Residency permits For Members

What do we know about Sweden's planned tests for permanent residency?

Becky Waterton
Becky Waterton - [email protected]
What do we know about Sweden's planned tests for permanent residency?
Judge of Appeal Fredrik Fries presenting the proposal on May 29th. Photo: Marko Säävälä/TT

A new government inquiry has proposed that adults seeking permanent residency from 2027 will have to pass tests on Swedish language and society. Here's what we know about the proposed tests.


Is this officially a law?

No. There are a few stages left before it will come into force.

This is a proposal from the inquiry set up to investigate the introduction of tests on language and societal knowledge for permanent residency, which has now been submitted to the Swedish government.

The proposal will now be sent out for consultation to relevant government agencies or organisations, municipalities and other stakeholders, who can submit remissvar, or "responses"These responses are purely advisory.

The government will then create a draft bill which will be sent to The Swedish Council on Legislation for comment. After this, it will be sent to parliament for scrutiny and eventual changes from parliamentary committees, then it will be put to a vote in parliament.


Is it going to be approved?

It looks likely that the law will be approved.

The current governing bloc (the Moderates, Christian Democrats and Liberals in government with support from the Sweden Democrats) has a majority, and all four parties are in favour of implementing tests for permanent residence permits.

If the process drags on and the proposal doesn't make it to parliament before the next election (to be held on September 13th, 2026 at the latest), it's possible in theory that that election could result in a majority against introducing a language test for permanent residency.

Having said that, this proposal was actually initiated by the opposition Social Democrats when they were in government, so it's unlikely that it would fail in parliament even if the current government were to lose its majority.


So, when will it come into force?

The suggested implementation date put forward by the government inquiry is July 1st, 2027, so that there is enough time to formulate the tests and organise how and where tests will be held, as well as enough time for the law to make its way through Sweden's legislative process.

Of course, this date is just a suggestion, and Migration Minister Maria Malmer Stenergard voiced her frustration at the fact that the date of implementation is so far away, so its possible it could come into force sooner if the administrative details are sorted out earlier than expected.

Who will have to take these tests?

Over 18s applying for permanent residence permits would have to take the tests.

Children would be exempt, as would be pensioners, quota refugees, and people whose applications for permanent residency must be carried out by a third party.

Exemptions could also be granted on special grounds, the proposal states, such as for people with serious mental or physical disabilities or other special personal circumstances which make them less able to take the test. This would be assessed by the Swedish Migration Agency on the basis of provided documentation.

It is important to note here that Sweden has multiple types of permanent residence document. This would affect applicants for permanent residence permits or uppehållstillstånd - meaning non-EU citizens (with some exceptions).

It would not affect EU citizens with right of residency (uppehållsrätt) or those with a residence card for family of EU members here under EU rules (those holding an uppehållskort), and it would not affect UK citizens with post-Brexit residence status or uppehållsstatus.

It would affect Brits who arrive or arrived here after Brexit who are here as non-EU citizens, as they need residence permits or uppehållstillstånd. 

If you are unsure as to which type of residency you have or which type of permanent residency you will be eligible for, you can check out our guide below.


I already have permanent residency. Will I need to take a test anyway?

No, this proposal would apply to people applying for permanent residence permits from July 2027.

It may apply to you if you recently received your first temporary residence permit, although as most people are eligible for permanent residency after four years in Sweden, it is likely you will be eligible for permanent residency under the current rules before the new law comes into place.

It's not clear yet what will happen if you apply for permanent residency before the new law comes into force but your application is not approved until after the rules have changed.


How many tests will there be, and will they be free?

There will be two tests - one in language and one on knowledge of society.

The tests will be held digitally in Swedish, will consist of closed questions - questions with only one answer - and each module will consist of two parts each lasting 50 minutes, with a ten minute break in between. The proposal adds that adaptations should be available for those who need it due to medical reasons, such as offering larger text or extra time for certain individuals.

Each module will cost 700 kronor, giving a total of 1,400 kronor for both tests.

Stateless people and people with refugee status or those granted travel documents by Swedish authorities should be exempt, the proposal states.

It currently costs 2,000 kronor for adults to apply for permanent residency, so this will increase the total cost of applying for permanent residency to 3,400 kronor per person.

How good does my Swedish have to be?

The proposal states that you will be expected to have a level of Swedish equivalent to A2 on the CEFR, the EU's Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

This is equivalent to SFI level C, and is classified as a "basic" level of Swedish.

The language test will only measure your listening skills, so you will not be tested on your speech or writing skills. You may need to read some questions in Swedish, although you will not be tested on your reading comprehension.

Here are the CEFR guidelines for an A2 level:

"Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need."

As previously mentioned, both the tests will be held in Swedish, so your understanding will need to also be good enough to be able to answer the tests, although the proposal states that a glossary of terminology may be included for vocabulary above A2 level.


What topics will the society test cover?

The test on knowledge of Swedish society will be designed to "test basic knowledge needed to live and work in Swedish society," the proposal states, and it will be based on material adapted from the website

It will test the following areas, according to the proposal:

  • Coming to Sweden
  • Living in Sweden
  • Supporting yourself and developing in Sweden
  • The rights and obligations of the individual
  • Starting a family and living with children in Sweden
  • Having influence in Sweden
  • Caring for your health in Sweden
  • Growing old in Sweden

Can I prove my knowledge of Swedish in another way?

No. Under this proposal, you would have to take the specific official language and culture tests handled by the government, so a completed SFI course or other Swedish language course, even if it is at a higher level, will not be accepted.

What happens if I fail a test?

If you fail a test, you can retake the module you failed, so you won't need to retake the whole test again.

You will, however, need to pay the 700 kronor fee again for each retaken module.

How long will the tests be valid?

There will be no expiry date, according to the proposal.

Where will tests be held?

The proposal suggests that the Swedish Transport Administration is tasked with hosting tests, as they already have digital testing resources to carry out the theory sections of driving tests. 

This means that tests will probably be held at Transport Administration venues.

The report proposes that tests be held "regularly throughout the year", adding that the exact frequency will be decided by the Swedish Council for Higher Education after consultation with the Transport Administration.


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