How to Get Swedish Citizenship & Join The EU: Ultimate 2023 Expat Guide

town in sweden with snow to illustrate guide about swedish citizenship

Are you looking to become a citizen of the Nordic nation of Sweden? We’re here to help.

In this guide, we’ll explore why Sweden is a great choice for people looking to move to the EU, walk you through the ways people can qualify for Swedish citizenship, and help you navigate the process of becoming a Swedish citizen.

Why Sweden?

Sweden has much to offer for people looking to establish citizenship within the European Union. This small nation of just over 10 million people is known for its high quality of life, modern infrastructure, and exceptional life expectancy.

The citizens of Sweden enjoy living in an eco-focused society with plenty of access to beautiful countryside covered in forests and with over 95,000 lakes. Sweden is truly an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. The nation also has great job opportunities and strong economic growth.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Living in Sweden

Before you decide to move to Sweden and seek citizenship, it’s important to understand the pros and cons.

The obvious benefit of Swedish citizenship is access to the many services available to Swedish citizens.

You’ll be able to vote in elections, get free (or mostly free) education, and enjoy universal healthcare and generous parental leave (up to 500 days per child).

Sweden also has one of the most powerful passports on the planet, giving access to 188 countries without a visa in advance.

As a Swedish citizen, you’ll also be an EU citizen, giving you the freedom to travel, live, work, study, do business, or retire across the 30 countries (EU/EEA and Switzerland), without needing any visas.

But, as with any country, moving to Sweden has its drawbacks. Many people find it extremely difficult to adjust to the harsh weather and lack of daylight (sometimes only four to six hours) during the winter months.

Residents of Sweden also pay extremely high tax rates compared to other countries (although in return, they receive top quality healthcare and infrastructure).

What’s more, many people find Swedish a challenging language to learn. Most Swedes speak a good level of English, making it tricky to find opportunities to practice in daily life.

Swedish Citizenship in a Nutshell

  • Minimum residency timeline: Five years
  • Does Sweden Permit Dual Citizenship? Yes, dual citizenship is permitted in Sweden as long as the other country recognizes it.
  • Minimum Income Requirements? None. But there are minimum maintenance requirements for residency visas to ensure the holder can support themselves and their family.
  • Minimum Physical Stay Requirements? 5 years
  • Are You Required to Pay Tax in Sweden? Yes
  • Language Requirements? No. But Sweden plans to introduce a language test in 2025.
  • Citizenship Test? No. But Sweden plans to introduce a society knowledge test in 2025.
  • Does Sweden Have a Passive Income Pathway Available? No
  • Does Sweden Have an Investor Residency Pathway Available? Yes, for entrepreneurs

Options to Become a Citizen of Sweden

Swedish Citizenship by Descent

If one or both of your parents are Swedish citizens, you can apply for Swedish citizenship through descent.

In Sweden, a parent’s citizenship determines the citizenship of the child at birth (even if the child is born outside Sweden). For children born to Swedish parents, the child automatically acquires Swedish citizenship.

The exception to this rule applies to children born before April 1, 2015 to Swedish parents. In this case, the parent would need to submit a declaration of Swedish citizenship to the Swedish Migration Agency.

Foreign children who are under the age of 12 and are adopted by Swedish parents automatically become Swedish citizens. Children who are over the age of 12 at the time of adoption must go through the standard naturalization process.

Naturalization in Sweden

Sweden’s naturalization process for non-citizens is relatively straightforward. Non-Swedish nationals can apply for Swedish citizenship through the naturalization process as long as they meet a specific set of criteria prior to their application.

Basic Requirements:

  1. Be 18 years of age or older
  2. Ability to prove your identity
  3. Hold a permanent residence permit or have the right to residency (applies to EU citizens and their close relatives).
  4. Meet the habitual residence requirement (minimum of 5 years).
  5. Maintain a standard of good conduct while living in Sweden
  6. Ability to pass language and society knowledge exams (when they become available around 2025).

Citizenship Through Investment

Technically, Sweden doesn’t grant citizenship based solely on investments or owning a business in the country. All investors must still go through the same naturalization process.

But Sweden does offer an opportunity for foreign entrepreneurs to establish residency by setting up a business in Sweden.

The standard Swedish investment visa is valid for one year. However, if you choose to live in Sweden, you can apply for a residence permit that is valid for five years which will allow you to achieve the minimum required residency of five years to apply for citizenship.

The investment visa does have income requirements to make sure the investor can successfully support themselves and their family during their residence period.

As the investor, you must hold a minimum of 200,000 SEK (Swedish Krona) for yourself, plus an additional 100,000 SEK for your spouse or partner, and 50,000 SEK for each accompanying child.

For example, if you’re moving to Sweden with your spouse and two children, you’d need to show proof of 400,000 SEK to sustain your family’s cost of living.

In addition to the income requirement, investors must also demonstrate that they have experience running a business and must own at least 50% of the business. The language requirement is fluency in either Swedish or English.

Process for Applying for Swedish Citizenship

Step 1: Obtain a Residence Visa

The first step toward citizenship in Sweden is to obtain your initial temporary residence. You can apply for a residence permit by mail or in person at a Swedish embassy in your home country.

The process includes an application (with supporting documents) and a formal interview.

You’ll need to submit the following documents with your application:

  • Completed Residence Permit for Visitor’s Application Form (Form #165001)
  • Completed Child Application, if applicable (Form #167011)
  • Notarized copies of your passport
  • Bank statements
  • Return ticket
  • Letter from your insurance company with proof of international insurance to cover medical emergencies, hospital treatment, and repatriation costs. The minimum coverage must be 30,000 Euros (or approximately 330,000 SEK). Coverage must be good for the duration of your stay.
  • Application fee (1,000 SEK). Note: This fee is waived for any citizens of Switzerland or Nordic and EU countries.

Step 2: Meet Residency Duration Requirement

Once you have obtained official residency in Sweden, you will need to remain in the country for a minimum of five years before you are eligible to apply for citizenship.

During this time, residents can leave the country for short periods (up to 6 weeks a year) for travel or business. But any time beyond six weeks a year will be subtracted from your total years counted towards residency.

This timeframe can be shortened to three years if you’ve already been living with a Swedish citizen outside the country before taking up residence in Sweden.

For example, if you lived with your Swedish spouse in the United States for two years prior to moving to Sweden, then you’d only need to hold Swedish residency for the three remaining years to qualify for citizenship. 

Step 3: Live an “Orderly Life” in Sweden

During your residency, it’s extremely important to be an upstanding citizen, as the authorities will consider this factor during your naturalization application process.

The Swedish Migration Agency will conduct a thorough investigation to ensure that you haven’t committed any crimes, aren’t behind on paying taxes or other fines, have outstanding debt, or pose a threat to national security.

If you’ve had unpaid debts reported to the Swedish Enforcement Authority, then you must wait two years from the date you pay off the debt before applying for citizenship.

Criminal offences can also extend the eligibility period for citizenship, depending on the severity of the crime. For example, a one-month custodial sentence can add an additional four years to the process.

More serious crimes (such as a 6-year custodial sentence) will add ten years from the time the sentence has ended (a total of 16 years).

Step 4: Submit Your Naturalization Application

As long as you meet all of the naturalization requirements, you can submit your electronic application to the Swedish Migration Agency. You can include your children in your online application, so you won’t need to submit a separate one for each family member.

You’ll need to prove your identity during the application process, which you can do with your existing passport. Alternatively, a close relative who is a Swedish citizen can attest to your identity.

You don’t have to verify your identity if you’ve lived in Sweden for more than 8 years and haven’t changed your identity during that time.

While the application process for Swedish citizenship is easy, the approval process is lengthy. In 2022, the Swedish Migration Agency reported that only 75 percent of all applications are processed within 39 months.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How Much Does the Swedish Citizenship Application Cost?

The citizenship application fee is relatively low compared to other countries. The standard cost for an application is 1,500 SEK. Since children can be submitted on the same application, they are included in the cost. If you previously held Swedish citizenship, you can regain it by applying and paying a fee of only 175 SEK.

Are UK Citizens Eligible for Swedish Citizenship After Brexit?

Citizens of the UK may be interested in applying for Swedish citizenship in order to maintain their citizenship within the European Union.

British citizens who obtained residency in Sweden prior to Brexit can maintain their status. New applicants for residency and citizenship from the UK will need to follow the same process as non-EU or non-EEA citizens.

Is it Difficult to Move to Sweden?

Moving to Sweden isn’t difficult as long as you’ve got all of your documents in order. Probably the biggest challenge will be adjusting to the cultural differences of your new home – depending on how different Swedish culture is from your own.

The Swedish language is notoriously difficult to learn for some people. The good news is that many Swedes speak German and/or English as their second languages. While this can be helpful at first, it can make it difficult to learn Swedish if you don’t get sufficient exposure to the language.

Another challenge is adapting to the weather and darkness during the winter months. Winter in Sweden can be especially harsh with temperatures dipping well below freezing.

Also, because of its northern location, people who live in Sweden must tolerate only four to six hours of daylight each day during the winter. On the other hand, daylight can last between 18 to 20 hours during the summer months.

Can Foreigners Buy Property in Sweden?

The Swedish government has no legal restrictions on foreigners who want to purchase real estate in Sweden. This can be a great way to demonstrate that you meet the habitual residence requirement for citizenship.

Do I Qualify for Citizenship if I have Swedish Relatives?

Having Swedish heritage does not automatically qualify you for citizenship except for next-generation relationships (parents). If one or both of your parents are Swedish citizens, you can apply for Swedish citizenship by descent.

Before you go…

Swedish citizenship has many advantages, but it’s not the most straightforward route to EU citizenship.

For starters, Sweden doesn’t have a route to gain residency by passive income. So you’d either have to acquire residency by starting your own business, or move to Sweden with sponsorship from a local company.

If Sweden doesn’t seem right for you or your family, we encourage you to check out some of our other citizenship guides for other countries around Europe.

Portugal is an especially popular choice. It requires just five years residency before you can apply for Portuguese citizenship, recognizes dual citizenship, offers tax benefits for new residents, and offers several accessible residency visa schemes.

These include:

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