How to pay international contractors in Sweden


Aug 30, 2023


Rana Bano

With its exceptional talent pool driven by a firm work ethic, Sweden makes an ideal hub for global enterprises looking to tap into the power of independent contractors within its borders.

However, if you're not well-versed in Swedish tax and employment regulations, you might face obstacles when hiring contractors. Navigating these challenges skillfully demands careful attention, from accurately classifying your workforce to selecting reliable payment methods and ensuring proper documentation.

But don't worry; this guide will help you step by step. Read on as we break down the process of hiring and paying contractors in Sweden while complying with the country's local labor laws.

Step #1: Classify your workers in Sweden

While there isn't a dedicated law or code in Sweden that specifically addresses independent contractors, the Employment Protection Act (Lagen om anställningsskydd) provides a clear framework for defining the employer-employee relationship. 

According to these criteria, you're typically classified as an independent contractor if you:

  • Have autonomy over your work schedule and hours.
  • Undertake projects for multiple companies.
  • Set your own rates and define the scope of your tasks.
  • Provide your personal tools or equipment.
  • Operate independently from any single company's core functions (this means no internal email address, for instance).
  • Have the option to delegate or subcontract tasks.
  • Work without direct supervision or guidance.

Additionally, employers are required to pay taxes and provide benefits for employees but not for contractors. This streamlines payroll procedures since no deductions towards social security or other contributions are needed for contractors. Consequently, some employers might classify their workers as contractors intentionally to evade financial obligations.

Whether the misclassification is intentional or unintentional, companies can face substantial fines and legal consequences from the Swedish government. In addition to legal complications, misclassification can also entail reimbursing wages and benefits to wrongly classified workers.

Remember, misclassification extends beyond contractual labels in Sweden; it centers on the actual treatment of workers and the intentions behind the classification. When a contractor's responsibilities resemble those of an employee, the employment dynamics shift. In these cases, contract updates are necessary to align with labor regulations and prevent misclassification penalties. 

For a clearer understanding, here's a chart outlining the key distinctions between contractors and employees as specified in Sweden's labor laws:



High level of worker control. Contractors generally enjoy more autonomy to decide when and how to complete their work.

More direction from the employer. Employees generally receive more control and direction from their employer. The latter provides guidance on how to perform the work and can also set specific working hours.

Contractors generally use their personal equipment and tools.

Employers provide their employees with the necessary equipment and tools.

Less integrated. Contractors tend to be independent and work remotely. They also use their own tools and equipment.

More integrated. Employees are more integrated into their company. For example, they often work on-site.

No entitlement to benefits. Contractors don’t get the same benefits and protections as employees, plus they are required to pay their own taxes.

Entitled to benefits. Employees are entitled to benefits and protections, like minimum wage and vacation pay. They may also receive benefits like pensions, health insurance, and paid sick leave.

Time-bound agreement. Contractors are typically engaged for a specific time or project.

Indefinite agreement. Employees are generally hired for an indefinite time period.

High risk of loss. Contractors usually assume liability for the work they perform.

No risk of loss. Employees are generally sheltered from liability for work-related problems.

Subcontracting. Contractors can delegate work to be performed by other businesses or individuals.

No subcontracting. Employees are expected to complete their own work. They can’t delegate tasks without company approval.

Step #2: Determine the best way to pay your contractors in Sweden

The next step is to choose a well-defined payment method to compensate your Swedish contractors. 

In this era of expanding global workforces and widespread remote work, you have an unprecedented array of choices to send international payments. Here are your best viable options:

  • Bank transfers: This involves opening a Swedish bank account to do a direct deposit of funds into contractors’ accounts. Alternatively, you can use your own bank to initiate a secure global wire transfer. Keep in mind that these transfers often levy substantial fees.
  • International money orders: While international money orders are a common way to pay, they have slow processing times. This happens because the employer needs to get the money order in person. Then, the contractor must deposit it upon receipt. Also, money orders usually come with fees and unfavorable exchange rates.
  • Digital wallets or payment platforms: Many employers opt for platforms like PayPal or Wise to facilitate cross-border money transfers. It's worth considering that not all digital platforms are universally accessible (e.g., Venmo is restricted to the U.S.). Additionally, their exchange rates are subject to fluctuations, which makes projecting expenses harder.
  • Global payroll services: Typically, contractors aren't part of the regular payroll system since they don't have taxes taken out by their employer. Instead, they send invoices for the work they've done, and the payment goes through the accounts payable process. They're also responsible for handling their own tax payments in this setup.

Check out Rippling to see how you can pay your Swedish employees and contractors, wherever they are, in a single pay run.

Step #3: Use global payroll software to process payments for Swedish contractors 

As seen in Step #2, you have several methods at your disposal to reliably compensate contractors in Sweden. But if you're looking for the quickest and easiest approach, global payroll software is the way to go.

Rippling lets you pay contractors globally. Here's a glimpse of how its worldwide payroll system operates:

Step #4: Ensure your Swedish contractor has the right tax information 

According to the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket), employers with a permanent, ongoing contract with citizens can assume responsibility for the latter's taxes using the PAYE (pay-as-you-earn) system. 

However, self-employed Swedish citizens are accountable for handling their own income tax, corporate tax, VAT, and social welfare costs.

Depending on your contractors' tax situation and the kind of work they do, you may need to provide them with tax forms. If your company operates in the US, your contractors should fill out an IRS Form W-8BEN, verifying their contractor status.

Frequently asked questions about running payroll for contractors in Sweden

Do you need to withhold taxes when paying contractors in Sweden?

No, foreign companies aren't required to withhold taxes when paying contractors in Sweden. It's up to the contractors to handle their own tax filings, tax returns, and social security contributions.

Does the Swedish minimum wage apply to independent contractors in Sweden?

No, the rules regarding minimum wage don't apply to freelance workers in Sweden.

Do Swedish contractors get benefits?

In Sweden, independent contractors do not enjoy the same benefits as full-time employees, like sick pay and paid time off. Granting such perks to contractors could raise questions about their proper classification under the law.

Can you pay contractors in Sweden in your home currency?

It's standard to compensate Swedish contractors using their local currency, the Swedish Krona (SEK). Nevertheless, if they agree in writing, you can also pay them in your own currency. 

Can you manually pay contractors in Sweden?

Many small business owners opt to handle contractor payments manually in an attempt to save money. However, this approach can end up being quite time-consuming. And as your business expands and starts collaborating with contractors from various countries, the task of manually processing payroll becomes even more intricate.

Additionally, manually processing payments has some major risks to you and your business. This includes:

  • Compliance concerns: When you rely on manual data entry, there's a real chance of making mistakes or leaving out crucial information. This could potentially lead to issues with compliance and legal requirements.
  • Security issues: It's important to consider the security risks involved if you're managing payment details using spreadsheets or paper records. These methods can easily result in the loss, theft, or misuse of sensitive employee data.

How do you turn a contractor into an employee in Sweden?

Although opting for independent contractors instead of full-time employees can offer certain financial advantages, there are instances when having a full-time employee is necessary. The key lies in ensuring that all legal obligations are met. 

Swedish law dictates that obligations like payroll deductions and benefits must be provided to employees. Additionally, if you intend to hire employees, you'll have to set up a legitimate business entity or consider using an Employer of Record (EOR) service.

Rippling and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal, and accounting advisors before engaging in any related activities or transactions.

last edited: August 30, 2023

The Author

Rana Bano

A Kolkata-based B2B and business trends writer, Rana writes on global workforce onboarding and management, with expertise in Japan, Mexico, Portugal, and, of course, India.