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Safety Travel Safety: Europe: Sweden

Sweden: Kingdom of Sweden
Capital: Stockholm
Population: 8,876,744
Currency: Swedish krona (SEK)
Languages: Swedish. note: small Sami- and Finnish-speaking minorities
Religions: Lutheran 87%, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Baptist, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist
Borders: Finland 586 km, Norway 1,619 km

Sweden is a highly developed stable democracy with a modern economy. Detailed information about Sweden is available at the following Internet sites:,, and

Sweden remains largely free of terrorist incidents. However, like other countries in the Schengen area, Sweden �s open borders with its Western European neighbors allow the possibility of terrorist groups entering/exiting the country with anonymity.

Sweden has a relatively low crime rate with rare, but increasing, instances of violent crime. Most crimes involve the theft of personal property from cars or residences or in public areas. Pickpockets and purse-snatchers often work in pairs or groups with one distracting the victim while another grabs valuables. Often they operate in or near major tourist attractions like Stockholm �s Old Town, restaurants, amusement parks, museums, bars, buses, and subway trains. Hotel breakfast rooms and lobbies attract professional, well-dressed thieves who blend in with guests and target purses and briefcases left unguarded by unsuspecting tourists and business travelers. Valuables should not be left unguarded in parked vehicles.

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Sweden �s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Sweden are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines. There is no bail system in Sweden and non-resident Americans who are arrested may be held in custody until the trial is complete.

Under the PROTECT Act of April 2003, it is a crime, prosecutable in the United States, for a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien, to engage in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18, whether or not the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident alien intended to engage in such illicit sexual conduct prior to going abroad. For purposes of the PROTECT Act, illicit sexual conduct includes any commercial sex act in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18. The law defines a commercial sex act as any sex act, on account of which anything of value is given to or received by a person under the age of 18.

Under the Protection of Children from Sexual Predators Act of 1998, it is a crime to use the mail or any facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including the Internet, to transmit information about a minor under the age of 16 for criminal sexual purposes that include, among other things, the production of child pornography. This same law makes it a crime to use any facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including the Internet, to transport obscene materials to minors under the age of 16.

Medical care comparable to that found in the United States is widely available. The Swedish medical system is a state-run system so instead of visiting a local private general practitioner, travelers can visit a local medical center or clinic, called an �Akutmottagning� or �Vardcentral.� Patients should be prepared to present their passport s. Non-European citizens should consult with their travel agents about the need for insurance before they travel. In case of a medical emergency, use the emergency telephone number �112� (equivalent to �911� in the U.S. ) to contact the appropriate emergency service.

Travelers with special medical needs should consult with their personal physician and take appropriate precautions, including bringing adequate supplies of necessary medication. Medicines may be brought into the country as long as they are intended for the traveler�s personal use. Medications categorized as narcotics may only be brought into the country to cover the traveler's personal use for a maximum of five days and must be accompanied by a medical certificate stating why the traveler needs them. In addition, stringent Swedish customs regulations prohibit travelers from receiving drugs from abroad after having arrived in the country. Travelers may also find local physicians reluctant to prescribe equivalent quantities or dosages. Prescriptions are dispensed at state-run pharmacies called �Apotek� in Swedish. Most pharmacies are open during normal shopping hours but major cities have a 24-hour pharmacy.

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Sweden is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance:

Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Good

A valid U.S. driver�s license may be used while visiting Sweden, but drivers must be at least 18 years of age. Driving in Sweden is on the right. Road signs use standard international symbols and Swedish text. Many urban streets have traffic lanes reserved for public transportation only.

Swedish roads are comparable to those in the U.S. though secondary roads may be less heavily traveled due to Sweden �s sparse population outside the major urban areas. These secondary routes often narrow to two lanes with a wider shoulder. Slower vehicles are expected to move onto the shoulder to allow faster moving vehicles to pass. All vehicles must have headlights lit when on the road, no matter what time of day. The use of snow tires is mandatory between December 1 and March 31 and, due to the country�s northerly climate, experience in driving on ice and snow is recommended before negotiating Sweden �s winter roads.

Public transport in Sweden is of good quality and is the recommended method of travel. Passenger trains, intercity buses, and air flights provide regular service over longer distances. Public transportation in urban centers includes buses, subways, trams, suburban trains, and taxis. Taxis are relatively more expensive than in major U.S. cities. Most local residents use public transport in Stockholm as parking can be hard to find and expensive. The bus, train, and subway systems are relatively safe.

Use of seat belts is mandatory for drivers and all passengers, and children under the age of seven must be seated in approved child or booster seats. The maximum speed limit is 110 kilometers per hour. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including prescription drugs, is considered a very serious offense. The rules are stringently enforced and fines can be severe. Violations can result in severe fines and possible jail sentences.

Emergency services for traffic accidents can be reached by calling 112 (the equivalent to 911 in the U.S. ).

For specific information concerning Swedish driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax, and mandatory insurance, contact the Swedish national tourist organization office in New York via the Internet at See also road safety information from other sources in Sweden at

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Sweden�s civil aviation authority as Category 1 �- in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Sweden �s air carrier operations.

For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA�s Internet website at

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229-4801.

Please also refer to the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement.

August 11, 2004

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