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Can expatriates drive in Sweden? Is your original driver's license valid in the country? Find out in this article.

Driving in Sweden can be quite a different experience depending on whether you drive in a major city or in a rural area. In general, traffic jams in major Swedish cities are not as common as in other European cities, but they are still considered “too much” among Swedes. Driving in wintertime can also prove challenging, because of the snow and lack of sunlight. If you already have a driving licence, you will need to check its validity in Sweden. Then you can either exchange it for a Swedish one or take the driving test again.

Converting your driver's licence

If you come from an EU country, your driver’s licence is valid for as long as it would be valid in your home country. You can keep using it, or convert it into a local one — provided the document is recognised in Sweden and you are a permanent resident. You will need to fill an application for “exchange of foreign driver’s license” (Ansökan om utbyte av utländskt Körkort), which is available on the Swedish Transport Agency website. Note that a Swedish Civic Number and a postal address in Sweden are required for this process.

 Good to know: There is an application fee of 600 SEK (60 euros) as well as a 150 SEK fee (15 euros) to acquire the Swedish licence if your application is accepted.

If you are a third-country citizen, your driver’s licence will generally be valid for up to a year. After that, most nationalities will have to acquire a Swedish driver’s licence which means taking classes and a driving test from scratch. In general, the process includes applying for a learner’s permit, getting a certification of good eyesight and good health, take driving lessons at a school or with a private tutor, read the driving theory book, do a “risk training” course and, finally, take the practical and theoretical tests.

 Good to know: If you fail the test, you need to reapply to take it within 3 days. If you don’t manage to successfully pass the test in two months, you will have to start the process (classes, fees etc) from the beginning.

Driving in winter

From December 1st to March 31st, all vehicles in Sweden are required to use winter tires. These tires, marked M S (with or without spikes), are used when roads are covered with ice or snow or when they 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. You should also make sure that your vehicle's windscreen cleaner has an anti-freezing product — as well as be equipped with a shovel to remove snow. Furthermore, your vehicle must be equipped with a towing cable, starting cables and a reflective jacket.

Parking regulations, alcohol regulations and fines

You are allowed to stop to load or unload goods. You are not allowed to park near a circular sign displaying a red Saint Andrew cross on a white background surrounded by a red border. Stopping and parking are 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.

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 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 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 offence.

 Useful links:

Transport Styrelsen – Converting your driver's license

Swedish Transport Agency

Swedish Transport Administration – Trafikverket

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.