Sweden by nantonov

Sweden Driving Guide

Sweden is a unique beautiful country. Explore all of it by driving when you get your International Driving Permit.

2023-12-31 · 9min read

Looking forward to discovering the captivating landscapes of Sweden on your own terms? Driving through Sweden's cities and countryside reveals the true charm of this diverse nation, enabling you to venture beyond the standard traveler's path to discovering authentic Swedish culture.

Imagine journeying through vast forests, historic Swedish towns, and along the picturesque Baltic Sea coast, equipped with the freedom to uncover hidden treasures at your leisure.

If you're a first-time visitor, don't let the unfamiliarity of driving in a foreign land deter you. This guide will cover everything you need to know about navigating the roads in Sweden.

Overview of Sweden

Sweden is known as a stunning and prosperous country, not just in Europe but worldwide. If you love European royalty traditions, Sweden is perfect for you with its magnificent palaces.

But there's more to explore – from vibrant cities to diverse countryside, Sweden offers a plethora of things to do. Whether you're drawn to nature, culture, design, food, history, traditions, or lifestyle, this country promises unique and memorable experiences for every traveler.

Let's Take a Closer Look at Sweden

Geographic Location

The Kingdom of Sweden or Sweden is a country in Northern Europe, bordering Finland Norway, and Denmark. The country’s capital and largest city is Stockholm. Sweden has a vast coastline. With borders along the Gulf of Bothnia, the Baltic Sea, and many smaller seas, Sweden has direct access to water regions from many points.

Total Land Area

Sweden is the fourth-largest country in Europe and the largest in Scandinavia, spanning 173,859 square miles - slightly larger than California. Over 50% of the area is forest, and the country also hosts over 100,000 lakes and 24,000 islands, including Gotland and Öland in the Baltic Sea. Stockholm, the capital, is based on the southeast Baltic Sea coast.

Languages Spoken

Swedish is the official language of Sweden, spoken as a first language by most citizens. Five other languages, including Finnish, Yiddish, Sami, MeÀnkieli, and Romani, also have a significant presence in the country.

English is widely spoken, with almost 90% of the population speaking it as a second language. Other foreign languages, such as German, French, Spanish, and Italian, are frequently spoken as well.

Historical Background

Inhabitable post-Ice Age, early Swedes in 8,000 BC were hunter-gatherers, transitioning to farming around 4,000 BC. Iron was introduced around 500 BC, ushering in significant societal changes.

The Viking Age started in AD 800, marked by eastward expansion and trade. By AD 1000, Sweden unified into one country and adopted Christianity. Despite territorial losses, including Finland to Russia, Sweden evolved from the land of Vikings to a nation of peaceful, courteous citizens.

Government

Sweden practices a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government. Elections are held every four years with twenty-nine electoral districts. A party is granted a seat in the Parliament if it receives 4% of the national vote.

Tourism

According to current projections, Sweden’s population is expected to continue growing. As of 2023, according to United Nations data, Sweden’s population is estimated at 10,635,302. It is equivalent to 0.13% of the total world population. With an estimate of over 7 million visitors in Sweden recorded in 2018, it is not an option to pass on Sweden when traveling in Europe.

International Driving Permit FAQs in Sweden

An International Driver's Permit (IDP) is necessary for tourists driving in Sweden. It translates your local driver's license into 12 UN-recognized languages. It is important to obtain an IDP as it is a requirement for driving in Sweden.

To learn more about the International Driver's Permit in Sweden, continue reading.

What Are the Driving Licenses Valid in Sweden?

Foreign licenses are accepted in Sweden. EU drivers can use their local licenses without issue, whereas non-EU drivers face certain restrictions for their local licenses such as:

  • The license must be printed in the Roman alphabet or accompanied by an International Driver’s Permit.
  • It should be held for at least 1-2 years, as per the car rental company's policy.
  • Local licenses are valid for one year in Sweden.

For stays exceeding a year, acquiring a Swedish driving license is necessary, or you risk a fine of around 3000 SEK (~$300) and a two-year ban on obtaining a Swedish license.

Who Can Apply For an IDP?

Everyone can apply for an International Driver’s Permit in Sweden, provided that they have the necessary documents needed for the application.

A valid copy of your driver’s license and a passport-size image of yourself are the only documents needed for you to secure an IDP International Driver’s Permit in Sweden.

When Can I Apply for an IDP?

You can apply for an IDP anytime. You can do it online. Just visit our website then follow the steps indicated to apply for an IDP. After submitting the online application, it will be reviewed and approved within 2 hours.

Do I Need an IDP to Drive in Sweden?

When driving in Sweden, you need an IDP if your local driver’s license is printed in the non-Roman alphabet (Arabic, Japanese, Cyrillic, etc.). You must carry your local driver’s license, your IDP, and your passport when driving in Sweden so you can present these documents if Swedish authorities look for them at checkpoints.

There are also rental companies that require you to have an IDP, even if your license is printed in Roman Alphabet, so it’s better to secure one before driving in Sweden.

When Will I Use My IDP?

It is essential to bring your International Driver’s Permit to Sweden at all times. Checkpoints when driving in Sweden can unexpectedly happen, and authorities may look for your legal documents. You can receive a ticket at around 1500-4000 SEK if caught without the said documents.

How Long Is an IDP Valid?

You can choose the length of the validity of your International Driver’s Permit in Sweden (1 to 3 years). The price does depend on how long you want it to be valid.

The longer the validity, the higher it costs. Prices start at $49 for a one-year validity of an IDP.

Where Do I Get an International Driver’s License in Sweden?

Obtaining your International Driver’s Permit is very easy, and you can secure it anywhere as long as you have a mobile phone, laptop, or tablet that can access the internet. Once you access our website, you can see the steps and needed documents for applying for an IDP.

After your application, if approved, you can get the digital copy of your IDP via email in 2 hours. Since they offer international shipping, the physical copy of your IDP will be shipped to you in no time.

What Do I Do When I Lose My IDP?

Driving in Sweden without an IDP can get you in road trouble. That is why you must request a replacement immediately once you lose your International Driver’s Permit in Sweden.

The International Driver’s Association offers a free replacement for lost IDPs issued by them. All you have to pay is the shipping cost of the IDP to your address. The earlier you request an IDP, the earlier it will be processed and shipped to you.

Can I Use My Digital Copy if I Lose the Physical Copy of My IDP?

Unfortunately, Swedish authorities do not recognize digital copies of the International Driver’s Permit (IDP). If you lose your physical IDP, it's crucial to apply for a replacement immediately to stay compliant with Swedish regulations.

We can process a replacement within 24 hours of request and promptly ship the physical copy.

When I Visit Another Foreign Country After Sweden, Is My IDP Still Valid?

If you secured your IDP through the International Driver’s Association website, then your IDP is valid even outside of Sweden. An IDP issued by the International Driver’s Association is valid in over 150 countries such as Canada or Spain.

So, after you explore Sweden, you can still use it in other countries as long as it has not expired yet. You have to also ensure that your local driver’s license has not expired.

Driving in Sweden with a US license is fine as long as you do not exceed the period you’re allowed to use it. When you decide to stay longer than a year, you need to obtain a driving license in Sweden because your US license will no longer be valid.

A driving license in Sweden can cost you about $444.40 to $1666.50.

Renting a Car in Sweden

Discovering the beauty of Sweden at your own pace is incredibly satisfying. When it comes to exploring different places during your journey, renting a car in Sweden offers unmatched comfort.

No need to stress if you don't have a car—numerous car rental companies are readily available to provide you with the perfect vehicle for your exploration.

Where to Rent a Car

Car rental fees vary significantly based on several factors and can differ between companies and countries. Some of the key aspects influencing the rental fee include:

  • Type of car
  • Time of year
  • Additional insurance and protection products
  • Extra amenities (Wi-Fi access, GPS, child seats, ski racks)
  • Pickup and drop-off locations
  • Additional drivers

Additionally, when budgeting for your trip, remember to consider other costs such as tolls, fuel, and parking fees.

Documents Needed to Rent a Car

If you are from a European Economic Area (EEA) country, your local driver’s license would be enough for you to rent a car in Sweden. Keep in mind that your local driver’s license must have a photo of you. If not, you have to bring a separate photo ID (passport size).

Why do you need an IDP? Some car rental agencies would ask for an International Driver’s Permit in Sweden, so it is better to secure one to smoothen the process of renting a car.

Vehicle Types to Rent

Car rental companies in Sweden offer a diverse range of vehicles to suit individual preferences, from compact to standard-sized cars and manual to automatic transmissions.

It's worth noting that the Volvo V60, a five-door wagon, is a popular choice among Swedes.

Age Requirements

The minimum age required for renting a car in Sweden is 20 years old (age may vary by car category), and you must have had a local driver’s license for two years. Each car rental company has its age requirements.

Ages 18-25 will likely have to pay a young driver's fee. If you're aged 65 and above, you are subject to pay a senior driver fee.

Car Insurance

Renting a car in Sweden requires fire and third-party liability insurance, both included in the overall rental fee. Fire insurance covers property damage, while third-party liability caters to damages or injuries caused by the driver.

Optional insurances like Collision Damage Waiver (CDW), Theft Protection, and Personal Accident Insurance (PAI) are also available. These ensure coverage for various road accidents, which is vital for peace of mind while driving in Sweden.

Getting a Budget-Friendly Deal

Budget setting is the first step before travel. Determine your car rental budget and compare offers from different companies to find the most affordable option.

Consider all potential expenses for an accurate budget. Renting a car online, rather than at airport locations, is advisable as it can save time and often offers lower prices.

The Road Rules in Sweden

Navigating the roads in Sweden requires careful observation and adherence to traffic rules. These rules serve a crucial purpose, guiding you safely on your journey.

Additionally, understanding the various road regulations in Sweden is essential, as it can help you prevent accidents and steer clear of any issues with Swedish authorities.

Here are some valuable tips for navigating the road rules in Sweden:

Bring Compulsory Equipment When Driving

When driving in Sweden, there is compulsory equipment that your car must have. Swedish authorities might check for a first-aid kit, a reflective triangle, a tow rope, a fire extinguisher, and a reflective jacket. In case of vehicle breakdown, you can get out of the car only if you put on your reflective jacket.

Bring the Required Documents

In addition to the essential items your car should have, it's important to be aware of the documents that Swedish authorities may inspect at checkpoints. Below is a list of the required documents you should always carry when driving in Sweden.

  • International Driver’s Permit
  • Local Driver’s License
  • Passport
  • Vehicle Insurance Certificate
  • Proof of Vehicle Registration

Don’t Drive Under the Influence

Sweden has stringent drunk-driving rules. Do not even attempt to drive after you have drunk even one glass of beer. A single can of beer can send you over the blood alcohol limit of 0.02, which is known to be one of Europe’s lowest.

Police can require a breathalyzer test without reason, and if you are over the blood alcohol content limit, you will get a high fine or a jail sentence.

Refrain From Using Your Phone While Driving

Despite Sweden allowing handheld phone use while driving, it can be hazardous due to potential distractions. Using a phone can divert your attention, potentially leading to accidents.

If you need to use your phone, the safest option is to pull over to the side of the road carefully. This ensures your attention remains primarily on the road, making the journey safer.

Avoid Running a Red Light

Do not run a red light! Running a red light is one of the many causes of severe accidents happening on the road. If you run a red light by car in Sweden, you risk being fined 3,000 SEK ($380), or 1,500 SEK ($174) if you're on a bicycle or moped and having your driving license suspended for up to six months.

Do Not Violate the Speed Limit

Another main reason for accidents happening on roads is overspeeding. Violating the suggested speed limit is hazardous as it can probably lead to a severe road accident. You should always pay close attention to the signposts when driving in Sweden. Speed limits can change depending on the road you are traveling. That is why it is essential to take notice of it.

Do Not Overtake on the Right Side

Overtaking on your right side when driving in Sweden is strictly prohibited. Swedish drivers overtake on their left side. So, if you overtake on the right, the other drivers won’t expect it, which may lead to the collision of vehicles.

Do not forget to use signal lights when overtaking.

Do Not Leave if There Is an Accident

If involved or witnessing a road accident, stay at the scene and wait for emergency responders. Leaving prematurely could lead to penalties. Call the Swedish emergency number 112, report the accident, and provide the necessary information. Services available include:

  • Police
  • Fire department
  • Ambulance
  • Various rescue services
  • Poison information
  • Social emergency services
  • On-call priests

General Standards of Driving

Preparing for a drive in Sweden involves both mental and physical readiness. Before hitting the road, thoroughly inspect your vehicle, checking everything from brakes to engine.

Below are some other standards you must keep in mind when driving in Sweden:

Be Aware of the Speed Limit

Speed limits are imposed to maintain order on roads and prevent possible accidents. It is crucial to obey mandated speed limits when driving in Sweden because they are very strict about it. Listed below are the speed limits in Sweden:

  • Built-up areas: 30km/h – but 20km/h limits are also common.
  • Two-lane roads in the countryside: 50-90km/h
  • Dual carriageways: 100km/h
  • Motorways: 110km/h – rising to 120km/h on some major roads

Know the Traffic Road Signs

Road signs in Sweden guide drivers and are generally similar to those in other countries. They fall into multiple categories:

  • Warning Signs indicate potential hazards ahead (e.g., uneven roads, junctions, roundabouts, slippery roads, traffic signals, pedestrian crossings). Drivers should exercise caution and possibly reduce speed upon spotting these.
  • Priority Signs determine right-of-way rules. They denote who has priority and who should yield, including signs for priority roads, stop, give way, priority over oncoming vehicles, and end of priority road.
  • Prohibitory Signs enforce restrictions on specific road actions, such as no vehicles, no entry, no motorcycles, no turn, no overtaking, and no parking.
  • Mandatory Signs dictate obligatory actions, including tracking for cycles and mopeds, footpaths, pass-by directions, directions to be followed, and pass either side.
  • Information Signs provide details about a road's accessibility and safety (e.g., lane merge, line ends, parking, expressway, motorway, one-way traffic, no through road, toll road, low-speed road).

The minimum age for driving a car and obtaining a driving license in Sweden is 18 years old. If you’re able to drive at 16 or 17 years old in your home country, then it’s bad news: you’ll still have to wait until you’re 18 to comply with Sweden’s legal driving age.

Drivers must be at least 20 years old to rent a car and have had a driver's license for two years.

Know the Overtaking Rules

Overtaking on the right side of the road is prohibited; it's only permitted on the left. Swedish drivers are attentive to the actions of those behind them. Remember to use your turn signals when preparing to overtake, signaling to fellow drivers about your intended maneuver.

Be Aware When Driving on the Side of the Road

Swedish drivers used to drive on the left side of the road, not until 1967. On September 3, 1967, the Swedish government implemented the Right-Hand Traffic Diversion that mandates drivers to drive on the right side of the road when driving in Sweden.

Driving Etiquette in Sweden

Car problems are not an exception to problems that might occur at any given time. It can’t be avoided from minor to major issues, especially when driving in Sweden in winter. The best thing you can do is be prepared for it to happen.

Here are some tips when driving in Sweden and what to do when your car breaks down.

Breaking Down on a Motorway

  • First, switch on your hazard lights.
  • If the situation permits, move the car to the sidelines.
  • If it is safe for you to get out of the car, then do it.
  • Call for emergency rescue by calling the company where you rented your car.
  • Wait on the right side of the road, away from traffic.

Breaking Down on Quieter Roads

  • Switch on your hazard lights.
  • Pull over to the side of the road to avoid traffic with other vehicles.
  • Set up the reflective triangle 45 meters behind your car and put on a reflective vest or jacket.
  • Call for help. You can call the number given to you by your rental company or the number 112 for emergency requests.

What if a Police Officer Stops You?

Police officers can pull you off the road anytime. As soon as you notice police emergency lights, immediately pull over to the right side of the road in a slow manner. The next things you should do are listed below:

  • If the police officer knocks on your car’s window, slowly lower it.
  • Be polite in talking to the officer. What you will say to the officer can be used against you.
  • Keep your hands where the police can see them, preferably on the steering wheel.
  • If asked, show the police officer your local driver’s license, IDP, and other documents.
  • If the officer asks you to come with them, ask first why they are bringing you in.
  • After talking with the officer, if there are no problems, politely give thanks to the officer.

Asking for Driving Directions

Swedish people are very polite and conservative. They do not like arguing, especially with guests or foreigners, and avoid discussions concerning private details like wealth and family. They also do not like to be close to strangers or even have eye contact with them, certainly not on their way to work.

Though they are very polite, their attitude also depends on how you treat them. You won’t have any problem talking to them as most Swedish are fluent in English.

Checkpoints

When you encounter a checkpoint while driving in Sweden, keep calm and not panic. Lower your speed while approaching the checkpoint area. Talk to the authorities politely.

If you are asked to show your legal documents to drive in Sweden, do not hesitate to show them. When the inspection is done, thank the officer and continue exploring the beauty of Sweden.

Safety When Driving at Night

Sweden is abundant with forests, which make for some fantastic road trips. It's best to exercise caution when driving in Sweden at night because the animals are more active and harder to spot. Unfortunately, if you hit an animal, you must report it to the police, just like a regular accident.

Driving Road Conditions in Sweden

Swedish are very careful about the driving rules in Sweden, and they strictly follow the speed limit rules, driving very slow despite having a free open lane in front and then causing a queue. They strictly follow road rules and regulations.

Road Accident Statistics

Sweden has noticed an upward trend in road deaths in recent years. In 2018, a significant 21.8% increase in fatalities was recorded compared to 2010. Moreover, road deaths rose by 28.6% from 2017 to 2018, with many incidents occurring on roads with speed limits between 70 km/h and 90 km/h.

This increase happened despite a 6.7% decline in road deaths from 2016 to 2017.

Common Vehicles in Sweden

A total of 355,704 new cars were registered in 2019, making it the third top year for new cars in the organization's history. Among the top 2 most registered cars in Sweden are Volvo Cars with Volvo /V60 and Volvo S/V90 having 23,179 and 14,714 registered cars.

Volkswagen, Kia, and Nissan are also some of the best cars that Swedish drivers use.

Speed Measurement

There are two units of measuring speed: miles per hour (m/h) and kilometers per hour (km/h). In Sweden, they use km/h to measure a car’s speed. Currently, only 9% of the world uses miles per hour as a unit of measure, among them being the United States of America.

Streets in Sweden

Sweden boasts excellent road networks, with multi-lane roads, ample signage, and well-lit conditions. SveavÀgen, a principal street in Stockholm, is typically the busiest.

Despite this, Swedish roads are generally comfortable and uncrowded. The Swedes, encapsulating simplicity despite a high standard of living, rarely own more than one car per family, resulting in infrequent traffic jams.

Driving Culture

Swedish drivers are known for their adherence to speed limits and responsible driving habits, resulting in lower crash statistics compared to other parts of Europe.

Aggressive driving is uncommon among Swedes. As a visitor, you're expected to follow traffic signals and road signs diligently, thus ensuring safer roads for both locals and foreigners.

Roads of Sweden

Sweden's well-maintained roads and disciplined local drivers contribute to a pleasant driving experience. Highways are designed with smooth, slow curves for slippery conditions, and numerous warning signs and speed limits promote safety.

Winter driving requires winter tires, and tolls are present on four bridges. With this said, driving in Sweden is generally not challenging.

The Top Destinations in Sweden

Sweden is a wonderful country with enormous tourist attractions. It is a perfect place to visit if you are on a holiday vacation. From wooden buildings, traditional huts, stone fortresses, cathedrals, and innovative contemporary architecture to hiking trails and art museums, Sweden is a country that can’t be ignored.

We suggest driving in Sweden to make the most of your experience. See our International Driving License pricing for more information.

Stockholm Archipelago

Situated in the capital city of Sweden, Stockholm is a captivating archipelago comprising over 30,000 islands. Some of these islands are inhabited, while others are nothing more than rocks in the water.

Renowned for its sailing culture, breathtaking scenery, and reputation as a retreat for writers and artists, Stockholm is truly a remarkable destination.

Icehotel

Icehotel, located in JukkasjÀrvi, Sweden, is a hotel built entirely of snow and ice found in the region each winter. The hotel offers each visitor a chance to experience the cold arctic climate, the Northern Lights, and the Midnight Sun.

Gamla Stan

Also known as the Old Town, it is a must-see tourist attraction in Stockholm. It is one of the largest and best-preserved medieval city centers in Europe. You can spot several beautiful churches and museums in Gam Stan, including the Stockholm Cathedral and the Nobel Prize Museum.

Kalmar Castle

This legendary Swedish landmark was originally built as protection against pirates and other enemies coming in from the sea. The castle’s dungeon, secret passages, paper pots, turrets, moats, and drawbridge will amaze tourists who are fond of architecture.

Drottningholm Palace

Another palace attraction that can be found in Sweden is the Drottningholm Palace. The said palace made it on the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage and is also the most well-preserved royal castle in the country that was built in the 1600s.

A testament to the architecture of the period, it embodies European design. Notably, this palace serves as the residence of the Swedish Royal Family.

Abisko National Park

This is one of the best places to witness the Aurora Borealis or the Northern Lights. The Abisko National Park is roughly 77 square kilometers in size and is famous for its natural beauty and Nordic Wildlife. This is not only one of the best parks in Sweden but also all around Europe.

Liseberg Theme Park

Located in Gothenburg, Sweden, this park is one of the most popular destinations in Sweden. It lures over three million visitors each year. It has a massive range of attractions, from children's carousels and a fairy-tale castle to adrenaline-pumping rides for speed demons, bumper cars, and four roller coasters.

Lund Cathedral

The Lund Cathedral stands as Sweden's most frequented cathedral and ranks among the top attractions in the southern province of Skane. Embodying authentic Gothic architecture, it serves as an outstanding illustration of Romanesque design, adorned with numerous historical features.

Maximize Your Sweden Journey with an IDP

Are you eager to confidently explore the picturesque roads of Sweden? Arm yourself with an International Driver's Permit, your passport, and other required documents for a seamless, stress-free driving journey in Sweden.

Don't hesitate to start your application today! Grab your International Driving Permit here.

Get your International Driving Permit in 8 minutes

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