are allowed to settle the fine in cash with the police officer. A receipt will then be issued. Note that credit cards are not accepted.
You are allowed to stop, for examples, to load or unload goods. You are not allowed to park near a circular sign displaying a red Saint Andrew cross on a a while background surrounded by a red border.
Stopping and parking is allowed in the traffic direction. On one-way roads, it applies to both sides.
In case of breach of parking regulations, fines of 400 to 1,000 SEK apply. Police and local government officers control road traffic and public pathways regulations.
Fines are generally deposited on the vehicle's windscreen. Drivers have to make sure that the fine is settled within the time limit. In case you wish to appeal against the fine, you are required to contact the local police immediately.
As regards handicapped drivers, they are entitled to a special parking permit.
Drinking and driving
You are allowed to drive in Sweden with a maximum of 0,02 % of alcohol in your blood. In case of excess, you are liable to a fine. Moreover, if you are using your original driver's license, it will be marked as “Not applicable in Sweden” for a predetermined period according to the offense.