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For members

LIVING IN SWEDEN

How to bring your pet to Sweden 

With ample green spaces and welcoming cafes, Sweden is one of the most dog-friendly countries in the world. If you want to move with your furry family members, here’s what you need to do to get them to Sweden. 

Dogs in a car
Thinking of moving to Sweden with your dog? Read this first. Photo: Ron Bull/AP PHOTO/CP, Toronto Star

Some pets can’t enter

Puppies and kittens must be at least 12 weeks old before they can travel to Sweden. You’re not allowed to separate a puppy from their mother before 8 weeks of age.

Get them microchipped 

To bring a pet to Sweden, it must have an ISO-microchip or an identification tattoo before travel. It’s compulsory for your dog to be ID-tagged and for you to register your ownership in a central register when they arrive. You have to microchip a pet before they can receive any of the necessary vaccines. 

Get them vaccinated 

Sweden is considered a rabies-free country, and it wants to stay that way. Any dog or cat that you bring to the country must have had a rabies vaccine more than one month and less than one year before travel. An animal must be over 12 weeks old to get the rabies vaccine and you have to wait 21 days after the primary vaccination before you’re allowed to travel. 

Non-vaccinated puppies, kittens and ferrets are not permitted to enter Sweden from any country, except Norway. 

Additional proof of an antibodies test might also be required if you’re travelling from outside the EU. In some rare cases, you might have to quarantine your pet if you’re coming from a country with a high rabies risk.

This doesn’t apply to animals that don’t transmit rabies, like reptiles or birds. 

The Swedish Kennel club says that all puppies should be vaccinated against parvovirus, canine distemper and infectious canine hepatitis, in a so-called triple vaccine, but this isn’t a prerequisite for entering the country.

European animal passport
A dog’s EU pet passport, ready for travel. Photo: Chiara Milford

Get them documents

Pets need to carry a valid EU pet passport (which is exactly as cute as it sounds) with proof of their rabies vaccinations. You can get this from any vet in a European country. The passport doesn’t run out, but vaccine shots have expiry dates.  

If you’re coming from outside the EU – which includes the UK – you’ll need a certificate stamped by an official veterinarian. A UK pet passport won’t be accepted anymore. 

A state-certified vet needs to sign and stamp documents regarding ID marking/microchipping, rabies vaccination, and a pet owner’s declaration (a form which states the animal is yours and you don’t plan on selling them when you get to Sweden). You can only get this three months after the collection of the blood sample for a rabies antibody check. They’re very strict about this. 

This certificate is only valid for ten days after issuing and allows four months of travel within the EU, so you might need to move fast. 

These documents will be checked at an official Entry Point when you arrive. You need to notify Customs of your pet’s arrival at least 48 hours in advance, as well as the border inspection veterinarian. You can do this online, if you’re coming from another EU country or by using the red “items to declare” lane at Customs. This is to prevent illegal animal trafficking. 

If you’ve bought an expensive pet (one that cost over 3,000 SEK if you’re coming via car or train, or over 4,300 SEK by plane or ferry) outside the EU, you’ll have to pay import duty on them. More information can be found via the Swedish Customs website

For further information, the Swedish Board of Agriculture has a useful guide for travelling to Sweden with a pet cat, dog or ferret.

Dogs in Gothenburg
Luckily you won’t have to queue to register your dog. Photo: Thomas Johansson/TT

Get them registered

Once you arrive in Sweden, you need to register your dog’s ownership with the Swedish Board of Agriculture. You can do this online here for just 40 kronor. You don’t need to do this if they’re not a dog. 

Your dog will be linked to your personnummer, so you’ll need a human Swedish ID too. It’s advisable to move yourself before you bring a pet, because it can take a few months to get a Swedish personnummer set up. 

It helps if you register your pet with a site like DjurID.se, especially in the terrible event that you lose them. 

A visit to the veterinary hospital in Bagarmossen
A visit to the vet. Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/TT

Get them insured

Most pet-owners in Sweden have insurance to cover costly vet bills, which can be high. Swedish pets are some of the most-insured animals in the world. Insurance isn’t a legal requirement here but it comes highly recommended by many pet-ownership organisations.

There are several different options for pet insurance providers. You can find the best option for you by using independent comparison sites, like the Swedish Consumers’ Insurance Bureau (in Swedish).  

As a pet owner in Sweden, you are liable for what your pet does and you are always liable for damages caused by your pet, regardless of how they happened.

The author with Valter the dog. Photo: Chiara Milford

A pet is for life 

Sweden takes animal welfare very seriously. The 2018 Animal Welfare Act prohibits abandoning a domestic animal. If you do, you could be subject to a fine or imprisonment for up to two years. 

Sweden also prohibits docking tails, cropping ears, de-vocalisation, declawing and defanging. 

You’re not allowed to keep a dog in a crate overnight or while you’re away, and you can’t tie up a cat, except to take them on a walk with you. Cats and dogs can’t stay in a stationary car for longer than three hours and must have access to water.

A dog also has to go outside at least once every six hours, which means dog-owners may want to consider dog-friendly offices, or doggy daycare, called hunddagis in Swedish.

Basically, take good care of your furry friends and you’ll be fine. 

Member comments

  1. Have the regulations changed very recently? Because I brought my dog from Mexico 5 months ago and we didn’t have to notify customs beforehand nor pay an import tax (no one even asked how much we paid for him). We followed the instructions in the government’s webpage to a T and everything went very smoothly.
    Also not all countries outside the EU need the antibodies tests, it depends on whether the country of origin is listed or unlisted (meaning a list of countries with a good program for rabies control). At least it was so in December 2020.

  2. Coming from Southern Germany, Sweden looks like a very difficult place for dogs, at least on the West coast, where leash laws are everywhere and beaches are no-go. Where do we find a place in Sweden to play fetch a ball and let a dog run or swim ?

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For members

CRIME

EXPLAINED: What happens when a foreigner gets arrested in Sweden?

It’s a situation nobody ever wants to be in, but what happens if you’re arrested in Sweden? What should you do, and what are your rights?

EXPLAINED: What happens when a foreigner gets arrested in Sweden?

Most of the people who come to Sweden to work, join a Swedish partner, or start a new life are law-abiding folk. Hardly anyone comes with the intention of breaking the law.  But from time to time, due to an accident of fortune or poor decision-making, foreigners end up on the wrong end of the law. 

Pray it never happens but if you are arrested in Sweden, what are your rights? What happens next, and who can help you? 

Whether it’s a traffic accident, misunderstanding, or murder charge, Swedish law follows certain processes upon arrest. 

The first stages 

The first stage of a police investigation is the anmälan, or report. Anyone can report you for committing a crime, regardless of whether they are the victim. The tax agency, for instance, can report you for fraud. If the police catch you doing something illegal, the officer can file a report themselves. 

After the report is registered, someone is appointed to lead the preliminary investigation — a so-called förundersökningsledare or “investigation leader”. The förundersökningsledare can be either a police officer or a prosecutor, depending on how serious the crime is. 

The förundersökningsledare then decides if there is sufficient reason to suspect that you have committed a crime.

There are two grades of suspicion. The lowest level is skäligen misstänkt or “reasonable suspicion”, which means that there are “circumstances which with a certain strength indicate that you have committed the act.  The next level up is på sannolika skäl, or “on probable cause”, that you have committed the act. 

When can you get arrested? 

If the förundersökningsledare has declared you a suspect, a police officer might be sent to arrest you. A police officer can also arrest you on their own initiative if they think that there is a reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed. 

All it takes to arrest someone in Sweden is for the officer to say “du är gripen“, meaning “you are under arrest”. If you resist,  the officer is permitted to employ as much violence as necessary to get you to the police station. 

If a member of the public observes you committing a crime serious enough to warrant a prison sentence, they are also allowed to arrest you, either while you are committing the crime or fleeing the scene. A member of the public is also allowed to arrest anyone wanted by the police for a crime. 

Not everyone suspected of committing a crime is necessarily arrested. If there is no danger to the public, no risk of you tampering with evidence, and no risk that you might flee, then police can decide to leave you free until you are asked to appear for interview or in court. 

When you are arrested, police will search you for any weapons, drugs or suspicious goods, and may take your telephone if it could contain evidence of a crime, but they will otherwise leave you with your belongings. 

What happens after your arrest? 

If you have been arrested by a police officer who had a reasonable suspicion that you have committed a crime, you need to have a formal interview or förhör at the police station as soon as possible. Police may also interview the person who reported you, your alleged victim (the målsägande, which literally means “case owner”), and any witnesses. 

You can only be held at the police station for a maximum of 12 hours before a prosecutor decides whether there is sufficient reason for you to be anhållan, or “held”.  If they decide there is not, then you need to be released. 

If you are held, then you are taken to a cell, where you can be held for a maximum of three days, before which the prosecutor needs to either release you or request that you be häktad, or placed in pre-trial custody. 

When the decision is made to “hold” you, your personal belongings — phone, wallet, keys, etc — are taken from you and stored.

To be placed in pre-trial custody, you have to have committed a crime that can potentially lead to at least one year in prison. The prosecutor must also demonstrate that there is a risk you will tamper with the evidence or flee.

The decision to hold someone in pre-trial custody needs to be made by a judge at a so-called häktningsförhandling, or “detention hearing”. Unlike a full trial, this hearing is decided by a single judge. 

When can you get a defence lawyer? 

You can ask for a defence lawyer as soon as you are arrested. You can request one by name, or request a specific law firm, or, if you don’t know of any specific defence lawyers, just ask the court to appoint one for you. The court can normally contact the lawyer within a few hours, meaning you should ideally have a defence lawyer with you in your first police interview. 

When can you contact your embassy or family? 

The Swedish authorities are legally obliged to inform national embassies of the arrest of one of their citizens, and will normally do so themselves automatically, according to the British Embassy’s guideIf they do not do so, you can request that they do. 

You can ask the police at any time if you want to make a telephone call, but unlike in the UK or US, you have no right to make a phone call. It is up to the discretion of the prosecutor whether to allow you one, and very often they deny it. 

Most embassies have an urgent number people who are arrested can call. The UK’s line is +46 (0) 8 671 30 00 / +44 1908 51 6666, France’s is 0851992349, Germany’s is +46708529420. 

In practice, it is much better to ask your defence lawyer to contact your embassy, or to request that you can make a phone call. 

Friends and relatives of people who have been arrested can also contact their embassy for them, so that the embassy can find out where they are being held and any details of the suspicions against them. 

What can your embassy do? 

Most European embassies will work with defence lawyers to ensure that their citizens are treated well. 

“The Embassy provides impartial, non-judgemental assistance to British citizens who have been arrested or are in jail in Sweden,” a UK embassy spokesperson told The Local. We aim to make sure they are treated properly in line with Swedish regulations, and no less favourably than other prisoners.”

The first stage of this is a consular visit, which most European embassies generally aim to make within about 24 hours of being notified of your arrest. 

If you request it, your embassy will normally be able to inform your next-of-kin in your home country of your arrest. 

Unless you request otherwise, most embassies will also keep the fact that you have been detained and what the charges are confidential. 

How long can I be held before my trial? 

Perhaps the most criticised aspect of the Swedish justice system is the length that suspects can be held in pretrial detention, while the police and prosecutor carry out their investigations. The system has been criticised by the  United Nations Committee Against Torture, the Council of Europe.

The only limit is that Sweden’s Supreme Court has held that the detention must be reasonably proportional in relation to what may be gained from it (NJA 2015 s. 261) and the injury to the defendant.

In theory, there is no limit to the length of time a suspect can be held in pre-trial detention, so long as the custody is extended by a judge every 14 days. So far the record is a little over four years or being held without trial, and suspects are frequently held for over a year before a court rules on their case. 

There is no bail system in Sweden. 

What restrictions can I be under while in pre-trial detention? 

Prosecutors in Sweden often impose restrictions on those in pre-trial detention on the grounds that otherwise the defendant might change their story or tamper with the evidence. Critics often accuse police of imposing excessive restrictions to break suspects, pushing them to give details of the crime to reduce the time until their trial. 

Restrictions might include stopping suspects from being able to: 

  • receive or send letters without them first being inspected by the prosecutor
  • receive visits without special permission from the prosecutor
  • receive or make phone calls without special permission from the prosecutor
  • watch TV, listen to the radio and read newspapers
  • interact with other inmates

You always have the right to contact your lawyer, a member of consular staff (in special circumstances you may be allowed contact with family). You can also see a priest or other representative of a religious order.  

When will I go to trial? 

When the prosecutor has amassed enough evidence that they feel that there is sufficient evidence to prosecute, they will issue an åtal, or prosecution document, after which the court will set a date for the trial. 

Prosecutors will only do this if they judge that there is tillräckliga skäl för att väcka åtal, “sufficient cause for laying charges”. If they do not, the will end the investigation without laying charges, at which point you must be released. 

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