Exporting to Sweden

Sweden is among the most competitive, innovative and globalised nations in the world. The country has a stable economy, a skilled labour force and sophisticated consumers.

Open and transparent

Sweden’s approach to international business is modern, open and friendly. Businesses welcome international partnerships, and there is a skilled, well-educated workforce. This makes Sweden an easy country to operate in. The corporate tax rate is low by international standards.

A long-standing trade partnership

The UK and Sweden are long-standing trade and investment partners with total trade value in the year up until April 2019 at £20.9 billion (ONS, 2019).

Test market

Sweden’s sophisticated consumer market has proven popular with international brands who want to try a new product (Business Sweden, 2019).

Ease of doing business

10th

out of 190 countries (World Bank, 2019)

Currency

Swedish krona

Business language

English is widely spoken

GDP per capita

$53,873

UK is $42,558 (IMF, 2018)

Economic growth

1.2%

(IMF, 2019)

Time Zone

GMT +1

Opportunities for exporters

There are opportunities for UK companies across a broad range of industries. Our trade advisers in Sweden have identified particular opportunities for UK businesses in the following sectors.

Doing business in Sweden

Preparing to export

VAT

If you’re registered for VAT, it may be possible to zero-rate the goods you export to Sweden, provided certain conditions are met.

Standard rate of VAT in Sweden is 25%. There may be reduced rates for certain products and services. For instance food, accommodation and art is 12%.

Regulations

Rules and regulations depend on the goods. Special rules and regulations apply to living animals and animal products, plants, food, firearms and ammunition, alcoholic beverages, chemical products, medical products and narcotics, endangered species of animals and plants.

Operating in Sweden

Routes to market

Sweden is an outward-looking and mature market. Overseas suppliers need to have a strong USP, sophisticated branding and a solid marketing strategy to succeed.

Options which may work well for you are:

  • agents and distributors - using local agents or distributors with native fluency in Swedish is an effective way to develop a presence in this market

  • direct sales - due to the closeness of the market, a direct sales approach is possible

  • e-commerce - selling online or through e-marketplaces may be a good option for your company. It’s relatively easy to deliver products into Sweden. DIT can suggest online marketplaces to help you get started, see DIT’s E-Exporting Programme

Intellectual property

As a first step, we advise you to speak to an intellectual property lawyer if you think you need patent protection when exporting.

The Swedish Patent and Registration Authority is in charge of intellectual property rights in Sweden.

Payment terms

Public authorities must pay for goods and services within 30 days or, in exceptional circumstances, 60 days.

Enterprises must pay within 60 days, unless agreed.

Business Culture

Regular meetings and visits are important to build relationships. The market is competitive, and a strong unique selling point is helpful. English is commonly spoken in Swedish businesses.

Swedish companies tend to be less hierarchical than companies in many other countries when it comes to internal organisation. Swedish business culture tends to be focused around consensus decision making. Decisions can sometimes take a while to be made. Quite often meetings in market can involve a number of people from the organisation.

Planning ahead is preferred by the Swedes. Appointments must be made in advance and meetings are clearly structured. Swedish companies prefer effective meetings with a little small talk. In negotiation, direct and straightforward communication is appreciated.

Punctuality is very important both when doing business and making social engagements. If late, it is recommended to phone.

Public Procurement

Public procurement in Sweden follows the corresponding EU directive through the Swedish law on public procurement; Lagen om Offentlig Upphandling (LOU).

The Swedish Competition Authority is the supervisory body.

Next steps

DIT can advise you on doing business abroad, and help put you in touch with other people who can help such as lawyers and distributors.