Residence permits for the self-employed

If you plan to work for a period longer than 3 months to start up or run your own business or become a part owner of a company, you must have a residence permit. As self-employed you are not allowed to take employment with any employer.

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Self-employed people who plan to work for a period shorter than 3 months in Sweden do not need a residence permit. For work that is shorter than 3 months, citizens in certain countries must have an entry visa.external link, opens in new window

Requirements for obtaining a residence permit as a self-employed

In order to obtain a residence permit, you must:

  • have a valid passport
  • show that you have significant experience in your field and previous experience of running your own business
  • have documented knowledge in Swedish and/or English
  • show that you are running the business, that you have the ultimate responsibility for it and that you own at least half of the business
  • show that the business' services or goods are sold and/or produced in Sweden
  • show that you have sufficient funds to support you and, if applicable, your family during the first two years (equivalent to SEK 200,000 for you, SEK 100,000 for your spouse and SEK 50,000 for each accompanying child)
  • show that the business, following the two-year probationary period, is expected to be able to support yourself and, if applicable, your family.

The Swedish Migration Board will assess your business plans from a financial perspective.

Make sure to extend your passportif it is about to expire — you cannot obtain a temporary residence permit for longer than your passport's period of validity. You must have a permit that is valid for more than one year if you want to be registered in Sweden.

How to apply for a residence permit

Apply for a work permit when you are in your country of origin or another country outside Sweden in which you are living. Fill out the form Application for a Swedish residence permit for self-employed persons, No. 125011PDF, and turn it in to a Swedish embassy or consulate general. Before you submit your application you should contact the embassy or consulate-general.

Find your closest embassy at Swedenabroad.comexternal link, opens in new window

You will probably be required to pay an application fee.

Enclose the following documents with your application:

  • copies of the pages of your passport that show personal data, period of validity, entry and exit stamps and whether you have permission to live in countries other than your country of origin
  • bank statements which shows that you have sufficient funds to support you and your family during the first 2 years (equivalent to SEK 200,000 for you, SEK 100,000 for your spouse and SEK 50,000 for each accompanying child)
  • bank statements which show, if applicable, that you have sufficient funds to buy the business and to cover the estimated costs and investments necessary to run the business
  • contract of sale if you have bought or intend to buy the business or enterprise
  • partnership agreement or stock register
  • bank document which shows that you have paid the purchase sum or your part of the purchase sum, if you have bought the business or enterprise
  • contracts with customers/suppliers and for premises
  • annual accounts/reports for the previous 2 years (if the business has been in operation earlier)
  • balance sheet and income statement (report) for the current financial year, up to and including the previous month
  • course certificate or other evidence that you speak Swedish and/or English
  • certificates to substantiate your educational background
  • certificates from previous employers
  • certificate of registration for companies you own or have own outside of Sweden.

If you have been studying in Sweden
If you have residence permit for studies in Sweden and want to apply for a residence permit as a self-employed while you remain in Sweden, you need to apply before your current permit expires. You need to enclose a certificate of studies in Sweden showing that you have completed at least 30 higher education credits or has completed a term of postgraduate education.

If you are applying from Sweden, send your application to:
Migrationsverket
Tillståndsenheten
601 70 Norrköping

Faster decision if complete information has been submitted

The Migration Board first processes applications for which complete information and all necessary documents have been submitted. In other words, you will receive a faster decision if you send everything we need together with your application than if you add information afterwards.

Remember that the Migration Board might have to investigate your application further even if you submit all the information and documents that we have asked for.

Once we have received your application

If you obtain a residence permit for more than 3 months, you will also receive a residence permit card. The card, which is proof that you have the right to be in Sweden, contains your photo and fingerprints.

If you need a visa for travel to Sweden, you should go to the the embassy or consulate general as soon as possible to have your picture and fingerprints taken. Before your visit you should contact the embassy or consulate-general. Contact them primarily through email.

Find your closest embassy at Swedenabroad.comexternal link, opens in new window

If you do not need a visa for travel to Sweden, as soon as possible after your arrival in Sweden you should visit the Migration Board to be photographed and fingerprinted.

After the decision has been made

The decision will be sent to the embassy or consulate general to which you turned in your application. Take your passport along when picking up your decision. You can obtain a permit for two years but not past the time for which your passport remains valid. If you plan to continue live in Sweden, apply to extend your permit. When you have had a residence permit for two years you may be granted a permanent residence permit, provided that you are able to support yourself using the income from your business, that you adhere to generally accepted accounting principles and that you hold the permits required for the business. You must also have been a resident in Sweden for more than 6 months of each year.

The Swedish embassy or consulate general will hand over or send you the residence permit card as soon as it is ready. It might take up to 4 weeks to make and send the card to the embassy or consulate general after you receive  your decision. When you enter Sweden, you must show your residence permit card along with a valid passport.  

Currently, your residence permit card is produced no earlier than one week before your residence permit becomes valid.

Beginning on 1 February 2015, the card will be produced at the time the decision is made, but no earlier than three months before the residence permit becomes valid.

We cannot speed up the production or delivery of the card.

If you do not need a visa for travel to Sweden, you should be able to show a copy of the decision when you arrive. As soon as possible after you have arrived in Sweden, you should book an appointment to be fingerprinted and photographed. When your residence permit card is ready, it will be sent to your address in Sweden.

Holding a residence permit as a self-employed you only have the right to run your own business and you do not have the right to be employed elsewhere.

Important information about insurance

You will not be registered in Sweden, which means that you and your family will not be eligible for social benefits if you receive a permit for less than 1 year. Make sure to have an insurance policy that will cover any costs that may arise in connection with illness, injury, etc.

Permits for family members

Members of your family can obtain permits for the same period of time as yours. If you receive a permit for at least six months, members of your family can obtain work permits. You must be able to show that they will be supported by you. Family members include:

  • your partner (spouse, common-law spouse, or registered partner)
  • unmarried children of you or your partner who are under 18.

How your family is to apply

Each family member, even children, must fill out their own application. They must fill out the form entitled Application for permit for family members of employees, visiting researchers, athletes and self-employed persons, No. 133011PDF, and turn it in to the embassy or consulate general.

A member of your family must enclose:

  • copies of the pages of their passport that show personal data, period of validity, entry and exit stamps and whether they have permission to live in countries other than their country of origin
  • a copy of a marriage certificate or the equivalent if they are married or have a registered partner
  • a document proving that you have lived together in your country of origin if you are common-law spouses
  • birth certificates for children
  • consent from the child's other guardian if they are not coming to Sweden
  • a brief letter by you confirming that you and the member of your family will be living together in Sweden (if the two of you do not apply for a permit at the same time).

If the Migration Board refuses your application

If the Migration Board refuses your application, you can appeal the decision within three weeks from the date when you were informed of the decision. Your decision contains information about how to do so.

If you are in Sweden and your application is refused

If the Migration Board refuses your application for a residence permit, this means that you do not have the right to a residence permit in Sweden. You can choose to accept the decision or to appeal it. Even if you choose to appeal, you still have to plan to return to your country of origin or the country where you have the right of stay.

The Migration Board sends the decision

When the Migration Board notifies you of the decision, it may use simplified service of process. This is done in the following way.

The Migration Board sends the decision in an ordinary letter to the address where you have said you can be reached. At least one day later the Migration Board sends a control message to you saying that the decision has been sent. This is done to make sure that you received the first letter. So you will receive two letters from the Migration Board, generally on successive days. You do not need to notify the Migration Board that you have received the letters.

You are deemed to have been notified of the decision when two weeks have passed since the decision was sent to you. If you do not receive the decision but only receive the control message, you have to contact the Migration Board as soon as possible.

Appealing a residence permit decision

If you do not appeal, your decision will enter into force three weeks after you received the decision. You can also show that you accept the decision by signing what is called a declaration of acceptance. Once you have signed it, you cannot appeal and you have to prepare to leave Sweden.

If you do not accept the decision, you have the right to appeal.  You have to send your appeal to the Migration Board. The Migration Board will first reconsider its decision. If the Board does not change its decision, your appeal is examined by the migration court. Your appeal must be received by the Migration Board before the decision enters into force, which it does three weeks from the date when you received the decision.

Read more about what happens when an application is refused

Last updated: 22 December 2014