New in Sweden

​​​​​​​​Here you can read about how society works in Sweden. In this section you can to go straight to information about some common questions.

I want to know how asylum works

Where do I turn to apply for asylum in Sweden?

If you are in Sweden, you need to contact the Migration Board in order to apply for asylum.

What are the rules that allow me to apply for asylum?

On the Migration Board’s website you can read all about the rules governing asylum applications.

​I want to know more about residence permits

There are various reasons for applying for a residence permit. If you arrive in Sweden and apply for asylum, you may be granted a permanent residence permit if your application is approved.

You can read more about the various steps on our page From Asylum to Work.

What types of residence permits are there and how do I apply for them?

There are different types of residence permits. Read more about the different permits on the Migration Board’s website.

I have been granted a permanent residence permit, what do I do now?

Read more about how the asylum and settling process works in Sweden.

Read more on the Migration Board’s website about what to do once you have a permanent residence permit.

Once you have been granted a permanent residence permit you must immediately register with the Tax Agency’s population register.

What help am I eligible for once I have a residence permit?

If you have been given asylum and are between 20 and 64 years old, you are entitled to attend civic orientation courses given in your native language. Your municipality is responsible for providing civic orientation courses to recent arrivals. You can read more about civic orientation courses and also download the book About Sweden in different languages.

You are entitled to a settling plan (if you are not already working full time, attending upper secondary school, are over 65 years old or are functionally disabled so that you cannot work at all). The Public Employment Service is responsible for drawing up a settling plan in consultation with you.

I need to find a place to live in Sweden

Is help available for finding a place to live?

Once you have your residence permit, the Migration Agency can help you find housing in a municipality if your are living in an accommodation centre.

You can also look for housing yourself, via the pages about Sweden’s municipalities here on Information about Sweden. Click on the Services Map tab.

Where can I settle?

You can move anywhere you want in the country. Finding a place to live can be difficult, particularly in the major cities. If you are entitled to settlement assistance and are living in an accommodation centre, the Migration Agency can help you find housing in one of Sweden’s municipalities.

What is the difference between a rented flat and a tenant-owned flat?

There are several different types of housing, e.g. rented flats and tenant-owned flats.

What do I need to do when I have found a place to live?

There are quite a few things you need to do once you have found a place to live. When you move you need to notify the Tax Agency of your change of address. You need to get a home insurance policy, and you may have to contact an electricity company to get the electricity switched on in your new home. If you are a refugee and need to borrow money to be able to buy furniture and other things for your home, you can in some cases apply for a home equipment loan from CSN. You may also be eligible for a housing allowance, which you can then apply for from Försäkringskassan.

What jobs, schools and activities that I might be interested in are there in the municipality?

For each municipality you can read about here on Information about Sweden there is also a map showing what is available in that municipality. Choose a municipality and click on the Services Map tab, or type an address or municipality name into the map shortcut on the start page to jump directly to the place you are interested in.

I want to learn Swedish

Find a Swedish course

The Services Maps on each municipality’s presentation page list Swedish for immigrants (Sfi) courses in that municipality.

Search for your municipality and click on the Service Map tab. Click in the tick before “Education” under the map.

You can also search for Sfi in your municipality on the Education info web page.

Learn Swedish online

Here at Information about Sweden you can learn Swedish at your own pace. Learn Swedish at Information about Sweden.

​I want to use my education in Sweden

Can I use my foreign qualifications in Sweden?

The Swedish Council for Higher Education evaluates foreign secondary education, post-secondary vocational education and academic higher education.

You can use our interactive slideshow to learn more and find links to further information.

University colleges and universities can assess to what extent unfinished programmes in academic higher education can be recognised. Read more about this in the Foreign Academics slideshow.

All you need to know about rules and practices regarding foreign qualifications are available on the Swedish Council for Higher Education website.

How can I get my education recognised?

You can read more about what rules apply for different professions here on Information about Sweden.

The Swedish Council for Higher Education will evaluate your education, after which employers, for example, can assess whether your education corresponds to Swedish qualifications.

There are also professions which are regulated by means of a law that defines what is required in order for a person to be allowed to practise that particular profession, e.g. a specific qualification, an authorisation, registration or some other formal recognition. The Swedish Council for Higher Education website has a list of professions regulated in this way.

Can I have my vocational skills recognised in Sweden?

The Public Employment Service has more information about professions and vocational skills, and about what help is available along the way.

You can use their search page to check what rules apply for your profession. Type your profession and click Search. Then choose the tab Description of Profession, under which you can read about what vocational education is required.

The Swedish Council for Higher Education can evaluate post-secondary vocational education

​I want to be able to support myself

How do I look for work?

There are many different ways of finding a job, but it may take a while before you get one. It is important that you learn Swedish quickly. You can look for vacant jobs here on Information about Sweden. If you want to do a completely open job search, use the page Find Vacant Jobs under Work & Education.

If you want to look for work in the area where you live, use the municipality’s presentation page. It has a Vacant Jobs tab that lists jobs in and around your municipality, and also a Services Map tab where jobs are marked directly on a map.

The Public Employment Service has more tips for how to find work.

Is there any help available for finding work?

If you are newly arrived and entitled to settlement assistance, the Public Employment Service will help you get work as quickly as possible.

The Public Employment Service can offer you various courses and other forms of support to facilitate your search for a job.

The Public Employment Service has pages for jobseekers.

Can I practise using the Swedish language in a workplace?

If you are entitled to settlement assistance, you may be able to get an internship at a workplace where you can also train the use of your Swedish.

What jobs are there near where I live?

Go to your municipality’s presentation page and look under Vacant Jobs or the Services Map.

How do I go about setting up my own business?

You can get support from the Public Employment Service to test your idea and learn more about what you need to do to start your own business. is a website that brings together everything you need to know and do in order to start your own business.

Nyföretagarcentrum (Enterprise Agencies) provides free advice and has branches in several places around the country.

​I want to know what the responsibilities are of the various public authorities I come into contact with.

What does the Migration Board do?

The Migration Board examines applications from persons who want to visit, move to or seeks shelter in Sweden, or who want to become Swedish citizens.

What does the Public Employment Service do?

Among other things, the Public Employment Service is responsible for specifying settling plans for some new arrivals and for making it easier for you to find a job in Sweden.

What does the Social Insurance Agency do?

The Social Insurance Agency receives your applications for compensation. They decide whether you are entitled to compensation and then pay out allowances and compensation it you are entitled to them.

There are many different kinds of allowances and compensation. The Social Insurance Agency’s responsibilities include housing allowance, child allowance, compensation for parental leave and compensation when you are sick for more than 14 days.

What does the Tax Agency do?

The Tax Agency deals with your tax return and checks that you are paying the correct amount of tax. The Tax Agency also manages the national population register and issues ID cards.

What do the Police do?

The Police investigate many different types of crimes and work to prevent new crimes.

What do the Social Services do?

Each municipality has something known as the social services or the social services administration. It can vary slightly between municipalities, depending on how each has decided. The social services are governed by the Social Services Act, which deals with what rights you have to receiving social security allowances, care and nursing. If you have financial difficulties and are unable to support yourself, you can apply for a social security allowance. Check your municipality’s website to find out more.

What does the Swedish Transport Agency do?

It is the Transport Administration’s task to ensure that roads are clear and usable, that trains run on time and that traffic information is up to date. It is also the authority that tests you when you apply for a driving licence.

If you want to know more about how it works when you have a driving licence from another country, you can visit the Swedish Transport Agency's website.

I want to know where I should turn when I become ill or need medicine.

How do I find a dentist?

You can go to yo​ur municipality’s presentation page, the Services Maps tab. Hover your mouse over the Health and Medical Care markings on the map to find out where there is a dentist. Click on the marking for further information.

You can also go ​to the 1177 Care Guide (Vårdguiden) and search for dental care.

Where do I turn when I become ill?

Unless you are acutely ill or injured, turn to your medical care centre. You can go to your municipality’s presentation page and click on Health and Medical Care under the Services Map tab. Markings will then appear on the map. Hover your mouse over these to find out where there is a medical care centre near you. Click on the marking for further information.

You can also​ go to the 1177 Care Guide (Vårdguiden) and search for a medical care centre.

You can also call the Healthcare Information Service (1177 Vårdguiden) at telephone number 1177. They can help you by providing advice and telling you the right place to contact for care.

 Skåne, Stockholm county and Västra Götaland offer health care guidance with interpreters in Arabic and Somali. This service is provided by nurses on the 1177 Vårdguiden helpline, assisted by an interpreter.

Health care guidance with an Arabic interpreter 0771-11 77 90.

Health care guidance with a Somali interpreter 0771-11 77 91.

If it is a matter of a life-threatening injury or illness, call 112.

I need medicine, where can I buy it?

In Sweden you buy medicine your doctor has prescribed for you in a pharmacy. There are several different pharmacies but it is easiest to use the pharmacy nearest to where you live or to your medical care centre.

Non-prescription medical products can often be bought in supermarkets or filling stations.

​I want to meet other people with the same interests as me

What activities are there in my municipality?

You can use your municipality’s presentation page to find activities and associations in your area.

Most municipalities have an association register where you can search for a specific association. The Services Map in the municipality presentation often has activities listed.

You can also look on the Associations and Organisations page. It has links to many organisations and associations and to their information about what they do.

Practise Swedish with others

One good way to learn Swedish is to practise with people who can already speak it.

On the "Practise Swedish with others" page, you can make contact with Swedish-speaking people who can help you learn Swedish.

I would like to know what other types of help I can get

Libraries, or different associations and organisations, often provide schemes to help you integrate in Swedish society or to practise your Swedish, etc. You can use the Services Map for your municipality to find out where the nearest library is.

How can I find out how things work in Sweden?

You can find answers to many of your questions under the various categories in the menu here on Information about Sweden, as well as links to further information directly from the source.

Who is entitled to attend civic orientation courses?

If you have or are going to receive a settling plan at the Employment Agency, you are entitled to a civic orientation course. Turn to the official assigned to you at the Employment Agency for details.

Also entitled are:

  • those who have arrived from a country outside of the EES area/Switzerland,
  • who are between 18 and 64 years old,
  • who have been granted a residence permit because they have relatives living in Sweden,
  • and who are registered in the Swedish population register.

The Book about Sweden which is used on civic orientation courses, is available in several languages and can be downloaded for free.

Can I get help with my homework?

Check your municipality’s Services Map. It will tell you if homework help is provided in your municipality, and where.

Several civil society organisations offer homework help. Check e.g. the Red Cross homework help map.

Save the Children and other organisations also arrange homework help activities.

Go to the various organisations’ websites and use their search function to find homework help.

Is there anywhere people can get together and practise speaking Swedish?

Several civil society organisations offer opportunities for practising speaking Swedish, e.g. in language cafés.

It is common for municipal libraries to have language cafés, check if your library does.

​I want to know how school works in Sweden

All children must attend comprehensive school. Compulsory school attendance begins in the year the child turns seven, but children can have their compulsory school attendance postponed for a year, or they can begin school one year earlier. For the vast majority of pupils, compulsory schooling ends after the ninth school year.

You can read more on the website of the Swedish National Agency for Education About the Swedish School, or the Agency's brochures for the newly arrived about preschool, primary and lower secondary school, upper secondary school and schools for children with intellectual disabilities.

How do I register my children for preschool?

You can apply to your municipality for a preschool place in municipal childcare. If you want your child to attend a private preschool or a parents’ cooperative you apply directly to these.

Most municipality presentation pages have a link to the municipality’s information about preschools.

Where will my children go to school?

It is common to choose a school near where you live, but you can also choose a school with a particular specialisation. You are entitled to choose which school your child will attend, subject to availability of places. Schools are obliged to give preference to pupils from the surrounding area. If the school still has places after that, it will receive pupils from other areas in the municipality. There are both municipal and independent schools, but there may not be any independent schools in your municipality.

Most municipal presentation pages have a link to the municipality’s schools.

How do I enrol my children in school in Sweden?

If your child has attended a prechool class (year 0) and you want him/her to continue at the same school, you don’t need to do anything. Otherwise you should contact the school you want your child to attend.

On Hitta och välja skola (Find and choose a school) you can get more information about schools and use various criteria in order to choose a school.

Does it cost anything to send your children to school?

Comprehensive school is compulsory in Sweden, and it is also mainly tuition-free. This means that all children are entitled to an education.

​I am young and have recently arrived in Sweden

What rights do I have as an unaccompanied child?

You can read more on the pages for unaccompanied children here on

What is the system with preparatory and ordinary classes?

It is important that your learning includes language as well as other subjects. It can sometimes be difficult to move from a preparatory to an ordinary class. There are many terms and expressions that you need to have explained to you.

You can read more under School in Sweden here on Information about Sweden.

You can also read more on the National Agency for Education website.

What grades do I need in order to apply to upper secondary school?

Utbildningsinfo (Education info) has a tool called Choose and Plan which can help you see what you have already got and what you need to complement in order to achieve your goal.

I want to know how to get around in Sweden

How does the public transport work?

In most cities, public transport is available for everyone. It can for instance be buses, trams, metros and ferries that run between several stations in the cities or trains and buses that run between cities and in the countryside. Domestic flights also operate between some cities. There are also ferries that operate from the mainland to Gotland.

To use public transport, you are required to purchase a ticket. On, you can search for trips between all the stations in Sweden. You can also buy tickets to travel to other cities all over Sweden.

I want to drive a car in Sweden

​To drive a car in Sweden, you must be 18 years old or above and have a driving license. If you have a driving licence from your country of origin, there is no guarantee that you will be allowed to drive a car in Sweden.

Is my driving licence valid in Sweden?

If you have a driving licence from a country that is part of the European Economic Area (EEA) your licence applies for as long as it applies in the country where it was issued. A driving licence in this category can be exchanged for a Swedish licence.

If your driving licence was issued by a non-EEA country, it cannot be exchanged for a Swedish driving licence. If you are nationally registered in Sweden, you may use such a licence to drive in Sweden for up to one year. Once you have been nationally registered in Sweden for more than one year, your licence will no longer be valid. If you are not nationally registered in Sweden, there is no limit on how long you may use your licence to drive in Sweden.

How do I go about getting a driving licence in Sweden?

The Swedish Transport Agency’s website has easy-to-read information about obtaining a driving licence in Sweden.


This site contains information about the Swedish society and is run by the County Administrative Boards of Sweden
© Copyright 2016 County Administrative Board of Västra Götaland

We use cookies to give you a better user experience. By continuing to surf on you accept cookies.

Read more about cookies