What makes Sweden a unique country to travel to?
Sweden is a highly developed, stable democracy with a modern economy. Swedish is the official language, but English is well-spoken throughout the country.
Sweden has a low crime rate, though violent crime does occur on occasion. Most crimes involve the theft of personal property from cars or residences or in public areas. Pickpockets and purse-snatchers are becoming more prevalent. Many U.S. citizens fall victim to these highly-skilled thieves, especially at the main train stations in Stockholm and Gothenburg, and while riding the bus or train to and from airports. Do not put any bags containing valuables, such as your passport, down on the ground. Thieves particularly like computer bags. Pickpockets and purse-snatchers often work in pairs or groups so one can distract the victim while the other grabs the items; often, they operate in or near major tourist attractions such as Stockholm's Old Town, and also at restaurants, amusement parks, museums, bars, public transportation, including airports. Hotel breakfast rooms and lobbies attract professional, well-dressed thieves who blend in with guests and target purses and briefcases left unguarded by unsuspecting tourists and business travelers. Don’t leave your valuables in parked vehicles.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal to bring back into the United States, if you purchase them, you may also be breaking local law.
While you are traveling in Sweden, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but illegal in the United States, and you can be prosecuted under U.S. law. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking illegal drugs in Sweden are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. There is no bail system in Sweden, and U.S. citizens who are arrested may be held in custody until the trial is complete. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Sweden, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not at your destination.
Arrest notifications in host country: While some countries will automatically notify the U.S. Embassy if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in a foreign country, that might not always be the case. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the U.S. Embassy as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.
The numbers in Swedish and in English are very similar. If, for example, you want to say 31 you just take the word for 30, "trettio", and the word for 5, "fem", and put them together to make "trettiofem". This works in exactly the same way as it does in English. Sweden uses the Roman alphabet with three extra letters. å ö ä. Some words are the same in English and Swedish for example "man" and "person" are the same.
Medical Facilities and Health Information
Medical care in Sweden is comparable to that found in the United States. The Swedish medical system is state-run, so instead of visiting a local private general practitioner, you can visit a local medical center or clinic, called an "Akutmottagning" or "Vardcentral." You should be prepared to present your passport. The Swedish medical system does not cover people who don’t live in Sweden; nonresidents are expected to pay their own medical costs. In case of a medical emergency, use the emergency telephone number "112" to contact the appropriate emergency service.
If you have special needs, you should consult your personal physician and take appropriate precautions, including bringing adequate supplies of necessary medication. You can bring medicines into the country as long as they are intended for a medical reason and your personal use. Medications categorized as narcotics may only be brought into the country to cover your personal use for a maximum of five days, three weeks, or three months,depending on the type, and must be accompanied by a note from your medical doctor stating why you need them. Class II and Class III narcotics may only be brought into Sweden to cover your personal use for a maximum of five days each time you enter Sweden. Medications categorized Class IV and Class V narcotics may be brought into the country to cover your personal use for three weeks, however if you are a foreign resident and in Sweden only temporarily, you may bring enough for the duration of your stay in Sweden, up to a maximum of three months. To find out the classification of your medication contact the Medical Products Agency in Sweden.
In addition, stringent Swedish customs regulations prohibit travelers from receiving drugs from abroad after having arrived in the country. You may find local physicians reluctant to prescribe equivalent quantities or dosages. Prescriptions are dispensed at pharmacies called "Apotek" in Swedish. Most pharmacies are open only during normal shopping hours, but major cities will have a 24-hour pharmacy.
Safety and Security
Sweden has been subject to terrorist incidents in the recent past, and the potential for a terrorist incident remains. Like other countries in the Schengen area, Sweden's open borders with its Western European neighbors allow the possibility of terrorist groups to enter and exit the country with anonymity. You should remain vigilant and exercise caution.
Traffic Safety and Road Conditions
While in Sweden, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. You can use a valid U.S. driver's license while visiting Sweden, but you must be at least 18 years old to drive. Driving is on the right in Sweden as in the United States. Road signs use standard international symbols and Swedish text. Many urban streets have traffic lanes reserved for public transportation only. Swedish roads are comparable to those in the United States, though secondary roads may be less heavily traveled. The secondary routes often narrow to two lanes with a wider shoulder. Slower vehicles are expected to move onto the shoulder to allow faster moving vehicles to pass. All vehicles on the road must have their headlights turned on, no matter the time of day. You must use snow tires between December 1 and March 31, and you should be experienced driving on ice and snow, if you are going to drive in the winter. Gas stations in rural areas can be far apart. Some gas stations are unattended and require a credit card with a chip to purchase fuel; some U.S. banks will issue this type of card upon request. You must use seat belts, and children under the age of seven must be seated in approved child or booster seats. The maximum speed limit is 110 kilometers per hour (approximately 66 miles per hour). Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including prescription drugs, is considered a very serious offense. The maximum legal blood-alcohol level is .02-- much lower than in the United States. Swedish police often conduct alcohol tests on roads and highways. The rules are strictly enforced and fines can be severe, including possible jail sentences.
Public transport in Sweden is the recommended method of travel. Passenger trains, intercity buses, and airplanes provide regular service over longer distances. Public transportation in urban centers includes buses, subways, trams, suburban trains, and taxis. Taxis are more expensive than in major U.S. cities. Most local residents use public transport in Stockholm, as parking can be hard to find and expensive. The bus, train, and subway systems are considered safe. Cyclists are common on many roads, especially in urban areas.