On water and ice

The Right of Public Access applies to both land and water. You can swim, sail, moor your boat and spend a night or two on board, almost anywhere. The same rules regarding consideration of your surroundings apply as on land: don’t disturb – don’t destroy!

The Right of Public Access is under increasing pressure in Sweden's archipelagos and along its shorelines. Efforts to boost archipelago tourism are having an impact, pleasure craft with sleeping accommodation have increased multiplied and kayaking in archipelagos is quickly gaining popularity.

Practise good seamanship

Under the Swedish Maritime Code, persons travelling by water must show consideration for their surroundings. As a boater you must practise good seamanship and be familiar with the rules and regulations that apply to the waters you are in.

Not too close to residential dwellings

You may go ashore, swim, anchor and temporarily moor a boat offshore, provided it is not within the grounds of a house or part of a bird sanctuary or other nature sanctuary. The grounds of a house are the area immediately surrounding a house, in which the occupants should be left in peace. It is the risk of causing a disturbance that determines how close you may go to a house.

There are no rules that stipulate a minimum distance. Nor are there any rules that stipulate how long you may remain anchored at the same location. However, the same principle usually applies as with camping, i.e. a day or two. What matters is that you do not disturb the owners or occupants.

Ask the owner’s permission

Before you spend an extended period anchored or moored close to another person's shore you must ask the landowner for permission. In order to keep a houseboat moored offshore—even if it's your own property—you may need an exemption from the shoreline protection rules. You must apply to the local municipality for such an exemption.

There is nothing to stop you mooring a boat for a while or swimming off a jetty provided it does not adjoin the grounds of a house. You obviously must not obstruct the owner of the jetty if they wish to use it.

Special rules for protected areas

In protected areas there may be special rules that restrict the Right of Public Access:

  • National parks and nature reserves may have rules on lighting fires, pitching tents and mooring boats
  • Protected shoreline areas may have similar rules if they are required to protect vulnerable wildlife or plants or to avoid the negative impact of intense outdoor activities
  • In the case of bird and seal sanctuaries, you are not permitted to go ashore or to approach within a certain distance of the shore at certain times of the year. These restrictions are indicated by yellow, or red and yellow signs. Yellow or red and yellow signs indicate the time of year when the restrictions apply. There may also be restrictions at other times of the year

Other regulations

  • Under the Navigation Ordinance, the county administrative board may issue regulations on boat traffic, including speed limits and restrictions on water-skiing
  • You must not operate personal watercraft (jet skis) except in areas designated by the county administrative board and in public navigation channels.
  • There may be restrictions on access within military areas. Apart from such restrictions, foreign nationals are now free to visit military zones on the same terms as Swedish citizens
  • Before moving a canoe or other equipment away from waters infected by crayfish pest, you must dry and disinfect your canoe and other equipment. The county administrative board can provide information on infected waters