How long can you use a foreign driving licence in Sweden?
It depends on two things: where the licence was issued, and your residence status.
If the licence was issued by, and is still valid in, an EEA country (or Switzerland, Japan or the UK, though Brexit may change this), you can use it in Sweden for as long as it's valid. It doesn't make a difference whether or for long you've been registered in Sweden.
It's also possible to exchange a licence from any of these countries for a Swedish one if you are a permanent resident of Sweden. You don't have to take a test, but you have to submit an application and pay a 250 kronor fee.
If your licence was issued in a non-EEA country, you can use it in Sweden for as long as it's valid, but only if you are not registered in Sweden, or for up to a year after registering. Registering means getting a person number or coordination number.
Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT
Is there any option for an extension?
Even in normal times, you can apply for an extension if you can prove you will only be in Sweden for a limited time, for example if you are here for studies and can show your degree will last a fixed number of years. You usually have to apply before the first year is up.
The Swedish Transport Agency has said that the coronavirus pandemic in itself is not a valid reason for an extension.
Does the pandemic makes it harder to renew my driving licence?
It could do, if you are unable to take the usual steps.
In the case of Kevin's father, he is aged over 75, putting him in a risk group for Covid-19, and has a doctor's note saying he should not attend driving lessons. Because he has a non-EU licence, this would be a prerequisite for a renewed licence. Despite a doctor's note, the Swedish Transport Agency turned down his request for an extension.
Some renewals also require a doctor's note, which may also be harder to get due to Covid-19.
The Local asked the agency how many people were in the position of being unable to either use their foreign licence or to apply for a Swedish one, but a press spokesperson said: “We have nothing to add. No changes are planned, as far as we know.” They directed us towards the Ministry for Infrastructure and Transport, saying that the possibility for an extension is regulated by the Driving Licence Act and would require a law change.
A press secretary from the ministry told us: “With regard to the possibility of extending a driving license for non-European driving licence holders, it is possible to obtain an exemption from The Swedish Transport Agency so that a foreign driving licence can be valid for a longer period if the holder is not a permanent resident.”
Unfortunately, there currently aren't any exemptions for people who are considered a permanent resident of Sweden and whose non-EU licences are no longer valid because it has been over a year.
What happens if I'm caught driving without a valid licence?
You could face a fine of up to 3,000 kronor and a two-year ban on applying for a Swedish licence. If you get into an accident, it could also affect your eligibility for insurance.
Has your ability to apply for a Swedish driving licence been affected by Covid-19, or do you have another question about life in Sweden you would like us to look into? You are always welcome to contact our news team at [email protected] and we will do our best to help if we can.