This is an annual report produced in
conjunction with the Regional Security Office at the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm.
OSAC encourages travelers to use this
report to gain baseline knowledge of
security conditions in Sweden. For more in-depth information, review OSAC’s country-specific page for original OSAC reporting, consular
messages, and contact information, some of which may be available only to
private-sector representatives with an OSAC password.
The current U.S. Department of
State Travel Advisory at the date of
this report’s publication assesses Sweden at Level 1, indicating travelers
should exercise normal precautions. Review OSAC’s report, Understanding the Consular Travel Advisory System.
Overall Crime and Safety Situation
The U.S. Department of State has assessed Stockholm
as being a LOW-threat location for crime directed at or affecting
official U.S. government interests. The general crime rate in Sweden is below the U.S. national
average; however, the notion that foreign travelers are immune to crime is a
common misconception. The prevalent rate of crime in major urban areas reflects
that travelers are more susceptible to certain types of crime (mainly thefts)
than national criminal statistics would indicate. Most
crimes affecting foreign visitors are petty in nature. Most crimes involve the theft of
personal property from vehicles, residences, and public areas. Travelers should
be especially wary for petty thieves/pickpockets and should remain aware of
distractions and other techniques used to divert attention. Robberies have
occurred in high-traffic commercial areas. Pickpocketing and petty theft are
common in/near major tourist attractions (e.g. Stockholm’s Old Town), at
restaurants, hotel common areas, amusement parks, museums, bars, and on public
transportation (including airports). Review OSAC’s report, All That You Should Leave Behind.
Sweden’s geographic locale and
climate affect crime rates; crime (especially theft) tends to increase acutely
in the summer when tourism, empty residences, and diminished police resources combine
with extended periods of daylight. Criminal networks from neighboring Schengen
countries are thought to influence the nature of criminal activity in Sweden,
but it is unknown exactly how much influence these networks have.
Hotel breakfast rooms and lobbies
attract professional, well-dressed thieves who blend in with guests and target
purses/briefcases left unguarded. Review OSAC’s reports, Hotels: The Inns and Outs and Considerations for Hotel Security.
According to official Swedish
statistics, the total number of reported crimes in 2019 was 1,540,000, which is
a small decrease (-1,940) in reported crimes from the prior year. The largest
crime category of 2019 was theft.
Sweden does not release official homicide
statistics (and final statistics for all reported crimes) until the Spring. However,
preliminary numbers indicate there was a slight decrease in homicides in 2019
with 108 confirmed homicides, compared to 113 in 2018.
Exercise caution when using ATMs.
Inspect card insertion areas for modifications and skimming hardware. Use only reputable
cash exchange outlets when withdrawing cash. Review OSAC’s reports, The Overseas Traveler’s Guide to ATM
Skimmers & Fraud and Taking Credit.
Low-level organized criminal
groups, many associated with larger motorcycle gangs and organized crime
elements from Eastern Europe, drive organized criminal activity. Small
businesses have reported instances of extortion; however, larger, international
companies and franchises have not.
Violent crimes (e.g. homicides,
sexual assaults) do occur in Sweden. The majority occur in larger cities (e.g. Stockholm,
Gothenburg, Malmö). The number of reported
sexual assaults increased in 2019 by 6% compared to 2018, with 8,350 reports in
2019 compared to 7,843 in 2018. It is important to note that the statistics
reflect only the number of crimes reported, and not the total number of actual
Based on media reporting and
cumulative reports, violent crime continues to increase in urban locations
across Sweden. Crimes involving explosives, hand grenades, and firearms have not
specifically targeted U.S. private-sector organizations; investigations reflect
that criminals usually direct these incidents against individuals known to the
attackers or those active in criminal networks. Most explosions are purposely
designed to not be casualty-producing events, but innocent bystanders have been
hurt when picking up explosive devices that failed to detonate. Do not move or
touch any suspicious item or unattended baggage, and report it to the local
January 2020, an early morning explosion took place in a central Stockholm apartment
building on Gyllenstiernsgatan. The police investigation is ongoing, but police
reporting states that the explosion was a criminal act caused by an explosive
device. The police describe the explosion to be the largest that has occurred
in the Stockholm area in recent years, but no injuries occurred.
Sweden defines computer fraud as
any act using computers, the internet, internet devices, and internet services
to defraud people, companies, or government agencies of money, revenue, or
internet access. There was a 6% decrease of all fraud types in 2019 (a decrease
of 15,500 reported cases since 2018). In 2019, Sweden re-categorized the
different fraud types, so general statistics for only cybercrime are not
available. In 2019, there were 128,000 reported instances of credit card fraud,
and 27,300 reported instances of identity theft. Review OSAC’s reports, Cybersecurity Basics, Best Practices for
Maximizing Security on Public Wi-Fi, and Traveling with Mobile
Devices: Trends & Best Practices.
Road Safety and Road Conditions
Sweden has excellent
transportation infrastructure. Sweden has a zero-tolerance policy regarding
drinking and driving; it is illegal to drive after even one alcoholic drink. In
the winter, ensure vehicles have proper winter tires and emergency roadside
kits. Seat belts are mandatory for all passengers. Pedestrians have priority at
all crosswalks. Headlights must be on; at dusk and when it is dark, dim them
when meeting another car. Right turns on red are illegal. Do not use your horn
unnecessarily. Trams always have priority in cities. On highways, you may drive
on the shoulder to allow faster cars to pass.
It is illegal in Sweden to use a
handheld cellphone or any other handheld communication equipment while
operating a vehicle.
Many accidents involve wild
animals. Watch for road signs indicating wild animals (moose, deer, etc.).
Review OSAC’s reports, Road Safety Abroad, Driving Overseas: Best
Practices, and Evasive Driving
Techniques; and read the State Department’s
webpage on driving
and road safety abroad.
Public Transportation Conditions
Stockholm has an excellent public
transportation system of buses, trams, subway (T-Bana), and commuter trains (i.e.
Pendeltåg, Lidingöbanan). Storstockholms Lokaltrafik (SL) operates the bus and
subway systems, and tickets are interchangeable. There are several ticket
options when using public transportation. The SL website
provides detailed information in English. Review
OSAC’s report, Security In Transit:
Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.
The U.S. Department of State has
assessed Stockholm as being a MEDIUM-threat location for terrorism
directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.
Sweden’s political engagement
abroad has not fostered homegrown domestic terrorist groups with a clear
mandate/agenda to target Swedish infrastructure or government. However, the
U.S. Embassy recognizes the possibility that unaffiliated/autonomous groups may
conduct terrorist attacks.
Sweden’s National Center for
Terrorist Threat Assessment (NCT)’s 2019 threat assessment for Sweden and
Swedish interests abroad assesses that Islamist extremism is the greatest
terrorist threat to Sweden. Sweden is a legitimate, but not prioritized, target
for terrorist attacks by violence-promoting Islamist groups. There are
operatives with the intent and capability to carry out terrorist attacks in
In 2017, an ISIS sympathizer
hijacked a truck and deliberately drove it into crowds along Drottninggatan
(Queen Street) in central Stockholm before crashing through a corner of a department
store. Five people died, and 14 others received serious injuries. Police
considered the attack an act of terrorism. Authorities apprehended a 39-year old
rejected asylum seeker from Uzbekistan. Uzbek authorities report that the
individual had allegedly joined ISIS before the attack. He was sentenced in 2018
to life in prison (and deportation) under the Criminal Responsibility for
Terrorist Offences Act on five counts of murder and 119 counts of attempted
In December 2018, six people of
Uzbek and Kyrgyz origin went on trial for terrorism related charges. Three of
the suspects are charged with the preparation of terrorist crimes, and all six
are charged with financing terrorism. In 2019, courts convicted five of the six
on various charges, releasing the sixth.
The Swedish Security Service (SÄPO)
remains concerned with the numbers of foreign terrorist fighters who have left
Sweden to join violent extremist groups in Syria, and those who return to
Sweden. In 2019, SÄPO continued to see a decrease in foreign fighters traveling
from Sweden, likely because it remains difficult to travel to Syria. However,
terrorism experts have warned about an increased risk of domestic terror
attacks as would-be violent extremist travelers stay in the country and ISIS
encourages actions at home.
Extreme right- and left-wing
groups, as well as ethnic-based groups, have targeted one another in low-level
violence, some of which commemorated certain anniversaries or was in
retaliation for perceived attacks.
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
The U.S. Department of State has assessed
Stockholm as being a LOW-threat location for political violence directed
at or affecting official U.S. government interests.
Sweden’s laws allow for peaceful
demonstrations. in 2019, groups directed multiple demonstrations at the U.S.
Embassy in Stockholm. All recent demonstrations near the U.S. Embassy have ended
peacefully, with no arrests.
Travelers should recognize that
peaceful demonstrations can turn violent unexpectedly and quickly, and they should
avoid all demonstrations. Review OSAC’s report, Surviving a Protest.
Although Sweden is historically
an ethnically homogeneous country, immigration in recent years—especially in
terms of refugee and asylee populations—have changed the racial, religious, and
ethnic makeup up many (especially urban) areas. These changes have led to some
Sweden has experienced a
significant rise in the number of asylum-seekers. The Swedish Migration Agency
estimated that the country received approximately 163,000 asylum-seekers in
2015, the highest per capita in the EU. In 2015, Sweden instituted temporary
border controls with Schengen countries in response to massive immigration
flows. In 2016, the number of asylum seekers entering Sweden was approximately
30,000; 2017 reflected similar numbers with 25,666; and entries decreased even
further in 2018 as only 21,502 individuals sought asylum in Sweden. In 2019 the
decrease continued further with a total number of 20,293 asylum seekers.
Sweden experiences heavy rains,
heavy snowfall, flash floods, and forest fires that have contributed to
multiple injuries, deaths, and evacuations of residents.
There are very strict privacy
laws in Sweden that govern the release of personal information, especially
Personal Identity Concerns
Hate-related crimes continued in
Sweden, with acts in 2019 directed at mosques, the Jewish community, asylum
centers, and the immigrant community.
There are no legal restrictions
on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Sweden. Review the State Department’s
webpage on security for LGBTI+
Accessibility to public
facilities and transportation in Sweden is extensive. The Swedish Government
actively funds programs promoting disability access to streets, public
buildings, stores, restaurants, and public transportation. For more information
on accessibility in Sweden, visit the Tourist
Bureau’s website. Review the State Department’s webpage on security for travelers
Drug trafficking is limited to
low levels of domestic consumption/transit. This consists of cocaine from South
America via Spain; heroin from Central Asia via Poland and the Baltics;
methamphetamines from Poland; marijuana from Europe; and khat from the Horn of
Africa (consumed by Sweden’s sizable Eritrean, Ethiopian, and Somali
populations). Travelers can expect to see heavy drug use in/around major urban
centers (e.g. near the central train station) -- especially the use of
marijuana, which is illegal in Sweden. Cocaine and methamphetamines are
prevalent in some nightclubs; however, narcotics do not seem to be a major
precursor for violent crime.
The emergency line in Sweden is 112. Local police non-emergency telephone is 114-14.
Sweden’s law enforcement and security services are professional, fully capable,
and outstanding U.S. law enforcement partners.
For local first responders, refer to the Embassy’s Emergency Assistance page.
Police harassment is
exceptionally rare; however, if U.S. travelers experience police detainment or
harassment, they should immediately call the U.S. Embassy.
Travelers who are victims of
crime should expect a police response commensurate with the criticality of the
incident. For instance, a victim of a violent crime can expect rapid, expert
support/investigation. Victims of purse snatching, for example, should expect
formal, polite assistance but possibly lengthy delays in investigation or
resolution. U.S. national victims of crime should first contact local police
authorities by dialing 112. Once they have contacted local authorities, they
should then contact the U.S. Embassy at +46 (8) 785-5300. Download the State
Department’s Crime Victims Assistance brochure.
Swedish Police Authority: The
mission of the Polisen is to reduce
crime, increase public safety, and solve crimes. The police are charged with
preventing crime, monitoring public order and safety, conducting reconnaissance,
and carrying out criminal investigations.
Swedish Security Service (SÄPO):
The Swedish Security Service prevents and detects offences against national
security, fights terrorism, and protects the central government.
Medical care in Sweden is
comparable to that found in the United States. Non-residents must pay their own
medical costs in full. Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage
overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. The U.S.
Department of State strongly recommends purchasing international health
insurance before traveling internationally. Review the State Departments
webpage on insurance overseas. Find
contact information for available medical services and available air ambulance
services on the Embassy’s Medical
The emergency line in Sweden is 112. Ambulance services are widely available.Emergency
helicopters are available in Stockholm County.
Stringent Swedish customs
regulations prohibit the shipment of drugs to Sweden. Local physicians may not
prescribe the quantities or dosages a U.S. doctor would. Most pharmacies (Apotek) are open during normal shopping
hours, but major cities will have a 24-hour pharmacy.
Review OSAC’s reports, The Healthy Way, Traveling with Medication, Shaken: The Don’ts of Alcohol Abroad,
Health 101: How to Prepare for Travel, and Fire Safety Abroad.
The CDC offers additional
information on vaccines and health guidance for Sweden.
OSAC Country Council Information
The Country Council in Stockholm
is active, meeting once a year. Contact OSAC’s Europe
team for more information.
U.S. Embassy Contact Information
Dag Hammarskjölds Väg 31, 115 89
Regular business hours: Monday – Friday, 0800-1630 (closed Saturday and Sunday)
Embassy Operator: +46-8-783-5300;
Marine Post One: +46-8-783-5310
Before you travel, consider the