Medicines and high-cost protection in Sweden

Medicin og medicintilskud i Sverige
Understand the regulations regarding costs of medicines and high-cost protection in Sweden, and see what applies when you take medicines with you on a trip or use foreign prescriptions at pharmacies in Sweden.

The Swedish state provides financial support when you need medicines and some other items for certain illnesses. Most prescription medicines are subsidised, and the subsidy ensures that you do not have unreasonably high costs when you need medicine. This is called high-cost protection.

High-cost protection means there is a maximum for how much you can pay for medicines during the course of a year.

Buying medicine in Sweden with a prescription from another country

In accordance with EU regulations, prescriptions from all the Nordic countries and EU/EEA countries are generally valid in Sweden. However, in practice, it is not always possible to buy medicines with a foreign prescription, if a completely equivalent medicinal type cannot be obtained. Certain types of strong medicines can under no circumstances be obtained using a foreign prescription.

If you know at the time the foreign prescription is issued that you will be buying the medicine in Sweden, you can ask your doctor to specify the content and the concentration of active substances in the product. This will make it easier for the pharmacy to sell an equivalent type of medicine.

If your prescription is issued in another Nordic country, the format, quantity, strength and dosage of the medicine must be clearly stated, to enable identification of the product. The prescription must also include the following information if it is be dispensed in Sweden:

Patient identification:

  • Given name and surname (the full name must be written, not initials)
  • Date of birth

Check of validity of the prescription:

  • Date of issue

Identification of the prescribing doctor:

  • Given name and surname (the full name must be written, not initials)
  • Professional qualifications
  • Direct contact information, email address, telephone or fax number with international prefix and country code
  • Work address, including country
  • Signature, handwritten or electronic, depending on how the prescription is issued

Identification of the prescribed medical product:

  • The accepted designation or
  • the name of the medicinal product if the prescribed product is a biological product, or whether the person issuing the prescription is of the opinion that, for medical reasons, an explanation is necessary about why the medical product in question must be dispensed.

E-prescriptions in Sweden and Swedish e-prescriptions abroad

An electronic prescription (e-prescription) is a digital prescription for a medicine. Most prescriptions issued in the Nordic countries are electronic prescriptions. These are sometimes called online prescriptions or digital prescriptions.

E-prescriptions are registered on the national prescription servers, which makes it easier to collect medicines because you can choose the pharmacy from which you want to collect the medicine. It also makes it easy for you to see how many times you have collected medicine on a multiple prescription.

However, if your doctor has given you an e-prescription and you plan to collect it in another Nordic/EU country, you should ask for a paper copy, as an e-prescription may not necessarily be available outside your home country.

Import of medicines to Sweden.

You may bring prescription medicine and over-the-counter (OTC) medicine for your own personal use from EU/EEA countries, up to a maximum quantity equivalent to one year’s use.

Special regulations apply for import of medicines classed as narcotics and performance-enhancing drugs.

Schengen Certificate when travelling to or from Sweden

Note that when you are travelling to or from Sweden, you must bring a certificate showing the medicines you have with you. The certificate is officially called the Schengen Certificate (Schengenattest), and documents that your medicine is for your own use.

The certificate applies for both OTC and prescription medicines. The certificate must be used when travelling inside the Schengen area. Countries outside the Schengen area determine their own regulations regarding import of medicines. You can contact the embassies of countries outside the Schengen area to find out what applies.

You may not always need a certificate, but you are responsible for finding out whether your medicine requires a certificate for your journey. If you are in any doubt, ask in a pharmacy if your medicine requires a certificate.

In Sweden, a certificate can be ordered free of charge from a pharmacy. A certificate is valid for the length of the journey, but no longer than 30 days. If you use several types of medicine, a separate certificate is issued for each type.

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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.