Guide: work in northern Sweden

People hiking on Kebnekaise
Karl Hedin/Unsplash
Build a career in climate, technology, or service, and gain international experience in northern Sweden. In this article, you can read about jobs, schools, housing, unemployment insurance, tax cards, banks, cars, and health insurance, and everything else you need to consider when you start your adventure in the far north.

Do you dream of living and working in northern Sweden, with wild nature right outside your door, the Northern Lights dancing across the sky in winter, the midnight sun lighting up the summer nights, and where people are happy and free of the worries of the big city? Read on to find out about how to get there.

Northern Sweden consists of five counties: Gävleborg, Västernorrland, Jämtland, Västerbotten, and Norrbotten. Here, the Swedish, Sami, and Tornedal cultures live side by side.

In the northern part of Sweden, there is little competition for jobs and unemployment is low. Many new workplaces have appeared, as the traditionally strong commodity companies are starting new ventures and new technology is creating new opportunities.

You can find all types of jobs, such as educators, teachers, police officers, engineers, system developers, electricians, bus drivers, painters, skilled workers, civil servants and managers, and administrative staff, or in the health service such as doctors, nurses, and social workers, transport workers, or as experts in IT, environment and chemistry.

If you want to try working in a new sector, there are also great opportunities. It can feel scary to explore a new sector at first, but it might just be what you need to find your dream job!

What is happening in northern Sweden?

Many industries are currently investing heavily in, above all, Norrbotten and Västerbotten, which are the northernmost regions in northern Sweden. The Swedes talk about a new industrialisation, where 100,000 people are needed who can work in almost 200 different professions in the public and private sectors.

Boden, Gällivare, Kiruna, Luleå, and Skellefteå are some of the towns and cities in northern Sweden that are worth keeping an eye on if you are dreaming of working in the north and want to help change the world through the transition that many industries are now preparing in the far north of Sweden.

Northern Sweden is growing strongly, and naturally this brings challenges, but above all it generates an enormous willingness to collaborate, creativity, and belief in the future. Northern Sweden is just around the corner, and what is taking place here creates pride for residents and businesses.

This guide should make it easier for you to take the plunge and move to northern Sweden.

Why should you move to northern Sweden?

The latest trend is to look north, because there are many job opportunities in northern Sweden, and many people are attracted by the quality of life on offer there. It is easier to find jobs and housing, and housing prices are lower compared to the metropolitan regions.

There is no reason to wait until retirement age to enjoy life in another country. A period abroad with work experience enhances your CV, increases your attractiveness to future employers, and benefits your career in the long term.

Globalise your CV in northern Sweden

Before your departure, it can be difficult to imagine how living and working in northern Sweden will affect who you are and how you experience the world around you. A longer period abroad or a permanent relocation to another country can develop and change you in many different ways.

In northern Sweden, you will encounter new experiences and challenges that you will look back on fondly later in life. You will be challenged and forced into new and unfamiliar situations, so you must be open-minded, adaptable, and willing to try new things. You will widen your perspective on the world and on your home country, and you will expand your circle of friends.

A period in northern Sweden and employment with an international company can be the launchpad to a global career. It can help to define your future prospects and open up the possibility that your next job may not necessarily be found in your home country, but perhaps in Canada, China or Croatia - so it changes your future and your potential quite significantly.

Experience the culture in northern Sweden

The culture in northern Sweden may be different from the one you are used to in your home country. However, with flexibility and an open mind, you will settle in and become more independent and used to tackling new challenges. Some things will feel strange and impractical, while others will put your home country's culture into perspective.

You get to know a new country and a new culture, and you will have fantastic travel experiences. In northern Sweden, you find Sweden’s highest mountain, Kebnekaise, and the deepest lake, Hornavan. You live with permafrost all year round in the mountain areas, while you can swim in the sea at the Bothnian coast in the summer.

You can book a snowmobile tour, go dog sledding, and try ice skating or skiing. You can have unique travel experiences in areas, villages and town that you would otherwise never have visited, and eat many different foods, such as moose, reindeer and fish, Västerbotten Pie, potato dumplings (palt), and summer cake (pitekaka). If you are feeling particularly adventurous, you could try fermented herring (surströmming).

You will learn a new language and perhaps improve your English if you work for a large international company whose business language is English, which will be an advantage in your later life and career.

When in life should you move to northern Sweden?

There has been a lot of research into people's mobility – where, when, and why people choose to move. The research clearly shows that we can move to a new region at certain points in our lives – for example due to studies and to a first job. Alternatively, we may be reluctant to move to another region until we have become established.

Young people in northern Sweden

When you have just finished a long educational programme or are starting your working life, it can seem inconceivable that you will be on your home country's labour market for the next 40-50 years. However, you can shape your working life as you wish.

Many companies encourage their younger employees to go abroad, and then return with new expertise and experience from abroad. Perhaps the company you work for already has departments in northern Sweden, where you can build a career for a period of time. If not, there are professional job portals and search engines that specialise in mediating contacts between companies and qualified candidates from other countries.

Take the family with you to northern Sweden

After several years in the labour market, you may be settled into everyday life that includes a spouse and young children. This will deter many people from realising their dream of living and working abroad. However, you can still realise this dream together with the family. Regardless of the age of your children, it will benefit them to be part of the adventure.

If you have very young children, perhaps one parent will not work during the period you are away. Older children can be enroled in a local institution or school, where they will get to know the new culture and language.

Prepare for your move to northern Sweden

Moving abroad to work is a big decision, but it can be done. Most people who take the plunge say that the experiences and knowledge they take home after a period abroad make it worthwhile. Others never go home again, because they settle with family and friends abroad.

It is important to prepare for a relocation or a longer period abroad, but remember that an important part of travelling abroad is that you do not know what the future will bring or what culture you will encounter at your new workplace.

Here is an overview of what is important to know before you move to Sweden.

Different jobs in northern Sweden

There are many different types of jobs to apply for in northern Sweden. One large sector comprises the so-called green jobs in industry, where many new workplaces are being set up, both in the production of green steel and in the environmental field, but the construction industry and the service industry also have a great need for labour.

A number of large companies with a focus on climate change are setting up in northern Sweden because of the region's raw materials, ore, wind, forest, and water. Demand for labour in northern Sweden is therefore expected to increase for a long time to come.

The new workplaces in northern Sweden do not stop at the recruitment needs of the large companies. The service sector is also growing and demand for labour is increasing in retail, services, schools and pre-schools, health care and social care, elderly care, and IT, which offer both permanent and seasonal jobs.

In the tourism sector, there are seasonal jobs in Åre, Östersund and elsewhere. A number of professions are needed here, such as ski instructors, lift hosts, lift operators, piste machine operators, cycle repairers, cycle guides, wilderness guides, snowmobile guides, adventure guides, tour guides, conference hosts, tourist information officers, receptionists, hostesses, cleaning staff, cooks, cafe staff, waiters, baristas, bartenders, sommeliers, taxi drivers, bus driver or shop staff.

Make sure your CV highlights your qualifications, and be prepared to travel to northern Sweden to meet your potential employer if you progress through the hiring process. Sometimes the first step is a digital interview.

Where in northern Sweden do you want to work?

Northern Sweden is a large geographical areas, so you should think about where you want to work. In several northern Swedish towns and cities, there is a focus on green industry with exciting job opportunities, but the labour market is growing in most areas.

In Boden and Gällivare fossil-free products are made and in Boden you will also find jobs linked to the Swedish Defence. In Skellefteå, over three thousand people are expected to get jobs in the battery industry within a few years, and Umeå aims to welcome 200,000 new people by 2050.

Kiruna has the world’s largest and most modern underground iron ore mine. Research and development is taking place here to adapt mining to new requirements and regulations regarding the environment and mining operations.

Already today, there are many jobs to apply for in northern Sweden. Whatever your education or background, you can find relevant jobs to apply for in northern Sweden.

Use job portals to find jobs in northern Sweden

On the website of the Public Employment Service (Arbetsförmedlingen), you can look for jobs in northern Sweden by job title, company, town or city, education level, or search word. Regardless of whether you are looking for a full-time job, part-time job, or seasonal job, you will get suggestions for possible jobs to apply for.

Several companies and organisations are behind the portal, MindDig, where you can register if you want to apply for a job in northern Sweden. In this portal, companies and organisations have access to information about your skills and expertise.

Find housing in northern Sweden

The municipalities are welcoming and offer opportunities that will make newcomers feel at home. For example, there are accessible and affordable homes, regardless of whether you want to rent, buy, or build yourself.

Several northern Swedish towns and cities offer higher education, which contributes to a favourable development with immigration and new jobs. The universities of Luleå and Umeå are growing rapidly and offer popular courses – and they even have a campus in Skellefteå.

Umeå in the county of Västerbotton is the largest city in northern Sweden. It is called the City of Birches, because of the several thousand birch trees in the centre. Kiruna, on the other hand, is Sweden's largest municipality, as big as Skåne, Blekinge and Halland combined.

Take a look at the various municipalities' websites for more information about life in the north and how you can buy or rent housing or build your own house.

You can also read about finding housing in the article Housing in Sweden and search for available housing throughout Sweden on the Blocket website (

International criminal record extract for use in Sweden

If your future employer in Sweden requires a clean criminal record, you can order an international criminal record extract before leaving your home country.

Report your move to Sweden

Everyone planning to stay in Sweden for more than one year must register in the Swedish Population Register. You report your move to Sweden by making a personal visit to the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket). Remember to take your passport.

As a Nordic citizen, you have the right to live and work throughout the Nordic region without a residence and work permit. Nordic citizens do not have to show the right of residence or a residence permit to register in the Swedish Population Register.

As an EU/EEA citizen, you have the right to work, study or live in Sweden without a residence permit. The right of EU/EEA citizens to stay in Sweden without a residence permit is called the right of residence. You have the right of residence if you are employed, self-employed, studying, or have sufficient funds to support yourself. If you have the right of residence in Sweden, you do not need to contact the Swedish Migration Agency (Migrationsverket).

If you are a citizen from a non-EU/EEA country and do not have a residence permit, you must contact the Swedish Migration Agency for information on how to apply for a Swedish residence permit. If you have the right of residence in Sweden and you are not a citizen of an EU or EEA country, you must, within three months of moving to Sweden, apply for a residence permit card (uppehållskort) from the Swedish Migration Agency.

Inform your home country about your move to Sweden

When you move to Sweden from Denmark or Finland you must report your move to the population registry authority in your home country. If you move from Iceland or Norway to Sweden you do not need to inform your home country’s population registry authority.

You can find more information about moving from a Nordic country in the Info Norden ‘moving from’ guides.

Manage your tax in your home country

Check with the tax authority in your home country what applies to you in your situation. When you move abroad, your tax situation may change. It is important to contact the tax authority to avoid paying too much or too little in tax. Remember also to check your annual tax return for the year in which you move from your home country.

Tax cards in Sweden

If you are employed, you must pay preliminary tax (A-skatt), and you must have a tax card so that your employer can deduct tax from your salary and pay employer contributions. If your employer does not know which tax card you have, more tax will be deducted. It is therefore important that you can show your tax card to your employer. If you need a tax card, you can order one from the Swedish Tax Agency.

Most employers who pay wages, salaries, pensions, or similar receive information directly from the Swedish tax authority. In some cases, employers ask employees to hand in their tax card.

Tax cards are first and foremost necessary if you are not a Swedish citizen and will be working in Sweden for a limited period between 6 and 12 months. The card shows that you are approved to work in Sweden.

Check the consequences of your relocation to Sweden

It is a good idea to check what consequences your move to or residence in Sweden have for your specific situation before you leave. Your move affects your rights and the right to benefits such as maternity pay, child allowance, and pension. How long you have been away is important for your right to benefits.

If you receive benefits from the authorities in your home country, in some cases you must also notify the authorities directly of your move. Check what applies in your situation.

Find institutions and schools in Sweden for your children

In Sweden, the municipalities have main responsibility for schools. Swedish schools are largely state funded and are free of charges. A small proportion of pupils attend independent schools, which are also state funded. Children living in Sweden are entitled and required to attend school for ten years.

In Sweden there are different types of childcare for children aged between 1 and 5. Parents must pay for their child’s place in a Swedish daycare institution. When you are working, studying, looking for work, or you are at home with the child’s younger siblings, you are entitled to childcare. In Sweden, it is generally the municipalities that are responsible for childcare.

If you have joint custody for your child in your home country

If you move to Sweden with your child, and the other parent becomes a resident in the home country, you must ensure that it is legal for your child to move to Sweden with you. If you have joint custody, you must agree that the child may move. You are obliged to notify the other parent of the move.

Contact your bank in the home country and open a bank account in Sweden

Contact your bank in your home country and see what your options are when you move abroad, and whether you should keep your bank account in your home country. Notify your bank of your new address in Sweden, as it is not certain that your bank will automatically be notified of your new address.

Your employer can ask you to open a bank account in Sweden in order to pay your salary, if the employer can prove that it would cost more to transfer your salary abroad.

If you must have a bank account in Sweden, it is a good idea to check with local banks before you move.

Get electronic identification (e-ID) in Sweden

You must retain digital ID in your home country when you are moving to Sweden. You will then still be able to log in to self-service solutions in your home country if needed.

With some Swedish authorities, you can log in to self-service solutions with your home country's e-identification. Look for “Log in with eID” or “Log in with foreign eID”.

Sweden has several digital identifications, but the most widespread is BankID. When you live and work in Sweden, you can contact a bank in Sweden and order a BankID.

Choose insurance in Sweden

Contact your insurance company in your home country and see what options you have when you move to Sweden. Cancel or make changes to your current insurance policies.

Some insurance policies are obligatory by law in Sweden. You can read about the most common policies that insurance companies offer in Sweden.

Social insurance cover in Sweden

When you are planning to work in Sweden, you are basically no longer covered by the rules for social insurance in your home country. Instead, it is the rules in your new country of work that apply. You must notify the Swedish Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan).

If you live and work in Sweden, you are then automatically covered by social insurance in Sweden. This means that you can go to a doctor and receive treatment at a hospital, and that you are covered by the Swedish rules on, for example, pension, unemployment benefit and work-related injuries.

If you are moving to Sweden and will be working in several countries, it is important to decide in which country you will be covered by social insurance. You must apply for a decision from the authorities in the country in which you will be living.

Join an unemployment insurance fund (a-kassa) in Sweden

It is a good idea to be a member of an unemployment insurance fund. When you have unemployment insurance, you may be entitled to unemployment benefit if you become unemployed. If you want to be a member of an unemployment fund in Sweden, you must actively enrol in a fund. 

When you move to Sweden to work, you must bring form PD U1. This is a document used to transfer your unemployment fund membership to a foreign unemployment fund, and confirms your work and insurance periods from your home country. Within the EU/EEA, this preserves your unemployment fund history.

When you have worked in another Nordic country, you must prove your periods of insurance and work on the PD U1 certificate to apply for unemployment benefit. When you return to your home country, you must show the document if you are applying for unemployment benefit.

If you work in one Nordic country but live in another that you return to daily or at least once a week, you commute across a border - also known as a cross-border worker. You must have unemployment insurance (arbetslöshetsförsäkring) in the country in which you work. Special rules apply for cross-border workers who become unemployed. The rules depend on whether you return to your place of residence at least once a week or not, and whether your unemployment is partial, periodic, or full.

Healthcare insurance in Sweden

You must register for healthcare insurance in Sweden with Försäkringskassan. You will then be covered under the same conditions as the country’s own citizens, and will be entitled to treatment from your own doctor and specialists, and to subsidised medicines and dental care.

You must also order a new EU health insurance card in Sweden when you move to Sweden to work. You need the card if you are travelling on holiday in your home country or another country in the EU/EEA and need urgent treatment.

You are not entitled to planned health care in your home country when you are no longer covered by social insurance there.

Register your car and renew your driving licence in Sweden

You can easily live in northern Sweden without a car - at least in the bigger towns and cities - but if you live outside towns and cities, you will need a car because of the long distances.

The main rule is that a car must be registered in the country in which the owner is a resident. When you live in Sweden, your car must be registered in Sweden.

When move to Sweden from Denmark, Finland, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Norway, or Åland, you can use your general driving licence. If you lose or need to renew your driving licence after you have moved to Sweden, you must contact the Swedish Transport Agency (Transportstyrelsen). You can no longer get a new driving licence issued in your former home country.

Take your dog or cat with you to Sweden

If you are taking your pet to Sweden, you must speak to a veterinarian. The vet can help with documents and vaccinations.

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Info Norden is the information service of the Nordic Council of Ministers. Here you can find info and tips if you wish to move, work, study, seek support or start a business in the Nordic region.