For members


What should international parents know about Sweden’s migration law?

Swedish migration law changed in 2021. Now, everyone applying for a non-EU residence permit must do so with valid photo ID – even children. Read on to see what international parents who have a baby in Sweden should know about this law, and how it will affect you.

a woman carrying a baby in a woven wrap
Sweden's new immigration law has had unexpected consequences for some international parents. Photo: Sofia Sabel/

Who is affected?

This article addresses residence permits for non-EU/EEA citizens – if you are from the EU or EEA you do not need to apply for a residence permit (uppehållstillstånd) and you will have EU right of residence (uppehållsrätt) instead, meaning these changes do not affect you or your children – as long as your child also has EU or EEA citizenship.

See here for an explainer on the different kinds of residency in Sweden if you’re not sure which type you have.

What has changed?

This new law has changed residence permit applications in a number of ways. The main change is that, as a rule, residence permits are now limited to two years’ validity, with applications for permanent residence permits possible after the holder has had a temporary residence permit for at least three years.

The new law also means that permanent residence permits can no longer be granted on the basis of a family member holding permanent residency, so children can only get permanent residency after three years of holding a temporary residence permit.

However, the main change which affects parents and parents-to-be with children born in Sweden is that all applicants for residence permits must now have valid photo ID, regardless of age. Previously, children without a passport could still apply.

Unlike some other countries, children born in Sweden are not automatically Swedish citizens – citizenship is based on their parents’ country of origin. Therefore, international parents of newborns born in Sweden must apply for a child passport or national ID card from their native country in order for their child to get a Swedish residence permit, if neither parent has EU or Swedish citizenship.

Depending on how long it takes for the child’s country of citizenship to process passport applications, this can add months to the already long waiting times for residence permit applications.

How does this affect international families?

If the mother has a personal number, or if the father is the child’s legal guardian and has a personal number – the 10 or 12 digit code to unlocking a lot of Swedish services – it should amount to nothing more than a longer wait for a permit.

This is due to the fact that children born in Sweden to parents who have personal numbers are automatically assigned a personal number at birth – they do not need a residency permit first. This means that you will still be able to easily access healthcare and childcare for your child while you wait for their residence permit to be approved. Even if you or your child don’t have a personal number, everyone under the age of 18 still has the right to healthcare.

Just be prepared that you will need to apply for a passport or ID card for your child as soon as you can after their birth so they can be granted a residence permit – depending on your country of origin you may need to send your own passport away for up to a few months or travel to your country’s embassy, so ensure that you don’t have any international travel planned and that you have another form of valid ID in the meantime, if possible.

Have you been affected by this law change? Get in touch with The Local’s editorial team at [email protected]

Member comments

  1. When in 2021 did this change? I got a (temporary) residence permit for 2.5 years (because my passport expires then). Also, I didn’t need to submit a photograph when I applied for my residence permit.

    I think I applied for my permit around May/June.

    1. Hi,

      The rules changed on the 20th July 2021.

      You don’t usually have to submit a photograph in your application – when you go to Migrationsverket to get your card made they will take a photo and take your fingerprints which will then be stored digitally on the card.

      The photo ID requirement just means that the ID you use in your application has to include a photo of you (e.g. passport).

      Hope that clears things up, let me know if you have any more questions,


      1. Hi,

        I recently applied for residence permit for my new born daughter and I realized that migration has updated the system but still you are able to apply for residence permit without any valid photo id. You will get the control number but you have to supply with valid photo id as soon as it is ready. So I think practically it doesn’t effect any much.

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


EXPLAINED: When can a child sit in the front seat of a car in Switzerland?

Babies and children must be safely secured in a child’s car seat designed for their weight and age group whenever they travel in a car in Switzerland. We look at the rules around driving with children.

EXPLAINED: When can a child sit in the front seat of a car in Switzerland?

In Switzerland, a simple rule for taking children in motor vehicles has been in place for a good two decades: Every child up to a height of 150 cm or the age of 12 must travel in a suitable child seat.

Its Austrian neighbour has even stricter rules in place. Babies and children in Austria must be correctly secured in a child’s seat up to the age of 14 if they are below 135 cm in height.

The German law takes a more relaxed approach and regulates that children from the age of 12 or those that are taller than 150 cm can ride in the vehicle without a child seat – with the appropriate seat belt, of course.

When can a child sit in the front?

According to the law in Switzerland, once a child has reached a height of 150 cm, they can sit anywhere in the car with or without a child or booster seat.

However, a child needs to reach a minimum height of 150 cm for the safety belts to guarantee their safety in a way that the neck is not constricted while driving in the event of sudden braking or an accident.

In principle, children are allowed to sit on the front passenger seat regardless of their age, however, this is not recommended by experts who argue that children are much safer in the back of the car. Furthermore, if a vehicle is equipped with airbags, rear-facing car seats may only be used if the front airbag on the passenger’s side is deactivated.

A driver at the Stelvio Pass, Santa Maria Val Müstair, Switzerland.

A driver at the Stelvio Pass, Santa Maria Val Müstair, Switzerland. Photo by Jaromír Kavan on Unsplash

Can I be fined for my child travelling without an appropriate car seat?

You can and you will. The fine for transporting an unsecured child under the age of 12 is 60 francs, which, given the risk driving without an appropriate child seat poses to your child’s life, is mild. 

But what about public transport?

Though this may seem illogical to some, Switzerland does not have any safety laws dictating that car seats be used on its buses, meaning it is not uncommon to see mothers standing in the aisle of a packed bus with a baby in a sling while struggling to hold on to a pole for stability.

Though politicians did briefly discuss equipping buses with baby and child seats in 2017 to avoid potential risks to minors, nothing came of it. Ultimately, supplying buses with special seats or introducing seat belts proved unrealistic given the number of seats and considering how often people hop on and off a bus – there is a stop almost every 300 metres in Switzerland.

Instead, drivers are now better informed of the dangers posed to minors travelling on their vehicles and parents are advised to leave children in strollers and not load those with heavy shopping bags.