Are you in Sweden without a residence permit?

All women, regardless of residence status, are entitled to protection from violence and discrimination under international agreements. Depending on the municipality in which you live, there may be differences in what type of protection the municipality can offer if you do not have a residence permit in Sweden.

The municipality is responsible for everyone living or spending time in the municipality, with Social Services having ultimate responsibility for helping those in need. The right to seek help is unconditional, and you can never be denied the right to submit an application and have it reviewed. You also have the right to appeal the decision and to get help from Social Services to write an appeal.

Being undocumented means that you either sought asylum and were rejected or that you did not seek asylum but are in the country anyway. As an undocumented person, you have certain basic rights in Sweden. Undocumented adults are entitled to medical care that cannot be postponed, while children under 18 are generally entitled to medical care, dental care and therapy services from BUP. Determination as to whether the medical care can be postponed is determined on a case-by-case basis. The costs of the medicine and medical visits, such as visits to the local medical centre, are subsidised. Undocumented children are entitled to their schooling and have access to education up through upper secondary school and their 18th birthday. As an undocumented individual, you always have the right to apply for help from Social Services, which is obliged to accept your application. There are no uniform national guidelines for what applies in relation to assistance for undocumented individuals. As a result, the various municipalities make their own assessments and interpretations. See for a more detailed description of your rights as an undocumented individual and what you should bear in mind when contacting different authorities.

EU citizens
If you are an EU citizen, you are subject to the rules regarding free movement and residence between and within the EU countries. To enter Sweden as an EU citizen, all you need is a valid passport or identity card. With this, you have the right to stay in the country for up to three months.

After this time, you are required to have comprehensive health insurance cover. You must also be employed, a job seeker, a student, or in some other way have sufficient resources to support yourself. Questions may therefore arise as to who should bear the costs of medical care or social benefits, for example – whether you are responsible, the municipality where you are visiting/living in Sweden, or your EU country of origin.

For more information and advice on your rights as an EU citizen, you can contact the organisation Crossroads, which mediates contacts with authorities and can provide advice in your native language.

Resident permit based on a close tie
An important rule for anyone wishing to obtain a residence permit because you are married to or cohabiting with a person who is a resident of Sweden is that you as a couple must be able to prove that your relationship is genuine. If you have not lived with the person before entering Sweden, you will first be granted a temporary residence permit. To obtain a permanent residence permit, it is generally required that you have lived together for two years (called the two-year rule).

If you have a temporary residence permit based on a tie but the relationship ends due to violence, there is a safety rule with three exceptions to the general rule of being required to leave Sweden – 1) if the relationship ended mainly because of degrading treatment, 2) you have another tie to Sweden, or 3) you risk being excluded socially if you return to your country of origin, or if you are seriously ill.

However, there are a number of difficulties in getting the exceptions to the rule to apply (particularly the first one), and it is best to enlist the help of a legal representative or someone else with knowledge in this field.

Here is more good information and references to organisations that can help:


FARR’s “Good Advice for Asylum Seekers in Sweden”

Dina Rättigheter – For Undocumented

Rosengrenska Stiftelsen – Vård för papperslösa [Medical care for undocumented individuals]

No One is Illegal Network