Sweden traditionally had a strict alcohol regulation. The monopolization of alcohol retail sector was a vital fundamental of this domestic alcohol policy in Sweden. The goal is to reduce alcohol-related issues by distributing alcohol responsibly and without a business motivation. Therefore this page gives a brief information about Systembolaget which is important for understanding of the market structure and legal requirements.

Stockholm City, Capital of Sweden. Systembolaget has control over the importation of alcohol in Sweden

Systembolaget is a government owned chain of alcohol stores in Sweden. It is the only retail store allowed to sell alcoholic beverages that contain more than 3.5% alcohol by volume. Thus the main motive is to minimize alcohol-related problems by selling alcohol in a responsible way, without any profit motive. The first alcohol monopoly ever started in the mid 1800s with revised alcohol laws in Sweden. It worked so well that the model was spread all over the country. In 1955, the local companies were merged to form a single, national company named Systembolaget.

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An alcohol monopoly is a government monopoly on manufacturing or retailing of some or all alcoholic beverages, such as beer, wine and spirits. An alternative for total prohibition could be alcohol monopoly. Correspondingly in Sweden, Systembolaget has a monopoly on the sales of all alcohol towards end-consumer. Swedish alcohol laws are strictly controlled by monopoly in terms of demand and supply.




In Sweden the legal age of drinking is 18. However to buy alcohol from Systembolaget the buyers must have a minimum age of 20. Surprisingly, in restaurants the minimum age has to be 18.


Systembolaget is one of the world’s largest buyers of wine and spirits from producers around the world. Systembolaget has 430 stores and 500 agent pick-up stores.


Systembolaget is opened between 10:00 and 18:00 on Mondays to Fridays and between 10:00 and 13:00 on Saturdays.


Licensed restaurants and bars are allowed to sell alcohol between 11:00 and 01:00. At the same time the local authorities are allowed to extend these hours.


Marketing of beverages with an alcohol degree of 15% vol. alc. or higher is not allowed.


In the year 2009, the consumption was around 9,4 liters of pure alcohol 100%.


The aim of the domestic alcohol policy is to restrict the reasons of alcohol consumption. By working with higher taxation, restricted availability and informative PR, the government tries to achieve its goal.

As Sweden is a part of European Union. It is difficult to keep its policy up to 100% due to the pressure from other EU members. Especially this is the case when it comes to the taxes placed on alcohol. This acts as the main tool to restrict the level of consumption. Swedish alcohol tax rate is a complex counting and can be calculated on the basis of ‘excise duty rate × % ABV × amount in litres = excise duty’.

The Swedish Alcohol law (2010:1622) includes regulations that limit the production, marketing, trade, import and export of alcohol goods. Sweden alcohol import limit for a passenger is 1 litre of liquor or 2 litres of fortified wine (including sparkling wine), 4 litres of wine and 16 litres of beer.

Moreover in this case, there are a number of governmental institutions in charge of the domestic alcohol policy handling different issues.

  • SOCIALSTYRELSENSocialstyrelsen – They are responsible for handling questions about abuse issues and public health in general.
  • STATENS FOLKHÄLSOINSTITUTStatens folkhälsoinstitut
    1. They make sure to follow up on the national action plan to prevent any kind of alcohol damage,
    2. To develop methods and strategies in order to prevent the use of alcohol,
    3. Promoting access to quality statistics,
    4. Central oversight by the Alcohol Act and Tobacco Act.
  • IQ – Systembolaget has a number of activites. For instance, a sub company to Systembolaget called IQ works with frequent PR campagins and other activites in order to inform the citizen about causes of alcohol.

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Questions and Answers About Domestic Alcohol Policy in Sweden:

What are the laws about alcohol in Sweden?

Domestic alcohol policies are strict in Sweden. The Alcohol Act governs the importation, production, and marketing of alcoholic drinks. Systembolaget controls the demand and supply of the alcoholic beverages in Sweden. Concealed Wines helps producers in importation of Alcohol with all the legislation followed.

Can I buy alcohol in Supermarket?

There are three possibilities for alcohol. The first is available in a conventional retailer for less than 3.5% abv. Second, you may purchase beverages at bars as from the age of 18. Third, visit Systembolaget stores between 10:00 and 18:00 on weekdays and 10:00 and 13:00 on saturdays.

Can I drink alcohol in public in Sweden?

Municipalities limit public drinking by local regulation, establishing zones where consumption of beverages having more than 2.25% ABV is forbidden. These zones are typically found in city centers, near schools, churches, and parks.

How much alcohol can I take to Sweden?

The traveller’s allowance includes the following amounts of alcohol: 1 litre liquor or 2 liter fortified wine (including sparkling wine) or 4 litres of wine or 16 liters of beer. However you can always buy alcohol in Systembolaget stores in the country. Here you can find assortments from Concealed Wines.