renting a car in sweden

Renting a Car in Sweden:  Car Rental Sweden Guide

Our trip to Sweden and our subsequent Nordic travels was great, but unfortunately not possible on public transport and so we needed to rent a car in Sweden.  Sweden is a great country in which to rent a car for a number of reasons.  The roads in Sweden are very safe and well-maintained, even the gravel roads that we drove.   And there are a lot of miles to cover to get to some of the places we visited.  Here’s our guide to renting a car in Sweden, what to know, what you will need for Swedish car rental, and key points to avoid headaches during and after your rental.


All About Renting a Car in Sweden

When we first looked at our Nordic road trip and visit to Sweden, our first consideration was where should we rent a car from.  Which Nordic country?  Or should we rent a car in each country?  Or should we rent a car in one country and try and return it to another? Or simply rent a car in Sweden and then return it there.  So many questions.  And so we’ve covered them all in this Swedish car rental guide.

Where to Rent a Car in Sweden

All the major car rental companies are represented in Sweden, so you won’t have an issue with finding a car to rent.  What you’ll want to consider is where you rent a car from in Sweden and where you drive it too.

We arrived in Sweden and went from Arlanda Airport to Stockholm, and then after spending several days in Stockholm, we went from Stockholm to Skavsta Airport to collect our rental car from there.  Why?

Because there are green charges to enter Stockholm and car parking is at a premium.  Besides, when we planned our 2 days in Stockholm we didn’t actually need a car.  Car rental in Sweden is not an inexpensive enterprise, so our first consideration was that if we weren’t going to use it while we were in the capital we’d just arrange to pick it up later.

We weren’t worried about the safety and security of the car, Sweden is generally a very safe country to both travel and drive in, it was the cost and the hassle of parking.  In Stockholm we stayed on a boat, at the Rygerfjord Hotel on Lake Mälaren, which is a fabulous place to stay, but just outside the old town area of Gamla Stan, but with glorious views over the city.

Ryggerfjord Hotel views of Stockholm

Our second consideration for renting a car from Skavsta airport is that this is where were flying out of Sweden at the end of our trip.  And collecting a rental car and returning it to the same location is ALWAYS cheaper.  There’s no one-way drop-off fee.

Who can rent a car in Sweden?

There are few restrictions on who can rent a car in Sweden.  But several considerations might limit your access to Swedish car rentals.  First of all, there’s age, and then there is your driving license.

Age Restrictions on renting cars in Sweden

You will need to be at least 18 years old to rent a car, although there may be some restrictions on the type of vehicle that you can rent at the age of 18.  You must also have held your license for at least two years to rent a car in Sweden.

If you’re under 25 years of age,  then you may also have to pay a young driver surcharge.

There is no maximum age limit for renting a car in Sweden.

What do you need to rent a car in Sweden

To rent a car in Sweden you’ll need four things. 

  1. You need to have a valid driver’s license.  This must be a photo ID license. 
  2. If you do not have a photo ID license, then you’ll need an International Drivers Permit (IDP), which you must get from your home country before traveling to Sweden.  If your driver’s license is not in the Latin alphabet you will need an IDP.
  3. You will also need your passport or ID Card with you.
  4. You will need a booking for a rental car.  Especially in the holiday months, rental cars in Sweden can be in short supply, so you’ll want to rent well in advance in order to get the best prices.  We use and recommend Discover Cars to get the best prices for rental cars and comparison quotes from all the major Swedish rental car companies.

Driving License Requirements for Sweden

Driving license requirements in Sweden are simple.  In Sweden, you must be 18 years old to drive, even if you can drive at an earlier age in your home country.  And many rental car companies require that you have at least two years of driving experience. It depends on the company.

Your driver’s license should be in the Latin alphabet and it should have a photo on it.  If your driver’s license does not have a photo or is not in the Latin alphabet then you’ll need to get an International Drivers Permit before you leave home and bring it with you.  (You’ll also need an ID card or your passport).

Know the Rules of the Road in Sweden

In Sweden, we drive on the right-hand side of the road.  There are clearly posted speed limits everywhere in Sweden and they change quite a lot, especially in rural areas.  Stick to them.

Sweden has driving speed limits that range from 30 km/hr to 120 km/ hr, depending on where you are.  All the cars that you rent will have dashboards in kilometers per hour.  So if you’re used to miles/hour, then plan ahead, because in Sweden everything is in kilometers per hour.

Here are the general speed limit rules.

Road Traffic Speed Limits in Sweden

In Sweden, 30 km/hr, 40 km/hr, 50 km/hr, 60 km/hr, and 70 km/h are used within towns and cities.  The roads outside hospitals and schools tend to be 30 km/ hr.

Outside built-up areas, the speed limit is dependent upon the road.  You’ll generally find 90 km/hr and 100 km/hr on roads where there are separated lanes.  However in the north of Sweden, where the road condition is often poorer, then you may find (like we did) that 100 km/hr is the legal limit.

On motorways in Sweden, the limit tends to be 110 km/hr and 120 km/hr.

Speed Cameras in Sweden

Google will sometimes tell you that there is a speed camera coming up, but sometimes it won’t and speed cameras in Sweden are hard to spot.  They’re usually grey poles with a bit of blue on them.  There are warning signs on the side of the road that you’re approaching a speed camera.

If you get caught by a speed camera, then you will be charged via the rental car company, which will also apply a surcharge to your fine for processing it.

Head Lamp Usage in Sweden

It is a legal requirement to always have your headlamps switched on when driving in Sweden, regardless of the time of year or whether is daytime or night-time.

Winter tires in Sweden

Winter tires are a legal requirement when driving in Sweden in the winter.  However, your rental car company will know this and should provide them if you’re renting a car in the winter in Sweden.

Drink-drive limits in Sweden

There are very strict rules about drinking alcohol and driving in Sweden.  There is a limit of 0.02% blood alcohol when driving in Sweden.  This is lower than many other European countries.

Watch for Wildlife on the roads in Sweden

The chances are that you’re renting a car in Sweden for some form of road trip and that means that you’ll head to rural areas where you’re more likely to find wildlife.  Much of the land in rural areas is not fenced, and there’s a lot of genuine wildlife out here.  Be careful, especially at night for wandering moose (elk), reindeer, and deer.  They are at their most active around sunrise and sunset, so be especially careful then.

What to Check when renting a car for a Nordic Road Trip

We picked our car up from Skavsta airport and returned it to Skavsta airport, taking a Nordic road trip through Sweden, Finland, and Norway. And we had a lot of questions and considerations before we made the final booking. Here’s what you need to consider when booking a rental car in Sweden for a road trip.

Volvo Rental in Sweden

Check that you can take the car between the countries

All the major car rental countries in Sweden will let you take the car between the major Nordic countries.  You should check the agreement before you confirm the booking, to ensure that where you want to go is allowed.

Check that there is unlimited mileage on your contract

Our Nordic road trip was more than 6,000 kilometers.  And when we set off we didn’t actually have a final route, unlimited mileage is REALLY important.  Otherwise, there are hefty charges for going over the limits.

You can get a quote for unlimited mileage rental cars in Sweden here with Discover Cars

Understand where you can park your rental car

In virtually EVERY town and city in Sweden (and the Nordics) you’ll need to either pay for parking, or you’ll need a parking disc to indicate when you left the car there.  There are often strict time limits when you park in many places.  Our first introduction to this was when we headed to spend the day in Sigtuna, one of Sweden’s original capital cities.

Parking discs for rental cars in sweden

If you follow the general rule that “if you don’t think you can park somewhere, then you 99% probably CANNOT”, then you’ll be fine.  However. 

If you park in the wrong place or don’t pay the fees for parking, the fines are BIG.  If you get caught parking somewhere where you’re not allowed, then you’ll be fined.  The fine will be processed via your rental car company.  And the rental car company will probably charge you at least a 25% surcharge on top of the fine for processing the fine. 

Whether we parked on the side of the road, or in designated parking spaces, if we leave our valuables in the car we ALWAYS secure them in our portable travel safe.  (read my guide to portable travel safes here).  If nothing else it’s a lot of peace of mind that our valuables are doubly secured.

Using a portable safe in a swedish rental car

Read the Small Print on Servicing the Car

Going on a long road trip?  Make sure that you’re aware of any small print involving car servicing.  We were just 150 kilometers into our road trip, en-route from Stockholm to Turku in Finland on the ferry, when the “Service Car” alert came up.

Our contract indicated that we would be charged an additional fee if we missed the service deadline.  It’s really important that you stay in contact with your rental company if this happens, You should get their confirmation on what you should do to stay within the contract.  We stayed in contact with our company and there was no additional charge to us.

FAQs about Renting a Car in Sweden

Renting a car in Sweden is very similar to renting a car anywhere else in Europe, but there are some specific questions we had, so here they are.

Can you drive to Norway in a Swedish Rental Car?

Usually yes.  You can generally take a car rented from Sweden to Norway.  It is something that you’ll specifically want to check with the rental car company that you choose.

How do you Pay Road Tolls in Sweden for a Rental Car?

There are toll roads in Sweden. There are tolls for some bridges in Sweden and there are green charges for entering some areas of cities like Stockholm.  These road tolls will be charged by the relevant governing authority to your rental car company and then will be charged to you with a surcharge for processing any charges. This should be made clear on your rental agreement, but confirm the details when you collect your rental car in Sweden.

How do you pay Road Tolls in Norway for a Rental Car?

There are more road tolls in Norway than in Sweden (we know we drove on a lot of them!).  Road tolls for rental cars in Norway are automatically charged to the owner of the vehicle, (i.e. your rental car company) and you will be charged this at the end of your rental agreement, along with any relevant surcharges.  Confirm this with your rental car company before setting off.

Can you take a rented car on a ferry to Finland?

In the vast majority of cases, yes you can take a Swedish rental car on a ferry in Finland.  Ask your rental car company if there are any restrictions. 

Using rental cars on Nordic ferries

We took our rental car on the Stockholm to Turku, Finland ferry and then we used several ferries in the Finnish Archipegalo (which is absolutely fabulous!)

Travel Tips for Sweden

Final Words on Renting a Car in Sweden

Sweden is a great country in which to rent a car, although it’s not a cheap enterprise.  However, you’ll need a car to get to many of the more rural places.  There are some specific requirements that you’ll need to follow to rent a car in Sweden.  It’s also a great country in which to drive, with some fabulous (empty) roads.  Let us know if you have any further questions about renting a car in Sweden.

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