Exemptions from passport requirements

Following the amendment of the law on 20 July, the Swedish Migration Agency is now clarifying who must have a passport in order to be granted a residence permit. At the same time, the Swedish Migration Agency is reassessing the ability of Afghan citizens to obtain passports.

The general rule is that a person applying for a temporary residence permit must have a valid passport. During the period of July 2015 to July 2021, there was an exemption that meant that persons who had temporary residence permits under the temporary law did not need to have passports. Relatives of persons in need of subsidiary protection also did not need to present a passport when applying for an extended residence permit together with their family member.

On 20 July of this year, the temporary law expired, and this exemption ceased to apply. The Swedish Migration Agency has therefore now clarified who must have a valid passport in order to be granted a residence permit.

Exemp­tions depend on the reason for the resi­dence permit

If you are granted a permanent residence permit, you do not need to have a passport. This applies regardless of the type of permit you have when you apply for a permanent residence permit.

If you have refugee status or subsidiary protection status, or a residence permit on the grounds of particularly distressing circumstances, you do not need to have a passport to be granted a residence permit.

As a general rule, if you are applying for an extended residence permit on the grounds of impediments to enforcement or because you are studying at the upper secondary level, or so that you can look for work after completing your studies at the upper secondary level, you must have a valid passport. However, the Swedish Migration Agency can make an exception to this requirement if you do not have a passport and cannot obtain a passport within a reasonable timeframe.

Read more about what is required in order to be granted an extended residence permit for former asylum seekers and their families

New assess­ment of Afghan passports

The Swedish Migration Agency considers that it is currently uncertain whether Afghan citizens can obtain new passports. It is also unclear whether the passports issued in Afghanistan meet Swedish passport requirements. Therefore, Afghan citizens without a passport do not need to obtain a new passport when applying for an extended residence permit on the grounds of impediments to enforcement or studies at the upper secondary level, or to look for work after studies at the upper secondary level.

Read more about how the Swedish Migration Agency views the situation in Afghanistan

Family members must have passports

A person applying for a residence permit as a family member of someone in Sweden must always have a passport. Ideally, it should be a national passport, i.e., a passport issued by the authorities of the country of which they are a citizen. However, those who cannot obtain a national passport have the opportunity to apply for an alien’s passport.

If you live in Sweden and intend to apply for an extended residence permit as a family member, you can submit an application for an alien’s passport to the Swedish Migration Agency at the same time as you apply for an extended residence permit. If you meet the requirements for a permanent residence permit, you do not need a passport when you apply for an extension.

If you have a family member (spouse, cohabiting partner, child under the age of 18 or parent of a child under the age of 18), who wants to apply for a residence permit to move to Sweden to join you, but who is unable to obtain a national passport, they can apply for an alien’s passport at the Swedish embassy or consulate when they apply for the residence permit. Such an application must be made at a Swedish embassy or consulate in a country other than the one of which the applicant is a citizen.

Read about how to apply for an alien’s passport

Fact box

You do not need to have a passport in order to be granted a:

  • permanent residence permit
  • temporary residence permit as a refugee or person in need of subsidiary protection.

As a general rule you must have a passport, but you do not need to have a passport if you do not have a passport and cannot obtain it within a reasonable, in order to be granted a(n):

  • temporary residence permit on the grounds of impediments to enforcement
  • extended residence permit for studies and the upper secondary level
  • temporary residence permit to look for work after completing studies at the upper secondary level.

If you are unable to obtain a national passport, you must have a passport, but can apply for an alien’s passport in order to be granted a(n):

  • residence permit to move to a family member in Sweden
  • extended residence permit because you live with a family member in Sweden
  • residence permit for a child born in Sweden with parents who have residence permits.