What it takes to drive in Sweden
To make things easy for you, here are the answers of some of your major questions on driving in Sweden.
Do I need an International Licence? No. Anyone driving a motor vehicle in Sweden must hold a valid national (e.g. Cameroonian) driving licence. In other words, an international driving permit is not enough on its own. You can drive 12 months here on your Cameroonian licence.
Can I swap my Cameroonian licence for a Swedish one?
No. Only those who hold a valid licence from an EEA country (=Denmark, Finland, Norway, Iceland, Germany, France, Great Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Austria etc) can directly swap their licence.
What if I just drive more than a year on the Cameroonian licence?
I will advice you not try it. It will cost you if you are caught and you may end up paying a huge fine or going to jail. And the phrase “I didn’t know that is was like that here” “i have been here for just a few months” won’t work with the police! Note that it will also annul the car insurance if you are driving and if you have an accident. It’s not worth a try!!
How do I get a Swedish licence?
Well, it’s fairly straightforward, if somewhat expensive. There are three tests that you must pass to obtain a Swedish driving license:
(1) the slippery road test (halkbana),
(2) the written theory test, and
(3) the driving test.
These tests must be taken in the order that they appear and, contrary to what you may have heard, it is possible to pass each test the first time around--even if you don’t speak Swedish!
Details of the forms needed are available here. Visit Vägverkets webpage in English. Forms for application
Körkörtstillstånd (driving permit)
The first step before getting your license is to apply for permission to practice driving. Call Vägverket and ask them to send you an application that will allow you to practice driving with your spouse, partner, or friend. Once you have written permission to practice, you must buy a green “övningskörning” (practice driving) sticker from a petrol station and place it on the back of your car whenever you are driving. In the back of the pamphlet you receive from Vägverket is a card that must be signed by your instructor and stamped by the slippery road test facility. Road test
Do I need a driving school?
You don’t have to attend a driving school, but doing so is highly recommended since getting a Swedish driving license is a very complicated procedure. You are not required to take any courses at a driving school as long as you have someone who can be your "private instructor" (handledare) who has had a Swedish license for more than 5 years, but it is recommended. Why? Well, many driving schools offer theory courses (mostly in Swedish) and textbooks, pre-tests, and driving lessons (in English). Call around to compare costs and to see what they have to offer in English. For a list of all driving schools approved by the National Association of Swedish Driving Schools, see the website at Sveriges Trafikskolors Riksförbund. There is excellent information about licences there and you can look for a driving school in your area and tests here Driving schools and tests
The school will also prepare you for the slippery road, theory, and driving tests. Here is some information about each test:
Halkbana: (slippery road testing)
This course takes about 4 hours for driving school students and 4½ hours for private students. The training consists of both theory and practical exercises in driving in slippery or hazardous road conditions. You'll receive a booklet in the mail after you've received an appointment, detailing the different exercises. Your task will be to show the driving inspector that you know how to handle your car on an icy road. You will be asked, for example, to step on your brakes going 80-100 kilometres per hour and then regain control of your car. Active participation, following the given instructions, completing the exercises at the required speeds and not abusing the vehicles is basically all that's required to pass the training. Your successfully-completed training will remain valid for two years. You will not receive any certificate or other paperwork; rather, they inform Vägverket that you have completed the training and it is noted in their computers. If you don't understand Swedish well, you'll need to arrange to bring your own interpreter with you.
The theory test is computerised and consists of 70 questions. Of these, 65 are 'counted' and you must get 52 right. You don’t need to be computer literate to take this test, and you can request it in English. The test focuses on the practical points of driving. In preparing for the theory test, you must purchase a textbook and take about 14 pre-tests. Textbooks in English are available. Most schools are currently translating the new pre-tests into English. After you have passed all the pre-tests, the school will then schedule a time for you to take the theory test at Vägverket. You can obtain "Passing Your Driving Test" from Sveriges Trafikskolors Riksförbund or from your driving school. You can also study online and even take practice tests (which are very similar to the real thing!) at Korkort.com.
The driving test takes around 45 minutes. Even if you have many years of driving experience, it is still a good idea to drive with an instructor from a driving school before taking the final driving test. Why? Because Vägverket’s inspectors have high standards, and they will expect you to follow certain rules. The driving instructors know exactly what the inspectors will be looking for during the test and can thus prepare you in advance. The instructors will also teach you how to perform three additional mini-tests relating to your car: an engine check, an inside car check, and a light check (you will be asked to perform one of these three tests before your final driving test begins). After you have driven once or maybe several times with an instructor and have demonstrated that you are ready to take the final driving test, the school will then schedule a test time at Vägverket. Ask your instructor to go with you during the final test to translate if necessary.
What does it cost?
What can I say, it’s EXPENSIVE! There are fees along every step of this process. There are separate costs for your driving permit, the eye examination required for the driving permit, your theory study materials, the theory test, the driving test, the manufacturing of your driver's license, the slippery road training, hire of car for the halkbana test, driving lessons, use of a double-control car for the driving test and the photos for your license. Expect to pay at least 5000 Sek and more (and even more depending on if and how many driving lessons you take) for the whole process.
Where can I find schools etc?
The telephone books list plenty of driving schools under the heading "Trafikskolor". Slippery Road Test locations: Look for "Halkbanor" or "trafikövningsplatser" in the yellow pagesGula sidornaor eniro.se for a slippery road test range nearest you. For a complete list of all of Vägverkets testing locations, see Vägverkets homepage.
Cars are annually tested for roadworthy at Bilprovning. These tests are compulsory. You can book a time on the internet, but allow plenty of time ahead to make an appointment for the test, which takes around 20 minutes or so to complete. It covers the exhaust system, the braking system, the front and rear suspension, tyres and steering system, and wheel housings to check, headlights, indicators, front and rear lights, wipers, horn and rear view mirrors. The inspection fee for a car is currently 300 SEK. If the car is failed, the re-inspection fee is 200 SEK.
How to care for your car in winter
Be certain to wash your car regularly, including an underneath wash in winter, to minimise rust development. The rust increases in proportion to the amount of salt sprayed on snow/ice covered roads.
When you have washed your car in winter, beware of locking it when the temperature goes down, i.e. do NOT lock it the same night as washed if it is outside. The locks will be sure to freeze!
Carry and use lock oil in winter. If the locks have frozen due to weather changes (wet and warm and suddenly icy cold the same day) you can unfreeze them by using a cigarette lighter to warm the key and/or a plastic bag of hot water on the door lock.
Cars are commonly 'plugged in', during winter to keep the motor warm to start in the morning!
It’s common to change the car tyres over to studded winter ones on Alla helgons(public holiday) weekend and back to summer tyres over Easter weekend. They have to be changed by December 1st and May 1st.
Speed Limits are posted everywhere. They are medium size red circles with a yellow background and black numbers. 50 kph (30 mph) in built-up areas, 70 kph (44 mph) or 90 kph (56 mph) outside built-up areas, and 110 kph (68 mph) on highways (though this is reduced to 90 kph near major towns). Cars towing a trailer are limited to 80 kph (50 mph).
If you speed in Sweden, you risk a heavy fine and maybe even losing your driving license. To see a current scale of fines, check out Trafikjuristen. For serious speed offences, as well as having your licence withdrawn, you will face the prospect of a jail term and/or be subject to a fine that equals 40-60 “dagsböter”. Dagsböter is dependent on your income, with one dagsbot equalling anything from 30 to 100 SEK.
Moose, deer etc Sweden is 54% forest, so there are a lot of "Animal" warning signs posted. These signs must be taken seriously. You should be extra careful when driving around sunset and dawn. Samples of some common road signs can be seen here.
You can see these at the AWC website Important road signs. These road signs are scanned in from the pamphlet "Swedish road signs, signals, road marking and signals by policemen" published by Vägverket. You can also obtain the pamphlet from them or from your nearest driving school or you can view the pdf file at their website.
Vägverket has a great animation page in English that clearly demonstrates rules for things like cyclists, pedestrian traffic, roundabouts, stopping and parking and vehicle lighting. Check it out here.
Sweden's drinking and driving laws are quite strict and the police are able to stop you at any time and give a driver a breathalyser test. Driving with a blood alcohol limit over 0.02% can mean a gaol sentence. So the limit is effectively zero. The bottom line is Do Not Drink and Drive.
Whenever you are sitting in a car, you must use a seat belt. Children under the age of seven must sit in a child safety seat. All other children must use a seatbelt. It is forbidden to use a back facing child safety seat in the front seat of a car that has a passenger side airbag.
It is the law in Sweden that you have to be seen when you are driving. All vehicles must drive with at least dimmed headlights, always day and night.