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Sweden regulates the manufacture, sale, import, export, and use of drones. Regulations vary depending on the nature of the drone. Heavier drones are more strictly regulated. Drones must only be operated during daylight within visible range from the operator, 120 meters off the ground and 50 meters away from other people, buildings, and other objects or areas worthy of protection. Drones are not permitted in restricted airspace, such as airports and over prisons. Swedish airports have had to close because of incidents where civilian drones have entered into restricted airspace. The use of drones in certain areas requires prior permits. The question of the permissibility of using drones for commercial photography purposes is currently pending before the Administrative Supreme Court. The enforcement of drone-use violations has been low, with fifteen serious incidents during 2015. Approximately 1,000 individuals and corporations are registered with the Swedish Transport Agency and may use drones commercially.

I. Background

The use of drones for noncommercial and commercial purposes is on the rise in Sweden. During the Christmas sales of 2014 more than 20,000 drones for civilian use were sold, including quadcopters without the capability of carrying cameras.[1] The cost of drones (drönare) for personal use ranges from SEK249 (about US$30) for mini-drones to SEK35,495 (about US$4,350) for advanced drones. [2] The Swedish Transport Agency has issued more than 1,000 permits to use drones commercially for photographic purposes. [3]

Swedish drone manufacturers include the government contractor Saab, which manufactures large drones for military use. [4] Other Swedish companies also make smaller, unmanned aircraft for civilian use. [5]

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II. Legal Framework

Large civilian drones exceeding 150 kg (about 330 lb) are regulated by European Union Law [6] and monitored by the European Aviation Service Agency. [7] Smaller drones are largely unregulated at the EU level and are thus regulated by EU Member States. The European aviation community, including the Swedish, agreed on principles for drone use in the 2015 Riga Declaration on Remotely Piloted Aircraft. [8]

A. Permitting, Classification, and Technical Requirements

The construction, manufacture, modification, and maintenance of unmanned civilian aircraft, including drones, requires a permit from the Swedish Transport Agency.[9] Hobby construction of drones for personal use is exempted. [10]

1. Categories

Regulations on unmanned aircraft and drones establish several categories based on weight and usage. [11] Category 1a includes drones lighter than 1.5 kg (approximately 3.3 lb) that do not create more than 150 joules (J) of energy. Category 1b includes drones of at least 1.5 kg but not exceeding 7 kg (approximately 15.4 lb). To fall within category 1b, a drone must not create more than 1,000 J of kinetic energy. Category 2 includes drones weighing more than 7 kg that are flown within the view of the operator, while category 3 includes unmanned aircraft certified for use outside the view of the operator/pilot. [12]

2. Technical Specifications

All uses of drones, irrespective of the category, require that the drone be equipped with an emergency device, enabling shutdown of the drone if needed. [13] Moreover, if the drone is equipped with an automated flight system, there must always be an override system available under which the pilot regains control of the drone. [14] Category 2 and 3 drones should be constructed in a manner to prevent damage in the case of a collision. [15]

In addition, Category 3 drones must be equipped with technology that prevents unauthorized control of the drone, including protection against misleading signals either from an outside source or from weather phenomena. [16] Category 3 drones are subject to a number of additional requirements—for example, they must have transponders, an ability to detect other aircraft, compatible anticollision systems, and systems to interpret weather conditions. [17]

No publicly available information was located as to whether Swedish protected areas such as prisons, airports, or government buildings have electric fencing in force to protect against incursions by drones.

B. Drones for Use by Civilians

The operation of aircraft is regulated by law in Sweden. [18] Applicable legislation encompasses unmanned aircraft, including drones. [19] In addition, the use of drones by civilians is specifically regulated by the Swedish Transport Agency. [20]

1. Permit Requirement for Certain Uses

Drones used for commercial and research purposes, and drones flown outside the sight of the operator, require licenses from the Swedish Transport Agency [21] and the payment of a fee.[22]

Category 1 drones flown only for personal use do not require permits. [23] The Swedish Transport Agency has published an easy-to-read guideline for the use of civilian drones for personal entertainment. [24] The general guidelines and ordinance for the operation of aircraft issued by the Swedish Transport Agency also apply to operators of drones. [25]

Permit terms vary depending on the relevant drone category. [26] Category 1a and 1b permits are valid for two years at a time. [27] For categories 2 and 3 the initial permit is valid for one year only, whereas subsequent permits are valid for up to two years at a time. [28] Permit holders are required to notify the Swedish Transport Agency if the activity has stopped. [29] To transport goods by drone a prior permit must first be obtained from the Swedish Transport Agency. [30] No such permits are currently issued.

Companies that become certified and receive a permit must be available for inspection by the Swedish Transport Agency. [31] All operators must have insurance.[32] As of November 30, 2015, more than a thousand companies and private persons had been certified by the Swedish Transport Agency to fly drones. [33]

2. Age Requirements

There is no age requirement to fly category 1a and 1b drones, but the operator must be fit to operate the drone. To fly category 2 drones the operator must be eighteen years old. [34] Category 3 requires that the pilot/operator be at least twenty-one years old and no more than sixty-seven years old. [35] In addition, category 3 drone pilots must hold a medical class 3 certificate. [36]

3. In-Flight Requirements

a. General

All drones must be marked either with the name and telephone number of the operator as well as the certification number (where applicable), or with the registration number (category 3). [37] Moreover, operators of drones must have the appropriate insurance. [38]

Drones must be flown at a minimum of 50 meters (164 feet) away from animals, people, and buildings. [39] The distance should take into account the size and nature of the drone. [40] All frequencies used by drones must be preapproved by the Post-och Telestyrelsen (PTS, the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority). [41]

b. Category 1 Drones

Category 1 drones generally may only be flown during daylight hours (not in the dark). [42] Special permits are required for flight of category 1 drones in the dark. [43] Category 1a and 1b drones must be flown within visual sight of the operator; consideration should be given to the weather, outside effects on the radio connection, interruptions on the frequency, and other factors affecting the safety of the flight. [44] The pilot must make sure that the flight can be completed safely. [45] A designated pilot must be assigned to each flight. [46] Prior to starting the operation of the drone the operator should also develop a flight plan. [47] Once completed, the flight should be recorded in a log book, [48] specifying “the date, pilot, the [drone], place of start and landing, flight time, assignment, and any deviations.” [49] All incidents must be reported to the Swedish Transport Agency. [50] Guidelines from the Swedish Luftfartsverket (LFV, Air Navigation Services of Sweden) specify that drones should not be flown more than 120 meters (400 feet) off of the ground or 500 meters (547 yards) away from the operator. [51]

c. Category 2 Drones

All provisions related to category 1a and 1b also apply to category 2. In addition, to receive a category 2 permit there must be a designated person responsible for the entire operation of the company, and this person must be approved by the Swedish Transport Agency. [52] He or she must be aided by a flight chief and a technology chief. [53] For each flight a responsible pilot must be assigned. [54] He or she must be at least eighteen years old and prior to being certified by the Swedish Transport Agency must complete an Unmanned Aerial System educational program certified by the Swedish Transport Agency. [55]

There are also general guidelines that supplement the regulation, which include that the pilot should have knowledge of the flight safety standards laid down by the Executive Director of the European Aviation Safety Agency. [56] There are restrictions on flying in restricted airspace. [57] There are also additional requirements for technical maintenance, maintaining a handbook for personnel, and for how to create a flight map. [58]

d. Category 3 Drones

Category 3 drone pilots must meet the requirements of category 2 drone operators and several additional requirements, including increased age, safety, and educational requirements, and internal requirements for education, oversight, and other measures aimed at increasing the safety of the flight. [59]

C. Restricted Airspace

The Swedish Transport Agency decides which areas should be classified as restricted airspace. [60] Local authorities and municipalities can apply to the Swedish Transport Agency and provide the applicable reasons warranting an airspace restriction. [61]

The LFV maintains a drone map illustrating where the flying of drones is restricted, typically around airports. [62] Complete prohibitions are in force over prisons, national parks, and nuclear power plants. [63]

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III. Privacy and Security Concerns Related to Camera-Equipped Drones

The operation of drones may be restricted because of privacy rights considerations. The Swedish Administrative Supreme Court is set to decide whether the use of cameras on drones constitutes “camera surveillance” as defined in Swedish law. [64] Under Swedish law camera surveillance is regulated and requires prior authorization from the local county administrative board, [65] unless the contemplated use involves only personal use on property where the public does not enjoy access. [66]

The case before the Supreme Administrative Court turns on whether a drone equipped with a camera can be said to be uppsatt (installed) in such a manner as to constitute camera surveillance. [67] For the use of a camera to constitute camera surveillance, there must be a certain degree of permanence associated with its use. [68] The Administrative Court of Appeal of Jönköping has previously found that photographing properties for commercial purposes constitutes camera surveillance. [69] In that case, the County Administrative Board of Jönköping had found that the public’s need for privacy outweighed the operator’s need to operate the drone for commercial photographic purposes. Legislators had previously said that cameras mounted on vehicles have the degree of permanence required to make them subject to the camera surveillance legislation. [70] If the Swedish Administrative Supreme Court finds that operating drones with cameras constitutes camera surveillance, the local county administrative boards will be required to weigh on a case-by-case basis whether the operator’s interest in operating a drone equipped with a camera outweighs the interest of the public in having its privacy rights protected. [71]

Meanwhile, the Swedish Parliament is also in an initial phase of considering amendments to legislation regarding privacy in connection with camera surveillance, with the Justice Department having published a Committee Directive in 2015. [72]

While taking landscape pictures from the air in unrestricted airspace is legally permitted, the dissemination of such photographs requires prior approval from the Swedish Defense (Swedish Armed Forces). [73]

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IV. Drone Incidents

There have been several incidents involving drones in Sweden. Protected airspace was reportedly breached a total of fifteen times during 2015, which led to forced temporary closures of Stockholm’s two airports—the Arlanda Airport and the Bromma Airport. [74] For example, Bromma Airport outside of Stockholm was shut down for half an hour following a drone incident in May 2015, where an unidentified drone entered the airport’s restricted airspace.[75]

Under Swedish law all incidents with drones that result in harm to animals, people, or property must be reported to the Swedish Transport Agency. [76] There are no public reports of any such incidents.

The prevalence of drones has been described as a growing problem by the Swedish media, as users are unaware of the relevant regulations surrounding drone use.[77] There is no legal requirement for foreign sellers who export drones to Sweden to inform buyers of Swedish law on drones. The Swedish Transport Agency has introduced a cooperation effort with certain importers aimed at the importer including a pamphlet in the package setting out applicable regulations in Sweden. [78] So far the initiative has garnered little success as most drones are imported online directly from exporters with whom the Swedish Transport Agency does not cooperate.[79] The organization Unmanned Aerial System Sweden, whose members are registered commercial drone users, hopes to remedy the situation by introducing mandatory educational courses for hobby enthusiasts and by working with sellers of drones to increase awareness. [80]

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V. Enforcement

The Swedish Transport Agency is responsible for the oversight of the rules regarding drones and can issue exemptions from the regulations. [81]

Violations of drone rules are sanctioned in the Aircraft Act and include possible imprisonment for up to two years for intentionally maneuvering a drone in a manner that puts people’s lives at risk, and monetary fines and a possible prison sentence for flying in restricted airspace, not marking the drone with the necessary information, or failing to comply with other requirements mentioned above. [82] Enforcement has been low, however, even as incidents connected with the use of drones have been on the rise. Swedish drone forums display a disregard for rules on drones. Swedish airports, which have sustained considerable costs resulting from drone-related airport closures, say that if the drone operators involved in airport incidents are identified, the airports will seek damages from them. [83]

Meanwhile, the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce has presented a report advocating less regulation of the airspace to enable innovations. [84]

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VI. Trade in Products with Dual Uses

Depending on their size, drones may be considered products with dual civilian and military uses, and trade in such products that fall under the definition of krigsmateriel (war materiel) is regulated in a special regulation. [85] The export of certain drones may therefore require preapproval from the Swedish Inspectorate of Strategic Products, as they can be used for both civilian and military purposes.[86] The export of drones has sparked criticism, mainly that such exports aid totalitarian regimes. [87]

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Prepared by Elin Hofverberg
Foreign Law Research Consultant
April 2016

[1] Viktor Mölne, Explosionsartad försäljning av drönare, DagensIndustri (Feb. 23, 2015), artiklar/2015/2/6/explosionsartad-forsaljning-av-dronare , archived at (click “See the Screeshot View”).

[2] Produkter , Teknikmagasinet, (last visited Apr. 4, 2016), archived at For information on UAV products from Hobbex, reportedly the largest Swedish supplier of drones for civilian use, see Avancerade modeller, Hobbex, http://www. artiklar/radiostyrt/multirotor/avancerade-modeller/index.html (last visited Apr. 4, 2016), archived at

[3] Transportstyrelsen, Tillståndsinnehavare: Lista över tillståndsinnehavare för verksamhet med UAS [Permit Holders: List of Permit Holders for Operating UAS] (Dec. 1, 2015), http://www.transport , archived at

[4] Press Release, Saab, Saab och UMS Aero Group AG i strategiskt samarbete inom obemannat flyg (Dec. 21, 2015), , archived at

[5] Sten Sjögren, Svenska drönarbolag på krigsstigen, VeckansAffärer (Oct. 18, 2013), 2013/10/18/svenska-dronarbolag-pa-krigsstigen , archived at

[6] Regulation (EC) No 216/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 February 2008 on Common Rules in the Field of Civil Aviation and Establishing a European Aviation Safety Agency, and Repealing Council Directive 91/670/EEC, Regulation (EC) No 1592/2002 and Directive 2004/36/EC, 2008 O.J. (L 79) 1, , archived at U3PM-QK5T.

[7] The Agency , European Aviation Safety Agency, (last visited Apr. 5, 2016), archived at

[8] Riga Declaration on Remotely Piloted Aircraft (Drones), “Framing the Future of Aviation,” Mar. 6, 2015, , archived at For developments within the industry, see Gunnar Frisk, Saab AB, UAS Forum Sweden – Att öppna Europas och Sverige luftrum för UAS (May 19, 2015), http://www.uas , archived at

[9] 2 ch. 2 § Transportstyrelsens föreskrifter om verksamhet med obemannade luftfartyg (UAS) (konsoliderad elektronisk utgåva) [Regulations on Activities with Unmanned Aircraft (UAS) (Consolidated Electronic Version)] (Transportstyrelsens Författningssamling [TSFS] 2009:88), 2009_88k.pdf, archived at

[10] Id . 1 ch. 1 §.

[11] Id . 2 ch. 1 §.

[12] Id .

[13] Id. 3 ch. 3 § 3 item (category 1b) & 4 ch. 9 § (category 2) (TSFS 2009:88).

[14] Id . ch. 3 § 8 item (categories 1a, 1b) & 4 ch. 9 § 10 item (category 2).

[15] Id . 4 ch. 15 §.

[16] Id . 5 ch. 44 §.

[17] Id . 5 ch. 45–48 §§.

[19] Id .

[20] Transportstyrelsens föreskrifter om verksamhet med obemannade luftfartyg (UAS) (konsoliderad elektronisk utgåva) [Regulations on Activities with Unmanned Aircraft (UAS) (Consolidated Electronic Version)] (TSFS 2009:88),, archived at, unofficial English translation available at luftfart/luftfartyg/the-swedish-uas-regulation-tsfs-2009-88.pdf , archived at .

[21] Id . 2 ch. 2 §; see also Sök tillstånd för obemannade luftfartyg, Transportstyrelsen, https://www.transport (last visited Apr. 3, 2016), archived at

[23] 2 ch. 2 § e contrario (TSFS 2009:88).

[24] Transportstyrelsen, Flyg säkert med din drönare – Snabba råd och regler, http://www.transport (last visited Apr. 3, 2016), archived at

[25] Transportstyrelsens föreskrifter och allmänna råd om trafikregler för luftfart (konsoliderad elektronisk utgåva) [Swedish Transport Agency’s Ordinance and General Guidelines on Traffic Rules for Aircraft (Consolidated Electronic Version)] (TSFS 2014:71),, archived at

[26] 2 ch. 4, 5, 6 §§ (TSFS 2009:88).

[27] Id . 2 ch. 7 §.

[28] Id .

[29] Id . 2 ch. 9 §.

[30] Id . 2 ch. 10 §.

[31] Id . 2 ch. 11 §.

[32] Id . 2 ch. 12 §.

[33] Transportstyrelsen, supra note 3.

[34] 4 ch. 8 § (TSFS 2009:88).

[35] Id . 5 ch. 25 §.

[36] Id . 5 ch. 24 §.

[37] Id . 2 ch. 13 §.

[38] Id . 2 ch. 12 §.

[39] Id .

[40] Id .

[41] Id. 4 ch. 22 §, 5 ch. 54 §.

[42] 3 ch. 1 § 3 item (TSFS 2009:88).

[43] Id .

[44] Id . 3 ch. 1 § 1 item.

[45] Id . 3 ch. 1 § 4 item.

[46] Id . 3 ch. 1 § 5 item.

[47] Id . 3 ch. 1 § 2 item.

[48] Id . 3 ch. 1 § 10 item.

[49] Id . 3 ch. 1 § 10 item.

[50] Id . 3 ch. 1 § 9 item.

[51] Transportstyrelsen, supra note 24.

[52] 4 ch. 1 § (TSFS 2009:88).

[53] Id . 4 ch. 3 §.

[54] Id . 4 ch. 7 §.

[55] Id . 4 ch. 7 & 8 §§.

[56] Id . 4 ch. 7 §.

[57] Id . 4 ch. 18 §.

[58] Id . 4 ch. 16, 17, 19 §§.

[59] Id. 5 ch.

[61] Id .

[62] Dronechart , LFV, (last visited Apr. 3, 2016), archived at 46NV-FKMF (click “See the Screenshot View”).

[63] Förordning om restriktioner för luftfart inom vissa områden [Regulation on Restrictions on Aircraft in Certain Areas] (SFS 2005:801),, archived at

[64] Press Release, Högsta förvaltningsdomstolen, Prövningstillstånd meddelat i mål om kameraövervakning (Mar. 30, 2016), , archived at GZU2-P867.

[65] 8 §, 16 § Kameraövervakningslag [Camera Surveillance Act] (SFS 2013:460), rnp/sls/lag/20130460.htm, archived at

[66] Id . 5 §.

[67] Id . 8 §.

[68] Kammarrätten [KR] [Administrative Court of Appeals] Jönköping, Case No. 1369-15, Dec. 15, 2015, at 4 (on file with author); KR Göteborg, Case No. 2156-15, Nov. 12, 2015, at 3 (on file with author).

[69] KR Jönköping, Case No. 1369-15, Dec. 15, 2015, at 5–6; see also Monica Kleja, Ny dom: Drönare med kameror behöver tillstånd, NyTeknik (Dec. 21, 2015), , archived at

[70] Proposition [Prop.] 2012/13:115 En ny kameraövervakningslag [New Camera Surveillance Act] [government bill], at 26,, archived at WBE6-F385.

[71] 9 § Kameraövervakningslag (SFS 2013:460).

[72] Kommittédirektiv: Kameraövervakning – brottsbekämpning och integritetsskydd [Committee Directive: Camera Surveillance – Law Enforcement and Privacy] (Dir. 2015:125), a5e3e9c46bbb0725901752edb92/kommittedirektiv-kameraovervakning_webb.pdf , archived at 2G4B-MNRU .

[73] 9 § Förordning om skydd för landskapsinformation [Regulation on Protection of Landscape Information] (SFS 1993:1745),, archived at, to be replaced by Förordning om skydd för geografisk information (SFS 2016:320), 20160320.pdf, archived at See also Flygfotografering och tillstånd för bildspridning, Försvarsmakten, (last visited Apr. 6, 2016), archived at

[74] Drönarförare riskerar skadestånd , SVT (July 25, 2015), , archived at

[75] Drönare stängde ner Bromma flygplats , LFV (May 12, 2015), , archived at

[76] 3 ch. 1 § item 9 (categories 1a & 1b), 4 ch. 28 § (category 2), 5 ch. 24 § (category 3) (TSFS 2009:88).

[77] Sandra Fonnisson, Obemannade farkoster ett växande problem, SVT (July 24, 2015), lokalt/stockholm/obemannade-farkoster-ett-vaxande-problem , archived at

[78] Id .

[79] Id .

[80] Sandra Fonnisson, Organisation vill införa obligatorisk drönarutbildning, SVT (July 24, 2015), http://www.svt. se/nyheter/lokalt/stockholm/dronaragare-kan-sakna-kompetens-for-flygning , archived at

[81] 6 ch. 1 § (TSFS 2009:88).

[82] 13 ch. 1 § & 13 ch. 4 § 3 item Luftfartslagen (SFS 2010:500).

[83] Drönarförare riskerar skadestånd , SVT (July 25, 2015), , archived at (click “See the Screenshot View”).

[84] Press Release, Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, Ny rapport: Släpp fram drönarna (May 18, 2015),http://www., archived at

[85] Förordning om krigsmateriel [Regulation on War Matériel] (SFS 1992:1303), 18.156454ca12c96d03cf28000696/1451373905500/53f01_2.pdf , archived at

[86] Id .

[87] See Angelica Söderberg, Kritik mot försäljning av svenska drönare till Kina, NyTeknik (Aug. 5, 2015), , archived at