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Healthcare in Sweden

Each country's health system is different and might not include all the things you'd expect to get free of charge from the NHS.

This means you may have to make a patient contribution to the cost of your care.

Visitors to Sweden

Finding help in an emergency

If you find yourself in a serious, life-threatening emergency, you should call 112. This number is free of charge and is for ambulances, police and the fire brigade.

The Swedish word for A&E department is "Akuten”.

Be aware that if you ask a hotel or travel representative to call a doctor, you may be treated privately. If you wish to be treated under the state system you must call 112 and ask for an ambulance to take you to the nearest state hospital.

Other important phone numbers to note down:

Healthcare up until the UK leaves the EU

Emergency medical care is provided to anyone requiring urgent attention. You can expect to be charged in full for any care provided without an EHIC.

You should always buy enough travel insurance and make sure you have access to funding to cover any medical treatment abroad. Remember to keep all receipts and any paperwork (make copies if necessary) as they might be needed by you or your insurance company to apply for any refund.

Some places in Sweden may charge a fee for ambulance or helicopter service, and this is capped. More information on fees can be found on 1177's website.

Currently, your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) enables you to access the necessary state-provided healthcare in Sweden at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free, if you are staying there temporarily. If you are asked to pay for health services upfront, it is likely that you are not being treated under the state health system.

EHIC does not cover certain costs, including:

  • private treatment
  • being brought back to the UK
  • mountain rescue services
  • cruises

Be careful if healthcare arrangements are made by a hotel or travel representative. They might reassure visitors that they can claim back whatever is paid out, but they are referring to private insurance and not the treatment given under the EHIC.

People with pre-existing health conditions

If you have a pre-existing health condition, you should buy medical travel insurance before visiting Sweden. You must tell the insurance company about any pre-existing health conditions you have, to make sure you can get the cover you need. If you have an EHIC, this will be valid until the UK leaves the EU but may not work after that.

If you have a pre-existing condition that will need treatment while abroad, ask your doctor in the UK for advice before you travel. Make sure you take with you any documents about your health condition or medication.

If you are travelling for the express purpose of obtaining medical treatment, see our section about seeking medical treatment in Europe.

Dentists

Dental care is available within the national healthcare system. Residents in Sweden are entitled to subsidised dental care. The Försäkringskassan (Swedish Social Insurance Agency) will pay the subsidy directly to the dentist.

EHIC holders may be covered by the high-protection scheme. For high cost dental work, you may have to pay up to the first SEK 3,000 (£272) for the work. You may then receive compensation of 50% of the charges for between SEK 3,000 and SEK 15,000 (£1,364) and 85% of the charges above SEK 15,000. Not all treatments are covered by the high cost protection scheme, ask your dentist for advice.

Hospitals

Just like in the UK, you'll need to be referred by a doctor for any hospital treatment. Make sure you are referred to a state hospital as only these provide treatment free of charge. Even in a state hospital you will need a valid EHIC. Double-check you are not treated as a private patient.

In the state healthcare system, you have the right to insist your EHIC is accepted. You do not have to provide travel insurance details unless you choose to do so.

Prescriptions

Medication, both prescription and non-prescription, can only be purchased at authorised chemists (Apotek).

The amount you will need to pay for your prescription will vary depending on the medication. Costs are capped by the 'high-cost ceiling' at 2,200 SEK (190 GBP) per year.

Bringing your own medicines to Sweden

Some prescribed medicines contain drugs that are controlled under the Misuse of Drugs legislation in the UK. This means that extra legal controls apply to these medicines.

You may need a personal licence to take controlled medicines abroad. Specific requirements also apply to:

  • the information that you must take with you
  • how you carry your controlled medicines

You can visit the GOV.UK website for more information on travelling with controlled medicines.

After the UK leaves the EU

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, your access to healthcare when visiting Sweden is likely to change.

If you are planning to visit Sweden after the UK leaves the EU, you should continue to buy travel insurance so you can get the healthcare treatment you need, just as you would if visiting a non-EU country. If you are using an EHIC issued by the UK, this will still be valid until the UK leaves the EU.

The UK government is seeking agreements with countries, including Sweden, on healthcare arrangements for UK nationals after the UK leaves the EU.

This guide will be updated with further information on travelling to Sweden as the circumstances change.

Working in Sweden

Healthcare up until the UK leaves the EU

Individuals who work, study or have sufficient means to financially support themselves, automatically have the right to residence in Sweden and therefore need not apply for a residence permit or contact the Swedish Migration Agency. Following a period of 5 continuous years of residence in Sweden, permanent residence can be obtained.

Please note that Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom are not covered by the rules governing long-term resident status. It is not, therefore, possible to apply for long-term resident status in these 3 countries.

Swedish residents (Swedish, EU/EEA/Swiss and 3rd country nationals who have the right of residence) have universal access to healthcare and pay contributions to their treatment at the point of access.

If you are a worker posted by a UK company to Sweden, you may be entitled to health cover funded by the UK in the country you are posted to. Contact HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for more details:

National Insurance Contributions and Employer Office
HM Revenue and Customs
BX9 1AN
United Kingdom

  • Telephone: 0300 200 3500
  • Outside UK: +44 191 203 7010

Opening times: 8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (closed weekends and bank holidays).

For more information, read the Moving abroad section of this website.

After the UK leaves the EU

If you have residency, and are paying social security contributions to Sweden, you will continue to be able to access free or discounted healthcare. You will likely have to apply for residency.

If you are a UK posted worker, you may need to buy additional healthcare insurance in Sweden so you can receive the healthcare treatment you need.

Following 5 continuous years of residency in Sweden you can be granted long-term resident status.

Pensioners in Sweden

Healthcare up until the UK leaves the EU

If you live in Sweden and receive an exportable UK Pension, contribution-based Employment Support Allowance or another exportable benefit, you may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK. You will need to apply for a certificate of entitlement known as an S1 form.

You may need to liaise with a different team, depending on the exportable benefit. Further information is available under Claiming benefits if you live, move or travel abroad on the GOV.UK website. Please note that different exportable benefits can have different rules in terms of healthcare cover.

S1 certificate (formerly known as E106)

An S1 certificate helps you and your dependants access healthcare in Sweden. If you have an S1 certificate, it will be valid until the UK leaves the EU.

After this date, the certificate may not be valid, depending on decisions by member states.

You should continue to apply for an S1 certificate until the UK leaves the EU.

You may be eligible for an S1 certificate, if you:

  • have worked and paid contributions in the UK
  • receive some UK benefits such as pensions

Apply through the Business Services Authority for an S1 certificate.

For exportable UK pensions and contribution-based Employment Support Allowance, you can apply for your form via the International Pension Centre at the Department for Work and Pensions on 0191 218 7777.

Further information is available under Claiming Benefits if you live, move or travel abroad on the GOV.UK website. Please note that different exportable benefits can have different rules in terms of healthcare cover.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) provides information about what UK and Swedish benefits are available to Britons living in Sweden and information on driving regulations in Sweden.

After the UK leaves the EU

If you are living in Sweden you are likely to have to apply for a residence permit and be a registered resident of Sweden through "Försäkringskassan" Social Insurance Agency and Skatteverket" (Tax Agency), to be entitled to the same health coverage as Swedish nationals.

Following 5 continuous years of residency in Sweden you can be granted long-term resident status.

Students in Sweden

If you are a UK resident and studying in Sweden, and you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), this will be valid until the UK leaves the EU.

You should continue to buy insurance to cover your healthcare, as you would if you were visiting a non-EU country after the UK leaves the EU.

If you are intending to study in Sweden for longer than 3 months you must apply for a residence permit. This must be done within 3 months of the course state date with proof of sufficient finance and proof of comprehensive health insurance.

Page last reviewed: 28 January 2019
Next review due: 28 January 2022