Doing Business in Sweden

Sweden is located in the heart of Scandinavia, between Norway, Finland and, off its south coast, Denmark. An EU member-state, Sweden has a reputation for trade and entrepreneurship and is also part of the World Trade Organisation, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Sweden currently ranks as the seventh-wealthiest country in the world by GDP: primarily an export-oriented economy, it draws on abundant natural resources including timber, iron ore, and hydropower - while skill-intensive sectors such as engineering, telecommunications, manufacturing and pharmaceuticals also represent important financial interests. Sweden’s business culture is based on egalitarianism, and is reinforced by a talented labour pool with an impressive work ethic. Many multinational businesses maintain a presence in Sweden including Volvo, IKEA, Electrolux, Tetrapak, and Eriksson, each taking advantage of favourable government business initiatives. In 2012-2013, Sweden was ranked as the fourth most competitive economy in the world by the World Economic Forum.

Why invest in Sweden?

Financiers looking for opportunities in Sweden will discover many reasons to invest:

  • Tax rates: Sweden imposes a relatively favourable corporate tax rate of 22% (on net profits) and has no capital gains tax. Further tax incentives such as contribution exemptions and additional deductions are available.
  • International hub: Sweden’s location at the centre of northern Europe makes it a busy business hub, with excellent links - by road, rail, air and sea - to Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and the rest of Europe.
  • Research & development: The European Commission ranked Sweden as the most innovative EU member state in 2014. At 3.37%, Sweden’s GDP investment in R&D exceeds EU targets, and businesses enjoy strong links with the country’s educational and technological institutions.
  • Skilled labour: Sweden’s labour force is characterised by diligence and dedication, and employees tend to take pride in conducting business in a relaxed, efficient manner. Swedish workers are skilled and educated, with 32% of the workforce holding a tertiary degree.
  • Industry potential: Key investment areas in Sweden include automotive, sustainable energy, financial services, and ICT. Technological innovation is driving growth and, to encourage investment, the government has specifically incentivised the energy sectors and telecommunications industry.
  • Business incentives: Amongst a variety of initiatives to encourage investment, the Swedish government works to eliminate business obstacles, including introducing the Companies Act in 2006, which allowed foreign investors a greater say in their interests.

Registering A Company and Establishing an Entity in Sweden

An Employer must be registered at the Swedish Tax Office. The company is not considered as a Legal Entity until it is registered with the Swedish Companies Registration Office. It usually takes two to four weeks to register a new company.

Company formation in Sweden follows this 3-stage process:

  • Obtain Certification from a Swedish bank that the total cash amount for shares has been deposited into an account. This takes 1 day.
  • Submit an Online Application to the Swedish Companies Registration Office and obtain a Registration Certificate. This takes 14 days and costs approximately 2000 SEK.
  • Registration with the Swedish Tax Agency- this takes 1 day and can be done at the same time as stage 2.

Some useful information on how to fill in the Tax Application for foreign entrepreneurs

Business Banking in Sweden

It is not mandatory to make payments to both employees and the authorities from an in-country bank account.

Working Days in Sweden

The Working Days in Sweden are from Monday to Friday. Normal working hours cannot exceed 40 hours per week. No more than 48 hours overtime over a period of four weeks, or 50 hours over a calendar month, is permissible. Maximum overtime is 200 hours per calendar year.

Basic Facts about Sweden

General information

Lying at the centre of Northern Europe, Sweden is officially a kingdom - and the third-largest country by area in the European Union. Home to prehistoric Germanic tribes, Sweden unified during the Middle Ages to form an empire, but gradually ceded territory to assume its modern borders, and join the EU, in 1995. Today, Sweden maintains a prominent regional and global presence as a member of the United Nations, the Nordic Council, the Council of Europe, and the WTO - amongst numerous other organisations. Sweden’s natural resources have helped it become one of the wealthiest nations in the world: a status reflected by high living and educational standards, and its ongoing global competitiveness. Part of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Sweden’s landscapes are characterised by rolling mountains and hills, while the country enjoys a temperate climate, with mild winters and warm summers. 

Full Name: Kingdom of Sweden

Population: 9.4 million (UN, 2011)

Capital: Stockholm

Major Language: Swedish

Major Religion: Christianity

Monetary unit: 1 Swedish krona = 100 ore

Main Exports: Machinery and Transport equipment, Paper Products, Chemicals

Internet domain: .se

International Dialling Code: +46

Hello Hallå

Good morning god morgon

Good evening god kväll

Do you speak English? Talar du engelska?

Good bye adjö

Thank you Tack

See you later Vi ses senare

Income Tax & Social Security in Sweden

The Tax Year runs from 1st January to 31st December. The typical penalty awarded for the late submission and payment of tax and social security contributions is a fee of 500 or 1000 SEK + rate of interest.

Income Tax in Sweden

Taxation on salaries for an employee involves contributing to three different levels of government: The Municipality, The County Council, and The Central Government.

Employer with Permanent Establishment:

Preliminary Income Tax shall be deducted from the pay slip and paid by the employer to the authorities. The tax tables used for the calculation vary depending on where the employee lives and the employees’ total economic situation. For irregular payments such as bonus, final pay etc. it is a percentage for one time tax 30-58% depending on the employees yearly income.

All the residents are liable to pay National and Municipal Swedish Tax on their worldwide income; Non Tax Residents in Sweden are liable to pay tax on income derived from work performed in Sweden. Individuals will be regarded as Tax Residents if they are present in Sweden for a period of more than 6 months. Married people are taxed separately.

Taxable Income Includes:

  • Income from Employment (deemed to form only one source), is taxed for Municipal tax up to the threshold and for national tax for the exceeding part.
  • Income from business (may include various sources of income), is taxed for Municipal tax up to the threshold and for national tax for the exceeding part.
  • Income from capital (deemed to form only one source) is taxed separately. No municipal tax is levied.

Certain deductions are permissible: i.e. expenses incurred due to double accommodation and home travel during temporary assignments away from ordinary place of work for up to 2 years for single individuals and five years for married couples. There is a 25% expatriate flat tax rate for non-residents.

Filing Date: May following the Assessment Year. Monthly contributions must be paid to the Local Authorities by the 12th one week later in January and August of the following month.

Social Security in Sweden

Sweden has one of the most highly developed welfare systems in the world. All employers in Sweden pay the Social Security contributions consisting of charges for pensions, health insurance and other social benefits. These contributions amount to 31.42% of the gross salary. 10.21% of this represents pension contributions. Only the contributions on income up to a maximum of 7.5% income related base amounts (SEK420,447) are calculated per person for pension. All Swedish Residents are entitled to a state-financed guaranteed minimum pension of approximately SEK7,000 per month.

Employees pay 7% of their income to pension contributions, up to a maximum of SEK29,400 a year. However, this contribution is neutralised by a corresponding income tax reduction for the employee. For employees under 26 years of age, employers pay a reduced social security contribution of 15.49%. For employees born in 1938 to 1951 employers only pay a pension contribution of 16.36%. For employees born in 1937 or earlier, the rate is 6.51%. Pension contributions are tax deductible for the employer, and a tax of 24.26% is levied on the amount of the contribution.

The monthly amount depends on the:

  •  Size of pension contributions made entitling a person to a pension.
  • General employment income development in the country.
  • Accrued value of the part (2.5%) of the pension entitlement invested according to individual choice (premium pension).
  • Current average life expectancy Monthly contributions must be paid to the local authorities by the 12th of the following month.

Tax Reporting in Sweden

Yearly

Processing of statutory Year End (Tax Year End) Annual Statement must be submitted to the Swedish tax office in the middle of January every year:

  • An Annual Reconciliation Of Payroll Transactions
  • Annual Income Statement: Annual Income Statements are sent by mail to Employee’s home addresses and a pdf-file with all statements is sent to the contact person at the employer. Annual Income Statements are filed with the Swedish Tax Authority (Skatteverket)
  • The Tax Files (CSR), which are sent to the Swedish Tax Authority (Skatteverket), are returned and updated in the payroll system. This file includes all Tax information for the following year.
  •  Due to changes in Tax Policies, maintenance of the employer’s system is completed as required.

New Employees in Sweden

The employment contract can be written or verbal. Even if there is no requirement of a written contract the employer is obliged to provide written information stating all of the terms & conditions that are of material relevance to the employment relationship. This must be done within one month after the commencement of work by the Employee.

This information is provided using the form mentioned above.

The details required when setting up a New Start include: 

  • Employment contract in Swedish or English.
  • Tax information. Information about tax table and tax adjustment is sent to the Employee from the Swedish Tax Agency (STA) upon request.

If a New Employee is a Non-Swedish Citizen:

  • Tax information. The Employee must visit a Tax Office and ask for a social security number and fill out an application form for SA-tax registration. After processing, the Tax Agency sends the decision to the Employee and depending on their decision the social security percentage is decided.
  • A1 form (if applicable)

The documentation required from Expat New starts include:

  • Passport
  • Work permit
  • Contract
  • A1 form ( they shall not pay Swedish Social Security)
  •  SINK decision ( if they will not stay for longer than 6 months and not pay full Swedish tax)
  •  Tax Details

Leavers in Sweden

If there is a dismissal by the employer it shall be based on objective grounds. Objective Grounds always exist in case of shortage of work (redundancy). The notice of dismissal, which has to be in writing, should contain all the information stated in The Employment Protection Act. Payment for Leavers must be made in the month after termination day. No notifications have to be made to the Local Authorities when there is a Leaver.

Payroll in Sweden

Payroll in Sweden involves certain obligations on the part of employers, who should be primarily concerned with observing relevant tax laws. A business’ payroll process must take into account individual income tax, social security contributions, payroll and sales taxes, and withholding tax.

Setting up payroll requires information from employees, including a Swedish Tax Identification Number (TIN). Income tax in Sweden is progressive, but may differ for ‘resident’ and ‘non-resident’ taxpayers. Employees are required to make a 7% contribution to social security, while employers contribute 31.42%: the payments cover various benefits including unemployment insurance, pensions, family benefits and health insurance.

Employees must be issued with a payslip every pay-date, and payroll records must be kept for at least 10 years.

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