Employing people from countries outside the EU

In most cases a person who is a citizen of a non-EU country needs a work permit to work in Sweden. As an employer, you have to check a person's right to be and work in Sweden before employing them.

Most non EU-citizens need a work permit

The great majority of citizens of non-EU countries need a work permit to be entitled to work here. The person concerned has to apply for and receive their permit before travelling to Sweden, but in certain circumstances an application can be submitted after the person has entered Sweden.

For work lasting for less than three months citizens of certain counties also need to have a visa.

Countries whose citizens need an entry visa when working less than three monthsexternal link, opens in new window

Employees of temporary-work agencies that provide Swedish businesses with personnel, and employees who are transferred within a group of companies and stationed in Sweden also need work permits.  

There are special rules for certain occupations and citizens of some countries.

Certain groups do not need to apply for work permits

The following groups do not need to apply for work permits to work in Sweden:

  • EU citizens and their families
  • citizens of Switzerland
  • persons with long-term resident status
  • citizens of Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland
  • persons who have permanent residence permits (PUT)
  • students who have residence permits for studies at higher education level
  • guest researchers who already have a special residence permit for research
  • asylum seekers who are exempt from the work permit requirement (AT-UND).

Certain occupational groups can also come to Sweden for a limited period of time and work without a work permit.

If you are uncertain as to whether a person is entitled to work with you, you are welcome to contact the Swedish Migration Board.

Read more about work without a work permit for a limited period of time

Contact the Migration Board

Your responsibility as an employer

If you employ a person who is a citizen of a non-EU country, you have to check that that person is entitled to be in Sweden and to work for you. You also have to notify the Swedish Tax Agency if you have employed a person from a non-EU country.

The requirement to check the right to be and work in Sweden and to notify the Swedish Tax Agency does not apply when you employ persons who are citizens of a country in the EU or EEA or of Switzerland. Nor does it apply to their family members, irrespective of the nationality of the family member.

Prohibition of discrimination

No person may be discriminated against in working life on account of, for example, their national or ethnic origin or their colour. The employer should be aware that the check of the worker must not be carried out in a discriminatory way. To avoid discrimination the employer should therefore not take a decision to check the right of a worker to be and work in Sweden solely on the basis of the worker's ethnic origin, colour or language skills.

Read more about the prohibition of discrimination in the Swedish Migration Board's general advice to employersPDF (in Swedish only)

Check the right to be and work in Sweden

To check whether someone is entitled to be and work in Sweden you can, as an employer, ask the person who is going to work for you to bring a document showing this. This can, for example, be:

  • a residence permit card
  • a copy of a residence and work permit decision from the Swedish Migration Board
  • an asylum seeker card.
Fotografi och fingeravtryck.

Residence permit card

Everyone who receives a work and residence permit for longer than three months receives a residence permit card. For a person to be able to work in Sweden the card has to contain the text:

  • temporary residence and work permit
  • a residence permit bearing the text “May work” or
  • a permanent residence permit.

If the permit is temporary, you have to check what period the permit is valid for. Also check any restriction to a particular occupation or employer under the text “Notes" (Anmärkningar) on the card.

A person who has a work permit with restrictions may only work in the occupation and for the employer stated on their residence permit card. If the person is going to work for you, they need to apply for a new work permit if their permit is not valid for the new employment.

A person who has had a temporary permit and has had the right to work may start a new employment when their new application has been submitted. This is on condition that the person applies for a new permit before their previous permit expires and no later than on the same day as their new employment starts. As a check of their right to be and work in Sweden the worker should be able to present their old residence permit card and the notice from the Swedish Migration Board that their application has been received. If the Swedish Migration Board decides not to grant a further permit, the worker is still entitled to continue working until the expulsion order has entered into force.

Fotografi och fingeravtryck.

Copy of a decision

If the worker is not able to present a residence permit card, you should ask to see a copy of their residence or work permit decision from the Swedish Migration Board. That decision contains information about the period of validity of the permit and whether the person is allowed to work.

Note that everyone who has a residence permit for more than three months is entitled to receive a residence permit card. If the person has not collected their card or has lost it, they should contact the Swedish Migration Board to get a new card.

No residence permit is required to be in Sweden for less than three months. However, citizens of certain countries need a visa.  A visa gives a person the right to be in Sweden, but they are not allowed to work without a work permit. A person who can be in Sweden for three months without a visa is not allowed to work either without a work permit. The worker should be able to present a copy of a work permit decision from the Swedish Migration Board or a Swedish embassy as proof that they are allowed to work. That decision contains information about the period of validity of the permit and any restrictions.

For shorter jobs, however, some persons may be exempt from the work permit requirement.

Read more about the exemptions from work permits for shorter jobs

Fotografi och fingeravtryck.

Asylum seeker card

A person who is seeking asylum in Sweden receives an asylum seeker card (LMA card) as proof that they are allowed to be in Sweden while waiting for a decision. An asylum seeker may be exempt from the work permit requirement and have the right to work during their waiting period. If the person is entitled to work, their asylum seeker card bears the text AT-UND.

Read more about employing someone who is seeking asylum

If you are uncertain as to whether a person is entitled to work for you, you are welcome to contact the Swedish Migration Board.

Read more about the check of a worker's right to be and work in Sweden in the Swedish Migration Board’s general advice to employers.

Contact the Migration Board

The Migration Board's general advice to employersPDF (in Swedish only)

Notify the Swedish Tax Agency and save documents

As an employer, you have to notify the Swedish Tax Agency when you employ someone from a non-EU country. You also have to save copies of the worker's documents showing their right to be and work in Sweden throughout the period of their employment and for 12 months after the end of their employment.

Read more about notifying the Swedish Tax Agency and saving documents under After the decision has been made

Last updated: 6 November 2014