When will it be possible to travel to (and from) Sweden again?

When will it be possible to travel to (and from) Sweden again?
Photo: Ole Beg-Rusten/TT
Many of us are waiting for the point in the future where we are allowed to leave our homes, our countries, and go abroad. On a holiday, for work, or to visit friends and family. The big question is: when will this be possible again?

The short answer, unfortunately, is that the exact timing is uncertain, but it definitely won't be possible for some months to come.

The Swedish government has been advising against all non-essential overseas travel abroad, due to the extensive spread of the coronavirus and the rapidly changing and uncertain situation for travellers.

This advice is currently in place until June 15th, 2020, but this deadline may be extended. In fact, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has said that we should assume it will be.

There is also a full entry ban into the EU in place for non-European residents. The entry ban applies to all foreign citizens attempting to enter Sweden from a country outside the EU or Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and the UK. Sweden extended the temporary entry ban to the EU via Sweden until May 15th and this deadline may, too, be extended further.

United Kingdom nationals are still regarded as European Economic Area citizens during the Brexit transition period, which lasts until December 31st, 2020, so UK citizens are exempt from the ban along with other EU citizens. Citizens and residents of Sweden, as well as people with important reasons to come to Sweden will still be able to enter the country.

But there are other obstacles in place: there are no commercial flights running to and from many countries, including the UK, and many governments worldwide have banned their citizens from overseas travel.

And within Sweden, the official advice is to avoid all non-essential travel and domestic vacations.

So when could this change?

What does the decision mean for exchange students who are studying in Sweden but are currently abroad – can they return to Sweden?

As a rule, a third-country national who is to study in Sweden for more than three months requires a residence permit. People who hold a residence permit for Sweden will be allowed to enter Sweden if the purpose is to return home.

Can I book trips from Sweden overseas for the summer, after June 15th?

You could, but there's no guarantee that international travel will be possible that early. The June 15th deadline may well be extended, and you should also keep in mind that restrictions may be in place in the countries you hope to go to. These could change quickly. 

State epidemiologist Anders Tegnell told the Aftonbladet newspaper that it “will be problematic to travel abroad this summer”.

“It will be a world that is still quite chaotic with many cancelled flights, many border controls and other [measures],” he said, but he said that the chance of staycations or travel within Sweden being possible by summer was higher.  

 

What about domestic travel; can I plan summer holidays within Sweden?

Even this is uncertain. There are currently no legally enforced restrictions on travel between Sweden's regions, but the current guidelines warn against non-essential travel within the country, and this is especially important for travel to and from different regions, above all if you're travelling to a rural, more sparsely populated region.

The spread of infection is currently higher in some places than others, and authorities want to keep things that way for as long as possible. Among other things, it makes it easier for the healthcare sector to share resources as needed. Healthcare capacity is typically based on the number of year-round residents, so regions that are less densely populated and usually receive a lot of tourists in the summer have warned that they would struggle this year if travellers led to more people needing hospital care.

We don't know what the situation will be like by the summer. Domestic travel is probably more likely to be possible than international travel, but there's still huge uncertainty. 


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