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Working abroad

Taxes, tax returns and social security when working outside Sweden.

Helena Shutrick

illustration med olika motiv

Many professional artists work abroad on a recurring or an occasional basis. Some live abroad for a longer period, which raises questions about taxes, tax returns and social security. Find out what you need to consider before accepting a job abroad.

What are the rules in the country you are going to work in?

As a Swedish citizen, you do not need a work permit if you accept a job in the EU, an EEA country or Switzerland. The national rules of the country you are moving to determine whether you are also considered to be a resident there. Although there are coordination provisions within the EU, national regulatory frameworks vary. So, it is important to find out what applies to you in the country where you will be working or living.

You might need certificates and forms

To find out which certificates and forms you might need for your stay abroad, you should contact the Swedish Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan) and Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket) before you move or start working abroad. You might also want to contact your trade union or professional organisation. Also contact the corresponding authorities in the country where you are going to work. Ask your new employer or client to help.

Duration of your work – rules you need to consider

It is important to find out whether your work is considered temporary or permanent, as there are different rules to follow. You need to think about this if, for example, you extend your stay abroad.

Tax rules: In terms of tax rules, there is a 6-month rule and a 1-year rule to consider.

Swedish Social Insurance Agency: In order for people who are self-employed or posted abroad to continue to be insured with the Swedish Social Insurance Agency in Sweden, one requirement is that the work abroad is temporary, meaning no longer than 24 months.

Cross-border worker: Under EU law, you are considered a cross-border worker if you work in one EU country but live in another and return there every day or at least once a week.

Review your social security scheme in the EU

If you work in another EU country, you are typically covered by that country’s social security scheme. It is based on where the work is carried out, not where the employer is located.

However, there are situations when you can be insured in Sweden even if you work in other EU countries. This applies, for example, if you are posted or regularly work in several countries. In such cases, it is important that you contact the Social Insurance Agency, which will issue a ‘Certificate of applicable legislation’ (A1). The certificate shows that you do not have to pay social security contributions in the country of temporary employment. In order to receive benefits in kind in that country, you need the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which entitles you to essential healthcare in the EU.

Review banking and insurance needs

Things to consider before you start working abroad:

  • Get an e-ID and online bank account if you don’t already have them.
  • Check with your insurance company so that you do not lose supplementary insurance coverage or are left without insurance for your property or business.
  • Review your private insurance policies. You might need more or supplementary insurance for the country you will be working in.

Filing and paying taxes when you work abroad

The length of time you work abroad affects how you must report your income.

Earned income from abroad

Main rule: When you work or live abroad, you must report your foreign income in your Swedish income tax return and pay tax on it here in Sweden.

Exceptions: Income might be exempt from taxation in Sweden because of our own internal rules or tax treaties we have with other countries. In this case, it does not matter whether the salary was paid in Sweden or abroad.

Note: Even if you do not have to pay tax on your income in Sweden, you must still state in your income tax return that you received the income.

Business income abroad

Sole trader: If you are resident in Sweden and have a sole trader company (Enskild firma), you must report earnings from your entire business and pay tax in Sweden, including for the part of the business carried out in another country. If you conduct business from a permanent establishment in another country, you might be liable for paying tax on income from business activities in that country.

Limited liability company: If you have a limited liability company (AB or Aktiebolag), it is your company that sends you as an employee to another country. The main rule is that your company, as an employer, pays employer’s social security contributions in full in Sweden. As a posted worker with a Swedish employer, you pay tax in Sweden as an employee of your company.

What happens if I get sick?

If you get sick, you are entitled to healthcare on the same terms as other citizens of the country where you work. The same applies to the equivalent of sickness benefit or sickness compensation. From the day you start working in another EU or EEA country or in Switzerland, you are no longer entitled to sick pay and sickness benefits in Sweden. However, sickness benefits differ from country to country. Find out what applies in the country you will be working in.

    Social security when working abroad

    Remember to report your stay abroad to the Swedish Social Insurance Agency before you travel. Click the link to learn about coordination rules, what applies to you as an employee, or what applies if you are sent abroad by your employer or are self-employed.