Car Rental in Sweden: The Essential Manual (2024)



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Renting a car in Sweden offers you the freedom to explore this beautiful country at your own pace. Whether you’re interested in driving through the scenic countryside, exploring remote villages, or simply need the convenience of a car for your stay, a rental car can be a practical choice.

However, if you’re new to Sweden and perhaps even new to renting cars in a foreign country, there can be a few intricacies to navigate. This guide aims to provide you with a straightforward understanding of how to process a car rental in Sweden, so you can hit the road with confidence.


  • The booking process is generally online, with credit cards being the primary payment method.
  • Cars range from economy to luxury, with electric and hybrid options increasingly available.
  • Costs vary based on factors like location, type of car, and duration, and a deposit is usually required.
  • Insurance is crucial; options like CDW and Theft Protection are highly recommended.
  • Fuel is self-service; knowing your car’s fuel type is crucial.

A Closer Look at Swedish Car Rental Companies

When it comes to renting a car in Sweden, you’ll find a range of options to suit various needs and budgets. Major international car rental companies like Hertz, Avis, and Europcar have a presence here, as do local providers such as Mabi.

While the bigger international companies often provide more types of vehicles and locations, local companies may offer competitive rates and personalized service.

English-Speaking Customer Service

Given that the target audience for this article is foreigners who may not understand Swedish, it’s crucial to look for car rental companies that offer customer service in English. Most international companies provide this service, and many local companies are also geared towards accommodating non-Swedish speakers. When in doubt, a quick call or email to the company can confirm whether English-speaking customer service is available.

Reviews and Recommendations

It’s always a good idea to read customer reviews before making a final decision. Websites and apps that aggregate car rental options often feature reviews from previous customers, which can give you a sense of the company’s reputation. Moreover, asking for recommendations from friends, family, or online forums dedicated to travel in Sweden can also steer you in the right direction.

Booking Process

Once you’ve selected a car rental company that fits your needs, the next step is the booking process. It’s relatively straightforward but comes with its own set of requirements and options to consider.

Online vs. In-Person Booking

You can book a car either online or directly at the rental office. Online booking offers the convenience of comparing prices, checking availability, and confirming your reservation without the need for immediate in-person interaction. It’s particularly useful if you want to secure a specific type of vehicle or if you’re planning to pick up the car at a busy location like an airport.

In-person booking is also an option, especially if you’re already in Sweden and find it easier to walk into a rental office. However, availability may be limited, particularly during high seasons like summer and Christmas.

Required Documents

To rent a car in Sweden, you’ll generally need the following:

  • A valid driving license: Make sure your license is in English or accompanied by an International Driving Permit.
  • Passport or a valid ID: To confirm your identity and age.
  • Credit card: Most companies require a credit card for the security deposit.

Pre-Booking Steps

Before you finalize your booking, check if you need an International Driving Permit. This is particularly important if your driving license is not in English or if it’s from a country that doesn’t have a mutual recognition agreement with Sweden. The International Driving Permit is not a substitute for your driving license; it’s a supplementary document that translates your existing license into multiple languages.

Types of Cars Available

After you’ve navigated the booking process, the next thing to consider is the type of car that best suits your needs. Sweden’s diverse landscapes and varying driving conditions mean that the kind of car you choose can significantly impact your experience.

Categories of Cars

Most car rental companies in Sweden offer a range of vehicles, typically categorized as follows:

Type of CarBest Suited ForCommon Features
EconomyCity trips, short distancesFuel-efficient, easy to park
CompactSmall families, city drivesSlightly larger, efficient
StandardLonger journeysMedium size, comfort features
LuxuryComfort seekersPremium features

Automatic vs. Manual Transmission

In Sweden, you’ll find both automatic and manual cars available for rent. If you’re not comfortable driving a manual transmission vehicle, make sure to specify your preference for an automatic car when booking. Automatic cars might be slightly more expensive but can provide a more relaxed driving experience, especially for those not accustomed to manual transmissions.

Electric and Hybrid Options

Given Sweden’s focus on sustainability, many rental companies offer electric and hybrid cars. These eco-friendly options are worth considering if you’re concerned about your carbon footprint. Charging infrastructure is relatively good in urban areas but may be sparse in rural settings.

Car Rental in Sweden: Costs and Payment

Let’s delve into what determines the cost of renting a car in Sweden, the payment methods available, and some additional charges you should be aware of.

Factors Affecting Rental Cost

The cost of renting a car varies based on several elements:

  • Type of car: Luxury models are generally more expensive than economy or compact cars.
  • Duration of rental: Many companies offer discounted rates for longer rental periods.
  • Location: Renting a car in larger cities or at airports is usually more expensive due to higher demand and additional fees.
  • Season: Prices often spike during peak seasons like summer or major holidays.

Payment Options

Most car rental companies in Sweden accept credit cards as the primary method of payment. Debit cards are less commonly accepted, and it’s rare to find a company that takes cash for rentals. Make sure to confirm the accepted payment methods beforehand to avoid any last-minute hiccups.

Deposits and Additional Charges

A security deposit is usually required and is generally pre-authorized on your credit card when you pick up the car. This deposit is released once you return the vehicle in good condition.

Additional charges can also apply for:

  • Extra drivers: If someone else will be sharing the driving duties.
  • GPS systems or child seats: These are optional and usually incur an extra daily fee.
  • Mileage: Some rental plans have a mileage limit, and you’ll be charged extra for exceeding it.

Insurance Options

While it may feel like just another expense, having the right coverage can protect you from potentially high costs in case of an accident or other unexpected events. Here’s what you need to know about insurance options when renting a car in Sweden.

Types of Insurance Coverage Commonly Offered

Most car rental companies offer a variety of insurance options, which generally include:

  • Collision Damage Waiver (CDW): This limits your financial liability for damage to the vehicle.
  • Theft Protection: Covers the cost of replacing the car if it’s stolen during your rental period.
  • Third-Party Liability: Covers damage to other people and their property.
  • Personal Accident Insurance: Provides coverage for medical expenses and accidental death benefits for you and your passengers.

Necessity of Each Type and Recommendations

Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) is highly recommended as it limits your financial liability and is often mandatory.

Theft Protection is generally a good idea, especially if you plan to park in public or less secure areas.

Third-Party Liability is usually mandatory and may even be included in the basic rental cost.

Personal Accident Insurance might be optional, but it can be a lifesaver in the unfortunate event of an accident, especially if your travel or health insurance doesn’t offer comprehensive coverage.

Although these insurance types are generally offered by the rental company, it’s worth checking if your travel insurance or credit card provides any car rental coverage. Sometimes, these options can offer similar coverage at a reduced cost or even for free.

Related: Car Insurance in Sweden – Complete 2023 Guide

Driving Laws and Road Etiquette

Once you’ve secured your rental car and opted for the right insurance coverage, it’s crucial to acquaint yourself with Swedish driving laws and road etiquette. Being informed not only keeps you safe but also helps you avoid fines and penalties.

Overview of Swedish Road Rules

  • Drive on the right side of the road.
  • Seat belts are mandatory for all passengers.
  • The legal alcohol limit is very low, at 0.02%, making it advisable to abstain from drinking if you plan to drive.
  • Speed limits vary depending on the type of road but are generally well-signposted. Common speed limits are 30-50 km/h in cities, 70-90 km/h on open roads, and 110-120 km/h on highways.
  • Using a mobile phone while driving without a hands-free device is illegal.

Seasonal Driving Conditions

Sweden experiences a variety of weather conditions, and it’s important to be prepared:

  • In winter, snow tires are mandatory from December 1 to March 31.
  • Be cautious when driving in rural areas during dawn and dusk as wildlife crossings are common.

Fines and Penalties

Sweden has stringent traffic laws, and fines can be hefty for offenses like speeding, DUI, or not wearing a seat belt. Cameras and police patrols are common, so it’s wise to stick to the rules.

Road Etiquette

Swedes generally follow the rules of the road diligently, and you’re expected to do the same. Tailgating, aggressive driving, and honking without good reason are frowned upon. Use your turn signals consistently and respect pedestrian crossings.

Fuel and Maintenance

Keeping your rental car fueled and well-maintained is a responsibility that comes with the freedom of having your own vehicle. It’s straightforward but important for a smooth and stress-free experience. Here’s what you need to know.

Fuel Types and Refilling Process

Swedish gas stations offer different types of fuel, mainly petrol (Bensin) and diesel. Some stations also provide alternative fuels like ethanol and electric charging stations. Ensure you know what type of fuel your rental car uses; using the wrong fuel can lead to significant repair costs.

Refilling the fuel tank is generally a self-service process in Sweden. Here’s how it usually works:

  1. Pull up to the pump.
  2. Use your credit or debit card at the machine.
  3. Select the type of fuel.
  4. Fill up the tank.
  5. Collect your receipt.

What to Do in Case of a Breakdown or Emergency

Even with the best planning, emergencies or breakdowns can happen. Most rental companies provide 24/7 roadside assistance. You’ll typically find the emergency contact information in the glove compartment or your rental agreement.

  • If you’re on the highway, pull over to the emergency lane and put on your hazard lights.
  • If possible, use the emergency phone booths available on some Swedish highways.
  • In case of a minor issue like a flat tire, most cars come equipped with a basic toolkit and spare tire. You may choose to change it yourself or call for assistance.

For minor issues like oil levels or windshield washer fluid, the car’s user manual usually provides guidance on how to handle it yourself. Car rental companies usually offer well-maintained vehicles, so such issues are relatively rare but good to be aware of.

Returning the Car

The process of returning your rental car marks the end of your road journey in Sweden. While it’s generally a straightforward task, there are certain protocols and points of etiquette you should be aware of to ensure a smooth return without unexpected fees or complications.

Drop-Off Location and Time

Make sure to return the car to the designated drop-off location as stipulated in your rental agreement. Some companies offer the flexibility to return the car at a different location than where you picked it up, but this usually comes with an extra fee.

Being punctual with the return time is crucial. Many companies operate on a 24-hour rental cycle, so even returning the car an hour late could result in an additional day’s charge.

Condition of the Car

Before handing over the keys, do a quick inspection of the car:

  • Remove all personal belongings.
  • Check for any new dents, scratches, or damages.
  • Make sure the fuel level matches the initial agreement, usually a full tank.

Taking photos of the car’s condition can provide a record in case there are disputes about any damage.

Final Paperwork

Upon return, a company representative will usually inspect the car and check for any damages, discrepancies in fuel levels, or extra mileage. Make sure all the paperwork reflects the actual condition of the car and any additional charges that might apply.

Once the inspection is complete, you’ll be given a final invoice, usually sent via email or handed over in person. This will include the total amount charged, including any additional fees for services like GPS, child seats, or extra mileage.


Sofia is our Relocation Expert, who brings first-hand experience in moving to Sweden from abroad. She moved to Sweden over a decade ago and navigated the complexities of relocation herself.

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