The countries of Sweden, Norway and Finland are all located on the Scandinavian Peninsula at the northern extremity of Europe. Of the three countries, Sweden is the largest with a population of over 10.5 million and a land area of 173,000 sq miles (448,000 sq km) which is almost twice the size of the United Kingdom. Vast areas of the countryside are largely uninhabited with more than 87% of the population living in the larger towns and cities which are mainly located in the centre or southern part of the country. The main cities are Gothenburg, Malmo, Uppsala and Stockholm, the capital.
Inhabited by early Nordic tribes in prehistoric times, Sweden became an independent state in the 12th century. The country lost close to a third of its population in the 14th century as the Black Death devastated countries across Europe while Sweden was almost politically and economically wiped out by the pre-eminence of the Hanseatic League shortly afterwards.
Today, Sweden is one of the world’s richest countries with its people enjoying a high standard of living. An export-based economy, Sweden has been a member of the European Union since 1995 although the country, as yet, has not embraced the euro as the unit of currency and retains the Swedish krona. Sweden is also a Schengen Area member since 2001 and requires non-EU citizens (or those not from a visa-exempt country) to possess a Schengen Visa before embarking on any short visit to the country.
Citizens of any of the EU or Schengen Area member states can enter Sweden, or any Schengen country, with just a valid passport. This is also true for citizens of certain countries that have a reciprocal visa-exemption policy with European authorities. These visa-exempt countries include Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom remains on the visa-exemption list despite having left the EU following Brexit. However, this visa-exemption right is set to expire soon and, unless a replacement deal is put in place, it is possible that British travellers to a Schengen country will require a Schengen Visa in the near future.
Citizens from countries outside of these visa-exempt countries are termed “world travellers” and cannot enter the Schengen Area without the appropriate form of Schengen Visa. The visa is not the only entry requirement for world travellers entering Sweden as they must also provide:
- A passport which is valid for a minimum of three months beyond the last day to be spent in the Schengen Area and is less than ten years old
- A letter outlining the main reason(s) for visiting Sweden
- An itinerary of any planned outings or excursions
- Details of any accommodation booked
- Travel health insurance with coverage of at least €30,000
- Proof of adequate finances for the visit (currently €48 per day)
- Return air or sea tickets
These are the bare minimum entry requirements that every world traveller must produce if asked to do so. Obviously, the Schengen Visa is also a necessity but there are several types available and world travellers should take care to ensure the type of visa held is the one that is most suitable to the purpose of the visit.
Choose the Right Schengen Visa Type
Arriving in Sweden with the wrong type of Schengen Visa can lead to untold confusion and difficulty. Applying for a visa can be a lengthy and time-consuming undertaking and all the effort involved could be for nothing if the wrong visa type is selected.
While most world travellers visiting Sweden will require a Tourist Visa this is far from being the only choice. There are several types of Schengen Visas, each for a specific purpose, and each will require its own supporting documentation which must accompany the application form.
World travellers using a Swedish airport to connect with another flight will usually require an Airport Transit Visa though this is not a certainty in all cases.
- Onward flight tickets
- Where applicable, a visa for the final destination country
A Transit Visa applies to the use of Swedish seaports. This is for ship crew members travelling through Swedish waters or transferring to another ship.
- Where applicable, a visa for the destination country
- Valid ticket or documentation for the voyage
- Copy of Seaman’s Log book
- Copy of contract, employment letter or other verification of status
The Tourist Visa is the most commonly applied for type of Schengen Visa and covers holidays and short-stay visits.
- Itinerary of daily trips or excursions planned
- Proof of adequate finances for the stay
- Details of accommodation booked
If the main purpose for visiting Sweden is to see relatives or friends resident in the country, it is better to have a Visitor Visa rather than a Tourist Visa in order to avoid any issues with Swedish authorities.
- Invitation letter from the friend or family member
- Copy of host’s National Identity Card or other acceptable proof of identity
- Copy of host’s residency permit
- Proof of any relationship between host and guest
- Proof of host’s ability to cover the cost of the visit (if host is financing the visit)
World travellers visiting Sweden for business purposes, or on business-related matters, require a Business Visa before entering Sweden.
- Invitation letter from the company being visited
- Swedish company’s address and details
- Letter explaining the purpose of the visit
- Proof of adequate finances for accommodation and expenses
- Proof of relationship between the two business entities (correspondence, contracts, orders etc.)
The Study Visa only covers short courses (or internships) of less than ninety days duration. Longer courses (e.g. university degree) will require a long-term Student Visa.
- Letter of No Objection which states the student will leave the country at the end of the course
- Proof of enrolment in a recognised Swedish educational institution
- Details and dates of the course being attended
- Proof of payment for the course
World travellers who need to undergo a medical procedure or treatment in Sweden must possess a Medical Visa. This will necessitate the collection of a number of documents.
- Doctor’s or clinic’s medical report
- Confirmation of treatment in Sweden
- Specific treatment to be carried out and relevant dates
- Proof of payment or financial agreement for all treatment
Other types of visas
These are among the most commonly issued types of Schengen Visa but there are others available for even more specific purposes. These include visas for:
- Attending or partaking in sporting, cultural or artistic events
- Members of visiting official delegations
- Spouses of Swedish nationals
Choosing the correct form of visa is of paramount importance and any queries as to which type is most appropriate should be addressed to the nearest Swedish embassy or consulate.
While a Schengen Visa is a mandatory requirement for world travellers wishing to visit Sweden it is not an automatic guarantee of entry. At the point of entry, the visa will be checked and general questions may be asked regarding the reason for visiting Sweden. This is standard procedure and the visa holder will normally be permitted to proceed unless the border police have suspicions about the visa, documents or the traveller. The final decision as to whether the visa holder is permitted to enter the country always rests with the border authorities.