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International Service of Documents

The County Administrative Board of Stockholm is the Central Authority for international service of documents in Sweden, which is part of the country’s international judicial cooperation.

International service of documents means that the person to be served (be it a natural person or a business) is located in another country. The Central Authority provides assistance with service of documents in Sweden upon the request of a foreign authority, and abroad at the request of a Swedish authority or individuals residing in Sweden. The Central Authority also plays an advisory role in the issues related to service of documents.

The sharp increase in migration, globalisation and the ever-increasing prevalence of foreign travel all contribute to a greater need for service of documents both within Sweden and abroad. In certain cases, service of documents may occur via direct contact between the actors concerned, while in other cases the assistance of the Central Authority may be crucial to successful service of documents.

Below you will find more detailed information about the role of the Central Authority and the requirements that are imposed when you request the County Administrative Board's help with international service of documents.

The Central Authority assists with service of documents in Sweden at the request of a competent foreign body, such as a Ministry of Justice, Public Prosecutor's Office, court, law firm or bailiff.

The laws of the requesting state determine who has jurisdiction to send a request for assistance with service of documents. In addition, a request for assistance with service of documents can always be submitted to the Central Authority via diplomatic channels.

Service of documents in Sweden with the assistance of the Central Authority is handled by postal services and/or the Swedish Police Authority. The Central Authority endeavours to ensure that service of documents is executed as quickly, smoothly and cost-effectively as possible. However, processing times may vary.

The role of the Central Authority is to

  • review all requests received
  • identify the addressee of the service documents
  • ensure that the service of documents is executed in accordance with Swedish law
  • inform the requesting foreign party whether or not the service of documents has been executed.

The Central Authority cannot help with the interpretation of the content of the served documents. In such cases, we refer the addressee to the foreign party for more information and assistance.

Most international agreements regulating international service of documents allow direct service of documents from abroad. In practice, this means that a competent foreign party may transmit service of documents in a case or legal matter directly to the addressee via postal service. In this context, it is important to emphasise the rights of the addressee – namely the right to refuse to accept a document written in (or translated into) a language other than Swedish, and which the addressee does not understand (§ 4a of the Service of Documents Act (2010:1932).

As a general rule, service of documents activities are subject to confidentiality (Chapter 22, § 5 of the Public Access to Information
and Secrecy Act (2009:400).

International service of documents activities are well-regulated through a wide range of specific international agreements, as well as treaties regarding international legal assistance in both civil and criminal matters.

Sweden participates in most of these agreements and has also signed bilateral agreements regarding mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, for instance with the United States, Canada and Australia.

​The provisions on the service of documents cooperation between the Nordic countries are defined in the Nordic agreement of 1974 on mutual legal assistance through service of documents and the taking of evidence.

Swedish judicial authorities which need to execute service of documents abroad in a case or legal matter are therefore usually able to request for assistance with service of documents. This is done directly with the foreign counterpart, based on relevant international agreements.

Courts also have the possibility of executing service of documents via postal service, unless this is inappropriate in the given circumstance (for example, if it can be presumed that the postal service is unreliable in the country in which the service of documents is to occur, or if said country opposes direct service of documents from abroad.

The Central Authority's assistance with service of documents abroad can only be requested if

  • the authority has already attempted to serve the addressee itself in the other state, but it has not been possible to do so
  • it is not possible for the authority itself to request for assistance with service of documents in the other state, or
  • the second state requires that a request for service of documents be sent via a central authority.

Service of documents via the Central Authority is executed with the help of Sweden’s foreign authorities. The method of service of documents, deadlines, any costs and the requirements imposed in the application and the service of documents vary greatly depending on the country.

We recommend that the applicant contact the Central Authority for guidance before submitting a request for service of documents.

The authority's request for service abroad to the Central Authority should include:

  • The applicant’s contact information.
  • information about the addressee (name, address, nationality, date of birth, a functional telephone number, email address and company registration number, if a company is to be served).
  • Information about its own attempts to execute service of documents.
  • Justification for requesting help from the Central Authority.
  • Summary of the content of the documents that are to be served.
  • Billing address for any additional costs in conjunction with the service of documents.
  • Information about the deadline for reporting the service of documents assignment and the reasons therefor.

Requests and service of documents must always be sent in duplicate.

Translation and Legalisation

Certain countries require that the documents which are to be served are translated into the official language of said country, regardless of the addressee’s nationality. For example, when serving documents in the USA, South Africa and Australia, the documents must always be translated into English. Certain countries also require that the documents are legalised. Legalisation, which can be executed in Swedish, English, French and Spanish, is a stamp certifying that the signature on a document is authentic. You apply for legalisation at the Legalisation Office of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

The applicant is responsible for ensuring that the necessary documents are translated and legalised.

The ability of individuals to effect service of documents abroad is very limited and differs from state to state. In certain countries (e.g., Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Germany) an equivalent to Swedish service of documents companies exists which can assist with service of documents.

Direct service of documents by postal service is an option. However, service of documents via postal service cannot be used if direct service of documents from abroad is prohibited under the law of the other state, or if it can be presumed that the mail service in the country in question is unreliable.

An individual may request for the Central Authority's assistance with service of documents abroad if:

  • the individual her/himself has already attempted to serve the addressee in the other state, but it has not been possible to do so, or
  • it is not possible for the individual her/himself to request for assistance with service of documents in the other state.

The Central Authority assists with international service of documents with the help of Swedish embassies and consulates. Most countries allow diplomats and consular officers to execute service of documents. However, such service of documents is usually limited to citizens of the country represented by said diplomat/consular officer. Therefore, the ability of the Central Authority to assist with service of documents may be limited. Before submitting a request, you should therefore consult us about whether it is possible to obtain assistance with international service of documents.

A request for service of documents abroad to the Central Authority should include:

  • The applicant’s contact information.
  • Information about the addressee (name, address, nationality, date of birth, a functional telephone number, and email address).
  • Information about her/his own attempts to execute service of documents.
  • Summary of the content of the documents that are to be served.
  • Billing address for any additional costs in conjunction with the service of documents.

Requests and documents for service must always be sent in duplicate.

Processing times, method of service of documents, and any extra costs vary greatly depending on the country.

Certain countries require that the service of documents document be translated into the official language of said country, regardless of the addressee’s nationality. When serving documents in the USA, South Africa and Australia, the document must always be translated into English. The applicant is responsible for ensuring that the application is translated.

Application Fees

When you submit your request, you must pay a fee of 500 SEK to BG 5052-4651 in Danske Bank. Enter the name of the addressee as a reference for your payment.

Contact

Send your request to the following address:

County Administrative Board of Stockholm

Box 22067, 104 22 Stockholm
Sweden

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