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How to register as a freelancer in Sweden

Whether you're in tech, media, or a different industry entirely, it's increasingly common to work as a freelancer these days, and internationals coming to Sweden are no exception. Struggling to get set up and navigate the country's system? Read our guide for some help with the basics.

How to register as a freelancer in Sweden
Much of the process can be done online if you have a Swedish electronic ID. Photo: Isabell Höjman/TT

F tax and moms

Many freelancers choose to work as sole traders rather than opening a limited company, and that's the method we'll explain in our guide. To do that in Sweden you essentially need to be registered to pay two key things: F tax (f-skatt) and VAT (moms).

To register for F tax and VAT you need to inform the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket) that you wish to do so. You'll also need a personal ID number (personnummer), so make sure to have that established before starting.

Have one of Sweden's “e-legitimation” digital IDs? Good news: you can register for F tax and VAT online. For those without a digital ID the alternative is the paper method. Fill in the form (found here), post it to the address on the bottom right of the last page, and Skatteverket should contact you with an update on the registration process.

If you don't speak Swedish, either ask a fluent friend or relative you trust to help you, or contact your nearest Skatteverket office and make an appointment with an advisor there for their help – you don't want to make mistakes with key information that could be tricky to resolve later on.


Get used to this place. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

FA tax

If you plan on registering as a sole trader in Sweden at the same time as being employed by someone, you need to register for FA tax, rather than standard F tax, which basically means being registered for both F tax and A tax (tax relating to employment).

This is how Skatteverket keeps your two forms of income separate – the F tax for the money made from your sole tradership, the A tax for the money from employment. You can specify that you want to register for FA tax on the same form used to register for VAT and F tax, as well as through the digital method.

Skatteverket has a relatively helpful English language brochure on working as a sole trader in Sweden and the difference between F tax and A tax here.


A number of brochures in English are available through Skatteverket. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Things to keep in mind

Once you're registered and up and running you'll be expected to follow Swedish practice when it comes to accounting – which is somewhat stricter than in other places, like the UK for example.

One point to note is that Sweden does not permit bookkeeping using Excel or similar packages: if you want to use the digital method you have to use special software customized for Swedish regulations, examples of which include Zenconomy and Visma (others are available).

Unfortunately, a lot of the packages are only available in Swedish, so if you aren't competent in the language it's a good idea to hire an accountant to handle your bookkeeping in order to be safe. As a general rule of thumb, learning the Swedish language is not only useful if you're running your own business in the country, but will also likely save you money.

The other alternative is to use a paper bookkeeping ledger, known in Swedish as a “kassabok”, which can be purchased at bookshops or stationery shops in Sweden or online.


These are about to become your best friend. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

One other important point to keep in mind – especially if you're just starting out and don't have a lot of capital to work with – is that in Sweden, sole traders pay preliminary tax every month. When you set up your sole tradership, Skatteverket will ask you to estimate how much money it will be making in the following year, and from that will calculate the amount of preliminary tax they will ask you to pay.

It's a good idea to take some time to do some genuine calculations and not wildly overestimate how much money you'll make, as if things don't quite go to plan, you'll still be asked to pay the preliminary tax based on your estimation until Skatteverket are informed otherwise. The number can later be adjusted by submitting a new preliminary tax return, but it's always easier to get things right first time as far as possible – especially when Swedish bureaucracy is involved.

Finally, after each fiscal year of business you'll be asked to submit an income declaration, which the tax agency will weigh against your preliminary tax payments then calculate how much tax is owed.

You can either fill in the return yourself or, if you are not well versed in Swedish tax returns, you can hire an accountant to do it for you. Either way, make sure to get it completed and filed with plenty of time before the deadline as to avoid incurring penalties. If you have an electronic ID, the return can be done online during the period in which filing of returns is open – otherwise it's a paper form, which can be found here.

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Member comments

  1. You don’t infact need a personnummer to register as self employed, if you don’t have one yet they issue you with a samordingsnummer as part of the registration process.

    In fact if your plan is to move to Sweden and get a personnummer based on starting a sole trader business, they will wait for your business to be approved and registered before they will issue the personnummer.

  2. Thanks for the article. Anyone here could discuss the relative advantages or disadvantages of a sole trader vs the AB form of company setup?
    Also, for the not so good Swedish speakers, it is recommended to get an accountant. Fine but where and what to look for? any advises for that?
    Tack!

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For members

WORKING IN SWEDEN

CHECKLIST: Here’s what you need to do if you move away from Sweden

What authorities do you need to inform before you leave, are you liable to Swedish tax and how can you access your Swedish pension? Here's a checklist.

CHECKLIST: Here's what you need to do if you move away from Sweden

Tell the relevant authorities if you’re leaving for more than a year

If you’re planning on leaving Sweden for more than a year, you will have to let the authorities know. The main authorities in question are Skatteverket (the Tax Agency) and Försäkringskassan (the Social Insurance Agency).

Försäkringskassan

You have to tell Försäkringskassan when you leave so they can assess whether or not you still qualify for Swedish social insurance. As a general rule, you aren’t eligible for Swedish social insurance if you move away from Sweden, but there are exceptions, such as maternity or paternity benefits if you’re moving to another EU country.

This also applies to any family members who move with you – any over-18’s should send in their own documentation to Försäkingskassan about their move abroad. If you’re moving abroad with anyone under 18, you can include them in your own report to Försäkringskassan.

If both legal guardians are moving abroad together, both need to include any children in their application. If one legal guardian is moving abroad and the other is staying in Sweden, you need the guardian staying in Sweden to co-sign your application. If you are the sole legal guardian of any under-18’s travelling with you, you don’t need any documentation from the other parent.

You can register a move abroad with Försäkringskassan on the Mina sidor service on their website, here (log in with BankID).

Skatteverket

If you are moving abroad for a year or longer, you also need to tell the Tax Agency. This also applies if you were planning on moving abroad for less than a year but ended up staying for longer.

If you move to another Nordic country, you will also need to register your move with that country’s authorities if you will be there for six months or more. You’ll be deregistered from the Swedish population register the same day you become registered in another Nordic country’s register.

This doesn’t mean that you’ll lose your personnummer – you’ll still be able to use it if you ever move back to Sweden – but you will no longer be registered as resident in Sweden.

Similarly to Försäkringskassan, you will also need to report any children you are bringing with you, and both legal guardians must sign the form, whether or not both guardians are moving abroad or not.

In some cases, you may still be liable to pay tax in Sweden even if you live abroad – particularly if you are a Swedish citizen or have lived in Sweden for at least ten years. This could be due to owning or renting out property in Sweden, having family in Sweden, or owning a business in Sweden.

You can tell the tax agency of your plans to move abroad here.

Contact your a-kassa, if relevant

If you are member of a Swedish a-kassa (unemployment insurance), make sure you tell them that you’re leaving the country. As a general rule, you have unemployment insurance in the country you work in, so you will most likely have to cancel your a-kassa subscription.

If you are moving to another country with the a-kassa system, such as Denmark or Finland, it may pay to wait until you have joined a new a-kassa in that country before you cancel your membership in Sweden.

This is due to the fact, in some countries, you only qualify for benefits once you fulfil a membership and employment requirement. In Sweden and Denmark, you must have been a member for 12 months before you qualify. In Finland, the membership requirement is 26 weeks.

If you qualify for a-kassa in Sweden before you leave the country, you may be able to transfer your a-kassa membership period over to your new a-kassa abroad and qualify there straight away, but this usually only applies if your period of a-kassa membership is unbroken.

Check what applies in your new country before you cancel your membership in Sweden – your a-kassa should be able to help you with this.

Contact your union, if relevant

Similarly, if you are a member of a Swedish union or fackförbund, let them know you’re moving abroad.

If you’re moving to another Nordic country, they might be able to point you in the direction of the relevant union in that country, if you want to remain a member of a union in your new country.

If you’re moving to another EU country, you may be able to remain a member of your Swedish union as a foreign worker with the status utlandsvistelse.

If you chose to do this, you will usually pay a lower monthly fee than you do in Sweden, and they can still provide assistance with work related issues – although it may make more sense to join a local union in your field with more knowledge of the labout market.

If you don’t want to be a member of a union in your new country and don’t want to be a member of a Swedish union, you should contact your  union and ask them to cancel your membership.

Collect relevant documents regarding your Swedish pension

If you have worked in Sweden and paid tax for any length of time, you will have paid in to a Swedish pension. You retain this pension wherever you move, but you must apply for it yourself.

To do so, you will need to give details of when you lived and worked in Sweden, as well as providing copies of work contracts, if you have them. If you have these documents before you leave Sweden, make copies so that you can provide them when asked.

If you move to the EU/EES or Switzerland, you may also have the right to other, non-work based pensions, such as guarantee pension for low- or no-income earners, or the income pension complement (inkomstpensionstillägg).

Currently, you can receive your Swedish pension once you turn 62 – although there is a proposal in parliament due to raise pension age to 63 for those born after 1961 from 2023, so this may change.

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