Swedish Driving License Explained

Have you just arrived in Sweden? Or have you been living here for a while and you have decided that you need a Swedish driving license?

Well let me explain to you everything there is to know about the process of obtaining your Swedish driving licence in English.

I was in your shoes. I moved from Australia to Sweden, expecting to be able to easily swap my foreign license for one here. However, I was so wrong!

Not only did I need to go through the process again, I also needed to pay about 5,000 SEK (~550 USD) just to get the licence (and that was without any lessons). In the end I luckily passed both the theory and practical tests first time, without using the driving book, or taking any lessons.

Here I explain how the process works, and what you should expect if you become a resident of Sweden, and you want to be able to drive here!

Foreign Licences in Sweden

If you are from a country outside the European Economic Area (EEA), and you are registered as a Swedish resident, then you have 1 year that you are able to drive on your foreign license in Sweden (unless you have an exemption).

If you are not registered as a resident, you can drive on your foreign licence for as long as the foreign license remains valid.

Can I Swap My License For a Swedish One?

If your from a country outside the EEA countries, United Kingdom, the Faroe Islands, Switzerland or Japan, you are not able to replace your license with a Swedish one. This means that you will need to go through the whole license process again.

To be able to swap your EEA foreign drivers licence, you are required to:

  1. be from the EEA countries, United Kingdom, the Faroe Islands, Switzerland or Japan
  2. have a valid license
  3. be a permanent resident of Sweden.

If you meet the above criteria, you can fill out the Application for exchange of foreign driving license (unfortunately only available in Swedish).

However, if you are keen on trying to swap your license there is a possible way. Those that are from from a non-EEA country and have time, can try and swap a foreign license (i.e. Australian, American etc) for a license in another EEA country, and then use that to swap to a Swedish drivers license.

This double swap was a method that used to work well for those that swapped their Australian licence for one in the UK, and then swapped that UK one for one in Sweden. However, they seem to have aught on, and now you need to be a resident of the UK for 6 months to be able to exchange your license.

More information about driving on foreign drivers licences can be found from Trafikverket.

Chances of getting a Swedish drivers license infographic

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Requirements to Obtain a Drivers License in Sweden

So I will break down the requirements to obtain a license specifically for those who likely already have a valid foreign licence from another country. If you don’t have a foreign licence, then the steps marked as (optional) may be relevant.

Obtaining a Swedish drivers license video

1. Apply for a Learners Permit

To be able to take the drivers license test, you will be required to have a learners permit. Applications for learner’s permit can be found on the form Grupp 1 here.

In addition to your application, you will need to obtain a eye examination certificate (referred to as Synundersökning till körkort). The test takes about 10 minutes, and most optometrists can do this test.

The permit is valid for 5 years.

2. (Optional) Introductory Training, Introductory Course, and Starting to Drive

*This has only been marked as optional as a resident driver under a foreign licence is allowed to drive in Sweden for 1 year (unless they have an exemption).
This means that within that year, on a valid international license, they do not have to do an introductory course or be supervised while driving.
If the foreign license has expired, then you may be required to take this step.

If you don’t have a current drivers licence, or haven’t had your licence before, then there are a few introductory things that you should do after you receive your learners permit.

You will need to decide whether you will learn through a driving school, or independently. If you are learning independently then you and your personal driving supervisor (i.e. a parent, friend etc) will need to undergo introduction training.

Learning privately requires:

  • the student has a valid drivers licence (learners licence).
  • the supervisor must be older than 24, with a valid license from Sweden or EEA country. A license must have been held for 5 years of the last 10.
  • the supervisor to have not had their license revoked due to certain offences.
  • both the student and supervisor attended the introductory training within the last 5 years.

The education goes for 3 hours, and covers the rules for practise driving, how to plan and structure the training, road safety and the environment.

A list of driving schools can be found here. Applications for supervising a learner driver can be found here (both forms in Swedish).

3. Book Theoretical and Practical Driving Test

You can book tests up to 11 months in advance, but you must make sure that all of the other training courses are complete before the test. Make sue you get on the site and at least see when the next available test is. Depending on the area that you live, or the state of the pandemic in the world, it may take a couple of months to find a free test slot.

Booking a Swedish Drivers License Test

4. Take the Risk Training Courses 1 and 2

Before going for your drivers license, you will need to complete the Risk training courses 1 and 2. Not all places offer these in English, so make sure that you find somewhere that offers this service.

Risk Training Course 1 – Risk Theory (Alcohol, Drugs and Fatigue)

Risk Training 1 covers topics such as how alcohol drugs and fatigue affect driving ability. The course in total goes for about 3.5 hours.

Risk Training Course 2 – Practical Driving Experience

Risk Training 2 is the practical training that allows you to test how cars behave on different road surfaces. The course goes for about 4 hours.

5. Do the Theory and Practical Driving Test

This is your final step to get your license. It involves a theory test and a practical driving test. You must have passed both risk training courses before being able to take the test.

More than 50% of people fail these, so it’s important to be prepared.

What’s also important to note is that you must pass your knowledge test before you can take the practical driving test. A list of driving test offices can be found here (in Swedish).

Before you take your test you will be required to take a photograph. This is the photo that will be used later on your drivers license.

Taking your photo at trafikverket video

The Theory Test (Kunskapsprovet)

The theory test (Kunskapsprovet) is made up of a total of 70 questions with a maximum score of 65 (5 of the questions are test questions and not included in the result). You need to answer 52 questions correctly. In total you have 50 minutes to take the test.

You can take the knowledge test in multiple languages including Albanian, Arabic, English, Finnish, French, Persian, Russian, Somali, Sorani, Spanish, Thai, Turkish and German. In total the test has been translated into 14 languages. But, keep in mind that the test has been translated, and it has not written specifically in those languages. This means that some translations may be slightly wrong, and could cause confusion during the test.

The theory test measures your knowledge in five areas:

  • Vehicle knowledge and manoeuvring – how the car works, how conditions affect the car, how a car behaves and risk.
  • Environment – different modes of transport affecting the environment, how to drive in an environmentally conscious way.
  • Road safety – adjusting speed and position based on situations and interactions, how conditions affect a drivers behaviour.
  • Traffic rules – road signs, markings, speed, meeting and overtaking, cargo, passengers and oblations to others.
  • Personal conditions – how how medication, drugs, stress, fatigue, time of day and peer pressure affect a drivers behaviour,

If you pass the theory test, Congratulations! You have 4 months 6 months (due to a temporary corona extension / until 30 Sep 2022) to pass the practical test before you need to take the theory test again.

If you fail, don’t worry. Just over half the people pass on their first try. You’re able to rebook the test again (with a higher priority than those who have not taken the test).

Make sure you reschedule the practical driving test (if required), and possibly have a look through more practice test questions to help you next time!

Usually you have 2 attempts at a priority level (i.e., if you fail, you can rebook quicker than if it was your first time) before you then have to wait a normal time to rebook your theory test. Note: this has been increased to 3 priority attempts during the pandemic.

How the knowledge test for a license is held video

The Practical Test (Körprov)

Before you’re allowed to take the final driving test (körprov), you must have passed the theory test.

If you have learnt through a driving school, generally you are able to use/hire one of their cars. If you have learnt privately, you will most likely need to hire a car from the transport agency (from where you do your test), or provide your own car. If you provide your own car it must have duel control functionality installed.

The test starts with the examiner telling you about how the test is run and what is assessed. The Trafkiverket website says that the instructor will only speak Swedish, and they will show you an introductory video in your language. But this may be location specific, as the instructor that I had was happy to speak English.

First you will conduct a safety test of the car. You may be asked various questions about specific parts of the car. During my test I was asked about the tyres and whether they were suitable based on their tread. You may have to look at other things such as the cars headlights, or wipers and washers to ensure the car is safe.

The test will then start and run for about half an hour (or at least more than 25 minutes). The instructor will direct you and provide clear timely instructions about where to drive.

The areas of competence that are assessed include:

  • Vehicle knowledge – conduct a safety check of the car, change controls while driving.
  • Operation – driving, steering, accelerating, braking in a natural way. Manoeuvrability and parking.
  • Environment and economical driving – drive in a way that conserves fuel (i.e. no unnecessary stops, jumping gears etc).
  • Traffic rules – knowledge of the rules and be able to apply them in traffic.
  • Road safety and behaviour – dealing with situations, adapting speed to conditions, understanding risks, car positioning, driving safely.
An introduction to the driving test video

Once the test is complete you will receive your results!

If you fail, you are provided a reason why you have failed. You are able to book again with priority to choose a new time. Note: You currently get 3 priority attempts during the pandemic. If its your knowledge test has expired, you will need to retake that test before doing your practical test again..

If you pass, Congratulations! You will receive your driving license in the mail in about 5 days.

You are able to drive before you have received your license in the mail, as long as you stay within Sweden, and you have another form of identification. This is able to last for 2 months.

Chances of Passing Your Swedish Driving License

According to statistics produced by Trafikverket an average of 41.12% of people, that did not go to a driving school, passed their driving test on their first go. So far in 2021 (Jan-Sep) the passing rates were as follows:

  • 112,340 people took the theory test. with an average passing rate of 65.70% (56.68% private, 79.05% driving school).
  • 70,287 people took the practical driving test, with an average passing rate of 56.64% (41.12% private, 70.83% driving school).

Here is a summary of the results over the previous 7 years:

Knowledge (Private)
Knowledge (School)
Knowledge Test (Avg.)
Practical (Private)
Practical (School)
Practical Driving Test (Avg.)
Knowledge and Practical test passing rate based on year and type of education

Cost of a Swedish Driving License

Overall, getting a license is expensive in Sweden. At a minimum your looking at about 5,000 SEK or 550 USD.

Depending on how many lessons you do, the cost of a licence in Sweden can vary greatly. For reference though, we have provided some general outlines of the costs associated with obtaining the licence.

Cost (rough estimates in SEK)
Obtaining a learners permit
Eye test (synundersökning till körkort)
Risk Training Part 1 – Risk Theory
Risk Training Part 2 – Skidpan
Licence Photos
Theory Test
Practical Driving Test
Car hire for Practical Driving Test (generally necessary)
Licence Printing
Mandatory Costs
5,035 SEK
Optional Extras
Supervisor training (for those training at home)
Test questions / Book
Driving lessons from a school
800 (per lesson)
Other costs such as theory lessons etc.
Mandatory costs + Optional extras (12 lessons)
~15,000 SEK
The cost of obtaining a drivers license in Sweden

Do I Need To Take Lessons?

If you are apart of “new to Sweden” type Facebook groups you would see many conversations relating to Swedish driving licenses. Most people in these groups recommend that if you are new in Sweden you should take at least 1 lesson before taking your test. This allows you to find out what the instructor is looking for, as well as provide all the basic hints and tips for passing on your first go.

However, taking the lesson does not mean that your guaranteed to pass. According to the statistics above, those that went to a school had a pass rate of 70% (however it doesn’t stipulate whether these had one lesson, or a full 12 lesson course). Only about 40% of people learning privately passed their driving test first go.

It all comes down to how confident you feel. If you think that your understand environmental driving and happily understand Swedish roundabouts and the right hand rule, then give the test a go straight away. Use an online resource like körkortonline to understand what they are looking for. During my risk test I was told that some countries like Australia and Canada have similar driving etiquette as Sweden, meaning that you may have an easier time getting your license if you are from these countries.

If on the other hand you are a little less confident, I recommend that you take a lesson (or 2) and go from there. In terms of costs, you would be looking at:

  • 1 driving test (passing first go) would cost about 1,300 SEK
  • 2 driving tests would cost about 2,600 SEK (i.e. if you fail the first, pass the second)
  • 1 test and 1 lesson would cost at least 2,100 SEK
  • 1 test and 2 lessons would cost at least 2,900 SEK.

Some Handy Tips

Some handy tips from my experience and other advice from around the web:

  • Look at the scheduling for the tests early. It could take 3 months or more to book in a test.
  • Book the knowledge test and practical test a few weeks apart (or at least more than 24 hours apart).
    This way, if you fail the knowledge test, you have time to either take it again, or rebook your practical test. You are unable to rebook/get a refund for your practical test <24 hours before.
  • During the test:
    • Check the mirrors a lot.
    • Make sure you jump gears. Sweden have a requirement to drive environmentally friendly. This means that when you drive a manual, you may need to change gears from 2nd to 4th (for example). This means also anticipating the road ahead, and not using the accelerator or brakes unnecessarily.
    • If you make a small mistake (i.e. stall the car) don’t dwell on it. A lot of the time it can be due to nerves or the fact that your driving a new car. I stalled the car during my practical test, but I still passed. As long as it doesn’t affect road safety then you should be OK.

Swedish Drivers License Book in English PDF

As the drivers licence book is mentioned throughout all of the introductory courses, its natural for people to want to get the book. If you have had your license before, I would suggest that the online questions would be the most helpful.

The book can be ambiguous which could possibly be a result of translation issues. If you did want to see for yourself, we were able to find an old PDF copy of the Swedish Drivers License Book in English. Note: the rules in this have likely changed since its publication.

You could also try your local library. They have been known to carry the driving book in Swedish and English.

If your interested in a more up to date copy of the book, you will need to go to a local bookstore (or online), or have a look on various marketplaces like Blocket or Facebook to find out if there there are second hand copies of the book available.

My Experience of Getting a Swedish Driving License

I had a straightforward time to get my license. I ran through the whole process within the first year of becoming a resident. I passed both the theory and the practical driving tests first time, without lessons.

The process leading up to the tests are both very straight forward.

Risk Training
I went through the Risk Part 1 and 2 through Durge’s Trafficskola in Gothenburg. They offered both courses in English, and you had the chance to do both parts on the same day.

The risk theory (Part 1) was quite easy, it was simple group exercises to think about various situations. The lecturer may ask a question like what would you do in this situation, or how many drunk drivers are on the roads everyday. As long as you participate in the session and provide input you should be approved.

The practical theory (Part 2) was also easy as long as you were present and attentive and interested in participating. You run through a few exercises with the cars to see how the handle under different conditions (slippery surfaces etc.).

The Tests
Even after 15-odd years of driving, there is still something scary about being assessed as to whether you can drive. Before taking the theory test, I had a quick read of the driving book, but quickly realised that it wasn’t useful. There was a lot of translated information that only seemed partially useful. It was hard to discern questions from the text. I therefore chose to use a Körkortonline who offered 1,000 odd questions (in English) based on the book. I found the site to contain enough information to use solely as a theoretical resource. If you are not comfortable just using the online service, I would suggest that you look at other alternatives if you feel like you need additional resources.

You find out the result of the theory straight away, so its pretty scary to hit that submit button. Luckily I passed and it was then onto the practical test. One thing that was a great feeling was walking out of the theory exam and just driving away (using my foreign license). Must have looked somewhat strange to all the 18 year olds going for their license for the first time.

I left myself a week between tests in-case anything was to go wrong. Luckily for me I had an instructor who was comfortable speaking to me in English. It seems like according to Trafikverket, there is no obligation for the instructor to speak English. Anyways, we went through the formalities, then he took me out to the car to do the initial safety check. He asked me to check the car, and I immediately noticed that the tyres were winter tyres (un-studded) being used in April. It was a bit of a tricky one, as the tyres were under the recommended tread level (for winter), but were suitable for the road for summer. We took a while to discuss that then we got in the car.

We started to drive out of the test centre, and immediately as we came out, I stalled the car! WHAT! Crazy!

Within the first minute of driving I had already made a mistake.

This caught me on the wrong foot and I it was the only thing I could think of for the next few moment. But, I made a bit of a joke about it and we continued on our way. From then it was really smooth sailing. The instructor wanted to talk about various things such as the power of the new Volvo we were driving (like I can utilize that in a driving test…), and how I came to live in Sweden.

We did a bit of highway driving and a reverse park in a McDonalds carpark. I was able to choose where I wanted to park, and I was able to use the fancy driving assist features of the car. We drove back to the station and he said he was happy with the test and that I passed. Phew!

Overall I was relieved to be able to continue doing the thing that I had done previously for the last 15 years. It’s definitely a nerve-wracking experience, and not something that I’m really keen to try again soon.

As long as you don’t go into the process thinking that you will pass first time, then you should come better than if you went in thinking you know everything.

Remember, more than 50% of people fail their first time!

Good luck!

Let me know how you go in the comments below….

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