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What happens if you don’t pay a bill in Sweden?

Sweden's Enforcement Authority is responsible for collecting unpaid debts, fines, and declarations of bankruptcy. So, what happens if an unpaid bill reaches the Enforcement Authority, and can you do anything if you have a black mark on your record?

What happens if you don't pay a bill in Sweden?
Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

What happens when you have a bill?

Usually, if you have a bill in Sweden, you will receive an invoice (faktura) either digitally or via post, which will include details such as the amount owed, who to pay and the date payment is due (förfallodatum).

If you don’t pay the invoice in time, the person you owe money to may turn the case over to inkasso, or a debt collection agency, who will again send you an invoice for payment, plus the agency’s fee.

If this invoice goes unpaid, the Enforcement Authority will get involved.

The Swedish Enforcement Authority, Kronofogden in Swedish, is responsible for collecting unpaid debts. It does this by providing advice and support to those who are unable to pay their debts, as well as helping creditors – such as, for example, landlords whose tenants have not paid their rent.

The debt collection agency will pass unpaid bills on to them, and you may receive a betalningsanmärkning or black mark on your credit record.

Before you receive a black mark, however, you will first receive an ansökan om betalningsföreläggande from the Enforcement Authority. If you pay this in time, your debt will not be registered as a betalningsanmärkning.

There are some types of payment where you can receive a betalningsanmärkning without the bill going through a debt collection agency first. These are usually payments owed to the state, such as unpaid tax, unpaid student loan repayments or unpaid municipal parking fees.

You are unlikely to come into contact with the Enforcement Authority unless you miss or forget to pay a bill.

What happens if you get a black mark?

A black mark can have pretty major consequences – it can stop you from hiring a car, getting a credit card, borrowing money (including getting a mortgage), taking out a phone contract or even renting an apartment, as well as barring you from ordering anything on credit or paying via invoice.

This is due to the fact that whenever you apply for a loan or credit in Sweden, the lender will check your credit score (kreditupplysning) to see if there is any risk of you not paying up. Many lenders have a strict policy on not lending to individuals with black marks on their credit score to minimise risk, no matter whether the mark is due to an unpaid phone bill or a missed mortgage repayment.

How can I check if I have one?

You can check if you have a black mark by contacting a credit check company – here is a list of all credit check companies in Sweden. Some may charge a small fee for the service, whereas others offer it for free.

One advantage of checking your own credit score before contacting a lender is that your credit score is not affected when you carry out a check on yourself. 

If, however, a bank carries out a credit check on you, this can affect your credit score – it’s usually not an issue if you carry out one or two checks, but a lot of checks in a short period of time could cause issues.

Can you do anything to remove it?

Unfortunately, no. 

All you can do is wait – a black mark will disappear from your record after three years for private individuals or five years for businesses. 

The best strategy is to avoid getting a black mark on your record in the first place – such as by paying your bills via autogiro (direct debit), keeping an eye on your post (as well as your digital post), and paying for items up-front if possible to avoid invoices, rather than using “buy now, pay later” credit services such as Klarna or Clearpay.

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Sweden to go into economic slowdown next year: Swedbank

A period of economic slowdown and falling property prices will affect the Swedish economy for some time, Swedbank's economists say. The bank has lowered its prognosis for Sweden's growth for this year and next.

Sweden to go into economic slowdown next year: Swedbank

For 2023, Swedbank’s economists are now predicting that growth will be a barely noticeable 0.2 percent, compared to previous predictions of 2.1 percent. This year’s prognosis has also been lowered from the previous prediction of 2.8 percent to 2.2 percent.

“We’re expecting a period of minor slowdown with falling GDP for a few quarters until growth improves in mid-2023,” the bank’s economists wrote in a new report.

‘Substantial risk of a hard landing’

Mattias Persson, the bank’s chief economist, predicts that consumption will decrease as inflation starts to affect consumers, and as high interest rates make loans more expensive.

“Companies will be affected by pressure on costs and the possibilities of passing those costs on to consumers will dwindle with time. Investments will be strongly affected,” he wrote in a press release.

He added that the energy crisis was expected to get worse during the winter, at the same time as central banks continued to raise interest rates during the autumn before holding off in 2023.

“A soft landing is possible, but the risk of a hard landing is substantial,” Persson wrote.

One risk he identified was that central banks reacted too strongly to push down inflation, driving the economy in to a “deep and long-term period of low growth”.

Inflation is expected to reach a top at the end of 2022, with rates expected to remain at over 3 percent for a the majority of next year, Swedbank economists said.

‘Housing prices will fall 15 percent from peak to bottom’

The Swedish central bank, the Riksbank, is expected to increase key interest rates to 2.25 percent between now and the beginning of next year.

“Companies’ high costs for transport and goods will have an impact, as will high import prices due to a weak krona,” Swedbank writes in its report.

“The pressure of inflation has broadened beyond energy and food, and the price of both goods and services are now being adjusted upwards at a rapid pace.”

On the property market, Swedbank predict continued price decreases throughout the next year.

“Overall, we expect that housing prices for the country as a whole will have fallen by around 15 percent from the peak in February to the bottom in the first half of 2023.”