Third country nationals

Citizens of countries outside EU and EEA are called third country nationals. Your country of citizenship decides if you need a visa or not to visit Sweden.

Map showing countries in Europe which are part of the Schengen area.

Schengen area

EU countries which are part of the Schengen area

Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden.

Countries outside EU which are part of the Schengen area

Norway, Iceland, Switzerland

EU countries which are not part of the Schengen area

Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania

Information about entering Sweden as a third country national is also available in Swedish.

Entry and exit regulations differ for third country nationals depending on country of citizenship, length of stay, as well as which country you travel to or from. Third country nationals require a permit if they want to: 

  • work,
  • study,
  • reside, or
  • stay in Sweden for an extended period of time.

Swedish Migration Agency or Swedish foreign missions (embassies or consulates) processes visa and permit applications, and can answer questions.

Swedish Migration Agency
Sweden Abroad

Applicable laws

Foreign citizens' right to enter and stay in Sweden is regulated by the Alien's Act (2005:716), the Schengen Visa Code (EU) 810/2009 and the Schengen Border Code (EU 2016/399).

Border controll can be done when travelling to or from Sweden. If border control is to be performed, and the kind of control, differs depending on: 

  • the traveller's citizenship,
  • if entering from, to or via an EU/EEA country,
  • if entering from, to or via a so called third country (a non-EU/EEA country)

Specific regulations apply for family members of EU/EEA citizens. 
YourEurope - Spouses and children who are non-EU citizens

UK citizens are no longer EU citizens. Meaning same rules apply for them and their family members as for other third country nationals. Certain transition regulations apply for UK citizens who applied for residence status before the deadline. 

Valid travel documents for third country nationals 

  • Third country nationals should hold a valid passport upon entry to Sweden. The passport can not be older than 10 years, and should be valid at least 3 months after planned departure date. A visa might be needed. 
  • Individuals holding residence permit or a Schengen visa need to present both a valid residence permit or visa, and a valid passport.  
  • Third country nationals who are family members of an EU/EEA citizen are covered by the free movement and are excempt from the requirement of passport being valid for at least 3 months after planned departure. If they hold a permit to live and work in Sweden, this needs to be documented, e.g. a valid residence card. 
  • Citizens of the UK holding residence status in Sweden can enter Sweden with a national ID card or passport issued by the UK. The same applies to UK citizens who can document that they have applied for residence status. UK citizens without residence status, and family members of UK citizens who are not EU citizens, will however need a valid passport.  

Your Europe - Travel documents for non-EU nationals
Swedish Migration Agency - Resi­dence cards for an EU/​​​EEA citi­zen's family who are non-EU/​​EEA citi­zens
Swedish Migration Agency - Residence status for UK citizens

It is Swedish Migration Agency or Swedish foreign missions who processes applications about visas or permits, meaning questions need to be posed to them. Swedish Police will control your travel document and if applicable, your visa or permit, upon entry. If you do not hold necessary documents or can not document your purpose of travel, can you be denied entry and expelled. 

Visa free third country nationals

Citizens of certain countries can enter the Schengen area for shorter time periods without a visa. A shorter stay will be allowed, in general max 90 days during a 180 day time frame in all Schengen countries. Your likelihood of leaving the Schengen area within the legal time frame will be evaluated upon entry. Meaning that you need to document your purpose for travelling, and that you hold sufficient funds for your entire stay. You also need a return ticket or sufficient funds to purchase this. Your travel document needs to be valid at least three months after planned departure date from the Schengen area.  

Work and studies is in general not permitted during your visa free stay, for that a permit is required. More information is available from Swedish Migration Agency.

Entry from Ukraine

As a Ukrainian citizens you can enter Sweden without a visa for max 90 days if you hold a biometric passport. A visa is normally required for entry without a biometric passport. It is, however, not required to hold a valid travel document if you apply for asylum at the border. You will then be allowed to enter, and your case will be referred to the Swedish Migration Agency, who is responsible for further processing. Swedish Police is responsible for the border control when entering Sweden and can not answer questions regarding asylum.  

In general there is no border control when entering Sweden from or via another EU/EEA country, like Poland or Denmark. You should, however, be able to document your identity and your citizenship even when entering from another EU/EEA country, even if this is not required in order to apply for asylum. 

Residence permit according to EU's temporary protection directive

The EU has decided to activate the temporary protection directive. This means that if you are a Ukrainian citizen you can get a temporary residence permit. You can also get a temporary residence permit if you are a third country citizen or stateless, if you have been granted international protection in Ukraine. To be covered by this, you need to have left Ukraine after  24 February 2022. Some limitations apply.

Through a change of regulations which came into effect 26 April 2022, even you who entered and stayed in Sweden in the period 30 October 2021 - 23 February 2022 can receive temporary protection in Sweden. Like if you, as a Ukrainian citizen or resident of Ukraine, entered as a visitor and then remained in Sweden when the situation in Ukraine became more unsafe.

To apply, you need to register and present a biometric passport or other Ukrainian identification documents, and leave fingerprints and have your photo taken at the Swedish Migration Agency. They will also answer questions regarding this process. 

Warning against fake Etias sites

Etias is a future IT system developed by EU, which is to be implemented in the Schengen area. Once implemented, visa free third country citizens will need to apply for pre-approval before travelling to Sweden or another Schengen country. At present there is no exact implementation date, and it is not possible to apply for Etias yet.

Be aware that a number of fake websites claim to be official Etias websites, asking users to register sensitive information like name, passport number and credit card details. Do not enter any personal data for you or anyone else on sites claiming to represent Etias. If you already have submitted your information you should report it to the police in your country of residence.

More information about Etias on EU's official website https://travel-europe.europa.eu/

Etias logga

Visa required third country national 

The list of countries whose citizens need a visa to stay in Sweden is constantly changing, and it is the traveller's responsibility to check the current regulations before travelling. In general Sweden shares its visa policy with other Schengen countries, meaning that a visa is often issued as a Schengen visa (class C visa) which allows the holder to stay in the entire Schengen area during the period of validity. It also permits the holder to enter Sweden even if it is issued by another Schengen country.  

You can only do activities which your visa permits, meaning in general you can not work or study with a visitor's visa. 

Swedish Government: List of foreign citizens who require Visa for entry into Sweden
Swedish Migration Agency - Visit Sweden

Travelling inside EU/EEA

Inside EU/EEA, the general rule is free movement, with certain exceptions. Meaning that a third country national's entry and exit to and from EU/EEA is always controlled but most often border control is not performed inside the Schengen area. A temporary border control at an internal border, or an internal aliens' control can however be performed, meaning a third country national should always be able to document his or her identity, citizenship and his or her right to stay in Sweden. 

A more basic border control is performed when travelling to or from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland and Romania, meaning a third country national always need to hold a valid travel document and if applicable, a visa or permit, to travel between Sweden and the mentioned countries.

Travelling to and from a third country 

Border control will always be performed when travelling to and from countries outside EU/EEA, and valid travel documents are required for everyone regardless of citizenship. In most cases this means a valid passport. When entering the Schengen area the travel document needs to be valid for at least three months after planned departure date from the Schengen area. If you travel to or from Sweden as the first or last Schengen country, border control will be performed here. If you transit via another Schengen country before or after entry or exit, you will most likely be processed for entry or exit in that country and questions need to be posed to border agencies there. Please note that your total time period spent inside the Schengen area is taken into consideration if you are visa excempt or hold a Schengen visa (class C visa). When you travel onwards to sweden from, or on your way to another Schengen country, you are considered an intra-EU/EEA traveller (refer to the section about Travelling inside EU/EEA). 

Citizens of certain countries need to hold a visa to enter Sweden or Schengen. These countries are on the Swedish government's list. Questions regarding visas need to be posed to Swedish Migration Agency or a Swedish foreign mission. 

If you need international protection you need to apply for asylum in the first EU country you enter. This means that you should apply for asylum in Sweden if you enter Sweden first. If you enter Sweden from another EU country, you should apply for asylum there. 

Terms for staying in Sweden
Swedish Migration Agency - Protec­tion and asylum in Sweden 

Second line control

Everyone travelling to or from a country outside EU/EEA will be subject to border control. If there are questions regarding your entry or exit or stay, like if you do not hold the correct visa or permit, or you have stayed in the Schengen area longer than your permit allows, you can be subject to a second line control. This is an additional border control which is done if the officer sees a need. In such event you should receive information in a country you understand or are likely to understand, about the purpose of the control and how it will be done. If needed, an interpreter will be contacted. You have the right to know the name or service number of the officers performing the control, as well as the name of the border crossing point and date of border crossing. If a rejection decision is made this will be given in writing, together with information about how to appeal.  

Staying in Sweden for longer time periods 

You need to apply for a permit if

  • you stay longer than 90 days within a time frame of 180 days in Sweden or the Schengen area,
  • you want to work or study, 
  • you want to reside in Sweden. 

This needs to be done at the Swedish Migration Agency or a Swedish foreign mission. It is important that you hold the correct permit to stay in Swedish and perform activities. Swedish Police can do internal aliens' controls where your right to stay or work in Sweden will be checked. If you are caught staying or working in Sweden without the right permit you can be expelled and get an entry ban. The same applies if you stay in Sweden longer than permitted.  

If you need international protection and want to apply for asylum in Sweden you need to contact Swedish Migration Agency. You can notify Swedish Police that you want to apply for asylum and your case will be transferred to the Swedish Migration Agency. 

Control of goods 

Swedish Police is responsible for controlling persons crossing a Swedish border. Swedish Customs is responsible for controlling goods being imported or exported across a Swedish border, and their controls are done independently from border controls by Swedish Police. 

If you enter Sweden with pets you need to contact the Swedish Board of Agriculture which are responsible for import and export of animals. Dogs, cats and ferrets from Ukraine used to be exempted from the ordinary import regulations, but as of 1 September 2023 this is no longer the case. Since ordinary regulations are enforced, animals which are not eligible for import to Sweden will be rejected at the border. 

Swedish Customs can answer questions about their controls
Swedish Board of Agriculture's information about import of dogs, cats or ferrets to Sweden
Swedish Board of Agriculture's information about pets from Ukraine