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EXPLAINED: What changes about life in Sweden in December?

Vaccine passes, a new prime minister, winter tyres and Christmas festivities. Here's what December has in store for Swedish residents.

a crowd at a concert indoors
Planning to attend a concert from December 1st? Don't forget your vaccine pass. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

Vaccine passes from December 1st

Starting in December, any indoor events with over 100 guests will have to either adopt a vaccine pass system, or adopt other infection control measures such as a minimum distance between guests and designated seats for those attending. It will be up to individual event organisers to decide which system they will use.

Events affected will include any indoor events with over 100 guests happening in theatres, cinemas or nightclubs, as well as concerts, sports events, dance performances, markets, conferences, demostrations and religious services.

Shops, workplaces, school and university courses and public transport will not be affected by the vaccine pass system.

Make sure you’ve fitted your winter tyres

Swedish law states that all cars must be equipped with winter tyres between December 1st and March 31st if the weather conditions require it. If your car doesn’t have them or if they are not up to scratch (a tread depth of at least three millimetres), you risk a fine of 1,200 kronor.

Winter tyres radically decrease the risk of skidding and improve a vehicle’s overall braking capacity on slippery surfaces, reducing the risk of accidents. In general, studded winter tyres are better suited for icy roads or on surfaces with hard-packed snow, while stud-free tyres work better on roads with soft snow.

If you have studded tyres you will need to get them changed by April 15th – the last day on which they are permitted on Swedish roads (and some roads ban them all year round due to noise pollution).

Sweden gets a new prime minister

Social Democrat Magdalena Andersson was elected Sweden’s new prime minister in her second vote in parliament on Monday 29th November. She announced her new cabinet and formally took over power from Stefan Löfven on Tuesday November 30th at a skifteskonselj (change of government cabinet meeting) with the King of Sweden at the Royal Palace.

This means that Andersson’s first full day as Sweden’s prime minister was December 1st.

Social Democrat leader Magdalena Andersson after winning parliament’s first vote to elect her prime minister on November 24th. Photo: Erik Simander/TT

Deadline for Brits to apply for post-Brexit residency status

Any Brits who moved to Sweden before December 31st 2020 may be eligible for post-Brexit residency status, and may indeed need to apply for it in order to continue living in Sweden legally.

This applies both to British nationals and to their immediate family members, who might only have residency in Sweden through their British family member.

Holders of certain residence documents do not need to apply for the status in order to stay living and working in Sweden, but there may still be advantages to doing so. It is free to apply for the post-Brexit status, and you can apply until December 31st 2021.

Rules for UK travel change

While we’re on the topic of the UK, anyone planning on visiting the UK in December will have to follow new Covid entry rules from November 30th, due to concerns over the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Those arriving in the UK after 4am on November 30th will need to book and take PCR tests instead of lateral flow tests (also known as quick tests), which will no longer be accepted.

Travellers will need to take a PCR test by the end of the second day after arriving in the UK, quarantining until a negative test result comes back.

Any questions? Here’s our article with all the details.

Christmas festivities kick off

Finally, December in Sweden means Christmas is on the horizon. You may already have noticed the smell of saffron wafting through the streets and may even have sampled a julbord already.

The first Sunday of Advent this year was November 28th, meaning putting up your Christmas decorations is now socially acceptable.

It also signals the start of an entire month of festivities, with each Sunday between now and the 24th dedicated to cosy Christmas activities, as well as St Lucia’s Day on December 13th – celebrated, of course, with saffron-scented lussekatterhere’s a recipe.

If you’re looking for julbord suggestions for the coming month, you can check out our guides for the best buffets in Stockholm and Malmö.

Herring and meatballs not really your thing? Here are 2021’s best Christmas markets in Sweden to get you in the Christmas spirit instead.

Never celebrated a Swedish Christmas before? Here’s a guide from The Local’s archives.

The Öresund bridge between Malmö in Sweden and Copenhagen in Denmark. For the fifth year in a row, its 203.5 metre high pylons have become advent candles. Each Sunday in the run-up to Christmas, another light will be lit. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

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For members


What changes in Sweden in August 2022?

Swedes go back to work and school, travel chaos looks set to continue and a possible Covid peak. Here's what changes in Sweden in August 2022.

What changes in Sweden in August 2022?


Swedes return to work – and the school year starts

In August, Swedes start heading back to the office after their summer holidays, where the majority of workers take at least a couple of weeks off during July. This means that replies to all those unanswered emails you’ve sent over the last few weeks will start ticking into your inbox as Sweden’s workers return to their desks.

In a similar vein, kids will go back to school in August, although the exact date when schools go back varies depending on where you live in the country.

Travel chaos in Europe

The chaotic travel situation seen during the past few months looks set to continue, with airports throughout Europe likely to remain busy during August. Airlines across the continent have cancelled more than 25,000 flights from their August schedule, and strikes affecting several airlines and airports in other European countries will also affect Swedish travellers planning on taking a late summer holiday.

READ ALSO: Airport chaos in Europe: Airlines cancel 15,000 flights in August

Risk of Covid-19 peak hitting Sweden in August

According to Sweden’s Public Health Agency, the amount of people infected with Covid-19 in the country could peak in mid-August. During the summer, infection rates have increased week-on-week, with more than half of Sweden’s regions reporting an increase in cases.

This is in part due to the high number of Swedes about to return to work following their summer holidays in July.

“It usually takes around two weeks from returning to work for there to be a noticeable increase,” Karin Tegmark Wisell, the Agency’s general director, told TT news wire.

Having said that, Tegmark Wisell believes the risk of having to introduce new restrictions or close schools is low.

“We can’t rule local outbreaks out,” she told TT. “In a situation where teaching can’t be carried out, the school could decide to close independently of Covid-19 legislation.”



Hike in pay-outs to poorest pensioners 

Pensioners in Sweden will receive an extra 1,000 kronor per month from August, and will also receive an extra housing bonus, under changes driven negotiated by the Left Party in exchange for backing Magdalena Andersson as Prime Minister. 
Teachers can ban mobile phones in the classroom 
A change in Sweden’s school law means that pupils can only use their mobile phones during lessons if their teacher gives them instructions to do so. Teachers have also been given increased powers to seize pupils’ mobile phones and to bring in mobile phone free school days. 

A ban on unregistered pre-paid mobile phones

Pre-paid SIM cards, known in Swedish as kontantkort or cash cards, will require registration with information including the owner’s name and personal identity number (personnummer) from August 1st. 

The new rules could present difficulties for people without a personnummer, such as foreign nationals who have recently moved to Sweden, since a personal identity number is needed to set up a phone contract.

Existing pre-paid sims will continue to work without registration until February next year. 

Tougher penalties for rape and buying sex 

From August 1st, Sweden is bringing in tougher penalties for a range of sexual crimes. The minimum jail sentence for rape and child rape rises from two years to three. Being caught buying sex will always come with a jail sentence, rather than just a fine.

The minimum sentence for child sex abuse rises from the shortest possible prison sentence to six months behind bars, as does the minimum for ‘exploiting children through the purchase of sexual acts’. The minimum sentence for making children pose sexually rises from a fine to imprisonment. 

Lower threshold for deporting criminals 

From August 1st, Sweden’s government is making it easier for criminals who are foreign citizens to be deported from Sweden after serving their sentence. Criminals can now be deported for less serious crimes than previously, and they will need to give a higher level of evidence that they are established in Sweden for this to be a defence. There will also no longer be a ban on deporting criminals who came to Sweden as children. Read the full list of changes here (in Swedish). 

Better rules for international female same-sex parents  

A woman who is or has been married to another woman who has a child in Sweden will now automatically be considered the child’s parent, under a change designed to make Sweden’s parenting laws more equal. The change will mean that international female same-sex couples who come to Sweden will enjoy a similar status as parents under Swedish law as couples consisting of a man and a woman. The new law comes into force on August 1st. 

New EU regulations to protect children caught in cross-border parental disputes

On August 1st, the EU’s new Brussels II regulation, which is designed to protect children caught in cross-border parental disputes, comes into force in Sweden. Among other changes, the new regulation imposes deadlines on courts in all EU countries when handling international child abduction cases. All courts must decide on returning a child to the parent with the right of custody within six weeks, with a further six weeks allowed for appeal. The regulations also require that the opinions of children who can express themselves play a role in proceedings. Read about the rules here

You can see a full list of new laws coming into force on August 1st here.

Municipalities required to offer ‘cohesive adult education’ to adult immigrants 

From August 1st, all municipalities are required to offer a ‘cohesive adult education’ to all adults arriving in Sweden who are covered by the Swedish Public Employment Service’s Establishment Programme.  Under the new rule municipalities must offer an average of 23 hours of education a week over a four-week period, which will include parts of the Swedish For Immigrants (SFI) course, a ‘civic orientation’ course, and other education within the municipal adult education departments. 



Crayfish parties

Unfortunately there are no public holidays in August, although this doesn’t mean there’s nothing to celebrate. Crayfish season traditionally starts on August 7th in Sweden, so be prepared for crayfish-themed decorations to start popping up in your local supermarket, and find some friends (preferably with access to a summer house) to hold your very own kräftskiva (crayfish party).

As with most Swedish celebrations, expect drinking songs, lots of snaps, crispbread, cheese, and most likely some sort of västerbottenpaj – a quiche featuring Sweden’s favourite cheese, västerbottensost.

Here’s our guide to six essential Swedish drinking songs for crayfish party season.

Stockholm Pride

Pride is also kicking off in Stockholm next month. Celebrations will begin on August 1st and carry on until August 7th. This year’s theme is Dags att bekänna färg (Time to profess colour) and will feature a parade on Saturday August 6th, as well as events, music and parties in Pride Park (Östermalms IP) between Wednesday August 3rd and Saturday August 6th.

Here’s a link to the programme (in Swedish).


For those based in the south of the country, Malmöfestivalen will be taking place from August 12th-19th. The festival will include music, activities for children, dance and art, as well as food stalls.

Way Out West

Not to leave Gothenburg off the list, Way Out West music festival will also be taking place in August, between the 11th and 19th. Unlike Pride and Malmöfestivalen, this festival isn’t free, but at the time of writing there are still tickets available.

Artists performing at the festival this year include Tame Impala, Chance the Rapper, Jamie XX, First Aid Kit and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds.