Emigrating to Sweden: Guide and tips

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Would you like to emigrate to Sweden? Understandable, because the Scandinavian country has a lot to offer! Above all, the nature, with its many lakes, forests and long coastlines, the lifestyle and the Nordic design speak in favour of it. Here you can find out important information about preparation, formalities, cultural differences, job and accommodation searches as well as the Swedish education system. We have compiled lists of facts, helpful addresses and to-do’s for you.


Sweden is part of Scandinavia and is known for its deep forests, majestic fjords and as the birthplace of the Nobel Prize. It stretches from the rugged landscapes of Lapland in the north to lively coastal cities in the south. With a culture that values equality, sustainability and a high quality of life, Sweden is a popular destination for travellers and emigrants.

Size450,295 km²
Inhabitants10.5 million (2023)
LanguageSwedish (svenska)
CurrencySwedish kronor (SEK)

Emigrating to Sweden: Advantages

  • Work-life balance and flat hierarchies
  • Varied nature
  • Traditional festivals such as Midsummer
  • Fika culture and lagom as a way of life
  • Equality has a high value
  • School system that caters to children individually and strives for equal opportunities
  • Supermarkets are open 7 days a week
  • Allmansrätten
  • Family-friendly policies, e.g. generous parental leave arrangements
  • Environmental awareness and sustainability
  • Innovation and technical progress

Preparation is the be-all and end-all

To do’s before emigration

  • Scrutinise your motivation and goals for emigration
  • Plan enough lead time, this saves stress and provides a buffer for unforeseen events such as deadlines and waiting times
  • Do you fulfil all the requirements?
  • Apply for a residence permit and work visa
  • Monitor thelabour market and start looking for a job if none is available locally yet
  • Clarify formalities: are all documents up to date and available, what exactly is required?
  • Check your finances and draw up a financial plan if necessary
  • Familiarise yourself with Sweden and learn the language
  • Look for accommodation or interim accommodation, which place should it be?
  • Cancellation of flat, internet, electricity, subscriptions etc
  • Cancellation of residence
Emigration to do's

Even if life abroad sounds tempting, emigration should be carefully considered. Research, planning and a detailed understanding of the destination are important foundations. It is worth talking to people who have already taken this step in order to get as much detailed information and insider tips as possible and to learn from previous experiences. It is best to draw up a list of contacts and institutions that can help you with any questions you may have. As well as thinking about where you would like to go, whether you prefer an urban or rural location, it makes sense to calculate the costs and learn the Swedish language.

Although most people in Sweden also speak very good English, knowledge of the national language always improves conditions and makes arrival and integration easier. This can be done, for example, with (online) language courses, apps, podcasts and courses from the Folkuniversitetet on site and online, or a free SFI course, “Swedish for Immigrants”.

If you go to southern or northern Sweden, you should be prepared for stronger dialects that are somewhat more difficult to understand. In terms of formalities, you should have all your documents ready and check whether your certificates are recognised. The Swedish Council for Higher Education can help here.

Question: What are your motives and goals for emigrating? Why do you want to take this step and why is Sweden the right country for you?

Emigrating to Denmark or Norway is also an option? Our guides will provide you with helpful information that can help you with your decision.

Requirements for registration in Sweden

Facts about registration

  • Residence permit and work permit
  • Registration with the Skatteverket
  • Requirements: Employment in Sweden/study/own business OR financial resources of EUR 15,000 OR sufficient pension payments OR partner/child of an immigrant
  • Documents required: ID card, passport, confirmation of employment/studies/income, birth certificates if applicable
  • Registration can take a few weeks, please allow for this!
  • You will receive your personal number upon registration
  • After 5 years you can apply for Swedish citizenship
  • The ID-Kort serves as proof of identity (within Sweden)

Important: For permanent residence in Sweden and registration with the Skatteverket, the following points should be met: an employment relationship with a Swedish company OR your own business in Sweden OR sufficient financial means in your own possession as well as sufficient pension payments OR partner/child of an immigrant with the right of residence.

The documents required may vary, so check with the relevant Skatteverket beforehand and enquire if necessary! The Skatteverket also offers webinars and e-services on relocation and registration.

For a permanent residence permit, you must reside in Sweden for more than 5 consecutive years without an intermittent absence of more than 6 months. Then you can also apply for Swedish citizenship.

In Sweden, the so-called ID-Kort, the identity card, is used for identification purposes. It is similar to an identity card, but is only valid within Sweden. To identify yourself online, it also has an e-legitimisation. The ID card is valid for 5 years and costs SEK 400 when you apply for it.

De-registration and re-registration

Facts about deregistration and re-registration

  • Timely cancellation of existing contracts
  • Cancellation of residence in the UK
  • Car re-registration can be time-consuming and involves costs
  • If you live in Sweden without Swedish citizenship, British documents, such as a new passport, must be renewed via the British embassy in Stockholm

Before you set off, there are a few formalities to take care of: cancelling your rental contract in good time, cancelling electricity, internet or existing subscriptions. In order to be able to register with the Skatteverket in Sweden, you must first deregister from the UK, i.e. from your place of residence.

If you want to take your car with you to Sweden, it must also be re-registered. This is done via the Transportstyrelsen, where you have to submit a “protocol of origin” to confirm where the vehicle originally came from. The guide is available in English. Once the protocol has been successfully checked, you have to take the car to the Bilprovning, which checks whether the registered vehicle is the right one. The licence plate, which is linked to the car and not the owner, is then issued and you can take out car insurance.

Please note that your drivers licence must be exchanged into a swedish one in order to be valid. Find out more at Transportstyrelsen.

If your passport expires while you are living in Sweden and do not yet have Swedish citizenship, you must have it renewed via the British Embassy in Stockholm.

House in Sweden

Living in Sweden

Even if the Swedish lifestyle is not extremely different, it is important to familiarise yourself with the local culture and everyday life. Even small changes and habits can, especially at the beginning, drain your energy, overwhelm you and trigger a culture shock.

Climate and temperatures in Sweden

Climate facts

  • Different climate zones with regional differences in temperature and sunshine
  • The north is the coldest and there are few to zero hours of sunshine in winter
  • In summer, however, the midnight sun ensures bright nights

Sweden can be divided into three climate zones: southern, central and northern Sweden. On average, temperatures are highest in southern Sweden. In January it is around 0 degrees here, while in northern Sweden it usually fluctuates between -13/-15 degrees. In the summer months, especially in the warmest month, July, the temperature differences between northern and southern Sweden are the smallest. Eastern Smaland is the warmest on average in summer. The hours of sunshine also depend on the location within Sweden.

In Malmö, Skåne, there are around 7 hours of sunshine in January, while Kiruna has 0 hours of sunshine. In northern Sweden, there is little to no sunshine during the winter months and it can get very cold . In summer, on the other hand, the sun sometimes doesn’t set at all and thanks to the midnight sun it is also very bright at night. You should be aware of these weather conditions. In northern Sweden, you are more likely to be able to marvel at the Northern Lights. The southern coastal areas belong to the warm-temperate climate zone, where it is generally warmer and sunnier. However, it can sometimes be very windy there and there can be precipitation, although this occurs throughout Sweden.

Climate Zones in Sweden

Choice of location: If temperature and hours of sunshine are important to you, you should definitely take the climate zones within Sweden into account when choosing a location!

Swedish culture

Swedish culture: strawberries, cinnamon buns, flowers

Facts about Swedish culture

  • Lagom as a life principle
  • Jantelagen for equality
  • Traditional holidays such as Midsummer
  • Regular fika, even anchored in work culture

Scandinavia is known for its happy inhabitants. One reason for this is the good work-life balance and taking regular breaks. The tradition of regular fika is part of everyday private and working life. Great importance is also attached to the various public holidays and especially the Midsummer Festival.

It is also interesting to note that many Swedes go on holiday for several weeks at a time in July due to the holiday regulations, which means that some shops and companies are closed and life is a little quieter. Lagom means not too much and not too little. In Sweden, it is important to see a balance in everything.

Another part of Swedish culture is Jantelagen. It says that everyone is equal and that you shouldn’t think of yourself as someone better. This ensures social equality, but can also lead to tough and unresolved situations in everyday life, as there is little discussion due to Swedish reserve and things are rarely addressed directly.

Overall, social interaction is very friendly and equality is a top priority. Many men take parental leave here and finances are divided fairly. However, the fact that many Swedes also like to keep to themselves and need some time to form deeper bonds can seem a little cool at first, but should not be taken personally.

Cost of living, shopping and eating out

Facts about shopping:

  • Cost of living slightly higher than in the UK, primarily in the food and services sector
  • High-proof alcohol only available in special shops (Systembolaget)
  • Supermarkets are open every day, sometimes even on public holidays
  • Self-service water is available in many cafés/restaurants
  • You can pay by card almost everywhere (take a credit card with you to be on the safe side!)
  • Coffee can often be refilled, “Påtår”

The cost of living is comparatively higher than in other European countries. This is especially true in the larger cities and urban centres. You should bear in mind that income is not necessarily significantly higher than here.

Food, alcohol and cosmetics are much more expensive than in the UK. Moreover, high-proof alcohol can only be bought in system shops. If you want to drink a beer in comfort, you can expect to pay the equivalent of GBP 5 to 7 for 0.5 litres. A cocktail costs around SEK 140, which is about GBP 11 . Cosmetic products are available in supermarkets, pharmacies and other shops such as Ahlens, The Body Shop, Rituals or Normal.

Average Prices
CategorySweden (GBP)UK (GBP)
Public transportAverage costAverage cost
Public transport (monthly pass)70,5260,20 – 68,80
Single ticket2,86 – 3,682,41 – 3,10
Petrol (per litre)1,31 – 1,481,29 – 1,46
Bread (500g)2,05 – 2,450,86 – 1,29
Milk (1 litre)0,82 – 1,230,60 – 0,86
Apples (1 kg)1,63 – 2,451,72 – 2,58
Eggs (12)2,45 – 3,271,29 – 2,15
Cheese (1 kg)6,54 – 9,805,16 – 10,32
Restaurants and alcohol
Favourable restaurant (per person)8,17 – 16,346,88 – 12,90
Three-course menu (per person)32,68 – 49,0225,80 – 43,00
Domestic beer (0.5 litre)4,90 – 5,722,58 – 3,01
Imported beer (0.33 litres)5,31 – 6,133,01 – 3,44
Supply services
Electricity (per kWh)0,12 – 0,250,26 – 0,30
Internet (monthly)24,51 – 32,6821,50 – 30,10
Mobile telephony (basic rate)16,34 – 24,518,60 – 25,80

The most common supermarkets in Sweden are ICA, COOP and Hemköp, of which COOP tends to be the most expensive. Alternatives are also the German discounter Lidl and the Swedish discounter chain Willy:s. Grocery shops are open every day, including Sundays and some public holidays, such as Christmas.

Paying in cash is almost unheard of in Sweden. On the contrary, people tend to look at you strangely if you want to pay in cash and many shops even display a “cash only” sign. However, grocery shops are always obliged to accept cash.

If you do not yet have a Swedish bank account, you can usually pay with a British card without any problems. In exceptional cases, however, this is only possible with a credit card, which is why it can be useful to have this with you to be on the safe side. If you have a Swedish personal number, you can also get the Swish app, which can also be used to pay in many places and is used by the majority of Swedes.

Café in Sweden

In cafés and restaurants, however, you can save on water and coffee. In many places, water is offered in a carafe for self-service. If you see the sign“Påtår ingår“, it means that you can refill your own coffee as often as you like. In addition to the famous cinnamon buns and the national dish Köttbullar, Swedes like to eat fish and potato dishes. Many Swedish recipes are easy to cook.

If you are travelling by car in Sweden, sooner or later you will have to fill up with petrol. It is best to have a credit card (Visa or Mastercard) with you, as German EC cards are not accepted at many petrol stations (and parking machines!). Particularly at petrol stations without staff, which are becoming increasingly common and are also cheaper than those with staff, it is usually only possible to pay by credit card. Fuel prices tend to be cheaper than in Sweden’s neighbouring countries Denmark and Norway. They are currently also slightly below German prices. However, this is subject to strong fluctuations and cannot be generalised. It is worth checking the current situation.

Insurance and visits to the doctor

Facts about the healthcare system and insurance

  • Automatic and centralised health insurance
  • No family doctor system, but health centres
  • Flat-rate costs for every doctor’s visit (with an annual limit)

As soon as you have a Swedish personal number (after registering with the Skatteverket), you are entitled to all standard Swedish social security benefits, which are administered by the social security office Försäkringskassan. Health insurance is compulsory and is automatically covered by the only Swedish health insurance company. There is no general practitioner system in Sweden as there is in the UK.

If you are ill, you first call a health centre, the Vårdcentral, on 1177. This system is used to make a diagnosis over the phone and is intended to make the process more efficient for everyone. Every personal visit to the doctor is associated with a flat-rate fee, which is usually between SEK 100 and 300 for a normal appointment and between SEK 200 and 400 for a specialist appointment. However, there is an annual maximum amount of SEK 1200 that can be paid for outpatient care. For prescription drugs, which are usually subject to co-payment, there is a maximum annual amount of SEK 2400.

In Sweden, the legal rule is that you should receive a medical diagnosis within 3 days and treatment by a specialist within 90 days. Visits to the dentist are free of charge up to the age of 23, but are not covered by the state healthcare system and must be paid for in full thereafter, although there is the option of supplementary insurance.

In addition to general social insurance, which is also subject to compulsory social insurance, Hemförsäkring is another insurance that many people take out as standard. It can be compared with household contents insurance. It often also includes travel insurance and legal expenses insurance. Unemployment insurance must be taken out separately. However, you can voluntarily join the A-Kassa if you want to receive more benefits than the basic insurance in the event of unemployment.

Important: Check for yourself which insurance cover is right for you, your life situation and seek advice if you have any questions.

Principle of publicity and personal number


  • Publicity principle means that all data is publicly accessible
  • Wage transparency is included
  • The personal number is important for everyday life and should be applied for as early as possible

In Sweden, the so-called offentlighetsprincip, the principle of publicity, applies, which means that authorities and offices have access to all documents and that these can be accessed publicly by anyone, either directly online or on request. The enquirer is not required to explain why he or she wishes to view the data and remains anonymous. There are various online portals, such as hitta.se, eniro.se and ratsit.se. Among other things, age, address, telephone number and other details are public.

Wage transparency applies as well, which means that even income and debts can be viewed. However, medical records are excluded from this regulation. So if you move to Sweden, you should be aware that even a quick Google search will reveal some data about you.

However, this is only the case once you have officially registered and received your personal number. This is of central importance for everyday life and is used in almost all administrative, legal, financial and social areas. It consists of a total of 10 digits, the date of birth and four other digits. As often as it is used, it is definitely worth memorising it!

Note: It can take some time to get your personal number after registering with the Skatteverket, so you should apply for it early!

What do you need the personal number for in Sweden?

  • Access to the Swedish healthcare system
  • Opening a bank account
  • Registration with the tax authorities
  • Employer
  • Enrolement at schools and universities
  • State benefits and social assistance
  • Registration of vehicles
  • For rental and purchase contracts as well as for electricity, internet and mobile phone contracts
  • For memberships in state/municipal facilities (e.g. libraries)
  • For gym memberships, when booking some activities
  • For collection or promotional cards when shopping

Working in Sweden

Facts about work, job search and education system

  • Flat hierarchies
  • Minimum of 25 days holiday
  • Paid holiday days must be“earned” in the first year
  • As a pensioner: notify German pension insurance 2 months in advance
  • Arbetsförmedlingen, Korta Vägen of the Folksuniversitetet and EURAXESS, the ZAV and other institutions can help with the job search
  • Applications in Sweden are initially submitted without certificates
  • School system offers equal opportunities and integration programmes

Flat hierarchies, a good work-life balance and the “you” culture characterise Swedish working life and make it attractive for many Brits. There is a minimum of 25 days’ holiday and employees have the right to take 4 weeks’ holiday in a row between June and August. However, it should be noted that the paid holiday days have to be “earned” and although the right to holiday exists in the first year, it is then unpaid. However, many employers also give an advance of paid days, which must be clarified depending on the employment contract and position.

Pensioners wishing to go to Sweden must register there and provide proof of their own financial resources, such as pension payments, savings or similar. To ensure that payments are not interrupted, it is best to notify them two months before the move. You can get personalised advice from your insurance company. Depending on your health situation, you should also familiarise yourself in detail with the Swedish insurance system and any supplementary insurance you might need.

Job search in Sweden

Job search Sweden

If you do not have your own business or already have a job prospect in Sweden, this means that sooner or later you will have to start looking for a job. The employment agency (Arbetsförmedlingen) is a good point of contact here. There are also specific programmes, such as Korta Vägen (“the short way”) from the Folkuniversitetet, which helps academic jobseekers to prepare for and learn the language of their chosen industry. As a researcher, you can contact EURAXESS.

There are many job offers in English, but they are very popular, so it is an advantage to have a basic knowledge of Swedish, depending on the industry. In some professions, such as the medical field, a C1 level is required.

There are good opportunities in IT and software development as well as in the education and healthcare sectors. There is a high demand for staff in these areas. The Swedish employment agency also offers detailed industry information on its website with everything you need to know about salaries, professions, vacancies and more.

In addition to the Arbetsförmedling job portal, platforms such as Linkedin, Indeed and Glassdoor are also used here. It is also worth looking specifically at interesting companies in the desired sector or at German companies in Sweden, or even starting with an internship to gain experience in the Swedish labour market.

Application: In Sweden you usually apply with a short covering letter (in Swedish or English) and your CV. Certificates are only requested afterwards or shown at the interview. It is generally appreciated if the contact details of references, such as previous employers, are provided.

Education system: School and university

The Swedish school system consists of the Grundskola, a nine-year compulsory community school and a voluntary three-year Gymansieskola (secondary school). There, students can choose from a range of programmes leading to university or integrated vocational training. Detailed information about the Swedish education system can be found on the website of the Skolverket, the central education authority. The Skolverket sets the central framework, but the individual schools are administered by the municipalities.

The values of Swedish educational institutions are equal opportunities and the promotion of independence. Half-yearly development plans and discussions with children and parents support individual learning processes by identifying strengths, weaknesses and goals. Teaching materials are provided by the school and there is free lunch for everyone so that all children have the same opportunities.

Integration services: Integration programmes are offered for foreign pupils, such as Swedish as a second language, lessons in the mother tongue, with at least 5 children and available teachers, or the Språkintroduction, for pupils who need language support for the transition to grammar school.

Lund University
University building in Lund

If you want to study in Sweden, you can choose between universities and university colleges. An academic year consists of an autumn semester (mid/end of August – mid-January) and a spring semester (mid-January – beginning of June). You can find an overview of Swedish universities here.

Living in Sweden

Swedish apartment

Rental and purchase facts:

  • Distinction between Förstahandskontrakt and Andrahandskontrakt
  • Possibly long waiting times for co-operatives
  • Properties in the north tend to be cheaper
  • Houses in rural regions available from around GBP 34,000
  • Moving abroad can cost up to several thousand pounds, be sure to factor this in beforehand!

The housing market in Sweden is organised somewhat differently than in Germany. Prospective tenants should be prepared for the fact that finding accommodation can be somewhat challenging.

Most rental flats are built by co-operatives or private investors. Private rental flats are rare. You can register with the co-operatives, but you can expect long waiting times . An estate agent can help you find a flat. There are two types of rent: the Förstahandskontrakt and the Andrahandskontrakt.

Average rental prices Sweden
RegionAverage rents for flats (GBP)
Stockholm980 – 1,634 per month
Gothenburg735 – 1,226 per month
Malmö654 – 1,062 per month
Rural Areas368 – 654 per month


This is concluded directly with the co-operative or landlord and usually offers an indefinite rental period. To get such a contract, however, you have to register early and be patient, especially in the big cities. Sweden has strong tenant protection rights that apply here and ensure that a first-hand tenancy is usually cheaper and that you have the right to submit applications etc. to the landlord. With a Förstahandkontrakt you get the Bostadsrätt, the right of residence.


  • Regulated rent
  • long-term stability due to lack of time limits
  • direct contact with landlord


  • Long waiting times
  • Often registration years in advance

Andrahand contract

With an andrahands contract, you conclude a contract with the first tenant if they are unable or unwilling to use the accommodation and their bostadsrätt. However, these tenancy agreements are often limited to between 1 and 4 years, as there are regulations on how long they may run.


  • Faster availability
  • More flexibility


  • Time limits and higher rents
  • Fewer rights

Buying a property

Your own house in Sweden? Many people dream of it!“Fastighet” is the name of freehold property there. However, there are a few things to consider and bear in mind when buying a house or flat. The property market is highly dependent on the region and whether it should be urban or rural. Property tends to be cheaper in the north of Sweden than in the south. It is therefore worth comparing regional prices and keeping abreast of current market trends.

If you do not yet have a permanent residence in Sweden, it can be more difficult to obtain a mortgage, as this often involves a longer credit history in the country. It is best to seek advice from a bank at an early stage and, if necessary, get legal support to check contracts. Please note that you may have to pay other costs in addition to the purchase price!

Before buying, you should thoroughly check the condition of the property and any defects, if necessary with an expert. Also consider the location and structural connection of the property and think about whether it suits your lifestyle.

RegionAverage purchase price house (GBP)Average purchase price flat (GBP)
Stockholm326,800 – 817,000163,400 – 571,900
Gothenburg245,100 – 653,600122,550 – 490,200
Malmö245,100 – 653,60098,040 – 408,500
Rural Areasfrom 81,700
40,850 – 163,400

Purchase prices vary depending on size, location, features, condition and current market situation. Houses in rural areas can sometimes be purchased for as little as GBP 34,000.

How much does it cost to move to Sweden?

Are you planning to take all your belongings with you and maybe even have family members coming with you? That’s quite a lot to transport to Sweden. Here too, early planning is best!

Depending on the number of rooms, the removal price varies between GBP 680 (1 room) and GBP 2,700 (5 rooms). A container for moving to Sweden costs between GBP 1,200 (20-foot) and GBP 1,950 (40-foot). In addition, there is insurance if you don’t want to risk any damage. You can save money if you don’t plan your move at weekends or on public holidays. It is worth comparing different companies and having your individual expenses calculated, as it is difficult to give generalised figures.

If you want to take matters into your own hands, you can also hire a lorry and use the ferry. However, this may involve a driver, additional removal helpers, petrol costs, ferry costs and completely independent planning.

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