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Working in Sweden – What do you need to know?

Sweden has amazing benefits for workers, citizens and foreigners alike. Working in Sweden gives you a generous amount of holiday and a large amount of parental leave. Swedish schools and universities are free for EU citizens and to top it off the Swedes place a huge focus on a relaxed and comfortable lifestyle making it a great place to move to.

If you are planning to work in Sweden it is useful to think about a number of things. Here are the most important things you need to know.

Work permit Sweden

If you are planning on working in Sweden, the first thing to do is to find out if you need a work permit. There are different types of work permits depending on where you come from, how long you are planning to stay, and what type of work you plan to do.

If you are a citizen of an EU/EEA country, you don’t need a permit to live, work, or run a business in Sweden. There may also be other reasons why you don’t need a work permit

You do not need to apply for a work permit if you

  • have a permanent residence permit
  • have a residence permit to attend a college or university
  • have a special residence permit to work as a visiting researcher
  • are an asylum seeker and have an AT-UND (exemption from the obligation to hold a work permit)
  • are a citizen of an EU/EEA  country.

Non-EU/EEA citizens generally need to apply for a residence permit in Sweden before entering the country. Both temporary and permanent residence permits exist. Individuals will need to submit their application and go for an interview at their local Swedish embassy. The process can take up to eight months.

Temporary residence permits do not give an individual the right to work in Sweden, they will have to apply for a work permit separately. Permanent residence permits do, however, give holders the right to live and work in Sweden for an indefinite period.

Taxes in Sweden

If you are working in Sweden you normally have to pay tax on your earnings. If you are only working in Sweden for a short amount of time it depends on whether your employer is Swedish or foreign. If you come and work in Sweden for more than a year, you are usually required to register with the Swedish Population Registry (folkbokföringsregistret). You will then receive a personal identity number (personnummer) that you will use in your contacts with other authorities, the healthcare system, and banks, for example. If you stay for less than one year, you get a coordination number when you register with the tax agency.

Contractors may benefit from two different tax rulings. Tax relief for foreign key personnel and SINK (special income tax for foreign nationals). Tax relief for foreign key personnel is available for employees with a monthly salary of more than two times the price base amount for the calendar year in which the work commences. For employees working in Sweden for less than six months, the employee can be taxed as per the rules of SINK. This includes 25% tax on income and benefits, no deductions, and the employee doesn’t have to declare his or her income in Sweden.

Health insurance in Sweden

The Swedish government invests almost a tenth of its GDP into healthcare every year, providing excellent medical care for all citizens, including expats who have a residence visa. This means that everyone who is a resident in Sweden, no matter their nationality, is entitled to the same medical care that Swedish nationals receive.

Fees for adults are minimal, among the most affordable in Europe, and the medical care is entirely free for those under 20 years of age. The only downside to the Swedish healthcare system is that there are occasionally long waiting times for patient appointments. However,  urgent cases are prioritised and patients are guaranteed an appointment within three days.

Living in Sweden

Most foreigners are at first alarmed by the high taxes and cost of living in Sweden. However, expats agree the excellent quality of life is worth these costs. A healthy lifestyle is ingrained in Swedish culture and expats regularly comment on how they benefit from the Swedish diet with its regular servings of fresh fish and vegetables. Expats enjoy the wealth of outdoor activities in Sweden that suit all levels of fitness from alpine skiing to berry picking. Most expats mirror the Swedes and live in the south of the country due to the connectivity to Scandinavia and the rest of Europe for both business and leisure.

Culture and language in Sweden

Swedish is the official language of Sweden and is spoken by the vast majority of the 10 million inhabitants of the country. Five minority languages are Finnish, Meänkieli, Sami, Romani and Yiddish, but English is by far the leading foreign language. Sweden has one of the world’s highest life expectancies. There is an extensive social welfare system, and these services are paid for by taxation, which is thought to be one of the highest in the world. Sweden’s economy is also highly developed and the country has a high standard of living. The major economic resources are from fisheries, wood, high-grade or mining, as well as a strong tourism industry.

How TCP Solutions can help

With all of the above differences in mind, understanding rules about work in Sweden can be quite a challenge. TCP Solutions has solutions for this. Are you a freelancer, agency operating in the Swedish market, or an employee or employer? Through, for example, payrolling, contract management and our legal service, we guarantee that you comply with all specific national and provincial laws and regulations. That is very important, because many people who work abroad are not aware of the fact that their labor issues are not well organised. It can be very difficult because there are many different rules that you have to meet and if you do not comply, you and your employer will receive a hefty fine.

TCP Solutions are fully accredited in 12 countries and guarantees that you comply with all rules. Whether you are self-employed or just want to get started at a company, TCP Solutions can help you, either in Sweden or any of the other 11 countries we operate. We are an international HR specialist. Do you want to know more? Feel free to contact us. Call us on +44 (0) 208 5800 800 or send a message via our contact page. You can also find more information on working in Sweden here.