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EXPLAINED: What Sweden’s Covid travel restrictions mean for you

Many foreign travellers need to show a negative Covid test to be allowed to enter Sweden, regardless of whether or not they are fully vaccinated.

EXPLAINED: What Sweden's Covid travel restrictions mean for you
Swedish border police checking travel documents at Hyllie train station in Malmö. Photo: Anders Bjurö/TT

Please note this article has not yet been updated to reflect the new Covid rules that Sweden will bring in on January 21st.

The test must have been carried out 48 hours before the test result document is checked when you enter Sweden – not 48 hours after you get the result, and not 48 hours after departure, so make sure you plan your trip carefully, especially if it’s a long-distance connecting flight.

The test certificate must also include the following information, and be written in Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, English or French:

  • Name and date of birth
  • The date and time for the test
  • The kind of infection you were tested for (i.e. Covid-19/SARS-CoV-2 or a variant)
  • What kind of test was used (i.e. antigen, PCR, TMA or LAMP)
  • Information that the test was negative
  • The name and address of the laboratory that carried out or issued the test

The Public Health Agency’s initial guidance stated that the negative test must be an antigen test or PCR/NAAT. After initial confusion about whether or not all NAAT tests were included, an expert at the agency confirmed to The Local on December 28th that the only NAAT tests that are accepted as valid are PCR, TMA or LAMP, and said that its website would be updated to make that distinction clear.

The requirement to show a negative test applies to those over the age of 12 and regardless of where in the world you are travelling from, and whether or not you are vaccinated. If you belong to a category of traveller which has to present a negative test and you don’t do so, or if your flight is delayed so that you arrive in Sweden later than 48 hours after it was carried out, border police may refuse entry.

That said, other than that, previous exemptions from showing a Covid test generally still apply. That means, among other things, that Swedish citizens and foreign residents who can prove they live in Sweden have the right to enter without showing a negative test.

You can find a full list of exemptions on the Swedish Police Authority’s website. You can also read more about the new rules on the government’s website. It is ultimately up to the border officials to decide whether or not to accept your documents, and be aware that some airlines may have their own rules.

Note that is is still not possible to travel from some countries to Sweden as a tourist, even if you can show a negative test, and these rules will continue to apply after December 28th. There are also different rules for “exempt” non-EU countries and “approved” non-EU countries.

Until December 28th, vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers from “exempt” countries could travel to Sweden for any reason if they could  show a negative test, and people with a vaccine pass from an “approved” country could travel to Sweden without showing a negative test.

But from December 28th, everyone has to show a negative test, so in practice, this means:

People who have a vaccine pass issued in an “approved” country may travel to Sweden, but in addition to the vaccine pass they also need to show a negative test no older than 48 hours. Note that people travelling from these countries must still be fully vaccinated, unless their country is also “exempt”.

People from exempt countries still have to show a negative test no older than 48 hours (as opposed to 72 hours, which was previously the case).

People travelling from the EU, including Nordic countries Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland, also need to show a negative test, regardless of vaccination status.

People who frequently commute across the Swedish border for work or studies can choose to either show a negative test no older than a week, or a valid vaccine pass.

As of mid-January, The Public Health Agency no longer recommends that everyone get an additional test after arriving in Sweden. 

The Public Health Agency has asked the government to scrap the requirement for a negative test and reintroduce the Covid vaccine pass, but no decision has yet been made on this.

Rail passengers at Stockholm Central Station the day before Christmas Eve. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Travelling in Sweden

Everyone is recommended to wear a face mask on crowded public transport, but no exact definition of “crowded” has been issued, so don’t be surprised to find a lot of people without a face mask. The primary recommendation is to avoid public transport if possible.

When it comes to long-distance public transport (more than 150 kilometres), there are no further guidelines for the public than what applies in general: avoid public transport if possible, try to keep a distance to other people and wear a face mask if it’s crowded.

Public transport operators are on the other hand from December 28th obliged to “as far as possible” ensure that each passenger has access to a seat or a bed (depending on the kind of train), according to the Public Health Agency’s regulations. They must also inform passengers and staff of how to avoid the spread of infection, and follow up and document all the infection control measures they’ve put in place.

Travelling from Sweden

Make sure you read up on what Covid rules apply in the country you’re travelling to and any countries you’re travelling through. If you got vaccinated in Sweden and have a personnummer or samordningsnummer you can get a Swedish Covid pass via covidbevis.se – if you apply online, you should get your pass almost immediately, but if you have to apply by post the waiting times are several weeks.

If you need a negative Covid test to travel, note that travel certificates are not free in Sweden, so you’ll have to pay for your test. You can find a list of healthcare providers that offer certificates linked to the Covid pass scheme on the eHealth Agency’s website.

Passengers are recommended to wear a face mask in airports, but this is not enforced and based on what The Local has been told by readers, is only very loosely adhered to – so that is perhaps something you will want to be aware of if you’re flying from Sweden.

The above information was correct to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. Please be aware that we are not a government authority and cannot issue any guarantees about whether or not you will be able to travel to Sweden. We always advise readers to also consult the official information on the Swedish border police’s website before travelling.

Member comments

  1. Does this “That said, other than that, previous exemptions from showing a Covid test generally still apply. That means, among other things, that Swedish citizens and foreign residents who can prove they live in Sweden have the right to enter without showing a negative test.” apply even after 28th of December?

  2. > foreign residents who can prove they live in Sweden

    I’m having trouble finding out what *specifically* this means, as in, what documents would count as proof at the border.

    1. Hi Ulfurinn, it depends a little bit on exactly which exemption applies to you (and ultimately it will be up to the border officials), but here’s one example of what the police write: “To be considered a resident in Sweden, you must verify that you have resided or will reside in Sweden for at least a year. This can be done e.g. with an excerpt from the Swedish Population registry.” Here’s the police FAQs: https://polisen.se/en/the-swedish-police/the-coronavirus-and-the-swedish-police/faq/

  3. In the referenced link it says that acceptable negative tests are antigen, PCR/NAAT but the polisen.se says antigen, PCR, LAMP or TMA.

    Not all NAAT tests are LAMP or TMA and this is very confusing, I do not know if other NAAT tests are accepted or not.

    1. Hi Alex, the guidance that applies until December 28th is indeed “PCR, LAMP, TMA or antigen”, but the police website will only be fully updated once the new rules come into effect on December 28th. The new guidance from the Public Health Agency is as you say “antigen, PCR/NAAT”. I would imagine that this then will include all NAAT tests – but please note we’re not a government authority so we can’t issue any guarantees.

      1. Thank you for the comment,

        My wife first got denied entry to board since she had a NAAT test and her arrival time would have been Dec 28th. Delta airline claimed Sweden has not included NAAT in their system. After 20 minutes of arguing they did let her board the plane.

        1. Thank you for the update. I’m trying to get further clarification on exactly what kinds of tests will be accepted, since the police website now appears to have been updated and still says it needs to be an “antigen test, a PCR test, TMA or a LAMP”.

          1. Hi again Alex, I just wanted to give you another update. I’ve just been told by the Public Health Agency that the only valid NAAT tests for travel to Sweden are PCR, LAMP and TMA. They told me they will update their website to make that clearer.

  4. I’m a bit confused about the part:
    ‘ People travelling from the EU, including Nordic countries Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland, will also need to show a negative test, regardless of vaccination status.’
    Does it mean that non-EU travelers with negative test can go to Sweden without any problems after arriving to this countries?

    1. Hi Nastia, from the police website: “When entering the Schengen area through an EEA* country, the traveler will instead be processed for immigration to the EEA* area in the first country they enter, according to the law in that country.” Then when you enter Sweden, you will be processed as entering from an EEA country and those are the rules that will apply to you. https://polisen.se/en/the-swedish-police/the-coronavirus-and-the-swedish-police/faq/

  5. We flew out of Arlanda Dec 27 and despite huge crowds and lines everyone we saw was masked and patient. It was pretty impressive. Periodically there was an overhead announcement reminding people to wear a mask.

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Sweden sees continued train delays following weekend storms

Train travel is still disrupted in some parts of Sweden following the storms which passed over the country during the weekend.

Sweden sees continued train delays following weekend storms
In Töreboda, Western Götland, repair work is still ongoing after a roof blown away in the storms pulled down an overhead line, leading to delays of between 15 to 20 minutes on the Gothenburg to Stockholm line, as well as delaying local train lines in the area.
One of the three tracks on the route has been open since Sunday night.
“But one stretch of track is running on reduced speeds of 70 kilometres an hour to protect those working nearby,” said Emanuel Alvarez, press information officer at the Swedish Transport Administration.
All tracks are expected to be back in use early on Wednesday morning.
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