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EXPLAINED: What is Sweden’s Home Guard and who can join?

Sweden's Home Guard are a volunteer branch of the armed forces who are responsible for defending Swedish territory and assisting society in times of crisis. But how many are there, and who can join?

EXPLAINED: What is Sweden's Home Guard and who can join?
Crown Princess Victoria attending a Home Guard exercise in September 2021. Photo: Ulf Palm/TT

What are the requirements for applicants?

To apply for the Home Guard (Hemvärnet in Swedish) – you must be over 18, speak good Swedish and be a Swedish citizen. You can apply if you are a dual citizen, so long as one of your citizenships is Swedish.

You can be a member of the Home Guard until you turn 70, although people applying for the first time who are over the age of 57 are not usually accepted. This is done on a case-by-case basis, so you may be accepted even if you are above this age.

You must also undergo a security test, where your suitability for a classified role will be assessed, as well as a foundation course for volunteers (Grundläggande utbildning för frivilliga or GU-F) if you have not previously undertaken military service or basic military training.

Can I take time off work to train?

There is no law stating that you can take time off work to take the GU-F course prior to joining the Home Guard, but many employers will grant time off for their employees to attend Home Guard training. Once your application is accepted and you become a member of the Home Guard, you have the right to take time off to serve. Usually, you will serve between 4-13 days per year.

You will receive free food and lodging during training, and may be able to borrow equipment. You have the right to free transport to and from training, and the right to healthcare, including during the journey there and back.

If you take part in a course lasting more than two days, you will receive a financial benefit – this is based on your income and is currently between 1,191 and 130 kronor per day.

How do I apply?

If you fill these criteria, you can apply online to the Home Guard’s website, after which your local battalion will contact you for the next steps in the process.

Some battalions have more applicants than others – and therefore longer waiting times – so it may take some time before you receive a reply, depending on where in Sweden you live.

If I am accepted, am I employed by the Home Guard?

No. 

As a member of the Home Guard, you sign a contract to serve 4-13 days per year, and you must serve if the country is placed into a state of höjd beredskap or “heightened preparedness”, which the government will announce if there is a risk of war breaking out.

You may also assist if there is a crisis or natural catastrophe.

How many applications do the Home Guard usually have per year?

Between 2017 and 2021, the Home Guard received between 4,000 and 5,000 applications per year.

From January 1st to March 7th 2022, the Home Guard received more than three times this number – a total of 15,285 applications.

There are approximately 21,000 members across the country.

Member comments

  1. Sweden thinks a lot of itself to think that Russia has the time to start a War with a country that has no Military Relevance in the Real World . The Local seems intent on being part and parcel of the Misinformation that Western countries are pumping out . America does not want to take on Russia , Ukraine was a sacrificial lamb so stop deluding yourselves that the Russian Bear is coming . Only stupidity like the insistence on sending arms to a non EU country is annoying Russia . The lifting of Visa Restrictions to let in White People from Ukraine is annoying the rest of the World . These same White people who are refusing to let Black people in their country get on trains or taxis to leave their War Torn country , the most disgusting case of Racism seen for years , and when they walk 500 kms to Poland the Poles refuse them entry . Once again play your War Games but do not taint your good reputation by getting involved in a War that has nothing to do with you , plus you do not know how to fight as itäs been seven hundred years since you last went to War . No more arms and helmets to Ukraine . It is not making Sweden look Neutral and why didn’t you play the Big shot during the Nazi Blitz of Europe ???? Hypocrites !!

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NATO

Sweden ‘to send in Nato request on Monday’

Sweden will express its interest in joining the Nato alliance on Monday, Sweden's Expressen newspaper has reported, citing anonymous sources.

Sweden 'to send in Nato request on Monday'

According to the newspaper, Magdalena Andersson will call a governmental meeting late on Monday where the decision on whether to join Nato will be made, after which the country will send in formal documentation immediately.

Officials at Sweden’s foreign ministry have been drafting the text for several weeks, the paper claims, meaning it is now complete and ready to be submitted. 

The meeting will follow a debate scheduled in Sweden’s Riksdag parliament for 10.30am on Monday morning, which will discuss the conclusions of the Swedish government’s ‘security policy analysis group’, which is due to submit its reassessment of Sweden’s security situation this Friday. The anti-Nato Left and Green parties are unlikely to support the conclusions of the report and the report is not expected to state explicitly whether Sweden should join the alliance or not.

After the debate, Finland’s president, Sauli Niinistö, who is on a state visit to Sweden, will hold a speech in the parliament, with the title “a responsible, strong and stable North”. 

Finland on Thursday kicked off the formal process whereby Sweden and Finland are likely to join Nato, when its president Sauli Niinistö and prime minister Sanna Marin published a joint statement recommending that Finland apply to join “without delay”. 

On Sunday, the ruling committee of Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats will take a decision on whether to back Nato membership for Sweden, thereby reversing the policy of non-alignment it has supported since before Nato was founded. 

The formal shift in the Social Democrats’ position will remove the last hurdle to a Swedish decision in favour of joining Nato. 

Here’s a breakdown of how the day might look: 

  • 9am. The day starts at 9am, Swedish time, when the Finnish parliament meets to discuss the decision taken by the government on Sunday. No other parliamentary business is scheduled. According to the Hufvudstadsbladet newspaper the Finnish parliament will also publish the conclusions of its debates in a letter to the government recommending that Finland apply to join Nato.
  • 10.30am. A debate is scheduled in Sweden’s parliament, which will discuss the conclusions of the Swedish government’s ‘security policy analysis group’. 
  • 12am. Finland’s president, Sauli Niinistö, who is on a state visit to Sweden, will hold a speech in the parliament with the title “a responsible, strong and stable North”. 
  • Afternoon: According to Expressen, Sweden’s prime minister, Magdalena Andersson will call a governmental meeting late on Monday, where the decision on whether to join Nato will be made.
  • Officials at Sweden’s foreign ministry have been drafting the text of the application for several weeks, the paper claims, meaning it is now complete and ready to be submitted. 
  • Afternoon/Evening: Sweden and perhaps Finland send in applications to join Nato.
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