Off-road 4WDs, ATVs and motorcycles

Off-road driving on bare ground with an ATV or other vehicle is prohibited, with a few exceptions.

Sweden has an overall ban on off-road driving on bare, snow-free ground. The ban can be found in the Off-Road Driving Act and Off-Road Driving Ordinance, intended to safeguard nature. 

The ban, similarly, pertains to landowners themselves. A landowner is not allowed to drive off road on his or her own land and at the same time cannot give anyone else the permission to do so. However, off-road driving for the purpose of agriculture or forestry, is permissible.

Ruts and furrows take a long time to heal

Off-road driving damages soil, leading to ruts, impaired root systems, compacted soil, increased erosion and sedimentation in waterways. Deep wheel-tracks in wetlands can drain the wetland, damage and disturb the natural habitat for plants and animals. In certain environments such as above the tree-line on mountains and ground rich on lichens, ruts can be visible for a long time since it takes a long time for the plants in those environments to grow back. Off-road driving is equally problematic for waterways. The bottom structure can be damaged and also cause muddiness that can harm aquatic plants and animals.

Off-road driving can be disturbing for animals and people

The noise from an ATV disturb wild animals. They are extra sensitive to disturbances in spring and early summer when the animals have their newborns. People wanting peace, silence and tranquility, can also feel distressed by the noise of a vehicle in nature where silence is expected.

What does off-road terrain mean?

In legal terms, off-road terrain means virtually all unpaved ground. In addition to forest and land, off-road terrain also includes parks, lawns, paths, jogging tracks and hiking trails. 

Jogging tracks and hiking trails generally do not have signs, prohibiting driving. This is not required, since according to the Off-Road Driving Act, it is forbidden to use motor vehicles there, as well as on all other unpaved ground.

Exemptions from the ban

In addition to off-road driving directly associated with agriculture or forestry, there are some additional exceptions to the Act’s general prohibition. Such exceptions include driving under the following circumstances:

  • For various sorts of engineering work for public utilities
  • For civil protection and in cases of illness
  • When retrieving bear, moose, deer or wild boar after hunting
  • When working with reindeer husbandry, to a certain extent
  • When working in parks and recreational areas
  • In specially organized and permitted racing or practice areas

The county administrative board (Länsstyrelsen) has the authority to decide on other exceptions in individual cases, such as for car parking during sport competitions or other arrangements.