Sweden Road Trip

Foreign driver’s licenses in Sweden

Driving in Sweden requires a valid driver’s license, but it’s not always clear if a foreign license is valid or not. For most European and American citizens it’s usually quite simple and their current license will in most cases work just fine. In fact, many other foreign licenses can be used in Sweden as well – they might just require some additional information. The first thing to consider is if your driver’s license in an EEA license or not (essentially, if it’s European or not).


EEA driver’s licenses

As a general rule, all licenses issued in EEA member states are valid in Sweden if they are currently valid in the country they were issued in. If the license owner is also a Swedish citizen, the license is still valid as long as it hasn’t been replaced with a Swedish license. The new license will then have to be valid instead.

In other words, with 31 countries currently being members of the EEA there are plenty of European licenses that works great and you will have no trouble driving in Sweden with (for example) UK, German, French, Dutch, Belgian, Austrian or Spanish driver’s licenses.


Non-EEA driver’s licenses

A driver’s license issued by a non-EEA state might actually also be valid in Sweden if it’s issued according to internationally established conventions (read more here). In some cases however, additional documentation is required. In general:

  • a translation of the license (or international driving permit, IDP) is required if the license does not follow international convention, and if it’s not issued in English, German or French. An IDP is not valid on its own and must always be combined with a driver’s license that is valid in the issuing country.
  • a current photo-id (your passport, for example) is required if the driver’s license does not have a photo.

A US driver’s license can be used in Sweden and does not require an IDP or other attachments, provided that it’s still valid in the US and that the license holder is at least 18 years old. Two simple criteria and you’re good to go.

Australian, New Zealand and Canadian driver’s licenses are other examples of non-EEA licenses that are perfectly ok to drive with in Sweden without any fuzz (under the same conditions as for the US above).

Just keep in mind that all non-EEA driver’s licenses stops being valid in Sweden if the driver has been registered in Sweden for more than one year. If you plan to remain longer, you will have to acquire a Swedish license in order to stay behind the wheel.

For all foreign driver’s licenses:

The minimum age for driving in Sweden is 18, which of course applies to all drivers on Swedish roads – no matter what the age limit is in your home country.
A foreign driver’s license is never valid if the driver also has a Swedish license (as the Swedish license will then have to be valid instead), or if the license has been revoked or suspended in the country it was issued in. Remember that Swedish rules applies to all drivers and international licenses may also be revoked or suspended in Sweden.
Always obey local rules – read more about traffic regulations and road customs in Sweden.
If you’re renting a car in Sweden, there may be more regulations and stipulations than just a legitimate license. Find out more about Swedish car rental requirements.


International driving permit

An international driving permit, or IDP, is an international version of your driver’s license recognized by over 175 countries. It is often falsely referred to as an “international driver’s license”, but it is actually only a translation and not a driver’s license on its own. As such, it must always be combined with your regular, valid driver’s license.
Many rental car companies in Sweden require an IDP together with your driver’s license if it’s not issued in an EEA member state. Quite generally – if an IDP is required for driving a car it is also required for hiring a car.

How to get an IDP?
How you obtain an international driving permit depends on where you live but they are usually issued by official automobile associations or other motor vehicle organizations (or similar) in your home country. Normally it’s an easy application process and the fee is relatively small.

International driving permits cannot be obtained in Sweden if you’re visiting from abroad and must be issued in your country of residence. So, if you need one make sure you get it before you arrive.

Share this info: