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KEY POINTS: What Sweden’s new border controls mean for cross-border commuters

Just weeks after Covid-19-related checks on travellers crossing the Danish-Swedish border were removed, Sweden plans to re-introduce ID-checks on travellers in order to monitor refugees entering the country. Here's how it will affect commuters.

KEY POINTS: What Sweden's new border controls mean for cross-border commuters
The Öresund Bridge photographed from Limhamn on the Swedish side of the strait. Photo: News Øresund/Johan Wessman/Flickr

When will border checks start?

The proposal to bring in new border checks has been sent out for consultation and the government expects parliament to pass the new law quickly, so that it can come into effect as early as next month.

The new law will be valid for three years, from April 8th this year until April 8th 2025. Under the law, a period of ID checks will be limited to a maximum of six months. 

Will it definitely happen? 

Carl Sonesson, the chair of the local government in the Skåne Region, and Henrik Fritzon, who leads the Social Democrats in the region, have both called for ID checks not to be brought in, so there is a small chance the government will decide not to bring in the legislation, or if they do pass the law, that they will not use it to launch ID checks. Privately, though, local politicians admit they see little chance of stopping the legislation. 

Who will be affected?

ID checks will be required on all passengers entering Sweden by train, ferry or bus. 

The biggest impact will be in delays for those travelling from Copenhagen to Malmö and beyond by train or bus over the Öresund Bridge.

In 2016, the requirement to change trains at Kastrup typically added at least half an hour to commuters’ return journeys from Copenhagen. 

For travellers travelling by ferry from Denmark, Poland, Germany, or Finland, the disruption is likely to be significantly less, as ferry operators typically stop each passenger to check their tickets anyway. 

What will the transport companies have to do? 

According to the proposal sent out for consultation, “the responsibility in practice requires the transport company to check identity documents before the transport arrives in Sweden, probably at the point at which the traveller gets enters the vehicle or vessel.” 

When applied to travel across the Öresund bridge, this will require passenger’s IDs to be checked before trains leave Copenhagen’s Kastrup airport, which is the last stop before Sweden. 

The train operator could opt either to mount the train and then check the documents of every passenger, or require passengers to leave the train, move to another platform that they can only access by showing identity documents, and then take a second train over the bridge to Sweden. 

According to the proposal, companies will have to be able to demonstrate that they have carried out the controls by showing a “passenger list with identity information”. They will then face spot checks on arrival in Sweden to check that they have done this.

The Swedish Police will be responsible for carrying out the spot checks on transport companies, but they will be able delegate this to either the Swedish Customs Service or to the Swedish Coast Guard. 

If a transport operator is found not to have carried out the controls, it company will be fined 50,000 kronor (€4,790) per trip.

The Swedish Transport Agency is responsible for levying the fine, the proceeds of which will go to Sweden’s central government. 

For transport operators based outside of Sweden, the police or customs services can demand payment of the fine on the spot, and even refuse the vehicle entry to Sweden if the fine cannot be paid. 

The Swedish Transport Agency can decide to waive the fine. 

Which forms of ID will be accepted?

According to the proposal, any identity document that includes a photograph will be accepted. While this includes passports, other forms of ID such as national identity cards or driving licences would also be valid, even if they are not valid travel documents. 

This makes the new proposed ID checks weaker than the temporary border controls enforced in Sweden since November 2015, when passports with valid visas were required for many citizens from outside the European Union.  

Although the checks carried out by transport companies will not require travellers to have a passport or visa, Sweden still officially has “temporary border controls” at its borders, which are all with other Schengen countries. 

This means could still be stopped by Swedish border police after arrival in Sweden, so make sure you have the necessary travel documents with you. 

Are there any exemptions?

Anyone under the age of 18 travelling with an adult with valid identity documents will be exempted from the rule, as will those travelling from Norway to Sweden. 

Does this mean refugees will be turned away at the Swedish border?

No. Sweden is in the Schengen area, which means that Ukrainian citizens are able to stay in the country for 90 days without a permit or an entry visa, so long as they have a valid biometric passport, adequate funds to live on, and adequate funds for their home journey. This rule has been in place since 2017 and has not changed as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The activation of the Temporary Protection Directive in March 2022 means that Ukrainian citizens can stay in Sweden for a year without having to apply for a visa or make a claim for asylum. This applies to Ukrainians who have biometric and non-biometric passports.

The above information was correct to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. Please be aware that we are not a government authority and cannot issue any guarantees about whether or not you will be able to travel to Sweden.

We always advise readers to also consult the official information on the Swedish border police’s website HERE before travelling.

If you have any questions, you are always welcome to contact our editorial team at [email protected]. We may not be able to reply to every email, and we cannot advise on individual cases, but we read all emails and use them to inform our future coverage.

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EXPLAINED: The rules for riding an e-scooter in Sweden

Electric scooters or e-scooters are becoming more and more popular in Sweden, but many people still aren't sure what the rules are for driving them. Here's a breakdown.

EXPLAINED: The rules for riding an e-scooter in Sweden

Is there an age limit?

There is no legal age limit for riding an e-scooter, known as elsparkcykel (literally, “electric kick bicycle”) in Swedish, although many rental schemes in Sweden are only available to over-18s.

Where can I ride an e-scooter?

E-scooters are legally classed as bicycles if they have a maximum speed of 20km/h and a motor no stronger than 250 watts. If an electric scooter fulfils these requirements, it is subject to the same traffic rules as a bicycle.

This means that e-scooters can be ridden on bike lanes and on roads, if no bike lane is available. You must ride on the right whether you’re on a bike lane or a road.

You cannot ride an e-scooter on a pavement (sidewalk) or pedestrian zone. In a gångfartsområde (“walking-speed area”), you can ride your e-scooter as long as it does not exceed walking speed and as long as you give way to pedestrians. If you ride faster than walking speed, you risk a fine of 1,000 kronor.

The sign for a walking-speed area, where you may cycle or ride a scooter at walking speed. Image: Swedish Transport Agency

In some cases, you can ride an e-scooter on a main road, even if a bike lane is available. You must be over the age of 15 and the road in question must have a speed limit of 50km/h or less. It also has to be “more appropriate with regard to the location of the destination” to ride on the road rather than using the bike lane.

Children under the age of eight years old are technically allowed to ride on the pavement if no bike lane is available, although in practice you’re unlikely to see children this young using e-scooters anyway, as many rental services are only available to adults.

You also can’t ride an e-scooter on a motorway. Not only is it extremely dangerous, but you risk a 2,000 kronor fine if you do so.

Do I need a helmet?

There is no legal requirement for people over the age of 15 to wear a helmet when riding an e-scooter. Many rental schemes recommend that users wear a helmet anyway, even if they are aged over 15.

Only one person per e-scooter, otherwise you and your passenger each risk a 500 kronor fine. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Can more than one person ride an e-scooter?

No, and you and any passengers risk a 500 kronor fine each if you do so, as well as a five-year criminal record.

Do I need lights?

If riding in the dark, your e-scooter must be equipped with lights at the front and back as well as reflectors on the front, back and sides. If renting a scooter, make sure you check it meets the requirements if you’re likely to be using it in the dark.

Riding an e-scooter in the dark without lights can cost you a 500 kronor fine, and another 500 kronor fine if you don’t have reflectors.

In addition to this, e-scooters must have brakes and a bell, although there’s no set rules for what the bell should look like or what sound it should make. If your e-scooter’s doesn’t have functioning brakes or you don’t have a bell, you’re liable for a 500 kronor fine – 1,000 kronor if you have neither.

Is there an alcohol limit for e-scooters?

There’s no specific legal limit for alcohol use, although that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to ride drunk.

According to traffic legislation, you cannot use any kind of vehicle (including an e-scooter) if you “due to illness, tiredness, the effect of alcohol, other stimulants or depressants or for other reasons are unable to operate the vehicle in a safe manner”.

If you ride an e-scooter drunk and end up injuring someone else, you risk a fine, a prison sentence, or even the loss of your driving licence, depending on how serious the accident is.

Where can you park them?

E-scooters must be not be parked anywhere where they cause an obstacle for others – this means no parking on bike lanes or roads unless there is a specific parking area for e-scooters or bicycles, or anywhere where they could get in the way of pedestrians or people with mobility issues.

Malmö city council’s collection depot for illegally-parked electric scooters. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Scooters should also be parked upright and as neatly as possible, and should not block entrances to garages, pedestrian crossings, bus stops, train stations, shops or similar.

They may be parked in bike parking areas or in special areas marked for e-scooter parking. Many e-scooter rental services have parking areas located on their in-app maps.

You cannot park them on a gångbana, a pedestrian walkway marked with the following sign:

The sign for a ‘gångbana’ or pedestrian walkway. Image: Swedish Transport Agency

Do I have to follow traffic light rules?

Yes, you have to follow the same rules as other road users when using an e-scooter, which means stopping at red lights. If you run a red light, you’ll risk a fine of 1,500 kronor, with an extra 1,000 kronor fine on top of that if you skip a red light at a pedestrian crossing where someone is crossing the road.

You also have to follow rules for one-way streets and stop signs – you risk a 500 kronor fine if you drive the wrong way down a one-way street, and a 1,000 kronor fine if you ignore a stop sign.

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