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How to avoid getting too many parking fines in Sweden

How to avoid getting too many parking fines in Sweden
Parking tickets like these will (er... hopefully) be a thing of the past if you follow our simple guide. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT
Foreigners (or maybe it's just us...) often find that when they start driving in Sweden they get ticketed almost as often as they park. It is all too easy to fall foul of the country's many complex parking rules. If you learn these ones, though, you should keep your annual ticket bill to a minimum.

In many countries, traffic wardens may let you get away with flouting the rules ever-so-slightly as long as you don't do anyone any harm, or the fine may be so low it's simply the cost of doing business.

But in Sweden, you may risk a hefty fine if you park where you are not allowed – not to mention that they've got a few unique rules of their own. Here are some of the rules that are worth being aware of.

The 10-metre rule

Do you think it's enough to squeeze your car into the last space before a crossing or T-junction, so long as it doesn't hinder the oncoming traffic? Don't. In Sweden, you cannot park within ten metres of one.

This is why you will often see people in Sweden taking big strides and counting their steps, as they ponder whether to risk leaving their car near a corner. If in doubt, it's probably best not to.


Would you risk parking in this space? Photo: Richard Orange

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See also on The Local:

Temporary parking ban for street cleaning

Most residential streets in Sweden will be cleaned once a month, with a sign on the street warning that parking is banned for a morning or afternoon on a certain day of each month. These are called servicedagar and are the cause of many a fine.

If you park regularly on a residential street, you need to know what day of the month the servicedag is and make a recurring note of it in your calendar (If the day falls on a weekend, they normally miss a month).

Be warned that the route of the cleaning vehicle means the day may be different on neighbouring streets, or even on different sides of the same street.

On the street below the servicedag is on the 4th of every month.


Don't park here on the 4th of every month. Photo: Richard Orange

The bewildering system for parking information

When you park, a sign at the end of the street will normally say which hours you need a ticket for, such as 8-18, for 8am to 6pm. Here's a guide (in Swedish) from the Swedish National Association of Driver Educators.

What is confusing for newcomers is how to know what days these hours apply to. If the numbers are only white, that means the hours only apply Monday to Friday, unless there is text saying alla dagar, or 'all days', meaning the hours apply on the weekend too.

If there is a second set of hours in brackets, as in the sign above, those are the hours that apply on Saturday. If there are numbers in red, those are the hours for Sunday.

Doubly confusing, the same system that informs you when you need a ticket also tells you whether parking is allowed at all or not on some streets.

In the sign below, the yellow diamond means that the road is a main road, and the 9-18 describes the only hours between which you are allowed to park, with the 2 tim describing the maximum time, two hours. 

Triply confusing is the difference made by whether the parking hours are on the same sub-sign as the maximum time allowed, or on a different sign. While the sign above means that parking is forbidden outside 9am to 6pm (because it's on a main road), the sign below means that there is unlimited parking outside those same hours.

Go figure!

The 24-hour rule 

Even on streets without any road markings at all, where there is no need to display a parking ticket of any kind, there is still a limit for how long you can park, with the 24-hour rule generally applying.

Traffic wardens will note the position of your wheels and if they have not changed, you risk a ticket. This can be avoided by taking a daily trip to shunt your vehicle backwards or forwards a metre or so. The 24-hour rule doesn't normally apply on weekends.


A parking disc distributed by a Stockholm parking company. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

How to use a Parking Disc or P-Skiva

The parking disc is such a central element of Swedish parking that some municipalities even hand them out in the goodie bags they give to new citizens. Here's, for example, Malmö's online guide to using them (in Swedish).

You will need a parking disc whenever a parking site has either the text p-skiva or the symbol (as seen in the picture below).

The disc should be clearly visible in the windscreen of your car (in Malmö they specify the right side of the windscreen), and you should set the time to the next hour or half hour, so if, for example, you arrive at 2.15pm, you should set the time to 2.30pm.

If you arrive before the controlled parking time, you should set the time to the time that parking requires a disc. So, for example, if you arrive at a parking place at 7am, and see the sign above, you should set the disc to 8am.

This is not an exhaustive list. Are there other Swedish parking rules foreigners should be particularly aware of? Let us know in the comments below!


Member comments

  1. There is an error in the article, or at least some misleading information that can cause you to get extra fines.

    The times in red for parking restrictions are not stritcly for Sundays, but for “red days”: sundays and holidays.

    And what is also important is that the parking times within brackets are for any days that come before a red day, which includes almost every saturday, but for instance if the saturday is also a red day (a holyday), then that friday will use the times in brackets, and the saturday and sunday will use the times in red.

    So it is better to see it this way:

    Red: for red days
    Brackets: for any day before a red day
    White: for every other day

  2. There is an error in the article, or at least some misleading information that can cause you to get extra fines.

    The times in red for parking restrictions are not stritcly for Sundays, but for “red days”: sundays and holidays.

    And what is also important is that the parking times within brackets are for any days that come before a red day, which includes almost every saturday, but for instance if the saturday is also a red day (a holyday), then that friday will use the times in brackets, and the saturday and sunday will use the times in red.

    So it is better to see it this way:

    Red: for red days
    Brackets: for any day before a red day
    White: for every other day

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