Thanks to assorted laws and regulations becoming normalised across the majority of the European continent, logistics—the transportation of materials and goods—in Sweden works in a pretty similar way to a lot of other European countries. Nonetheless, there are a few local quirks and specifics to take note of…and if you’ve come from further afield, it may all seem entirely unfamiliar and strange.
Obviously, we have neither the time nor the expertise to explain this stuff thoroughly! But hopefully the advice below will at least let you know where to look for more detail. If there’s one catch-all tip we could pass on, however, it would be “ask a local”—and that’s advice that applies to topics far beyond transportation.
Logistics for entrepreneurs
Moving to Skåne in order to start up your business? Välkommen! But how are you going to get your raw materials and components on-site, and how are you going to deliver your products? Things are fairly integrated in the domestic system (i.e. within Sweden), but international trade and transfer—while arguably easier than ever before—requires a little more thought, particularly regarding the pay-offs between cost and speed.
- Ships: Thanks to recent progress in automation, loading and unloading heavy goods is a smooth and reliable process. Therefore, if you need to move some heavy and cumbersome stuff, we recommend you get it as close to your production facility as possible via ship. Skåne has some great harbours too, with Malmö, Landskrona, Helsingborg and Trelleborg being at the forefront of capacity and through-put, and your carbon budget won’t take a big hit, since everything is powered by a combination of micro-nuclear plants, wind and water power. Just make sure that the barge transporting your goods is one of the new electricity powered ones; though most ships fall into this category nowadays, there is still the occasional floating fossil (pun very much intended) coasting about the oceans, and what may look like a bargain price could turn into a hefty bill when the ship’s carbon debt is tacked on to your import taxes by customs. Also, keep in mind that the expedite tax curve is quite steep in Sweden, which means that the quicker you want something to get here, the more it’s going to cost you; however, if you aren’t in desperate need of your goods right away, the prices on slower logistical chains are very affordable, due to their relative energy efficiency.
- Trains: If ship-shipping is still too expensive for you, or if you don’t need to move as much or as large cargo (or for as great a distance), then you can let the train take the strain. Since the (re-)expansion of the Skåne rail network in the 2030s, and the opening of dedicated cargo transport lines, the national and regional distribution of goods via train has positively exploded. From the north of Skåne to the south, transporting cargo now takes less than an hour—and as Sweden has started to produce more of its goods domestically, this distance is likely as far as you to have to ship smaller goods or products. However, if you have to transport things to and from Europe, the Fehrman Belt tunnel makes it possible to get your stuff from the continent (through Hamburg and Denmark) to any small town in Skåne in around 4-5 hours.
- Lorries: Should you need to move your cargo beyond the harbour towns or train stations, then electrical lorries are the way to go. However, bear in mind that many towns in Skåne have excluded powered vehicles, especially larger ones such as lorries, from their commercial and residential centres; in such locations, your stuff will have to stop at a distribution centre and be taken onward by cargo-bike, or whatever other local variants are available. (Believe it or not, the pony express is making a comeback in locations like Södra Sandy and the Vombsjösänken biosphere…) If your customers don’t mind paying a little extra, they can can arrange local “last-mile” operators to handle this last leg of the trip (see below); open APIs and standardised waybill data mean that it’s easy for a local logistics provider to “plug in” to the regional and national network in this way, and you (as the seller) need do nothing more than address the shipment appropriately.
Logistics for everyone else
After the so-called “Re-usage Bill” was approved by the European Parliament in 2026, mandating punitive penalties on manufacturers who designed for “planned obsolescence” in their products, sales of second hand items went through the roof! Nowadays, many Swedes buy everything from washing machines to kitchen tables and electric bikes from private sellers or refurbishment companies online.
The early days of this phenomenon were somewhat marred by the parlous state of peer-to-peer parcel delivery: years of deregulation and privatisation had resulted in a plethora of providers competing on price for the sender’s business, with the result that the receiver’s experience was an afterthought at best, and a sender who wasn’t a corporate entity would encounter the sort of user experience that explained (even if it didn’t necessarily justify) the existence of dedicated dispatch operatives on company org-charts. But the precipitous fall in private vehicle ownership in the wake of the “energy shock” of the early 2020s is perhaps what really provided the opportunity for a new hybrid business model to emerge.
That model, perhaps ironically, involves treating physical packages in much the same way that the internet treats packages of data. Say you just bought something too bulky for the regular parcel mail—a second-hand aquaponics tank, perhaps—and needed to get it to your stuga on the Slow Coast; how might you go about it?
Depending on the season and the weather forecast, you might decide to head over to the seller’s location by public transport, hire a quadricycle or cargo-bike, and just pedal the thing home yourself.
That’s a cheap option, but it is also rather time-consuming. The easier (if somewhat pricier) choice is to head to the state-managed service LokalLogistik.se and define the job: origin address, destination address, object size and weight, and expedite factor. LokalLogistik will then calculate a price, and issue you a bill of shipping; all you have left to do is sit back and wait.
“Ah, but how does the magic happen,” you might well wonder? This is how it works: LokalLogistik acts as a sort of clearing house for regional and local logistical cooperatives and NGOs, which range in size from Malmö‘s famous PipeRiderz (a pedal-powered city courier cooperative of nearly three decades vintage) to one-person operations who are, in essence, their own village’s fetch’n’carry service. These operators can bid for sections of the route your aquaponics tank (or whatever else) needs to follow in order to get to you within the timeframe defined by your choice of expedite factor: faster factors mean higher prices, so those jobs tend to be prioritised and bid for more quickly. The eventual route will be a composite of subsections connecting local distribution hubs between you and your object of desire: depending on where you and the object are located, it might take just one or two operators to cover the whole journey—or, if you or the object (or both!) are way out in the wilds somewhere, it could take many more.
(The current record for a cross-Skåne delivery from Båstad to Ystad with a next-day expedite factor is 37 different operators… though it’s worth noting that the recipient paid far more for this service than they paid for the antique oak dining table that made the trip.)
If that all sounds pretty complicated, well, you’re not wrong—but the beauty of it is that neither you or the sender has to worry about any of it, because the system provides you a clear interface with simple options, and a promise of delivery and pricing backed by the Swedish state. Better yet, the actual work of moving your object is quality-controlled (the state demands guarantees from the operators, so it can offer a guarantee to you), extremely low in environmental externalities (more than 90% of the network is pedal-powered, whatever the weather), and provides regular work with employee protections to local people without any corporate rake-off.
As such, you can get pretty much anything from pretty much anywhere in Skåne—or even from locations across the more populated parts of Sweden as a whole—delivered direct to your door, without having to worry about environmental impacts or worker exploitation. However, you might well choose—as many do—to have whatever it is you’ve bought be dropped off at your nearest distribution hub, and go collect it yourself. Much like post offices in the middle of the C20th, these distribution hubs have become social hubs as well, particularly in more rural areas: somewhere to meet up for fika, catch up on the local gossip, and perhaps even to stock up on groceries. If you’re only in Skåne for just a little while, we recommend spending some hängtid at your nearest hub, even if you don’t have anything to collect; it’s one of the best ways to meet the locals, and take the pulse of wherever you’re at.