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KEY POINTS: What Sweden’s new border controls mean for cross-border commuters

Just weeks after Covid-19-related checks on travellers crossing the Danish-Swedish border were removed, Sweden plans to re-introduce ID-checks on travellers in order to monitor refugees entering the country. Here's how it will affect commuters.

KEY POINTS: What Sweden's new border controls mean for cross-border commuters
The Öresund Bridge photographed from Limhamn on the Swedish side of the strait. Photo: News Øresund/Johan Wessman/Flickr

When will border checks start?

The proposal to bring in new border checks has been sent out for consultation and the government expects parliament to pass the new law quickly, so that it can come into effect as early as next month.

The new law will be valid for three years, from April 8th this year until April 8th 2025. Under the law, a period of ID checks will be limited to a maximum of six months. 

Will it definitely happen? 

Carl Sonesson, the chair of the local government in the Skåne Region, and Henrik Fritzon, who leads the Social Democrats in the region, have both called for ID checks not to be brought in, so there is a small chance the government will decide not to bring in the legislation, or if they do pass the law, that they will not use it to launch ID checks. Privately, though, local politicians admit they see little chance of stopping the legislation. 

Who will be affected?

ID checks will be required on all passengers entering Sweden by train, ferry or bus. 

The biggest impact will be in delays for those travelling from Copenhagen to Malmö and beyond by train or bus over the Öresund Bridge.

In 2016, the requirement to change trains at Kastrup typically added at least half an hour to commuters’ return journeys from Copenhagen. 

For travellers travelling by ferry from Denmark, Poland, Germany, or Finland, the disruption is likely to be significantly less, as ferry operators typically stop each passenger to check their tickets anyway. 

What will the transport companies have to do? 

According to the proposal sent out for consultation, “the responsibility in practice requires the transport company to check identity documents before the transport arrives in Sweden, probably at the point at which the traveller gets enters the vehicle or vessel.” 

When applied to travel across the Öresund bridge, this will require passenger’s IDs to be checked before trains leave Copenhagen’s Kastrup airport, which is the last stop before Sweden. 

The train operator could opt either to mount the train and then check the documents of every passenger, or require passengers to leave the train, move to another platform that they can only access by showing identity documents, and then take a second train over the bridge to Sweden. 

According to the proposal, companies will have to be able to demonstrate that they have carried out the controls by showing a “passenger list with identity information”. They will then face spot checks on arrival in Sweden to check that they have done this.

The Swedish Police will be responsible for carrying out the spot checks on transport companies, but they will be able delegate this to either the Swedish Customs Service or to the Swedish Coast Guard. 

If a transport operator is found not to have carried out the controls, it company will be fined 50,000 kronor (€4,790) per trip.

The Swedish Transport Agency is responsible for levying the fine, the proceeds of which will go to Sweden’s central government. 

For transport operators based outside of Sweden, the police or customs services can demand payment of the fine on the spot, and even refuse the vehicle entry to Sweden if the fine cannot be paid. 

The Swedish Transport Agency can decide to waive the fine. 

Which forms of ID will be accepted?

According to the proposal, any identity document that includes a photograph will be accepted. While this includes passports, other forms of ID such as national identity cards or driving licences would also be valid, even if they are not valid travel documents. 

This makes the new proposed ID checks weaker than the temporary border controls enforced in Sweden since November 2015, when passports with valid visas were required for many citizens from outside the European Union.  

Although the checks carried out by transport companies will not require travellers to have a passport or visa, Sweden still officially has “temporary border controls” at its borders, which are all with other Schengen countries. 

This means could still be stopped by Swedish border police after arrival in Sweden, so make sure you have the necessary travel documents with you. 

Are there any exemptions?

Anyone under the age of 18 travelling with an adult with valid identity documents will be exempted from the rule, as will those travelling from Norway to Sweden. 

Does this mean refugees will be turned away at the Swedish border?

No. Sweden is in the Schengen area, which means that Ukrainian citizens are able to stay in the country for 90 days without a permit or an entry visa, so long as they have a valid biometric passport, adequate funds to live on, and adequate funds for their home journey. This rule has been in place since 2017 and has not changed as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The activation of the Temporary Protection Directive in March 2022 means that Ukrainian citizens can stay in Sweden for a year without having to apply for a visa or make a claim for asylum. This applies to Ukrainians who have biometric and non-biometric passports.

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 HERE before travelling.

If you have any questions, you are always welcome to contact our editorial team at [email protected]. We may not be able to reply to every email, and we cannot advise on individual cases, but we read all emails and use them to inform our future coverage.

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TRANSPORT

Travellers express frustrations over Sweden’s public transport ticket systems 

Tricky travel apps and lack of information are some of the complaints that have been made about travelling with a valid ticket on Sweden's public transport, according to the Swedish Consumer Agency (Konsumentverket).

Travellers express frustrations over Sweden's public transport ticket systems 

Most of the complains sent to KO, the Swedish Consumer Agency, were regarding fines of 1,500 kronor, which is the penalty for not having the right ticket on public transport.

The agency’s analysis of the complaints showed that many of the travellers had a ticket but didn’t pay enough, didn’t have a receipt or bought the wrong type of ticket in the app. Many are critical that the fine in these cases is not written off or reduced.

“We see that there is great frustration among those who have ended up in this situation. Many people experience it as unfair to be treated as travellers who intentionally did not want to buy the right ticket,” Fanny Forsling, lawyer at KO said.

KO will now contact the transport companies to review the reasons for the fines.

Systematic ticket inspections were halted in Stockholm during the coronavirus pandemic and as a result, there was an increase in people travelling without a ticket.

Let us know your thoughts on Sweden’s public transport ticket fines by emailing us.

Swedish vocabulary

fine – böter

ticket – (en) biljett

travelling without a ticket – planka

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