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General Info about Sweden

Visa Requirements
Most European citizens do not need a visa to enter Sweden. Those planning on staying longer than for 90 days are required to obtain a temporary holiday visa. American, Australian, Canadian and New Zealand citizens have the same entry requirements. Natives of South Africa, China, and some Africa and Asian countries are required to get a holiday visa before entrance. These tourist visas are valid for 90 days.

To ensure you are aware of the full entry requirements for entering - contact your nearest embassy before travelling.

Currency
The official currency is the Swedish Krona (Kr) which is divided up into 100 öre. Notes come in denominations of Kr20, Kr50, Kr100, Kr200, Kr500 and Kr1000. Coins used are 50 öre, Kr1, Kr2, Kr5 and Kr10.

Language
The official language spoken is Swedish. English is generally the second language.

Climate
Sweden has a temperate climate, with the best months to visit being between May and September. Northern Sweden is in the Arctic Circle and gets extremely cold in the winter as does the south but temperatures don’t get as low as in the north. It is a kind of ‘dry cold’ which can be quite unpleasant.

Medical Care
Visitors from EU countries are entitled to medical treatment under the EU Reciprocal Medical Treatment agreement. Before you travel you should collect an E111 form from your local social security office. This form may also be obtained in post offices also. For minor health problems the national pharmacy is referred to as ‘Apotek’.

It is advised that you take out travel insurance before going.

Time Zone
Sweden is one hour ahead of GMT and 6 ahead of EST. Daylight saving hours is in operation between the last Sunday in March and the last Sunday in October.

Opening Hours
General opening hours for shops are between 9.30am-6pm Monday-Friday and until either 2pm or 4pm on Saturdays.

Banks are open from Monday-Friday between 9am and 3pm. Bureau de Changes are open every day until 6pm.

Tourist Offices
There are approximately 325 tourist offices in Sweden which are classified into two groups – those with the blue/yellow ‘i’ sign which are level 1 tourist offices, and those with the green ‘i’ sign which are level 2. Those with the blue/yellow signs have more authority and provide information on the whole country as opposed to those with the green signs which only provide information on the local region.

Tax
There are three rates of VAT in Sweden. The first is 25% which is the most widely used rate which is added on most goods and services. A reduced rate of 12% applies to food and hotel charges while a third rate of 6% is added to newspapers, books, magazines and entrance fees to sporting and cultural events.

Currency Exchange
Money can be changed in banks, post offices and at ‘Forex’ offices which are found nationwide and specialise in changing foreign currency/travellers cheques. Regardless of the amount you are changing, there is a service charge for changing money. This varies between the various places for changing money.

Electricity
220v/50Hz.

Telephones
When calling overseas from Sweden dial the international access number (00) followed by the country number, the area code (dropping the 0) and the local number. Public phones take pre-paid callcards which can be bought at kiosks, hotels, telephone stores and shops.

When calling Sweden from abroad dial the country’s international access code, then Sweden’s country code (46) the area code (dropping the 0) followed by the local number.

Post Offices
Post offices open between 9am and 6pm Monday-Friday and from 10am to 1pm on Saturdays. Posting letters to the rest of Europe should take 3-4 days approximately and 1 week to North America. Letters/parcels to Australia take longer.

Tipping
An extra service charge is usually added to most bills. Whether you give anything more on top of that (ie round it off the nearest 5/10) is totally at your own discretion.

Public Holidays
Sweden’s public’s holidays are New Years Day (1st January), Epiphany (6th January), Good Friday/Easter, May Day (1st May), Ascension Day (29th May), Whit Sunday/Monday (8th/9th June), Midsummer Day (21st July), All Saints Day (1st November), Christmas (24th, 25th and 26th December).

It is worth noting what Sweden’s public holidays are before travelling, as the majority of businesses, banks and shops shut for the day.

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