Young people in Sweden
Last updated: 21 2 2020
These pages contain information about schools, health and civic life. You can also read about what rights are connected with different age limits.
All young people have the right to an education and to health, leisure, culture and influence.
Young people in Sweden are often independent. Schools train you in critical thinking. Education in Sweden is free. Pupils doing full-time studies are entitled to student aid from the age of 16, and possibly a housing allowance. This means that you are given the opportunity to choose your own path in life. Many young people move out of their parents' homes early, e g to study in another town.
You are expected to be independent, but your parents, your legal guardian or your acting custodian have responsibility for you until you are 18, when you reach your majority. As a young adult you have to take care of a lot of things on your own. You have to manage your finances, study or work, wash and clean, cook food, and deal with authorities. You will practice these things while you are still living at home, in accommodation, or in a family home. Some things you will learn at school, while you will have to learn others by yourself.
Important age limits in Sweden
Some age limits exist to protect children and young people, e g the rule that you are not allowed to start learning to drive until you have turned 16.
Other age limits exist in order to guarantee young people's rights, e g that you are eligible to vote in elections once you have turned 18.
When you turn 12
If your parents want you to change your surname you have to agree to it first.
If you have turned 12 you may not be adopted without agreeing to the adoption. But even before you have turned 12 you are entitled to say what you think about it.
When you turn 15
- You reach the age of criminal responsibility. This means that you can be punished for a crime.
- You are allowed to drive a moped (Class 1).
- You are allowed to see Restricted films in the cinema.
- If your bicycle or moped has the appropriate saddle or seat you are allowed to give another person a ride – if that person is under 10 years old.
- Sex: The law says that in principle a person may not have sex with anyone who is under 15. The law is not intended to prohibit two people who are the same age or almost the same age from having sex, but to prevent an older person from exploiting a young person.
When you turn 16
- Compulsory school attendance ends once you have completed the ninth year.
- You are allowed to do a normal, risk-free job, i e work 40 hours a week. But your employer has a bit more responsibility for you than for your colleagues who have reached their majority.
- You are allowed to start your own business.
- You are allowed to decide for yourself what to do with the money you earn.
- You are allowed to get a driving licence for light motorcycles and tractors.
- You are allowed to start taking car driving lessons.
- You are allowed to notify the authorities that you are moving and to sign the notification yourself.
- Your parents will no longer receive a child benefit for you. Instead you will receive a study grant if you study.
When you turn 18
Under the law, your parents' maintenance obligation for you ends once you turn 18. This means that they are no longer obliged to support you financially. However, if you are still at school, your parents' maintenance obligation remains. If that is the case, they have to support you for as long as your are in upper secondary education, or until you turn 21.
- You reach your majority.
- You are allowed to get married.
- You are allowed to vote.
- You are allowed to buy cigarettes.
- You are allowed to buy alcohol in restaurants and beer in shops.
- You are allowed to get a driving licence for cars and heavy motorcycles.
When you turn 20
You are allowed to buy alcoholic beverages at Systembolaget.