Find A Job
Sweden is a popular place for expats to relocate due to its above-average salaries, sharp focus on gender equality and substantial parental leave. As a result, demand for available jobs is high and employers are in a great position to be particularly selective as to whom they appoint.
For European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) citizens, moving to Sweden is a simple process; you will be afforded the same rights to work as natives. For those living elsewhere, a Swedish residency permit will need to be obtained upon relocation.
Begin your job search online, as most vacancies are posted here. You may also find networking fruitful, particularly on sites such as LinkedIn. In Sweden, networking is a popular way to secure interviews and jobs – as many as 60% of all positions are filled in this way. Many jobs require the applicant to be fluent in Swedish, and those that do not may well favour individuals who have at least a working knowledge of the language.
Applying For A Job
Your CV should follow the traditional format: contact details, qualifications, work experience and job history, skills and hobbies. The full document should not exceed two pages of A4. A passport-sized photo is also a requirement for many jobs.
Your cover letter should be polite but informal to tie in with Swedish culture; natives rarely use Mr/Miss titles, even in the workplace. To begin a letter, you should start with “Hello” and the recipient’s first name, rather than anything more formal. The rest of your cover letter should follow the standard format.
The key to finding a job in such a fiercely competitive market is to make your application stand out. Apply in Swedish, for the best chance of success. If you do not already know the language, you may find that learning it will increase your chances of employment. The Swedish culture holds community at its heart and employers usually prefer applicants who at least show willing in the language department.
To apply for most jobs, you will need at least a university degree; relevant experience is not a requirement but would prove useful. For specialised jobs, such as teaching, you may have to adhere to specific requirements prior to submitting applications.
Each year, Sweden releases a list of job shortages, usually for skilled positions. Expats looking to move to Sweden should consult the list prior to relocation. At the time of writing, some of the professions included were:
• High school teacher
• Software developer
• University lecturer
If you are trained in any of these areas, it is likely that you would not even need to fulfil the language requirement to be accepted as the demand is so high.
Moreover, some of the world’s largest multinational companies are based in Sweden, including H&M, Ikea, Skype, Spotify and Volvo. For many expats, the attraction of multinationals is due to the likelihood of being able to work abroad without first being proficient in a second language.
Despite Sweden’s informal culture, job interviews should be approached with professional formality. You may not be expected to dress in business attire once working for a company, but it is mandatory to dress in such a way for the interview. Being too late or too early is considered rude in Sweden, so aim to arrive no more than five minutes before the start of the interview.
Sweden is one of few European countries with no set minimum wage. However, the average salary is actually higher than most other European countries. This is partly because the cost of living is high, though it is not the highest in the EU. Expats in Sweden can expect to spend around 30% of their wage on rent alone but should still be able to live comfortably, if not save a huge amount.
To register as self-employed in Sweden, you must first acquire a residence permit; specifically, the Swedish residence permit for self-employed persons. Unlike other permits, this one can take up to 12 months to be issued but is then valid for two years. In order to acquire this permit, you must already have an established business with at least one client.
You will need to register yourself as a private company or sole trader. If you have a business partner, you can enter into a trading partnership, which means that you and your partner are equally responsible for one another’s debts and agreements. In addition to registering your business, you will also need a personal number from the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket), which will register you with the Swedish tax authority.
It is easy to find work as a freelancer in Sweden both online and by networking. The most successful self-employed expats in Sweden are those who work in I.T., fashion, writing and proofreading, and app development.
Even if you choose to become self-employed, in Sweden it is mandatory to pay into the social security system. This entitles freelancers to many of the same benefits as regular employees, including:
• Sick pay
• Occupational injury insurance
• Parental insurance
• Unemployment insurance
Naturally, some benefits will be managed differently for freelancers than those working for a company. For example, should you need to claim sick pay, you would need to report your illness during the first week in order to receive the benefit. You would then be paid an amount based on your income.
Apply For A Visa/Permit
Citizens of the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland do not need a visa to visit, live and work in Sweden. Citizens of the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and a number of other countries – those that have a treaty with the Schengen area (of which Sweden is a member) – do not require a visa to visit for up to 90 days in a 180-day period. This applies whether you wish to visit the country for tourist or business purposes. However, if you wish to stay for longer, or are planning to take up employment or education, then you will need a temporary residence permit and a long-stay visa. A full list of eligible countries can be found on the Schengen Area website. Citizens of all other countries must have a valid visa before they may enter Sweden.
If you come from a country that does not have a treaty with Sweden or the Schengen Area, but you already hold a residence permit from another Schengen country, or from the USA, Canada, Japan, or any other country that guarantees you within the Schengen area, you do not need to apply for a visa for a visit of up to 90 days. This is also the case if you are the spouse or child (under 21) of a Schengen Area citizen.
If you do not have such a permit, you must apply for a visa before you can enter the country. There are several different types, depending on the nature of your intended visit. These can be found on embassy websites.
You must apply between three months and 15 working days before your trip. You will need to apply via the Swedish embassy, consulate or authorised Spanish Visa Application Centre in your home country. You must then complete the application form, which can be downloaded from embassy websites, which will include your personal information, the reason for your visit and other details relevant to your trip.
In all cases, your application must be supported with:
• A valid passport – this must run for at least three months longer than the duration of your intended stay, and must have at least two blank pages
• A recent passport-size photograph of yourself – this must be no more that three months old, and should adhere to passport standards
• Proof of your residence in your home country or the country you are currently living in long-term
• Proof of your travel arrangements and itinerary
• Proof of your employment or student status – if you are self-employed, proof should either be in the form of a recent, official letter from a registered accountant, banker or solicitor, confirming your self-employment, or an equivalent letter from the tax authority in your country
• Proof of sufficient financial means to support yourself while in Sweden
• Proof of sufficient medical insurance for the duration of your visit
Additional documentation may be required, depending on the type of visa you are seeking. For tourist visas, you will need proof of reserved accommodation. Full details of the additional materials required for different Schengen visas can be found on the Schengen visa website. At the time of writing, the fee for a short-stay visa is €80 (£67/$87).
In order to qualify for a Swedish work permit, you must already have been offered a job in Sweden. You may not apply for a work permit from Sweden. Your potential employer must have advertised the job widely, so that any qualified Swedish, EU, EEA or Swiss candidates have had the chance to apply. The terms and conditions of the job, including the salary, must be equal to those set by collective agreements in Sweden, or in line with what is customary for that occupation. The salary must be a minimum of SEK13,000 per month. In addition, your employer must be willing and able to provide you with health, life, employment and pension insurance.
The first stage of applying for a work permit must be done by your employer; you will be contacted by email once this has been done. You should then complete the application form, and supply copies of the relevant parts of your passport (personal information page, passport number, period of validity, bar code and the passport issuing country). You need to supply the same documentation for any family members who will be accompanying you. In some cases, the Swedish Migration Agency may ask you to supply additional information. You and your family will be granted residence permits when your work permit is issued, provided your employment is due to last more than three months.
There are special rules for certain occupations, including researchers, performers, seasonal workers, athletes and volunteers. Full details can be found on the website of the Swedish Migration Agency.
The fee for a work permit in most cases is SEK2000 ($204/£158). Processing times vary according to your industry and circumstances.
Get Health Insurance
Many expats take out private medical insurance, even if this is not a requirement of residence, because healthcare is expensive in their destination country or because certain treatments and procedures are not available.
When taking out health insurance, be sure to check factors such as the annual and lifetime policy limits, whether there are any exclusions which are likely to affect you, whether you are limited to treatment from specific types of healthcare providers, and whether the policy covers emergency evacuation for medical treatment.
Too frequently, potential buyers of health insurance look only for the lowest cost of premiums before really considering the specific benefits and areas of cover they may actually need. Some plans are cheaper for a reason. Often they include large voluntary deductibles on any claim you might make in the future and may severely cap the benefits received under the plan. Clients should define their needs first, establish the particular area of cover they need, then determine their annual healthcare insurance budget. Only then should they look to premium comparisons, last of all.
Do not buy a plan without studying the policy wording carefully. If in doubt, ask, and only when completely satisfied complete all application forms fully, to the best of your ability.
Important questions to ask the insurance provider:
1. Does the plan allow for cooling off periods, cancellation and then repayment of premium in full?
2. Does the plan offer “Moratorium” or is it “Full underwriting” and do you need to have a medical examination before joining?
3. Does the insurer offer a 24 hour help line, 7 days a week, available from anywhere in the world (freephone)? Most insurers now offer this facility.
4. Are pre-existing conditions excluded when joining and if so, for how long are such conditions excluded?
5. Are all and any nationalities accepted or are there restrictions which apply to local nationals? Some insurers will only take expatriates abroad and not local nationals into an overseas plan.
6. Does the plan allow you to continue cover unbroken through your lifetime? In most cases insurers will continue to offer existing clients cover year on year, irrespective of age or claims history, although premium rates charged can increase dramatically with age.
7. Does the insurer allow for any doctor or consultant or hospital within the plan? Are there any restrictions in this respect? Most international plans do not place restrictions on either hospitals or doctors, but almost all demand that their help lines are called first, prior to approval of any inpatient care.
8. Does the insurer provide for the direct settlement of bills presented by hospitals worldwide, regardless of location (or do you have to pay first)?
9. What are the insurers procedures for outpatient claims? Do these require any pre-authorization or if stated in the plan can you just pay and claim? How long before you get money back from the insurer? 14 days? 28 days?.
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Rent Or Buy Property
Interestingly, deposits are not allowed in Swedish contracts. Also, tenants in Sweden are allowed to prolong their contract, essentially forever. Notice periods tend to be three months. Tenants legally have the right to “fully serviceable” accommodation. This includes heating, hot and cold running water, a functioning toilet, a functioning shower (or a bathtub), working electricity, an oven, a refrigerator and access to a washing-machine.
Subletting is allowed, as long as the number of inhabitants does not constitute a health hazard (for example, you can’t have nine people living in a two-person apartment). Tenants are typically allowed to redecorate the interior of their rental. For example, they can repaint, put up tiles, lay wall-to-wall carpets, and change inner doors without the landlord’s consent.
Tenancy contracts almost always come in a standard format, which is pre-formulated by the landlords’ associations.
There are various property websites that you can use, such as:
Living in a major city is much more expensive than living in the suburbs, or even in the countryside. A one-bedroom apartment in a city centre location will cost you an average of 8,676.60 kr (Swedish Krona) per month. That is roughly equivalent to £706.16 (GBP) or $883.70 (USD). An apartment of the same size outside of the city averages 6,348.59 kr (£516.99 or $646.96).
A larger apartment with three bedrooms in a central location would cost you around 13,818.97 kr (£1,125.62 or $1,408.01) per month in rent, whereas its suburbane counterpart would cost you roughly 9,967.77 kr (£811.78 or $1,015.62).
As a foreigner, you are allowed to buy and own property in Sweden with little to no restrictions, depending on your nationality. EU and Nordic citizens have a right of residence in Sweden (providing that they work or study and are self-sufficient), and they can therefore effectively begin a property purchase right away. If you are a third-country citizen, you will need a visa and a residency permit to enter and stay in Sweden, and the buying process will likely take a lot longer, with additional hoops to jump through.
Property viewings are typically conducted on Sunday afternoons and are usually held for groups. In most cases, properties are sold by a bidding process. It is possible to request a private viewing before this bidding process takes place. Once the seller is satisfied with an offer, or the specified bidding period ends, a contract will be signed with the winning bidder. This contract is a legally binding document. It is sometimes possible to buy a property privately from the owner and eschew the bidding process.
Purchasing property in Sweden is nearly always done through an estate agent, but often it does not involve a lawyer. Background checks, deed verification, and property surveys will need to be conducted. After these, a purchase agreement/contract (Kapeavtal) is signed by the buyer and seller. You will then put down your deposit, which is typically between 2% and 10%. Upon the actual transfer of the property, the parties, or their representatives, meet and carry out apportionment of service charges, and the rest of the payment will be made.
At this stage, the vendor will issue a bill of sale (Kapebrev), stating that the transfer of the title of the property has been completed and that the purchase price has been paid. The transaction is finalised when you forward the bill of sale to the Land Registration Authority and the transaction is made public and is acknowledged by the state.
Additional costs to take into account, on top of your deposit and background check costs, include stamp duty (typically 4.25% of the property value) and the registration fee. Usually, the seller pays the estate agent fees.
This depends on a variety of factors. For example, if you are a permanent resident in Sweden and have stable employment, you will be able to apply for a loan quite easily. This will obviously be subject to credit checks, and you will require proof of income. You will also need a sufficient deposit for the property you wish to purchase. This is typically around 15% to 25% of the purchase price and often covers the interest on the loan. The period of repayment is flexible, but on average it is around 20 years. A 2% payable tax exists on mortgage deeds for Sweden-based mortgages.
Move Your Belongings
Consider if you want (or are able) to transport your belongings yourself or whether you will need the services of a removals company that deals with international moves. Unless you are travelling very light, or making a fairly short move by road, you will probably need professional help to ship your possessions. Ask for quotes from several companies first, ensuring that they visit your home to carry out a survey of your requirements. It may be worth paying extra for the removals firm to pack your possessions for you, particularly if they are going to be transported to a distant country and need special protection for the long journey. Make sure you bring to their attention anything fragile or precious that needs particularly careful wrapping and packing.
Before agreeing to a quotation, ensure that you are fully aware of exactly what is covered in the price, and that the service to be provided meets all of your requirements. For example, does the service include both packing and unpacking of your household effects? What about disassembling and reassembling of furniture? If you are planning to put anything into storage in your destination country while you find accommodation, does the price include final delivery and unpacking at your home, or will you need to arrange collection of the items? Obtain a firm estimate of the likely arrival date of your items and obtain contact details for any agents that will be dealing with the removal in your destination country. Ensure that the removals company is aware in advance of any practical considerations such as the lack of an elevator to your apartment, or likely parking problems.
If using a removals company, you may be required to take out their insurance cover for your possessions. Whether or not this is the case, ensure that you have adequate insurance for anything of actual or sentimental value that could get lost or damaged during the move. Take the time to accurately complete or check an inventory of your possessions to be moved, as this will form the basis for any insurance claim for losses or damages. Find out if insurance is included in the price quoted by the removals company, or whether you are required to pay extra for this.
The removals company should arrange any customs and importation documents on your behalf, but if you are arranging the move independently you will need to find out what documents are required and what import duties and taxes are payable (and whether you are eligible for exemption from these).
Make sure that you set aside the important documents you will need for the journey, such as passports and air tickets, and keep these easily accessible in your hand luggage.
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Register For Healthcare
QUICK LINK: Sweden health insurance
The healthcare system is funded out of taxes, and the Swedish have the highest GDP spend in Europe on healthcare, at just over 11%. Only a small amount of funding comes from patient fees.
Everyone is eligible for treatment under the Swedish system (Försäkringskassan), but you may find that you have to pay a small amount for some services; for example, you might need to pay about 200 kr (the equivalent of €18) to see your doctor.
You will not need to undergo any formal application process, whether through your workplace or if you are self-employed, as everyone is covered under Sweden’s healthcare system, whether native-born or expat.
Open A Bank Account
Opening a bank account is less about listening to advice about which bank is best and more about going in person and finding out information face to face. Each bank has their own procedure and opening an account for a foreigner can mean stringent ID and document checking or a less regimented procedure depending on who you meet. Armed with your personnummer (personal identity number), proof of address such as utility bill, passport and employment details, you may be able to open an account. You will need to fill in some paperwork once there provided by the bank, which is likely to be in Swedish. By EU law, an EU passport is valid ID in a bank so if the customer is from a non EU country they may need to show additional identification papers.
It is likely the bank will ask for a Swedish ID so head to the tax office (Skatteverket) to apply for one and within three weeks you should have it. EU citizens and non EU citizens should be aware that a personnummer is a vital piece of identification, without which you will not be able to open an account. It can only be obtained if you have a residence permit which is valid for 12 months or more for Sweden. Also requested may be evidence of your income from your employer. Once the process is complete, you will receive a debit card (Betalkort) in the post anywhere from one week to a few months later, depending on whether the bank wishes to see regular proof of income first.
The main commercial banks in Sweden are SEB (Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken), Swedbank AB and Nordea Bank AB. Skandiabanken is a popular choice; they undertake banking by phone and internet only. Local banks are Sparbanken Lidkoping and Resurs Bank. UK and US banks do not have a presence in Sweden but some international banks in Sweden have branches in the UK such as Svenska Handelsbanken AB (Handelsbanken), and Swedbank has branches in New York. Some expats also use Forex Bank, a Swedish financial services company specialising in currency exchange services, where you can change currency and pay bills in person.
Swedish banks on the whole don’t generally offer specific accounts or services aimed at expats. A few offer telephone banking, online banking and statements in English which is an improvement on a previously Swedish-only system. Below are the most commonly used banks by expats.
Svenska Handelsbanken AB
The bank has internet banking and a website available in English. Account statements, contracts and notes are also available in English. It offers traditional banking services, mortgages and pensions. Email for advice on a local branch to visit then book an appointment for an English speaking consultant to help you open an account in person.
Address: Kungsträdgårdsgatan 2, SE-106 70 Stockholm (head office)
Tel: 00 46 0771 22 55 88
Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken
This bank is popular with locals. It is a full-range supplier of payment cards and card-related services to businesses and individuals. In 2016 SEB was awarded the Best Private Bank in Sweden, the Nordics and the Baltics award at the Global Private Banking Awards. Online banking is not available in English yet. Like with other banks, contacting them individually to see what they can offer for your situation is suggested.
Address: SEB Sweden Head Office, Kungsträdgårdsg 8, Stockholm, SE-106 40, Sweden
Tel: 00 46 8763 50 00
The website is in English, as is the online banking and telephone banking. Expats sometimes go with the specialised savings accounts which calculate how much money you will have in 12 months’ time.
The bank offers standard accounts, mortgages and insurance. Swedbank has an introductory offer of standard current account, payment service and bank card (Maestro). Swedbank usually requires a Swedish ID to open an account.
Address: Landsvägen 40, 172 63 Sundbyberg, 105 34 Stockholm, Sweden
Tel: +46-8-585 900 00 (in English)
Normal banking hours in Sweden are from Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm. On Thursday banks are normally open until 6pm. Banks close on public holidays and at weekends.
Current / checking account (nuvarande konto)
This account is a standard account which provides a debit card and online banking. Usually there is little to no interest on the funds in the account. Such accounts will not give you a debit card until they see income come into the account after some months. Cards may be Visa or Maestro with an annual fee.
Savings / deposit account (kapitalkonto)
Banking in Sweden is considered reliable and efficient. Sweden enjoys one of the highest rates of internet banking in the world. Once accounts are set up people generally prefer online banking, telephone banking and mobile app banking. Popular mobile apps include BankID which allows customers to transfer money, pay invoices and verify money transfers. Swish is another popular app which allows for the transfer of money between banks with no charge.
It is very rare to use cheques in Sweden. Travellers’ cheques, however, are accepted in many places. In shops and restaurants generally people pay with cards rather than cash and contactless is a popular method. Visa is accepted anywhere, with Maestro widely accepted too. Mastercard is also commonly used, with Amex being accepted in some places too. ATMs accept many UK and US cards.
Credit card account (Kreditkort)
The annual fee varies per card, as does the interest. Customers commonly choose Kreditkort MasterCard from Swedbank, Bank Norwegian credit card or SAS EuroBonus from American Express. Some offer benefits such as cash back, sign on bonuses and discounts in shops.
There are many ways of sending money from one country to another. As always, expats can save themselves a lot of trouble and expense if they do a little research and shop around for the best deal.
International Bank Transfers
For most expats, currency transfer involves transferring small to medium sized amounts regularly from an existing bank account back home into a new overseas bank account in the local currency. These may be pension payments, benefits, or any other form of income.
Your home bank will usually be glad to oblige. You can set up facilities with them “on demand” whereby you fax or call them on the phone, provide a secret code or two, tell them the amount in question, and they will transfer it to your new bank, automatically converting it into the relevant local currency. Some banks also allow you to make international payments online. Whatever method you choose, transfers normally take between 3-7 days although 1-2 day transfers are often available but be prepared to pay more for these.
You can also set up regular transactions that are processed automatically on a fixed day of each month. Many state pensions and benefits can be paid directly into your new bank abroad without going through your home bank at all. Some private pension organisations may also offer the same facility.
When you first set up a transfer of funds abroad, the sending bank or institution will ask you for various codes that identify the destination bank. Often they will ask for IBAN (International Bank Account Number), BIC (Bank Identifier Code) or SWIFT codes but don?t panic – your new bank will give these to you and they may even already be listed in your new chequebook or bank statements.
As far as charges are concerned, you will probably be required to pay a flat fee per transaction. Additionally a percentage fee is often charged for the currency conversion itself. You may also find that your receiving bank charges you for receiving the transfer. Charges vary by bank but can quickly add up – ask your bank(s) for an indication of the fees involved.
As a general rule, transferring larger sums less frequently usually works out cheaper than transferring smaller amounts more often. However, if you need to transfer regular amounts of at least a few hundred pounds/dollars or need to make a larger one-off payment (e.g. for a house purchase) you should consider the services of a currency broker.
Cash Machine/ATM Withdrawals
Thanks to modern technology, most people abroad can go to a cash machine/ATM and withdraw local currency funds directly from their home bank account. This is a useful option to have for expats but exercise caution – many banks make hefty charges for using this type of facility. You may also find that withdrawal limits are in place (as a security measure) even if you significant funds in your account back home.
You can also use VISA or Mastercard credit cards to obtain cash in this fashion and if you pay the amount off quickly and avoid interest charges then fine – but once again credit card charges for cash withdrawals can be high. Check the rates carefully.
Currency brokers (also called foreign exchange brokers) offer significant advantages over traditional banks. Firstly, brokers will often be able to offer you a better rate than your bank. Secondly, the entire process is more transparent – many banks require you to accept the exchange rate available on the day they process your transaction, whatever and whenever that may be, but a specialist broker will offer greater flexibility, even allowing you to specify the rate you want in advance.
Currency brokers are smaller companies than major banks so always check their background carefully. Ask existing expats for their own experiences and recommendations before choosing a firm to handle your own foreign exchange requirements.
A good broker will discuss all the options with you and enable you to make the best decision for your circumstances. Using a broker will typically off the following advantages:
1) Currency brokers generally provide superior exchange rates to the high street banks. The currency brokers have access to the interbank rate and do not have the high costs that the banks have. This means that they can usually offer better exchange rates.
2) Use of a free Market Watch/Order Service: This allows you to tell your currency broker your target or budget exchange rate and they will ring you if that exchange rate level is reached. As the rate moves every few seconds, currency brokers can act as your eyes and ears on the market.
3) Ability to fix the exchange rate in advance using a Forward Contract. If you know you need to convert/move funds in the future but don?t yet have the money you can reserve a rate in advance using a Forward Contract. During this period, you are exposed to exchange rate movements and therefore, a forward contract is ideal if, for example, you have agreed to buy a house and want to fix the rate now but will not be making payment for a couple of months.
Savings from currency brokers can vary from between 1 and 4 per cent on the exchange rate alone, and specialists do not typically charge any fees for transmitting the funds abroad, unlike banks which often levy expensive fees or charges. If you are emigrating and transferring a large sum of money – such as the proceeds of a property – a foreign exchange company could potentially save you thousands.
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Learn The Language
If you are intending to relocate to Sweden to live or work, you may be wondering how easy it will be for you to communicate in this Scandinavian country. Will you need to learn Swedish, or are other languages spoken in the country, including English? We will look at your options below.
The official language in Sweden is Swedish, a North Germanic language which resembles Norwegian and Danish. This evolved around the 14th and 15th century from Old Norse, was standardised by the time the 20th century began, and today is spoken by the majority of Swedes although there are five recognised minority languages in the country as well:
• Meänkieli (a Finnic language spoken in the northern part of Sweden along the valley of the Torne River)
German was a dominant language in the country up until the Second World War but since then has been replaced by English as a primary second language. You will also hear Finnish, Serbo-Croatian, Arabic, Kurdish, Spanish, German and Farsi. Sweden is a multicultural society with an extensive population of various ethnic minorities and this is reflected in the linguistic fabric of the country.
You will find that English is widely spoken in Sweden. It is used in international business and many courses in Swedish universities are taught in English. Some members of the older generation may not be fluent in English (some may speak German as a second language), but in general, in the workplace, in cities and in tourist areas, you will find it easy to communicate and you will be able to get by if you speak English alone.
You will find plenty of provision for learning Swedish. There are classes in private language schools for SAS (Swedish as a Second Language), although you can also opt for one-to-one tuition. SIFA and SFX are specialized Swedish courses for foreign-born graduates and professionals in Sweden, for example for academics (Swedish for academics courses/Svenska för akademiker) and Swedish for professionals (svenska för yrkesverksutbildade), for instance:
• medical staff
• bus drivers
• truck drivers
• lawyers, economists and social scientists
You can also check with your local university to see if they run language classes: Uppsala and Lund universities offer language training, including courses designed to lead to Tisus: recognised by all the universities in Sweden as a statement of eligibility regarding Swedish language proficiency. There are also several non-profit associations in Sweden who offer Swedish courses, support and counselling and cultural activities for newcomers to the country.
Medborgarskolan is a non-profit association which offers Swedish courses as well as cultural activities all over Sweden. ABF Stockholm is a non-profit organisation which offers Swedish courses, social orientation courses and counselling for newcomers. Many of these courses are designed to help migrants into Sweden assimilate.
You can combine your language learning with intercultural programs at some institutions. Uppsala International Summer Session organizes summer courses in the Swedish language for students and professionals, and other universities also offer summer school programmes.
You can also undertake Swedish lessons online, either with online learning materials or over Skype or another platform with a Swedish teacher.
You may be intending to come to Sweden to teach English. However, there is not a great demand in the country due to the place of English in the educational system and the high level of proficiency in English in the country. English teaching is therefore a competitive market. It is always easier to get work in international education if you have at least a certificate in either TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages).
It is also preferable if you have experience in teaching schemes such as the Cambridge English exams or IELTS (International English Language Testing System): the English test for study, migration or work. Some teaching experience in the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) will also be helpful. This assesses analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills in written English for use in admission to graduate management programs, such as the MBA.
You may find work more easily if you are experienced in teaching English for particular sectors, such as tourism and hospitality, or in summer schools. You are most likely to find a teaching position in the private language sector in cities such as Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo or the Folkuniversitetet system (community university) which provides English lessons to Swedes.
It will also be helpful to have at least a Bachelor’s degree as most language schools require this: basically, the rule of thumb is that the more qualifications you have, both in TEFL and in academic subjects, the easier you will find it to get work.
If you are seeking work in translation or interpreting, you will obviously need to be highly proficient in Swedish, and will also need the relevant qualifications.
Choose A School
English is widely spoken in Sweden: many courses in Swedish universities are taught in English.
Swedish compulsory schooling consists of four stages:
• preschool year: förskoleklass
• years 1-3: lågstadiet
• years 4-6: mellanstadiet
• years 7-9: högstadiet
Preschool (förskola) is provided by municipalities for children from the ages of one to five.
Gymnasium (upper secondary school or high school, years 10–12) is optional. Students can choose between eighteen regular national programmes: six of these are preparatory for higher education such as university, and twelve of these are vocational. In order to be accepted into a national program, students will need passing grades in Swedish or Swedish as a second language, English and maths. In order to go through into senior high school, students will need passing grades in a further nine subjects. Students will need passing grades in five additional subjects (eight altogether) for vocational programs.
The Swedish school year runs from mid-August to June.
Mandatory national subject tests are held in years 3, 6 and 9 of compulsory school. Recently, a new grading scale has been introduced with six grades from A to F (A to E as passing grades and F as a failing grade). Grade assignment starts in year 6. The grading system is similar to the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS), the standard grading system for higher education in Europe.
The 2019 PISA assessment by the OECD showed an upward trend with Swedish students scoring above the average in mathematics, reading and science. Since Swedish educational standards have been considered to be declining, this is obviously a welcome trend. Swedish public spending on education is higher than the OECD average.
Independent schools must be approved by the Schools Inspectorate and must also follow the national curricula and syllabuses. Some may, however, follow alternative educational models such as the Kunskapsskolan or the Montessori system: you will find a number of Montessori schools in Sweden. Some may be independent but partially funded by the state (friskolor).
Expat parents may wish to enrol their children in the private sector, perhaps for linguistic reasons. If you are spending a short time in the country and your child is not bilingual in Swedish, there may be a language barrier in Swedish public schools.
You will find a range of international schools in the country, teaching a variety of curricula from the British national curriculum, to the International Baccalaureate and American syllabi, among others.
For example, Stockholm International School is a non-profit English-speaking preschool – grade 12 day school. It offers the International Primary Curriculum (IPC) and the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (MYP) and Diploma Programme (DP). Fees range from US$9K – 15K per annum.
The Tanto International School is a small, independent school in Stockholm that follows the English National Curriculum. They teach ages from early years through to 12, and fees are around US$1K – 5K.
Futuraskolan AB operates seven preschools and seven schools in Stockholm and the Greater Stockholm area. They have an international and bilingual (English and Swedish) profile following the Swedish National Curriculum: however, this is supplemented by the International Primary Curriculum (IPC) and the International Middle Years Curriculum (IMYC). Futuraskolan International School of Stockholm has a special permit from the Swedish authorities to run a school for temporary residents in Sweden. It instructs in English and follows an international curriculum rather than the Swedish National Curriculum. Fees are annually between US$2200 – 2600.
Stockholm International School is the longest established international school in Stockholm and has been delivering tuition for over 60 years. SIS is a K-12 English speaking day school. Fees range from US$10K – 14K annually.
The International School of the Stockholm Region (ISSR) is a publically funded English speaking school founded by the City of Stockholm. This is an accredited continuum school which offers all three IB programmes; Primary Years Programme, Middle Years Programme and the Diploma Programme. Since this is a city-funded initiative, the school does not charge admission fees.
The British International School of Stockholm provides tuition for over 550 children, from 3 to 17. The curriculum is built around the Cambridge IGCSE system. Fees range from US$10K – 15K.
You may find that you need to make one-off or regular payments such as capitalisation fees or enrolment fees: these can vary so do check with the school and make sure that you are aware of what you are paying. You may be able to pay in termly instalments. Check if there are any sibling reductions.
Enrolment policies will vary from school to school, but your child may be asked to take a proficiency test (for example in English or maths). Some schools do not, however, impose entry tests. You can also check the accreditation of your selected school: for instance, with organisations such as COBIS (the Council of British International Schools).
Homeschooling in Sweden is difficult to undertake: there are significant restrictions. It is only allowed for one year at a time and there must be an extraordinary reason for this. You will need to apply to the municipal board of education, and can appeal to the Administrative court if approval is denied, but a number of Swedish homeschoolers have relocated to the Finnish island of Åland where homeschooling is legal.