Export, Innovate, Invest - The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service

Tips for Business Travellers - Sweden

Visas

Canadian citizens do not require a visa to travel to Sweden for up to three months for tourism purposes. A Canadian citizen wishing to work or reside in Sweden should contact the Swedish Embassy in Canada directly for information about visas:

Embassy of Sweden
377 Dalhousie Street
Ottawa, ON K1N 9N8
Tel.: +1 (613) 244-8200
Fax: +1 (613) 241-2277
Email: sweden.ottawa@gov.se
Website: www.swedishembassy.ca

Transportation

Sweden enjoys a well-developed transportation system. Air, bus and train connect all major cities and towns in Sweden. The roads are of good quality and the speed limit ranges from 50 to 120 kilometres an hour. Domestic air carriers in Sweden provide service to larger, as well as smaller, cities in Sweden and Scandinavia.

Arriving from overseas in Stockholm, Malmö or Gothenburg/Göteborg:

  1. Stockholm: When arriving at Stockholm Arlanda Airport it is possible to board long distance trains for certain destinations at the airport itself. If you are travelling to central Stockholm, there is a frequent, direct, non-stop, rail link to Stockholm Central Station from the airport, called Arlanda Express. It is faster than taxis, just as comfortable and costs about half as much. Journey time is 20 minutes. From Central Station you can take high speed X2000 trains to destinations throughout Sweden and parts of Norway. Travel by taxi to central Stockholm takes about 30 minutes depending on the traffic situation. The major taxi companies in Stockholm are Taxi Stockholm, Taxi 020 and Taxi Kurir. These companies' taxis are clean, efficient and accept a number of major credit cards. Taxis from these companies can be summoned anywhere in Stockholm by phoning +46 (0)8 15 00 00 (Taxi Stockholm), +46 20 20 20 20 (Taxi 020) or +46 (0)8 30 00 00 (Taxi Kurir). Canadian business travellers may find it most convenient and reliable to use either of these companies. Please note that Comfort Hotel, SAS Radisson Royal Viking Hotel and Sheraton Hotel (see list of hotels) are all situated at, or very close to Central Station. Other Stockholm airports include Bromma, for some domestic flights, and Skavsta for discount/budget airline flights. Bromma is relatively close to central Stockholm. Skavsta is one hour and 20 minutes from central Stockholm.

  2. Malmö: Closest international airport is Copenhagen Kastrup. There is also an excellent local airport, Malmö Sturup, with connections by Malmö Aviation and Scandinavian Airlines to Stockholm (one hour) and all major Swedish cities.

  3. Gothenburg/Göteborg: Closest international airport is Landvetter International Airport, with flights to London, UK and many other European destinations, as well as domestic connections to Stockholm (one hour) and all major Swedish cities.

  4. Swedish high speed train network: Sweden operates a nationwide network of very comfortable, efficient, high speed trains called X2000. First class travel in these trains is very suitable for business work on board. Even second class is usually pleasant, though it may not always be suitable for work. Examples of journey times: Stockholm-Malmö: 5 hours, Stockholm-Gothenburg/Göteborg: 3 hours 40 minutes, Stockholm-Sundsvall: 4 hours 30 minutes, Stockholm-Oslo, Norway: 6 hours.

Language

The official language is Swedish, a North Germanic language closely related to Norwegian and Danish. English is the second language of business in Sweden and is widely spoken, read and written everywhere. Sending e-mails in English from overseas is thus perfectly acceptable. French is less widely understood. Swedish business people are accustomed to dealing with North Americans and other English-speaking areas.

Lodging

No matter what price you pay, you'll always get a clean, comfortable room. You will find all major international hotel chains in Sweden and many middle class hotels. For more information see Hotels.

Communications

Sweden has an unparallelled telecommunications network which includes 3G in major cities. North American dual band and tri-band GSM cellphones will function in Sweden. Such phones are readily available now on the market. Calling party pays in Sweden on cell and conventional phones, as in other European countries. Most major hotels in large cities have Internet connections in rooms.

Electrical equipment

The electric current in Sweden is 220 volt AC, 50 cycles, and plugs for outlets differ from those in North America.

Measurements

Sweden uses the metric system. Measurements of liquid volumes, weights and lengths are expressed in litres, kilograms and metres respectively.

Currency

Sweden's monetary unit is the krona, which is subdivided into 100 öre. The smallest coin is 1 krona. Currency may be exchanged in banks or in exchange shops. Some larger hotels may also be able to exchange currencies but they may take commission. Credit cards are widely accepted. For more information on Sweden's currency, visit Sveriges Riksbank. The Bank of Canada provides a currency converter.

Credit reports on particular companies are easily be obtained by contacting Dun & Bradstreet in Sweden or UC, the Swedish Business and Credit Information Agency jointly owned by all Swedish commercial banks.

Advice on doing business

Sweden is one of the most active promoters of free and open trade given that the import penetration is high. Sweden is a homogenous and a well-organised society. The emphasis is on the group rather than the individual. The organisation within the company is usually flat and non hierarchical with decentralised responsibilities.

Administrative trade barriers to start up a business in among the lowest in the OECD. It is easy to start a business. The contact with government authorities are known to run smoothly and public service is efficient, speedy and non-burearatic.

Swedes have duties towards families and other social groups and therefore it is considered unreasonable to expect them to work a large amount of overtime. Swedes are entitled to a 5 weeks holiday per year.

The Swedish consumer is price-conscious and well aware of what he or she is prepared to pay for different goods and services. The Swedish buyer is discerning, expects high quality and good design, good packaging and, above all, reliable and punctual delivery.

Business meetings will usually start on time and will get right to business instead of small talk which is common in other countries.

Swedes are considered to be loyal.

Swedes in business

Knowledge about the cultural differences Canadians face when doing business in Sweden can be crucial for a good and lasting business relationship. Sweden is a small internationalized country and the home of more multinational companies per capita than most other countries. Sweden is one of the more active promoters and defenders of liberal and open world trade. This is seen in an open and positive attitude toward imports and supplies from abroad. Import-oriented trade has also resulted in sophisticated consumers with high brand, quality and price consciousness.

Generally most Swedes speak excellent English, which is the language commonly used in business. An interpreter is rarely necessary.

Swedes are planners and organizers. Business meetings will therefore start and end on time. Swedes will go straight to the point without any preliminaries. In most sectors business meetings should be arranged well in advance. Most Swedes also draw a strict line between working life and private life. They tend to be serious and honest in negotiations.

Swedish companies usually have a flat and team-oriented structure with few management levels. The workplace is not as hierarchical as in Canada. The emphasis is on the group rather than the individual. Decisions can therefore be made by different people at different levels, usually after serious consideration. Swedes also strive to reach consensus in negotiations, which in some cases may appear ineffective to Canadians, since meetings tend to be longer. They try to solve problems in an informal and pragmatic way, even if this means bypassing one or more executive levels.

Swedes are automatically on a first-name basis with one another, regardless of sex, age, social position or job title.

Administrative trade barriers to starting up a business are among the lowest in the OECD. To find out more about doing business and setting up a business in Sweden, visit Invest Sweden.

Succeeding in the Swedish market

The more information you have about the market you are targeting, the more successful you will be. Market reports and sector profiles are available on the Embassy of Canada to Sweden website. The Commercial Section in Stockholm is dedicated to helping Canadian companies that have chosen Sweden as their target market. We can help to identify qualified partners, distributors or importers

Swedish agents and distributors prefer to deal directly with the Canadian manufacturer, rather than through a representative in another European country. This is due to the higher price level that may result from a mark-up by the European sales representative, as well as any communication problems that may occur as a result of third party involvement.

  • When visiting Sweden appointments should be set up a least two weeks in advance. Since that Swedes are planners, in most sectors it is considered unprofessional to call at the last minute to arrange meetings.
  • It is customary to exchange business cards during business meetings.
  • To Swedes, punctuality for a business meeting is very important and they will expect you to call with an explanation if you are delayed.
  • Managing purchasers and clients expect good quality, design and packaging, and-- most important--reliable delivery.
  • In presentations, try to be clear, precise and concrete; do not exaggerate. Swedes appreciate honesty.
  • When communicating with Swedes, be clear and concise in detailing what you expect from them. They will be equally clear with you.
  • If you are meeting with a potential partner, send material about your company and product well in advance so they will have time to go through it.
  • Reports, briefings and presentations should be backed up by facts, figures, tables and charts.
  • Swedes have a minimum of five weeks paid vacation each year. Many companies close down for the month of July.
  • Even though Swedes have a more casual dress code than most other countries, a suit or jacket is still recommended for business meetings.

Sources

May 2011