FOR MEMBERS

Q&A: Answers to your questions about Sweden’s latest travel rules

Q&A: Answers to your questions about Sweden’s latest travel rules
Sweden still has a non-EU/EEA entry ban in place, with a few exceptions. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT
"How does the Danish route work," and a look at some of the other common questions we have received from readers.

Can I enter Sweden from the US?

It depends. Sweden currently has a ban on entry from outside the EU, but there is quite a long list of exemptions. This includes all travellers from certain non-EU countries, but the US is not one of them – from September 6th, the United States, Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro and Northern Macedonia have all been removed from the exempt list.

You can still travel to Sweden from the US or another non-EU, non-exempt country, if you are covered by another exemption.

That includes anyone with EU citizenship, people with a Swedish residence permit, people travelling for urgent family reasons including to be present at an immediate family member’s birth, and people travelling for essential work. But if you are not covered by one of these exemptions, you are not able to travel to Sweden directly from the US, regardless of your vaccination status.

Can I enter Sweden from the UK?

See above. The UK is not one of the non-EU countries that are exempt from the entry ban. The EU has so far not made a formal equivalence decision regarding people vaccinated in the UK, but many individual countries have. Sweden is not one of them.

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What counts as an urgent family reason?

This is one of the most nebulous of the reasons for exemption from the travel ban.

It’s not possible to get pre-approval from the Swedish police, who are in charge of border control, or any other authority, so there is a certain risk if you travel in the hope of being covered by this exemption.

The police say urgent family reasons apply when there has been a sudden illness or accident which requires the foreign traveller to be in Sweden, for example to be present for a birth, a funeral, or palliative care. Other celebrations including weddings do not count, but you may be covered by this exemption if you need to be in Sweden for “property division, inheritance negotiations, or being called to court negotiations in a public court or family court”. It’s the responsibility of the traveller to bring proof of the exemption.

There is no strict definition of the relationship you need to have to the person receiving care, and the policy even say that this can apply to relationships outside the traditional nuclear family, suggesting that siblings for example may be included (although they are not covered by the exemption for “close family connections”; see below). 

You can also travel to Sweden if you prove a close family connection with either a Swedish citizen, EEA citizen or a foreigner with long-term or permanent residence in Sweden or the EEA. In this context, “close family connection” means spouses, co-habiting partners, and minor children (siblings and cousins are only counted if there is a proven financial dependency), and the traveller needs to prove the connection.

The police say you can do this “with the decision letter from the Swedish Migration Agency, excerpt from the population register, marriage certificate or license, cohabitation agreement, bank statement from a common bank account, birth certificate etcetera”, either written or translated in English or a Scandinavian language. If this exemption applies to you, it is enough to prove the family connection; you do not need to prove that the reason for travel is “urgent”.

I’m not covered by an exemption to the travel ban. Can I still enter Sweden via Denmark?

Yes. Sweden has no restrictions on entry from the other Nordic countries, and that applies even if you are a non-Nordic or non-EU resident. There is no set amount of time you need to spend in a Nordic country before entering Sweden restriction-free. This is as far as Sweden is concerned, anyway; obviously you will also need to take into account whatever travel restriction applies in the other Nordic country.

An important caveat is that, again, decisions on border control are made by the Swedish police. 

What documents do I need to enter Sweden?

If you’re travelling from a Nordic country, you just need the same documents you’d normally use for travel (passport, visa or national ID card).

From an EU country, you’ll need either an EU Digital Covid Certificate that shows you are vaccinated or have recovered from Covid in the past six months, or a negative Covid-19 test no older than 72 hours, or proof that you fall into a category that’s exempt from this requirement (for example, a Swedish residence permit or proof of Swedish citizenship).

If you don’t have the EU Digital Covid Certificate, you can instead use an equivalent certificate. Detailed information on the criteria is available from the Public Health Agency, but the border police’s rules do say the certificate must have been issued in an EU/EEA country, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, Switzerland, the Vatican, or in a state included on the list over so-called exempted countries (i.e. countries that are exempt from the travel ban). This means that people with an NHS vaccine certificate from the UK or a CDC card from the US, for example, may not be able to use this to enter Sweden from an EU country, since neither the UK nor the US is exempt from the entry ban.

Note that a vaccine certificate is only accepted if you enter from an EU/EEA country or Switzerland, not if entering from outside the EU.

From a non-EU country, you’ll need a negative Covid-19 test no older than 48 hours (or proof that you’re exempt from this requirement, such as a Swedish residence permit or proof of Swedish citizenship) and proof that you fall into a category that’s exempt from the entry ban if you’re travelling from a non-exempt country (for example, documents proving your urgent family reason for travel).

Who is exempt from the requirements to show a negative test on arrival?

Swedish citizens are exempt, as well as non-Swedish citizens with right of residence in Sweden. You will need to prove your status by showing a Swedish passport, ID card, residence permit, or proof of your residence status.

People travelling from Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway do not need to show a negative test result.

Special rules apply for cross-border workers. People who repeatedly cross the border to work or study in Sweden or another state may instead show a negative Covid-19 test no older than one week (but again, if you travel from Denmark, Finland, Iceland or Norway no test is needed).

What kind of tests are accepted?

Both PCR and antigen tests are accepted. The information in the certificate must be provided in Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, English or French, and it needs to have the following information:

  • The name and date of birth of the person who has been tested
  • Date and time when the test was taken
  • Disease or infectious agent, Covid-19 (SARS-CoV-2 or one of its variants)
  • The type of test that has been performed. It must be an antigen test, PCR test, LAMP test or TMA test
  • The negative test result
  • The name, telephone number and address of the issuer of the certificate or of the laboratory which has carried out the test.

The test must have been taken no more than 48 hours before crossing the border if travelling from a non-EU country, no more than 72 hours beforehand if travelling from an EU country, and no more than a week before crossing the border if you are a cross-border worker or student. That time is measured between the time the test is taken and the time you cross the Swedish border, so try to factor in a margin of error in case of delays.

When will Sweden ease its rules for fully vaccinated non-EU travellers?

We don’t know, but the government has confirmed a change is on the cards. A spokesperson for Interior Minister Mikael Damberg told The Local that the government was investigating the possibility of exempting fully vaccinated residents “of certain third countries” from the entry restrictions.

As of September 6th, there is still no difference in the application of the non-EU entry ban based on vaccination status. This means that even if you are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, you cannot enter Sweden from outside the EU unless you fall into an exempted category.

This is a stricter policy than many other countries; the EU itself recommends that member states allow vaccinated travellers (at least those who have received a Covid vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency, EMA) to travel to their countries from outside the EU.

“There are a number of countries with which Sweden has close relations. There, the government will now investigate the possibility of exempting fully vaccinated residents in certain third countries,” Interior Minister Mikael Damberg told the TT news agency in early September. “I am thinking primarily of the United Kingdom, but also the United States, even though the United States is more complex and many states have very different rules,” he said.

Do I have to isolate or get a Covid-19 test when I arrive in Sweden?

Sweden’s rules for arriving travellers have taken the form of Public Health Agency recommendations rather than laws. This means they are not legally enforced, but anyone travelling to Sweden (whether you live here or are just visiting) should follow these recommendations, as they are not intended to be optional.

For most people who arrive in Sweden from a non-Nordic country, you should take a test as soon as possible after arrival, preferably on the same day. Some airports offer tests for arriving passengers, and otherwise you should check the 1177.se website for information on ordering your test. This is always free; just explain that you have arrived from overseas.

The following people are not advised to get tested if they are symptom-free: people who have only travelled inside the Nordics; people who received either two vaccine doses, or one dose at least three weeks before arrival; people who had a confirmed Covid-19 infection in the last six months; people who already presented a negative test result in order to enter Sweden; and children aged under six.

In addition to getting the test, all arrivals from non-Nordic countries are advised to “be careful” during the week after arrival. That means paying extra close attention to potential symptoms, avoiding non-essential contact with people in risk groups, and limiting your social contacts generally.

These recommendations are currently in place until at least October 31st.

Where can I find up to date information on what applies to Sweden’s travel rules?

You should always check with an official authority before travelling if you want to be completely sure.

The rules around the entry ban are decided on by the Swedish government, specifically the Justice Ministry, and border checks are carried out by the Swedish police. Recommendations for everyone arriving in Sweden from overseas such as potential isolation or testing are decided on by the Public Health Agency. 

At The Local we are committed to keeping you updated on the situation, and you can find the latest updates on travel at thelocal.se/tag/travel-news. Check the “Update” time in the top left corner of articles to see when the information was last checked. If you don’t find the information you need, you can always email us at [email protected] and we will do our best to get back to you, but please bear in mind we are a news organisation and cannot give legal advice or guarantee if your trip will be allowed.

Be wary when using other sources for planning your trip, such as Facebook groups and even the EU’s official travel site ReOpenEU. These may not always be up to date. 

More information about all the rules outlined in this article can be found at the official links below:


Member comments

  1. To anyone applying for a visa under the grounds of “participation of birth” – Urgent family reasons – Visa is refused.

    They want us to take “Urgent” at it’s face value. Despite my parents being fully vaccinated and travelling from India on these grounds, the appeal for the same was also rejected.

    So they expect pregnancy to have complications or high risk i’m assuming for entry for non EU citizens. Emotional support does not seem to count.

    1. We did it! However; it is important to note that IcelandAir would not board us in Newark, NJ with a round trip ticket to Stockholm with a connection in Iceland (Keflavik airport). Fortunately, we had time in Newark to buy a ticket just to Keflavik. Then at Keflavik, we went through passport control, claimed our bags, showed our test results and vaccination records, bought a ticket to Stockholm online, checked our bags, and boarded. The last minute tickets cost extra. We bought our round trip tickets to Stockholm after September 6, and IcelandAir should have informed us earlier if those tickets were invalid. The agents at the counter in Newark had a notice that said ARN is a “no-go” for Americans. They understood nothing about transit countries.

    1. Hello – We are two US citizens, a Swedish permanent resident and a tourist. We flew from the US to CPH on August 2, then went by train to Malmö. In the States, information about the entry ban was very confusing, and we were worried, even though we were prepared with both vaccination certificates and a rapid covid test (for which we paid 0 each at SFO, a complete rip-off!). Passport control at CPH was extremely easy – the agent glanced at our vax certificate and waved us through. If we had not been vaccinated, there was a FREE rapid covid test available before passport control at arrivals. Crossing into Sweden there was no further checking, none. It seems like if you’re good enough for Denmark, you’re good enough for Sweden. We have since gone back and forth to Denmark twice and were never checked for passport control, Covid test or vax certificate. Pretty big loophole, I’d say, but sure made things easy for us!

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