WHAT DOES THE LAW SAY ABOUT MARRIAGE?
You decide for yourself whether or not you want to marry someone. No one is allowed to force, persuade or trick you into marrying someone. Here, you can read more about what the law says about marriage and what you can do if you are concerned about being forced into marriage.
Are you afraid you’ll be forced to get married? Ask for help from someone you trust. Call 112 if you need protection and assistance right away. You can always contact our chat service for support and advice.
You decide for yourself whether or not you want to marry someone. If you want to, you have the right to marry anyone. You and the person you are marrying must be over the age of 18, i.e. have reached the age of majority, in order to get married. Both you and your partner must attend the wedding and give your consent to marrying each other. You can only be married to one person at any time. If you want to marry someone else, you must first get a divorce. Everyone has the right to decide whether they want to divorce.
Forcing someone to marry is therefore illegal in Sweden.
On 1 July 2020, a new crime was introduced in the Swedish Penal Code called a child marriage crime.
About child marriage and ban on leaving the country
Anyone who forces or allows a child under the age of 18 to marry or enter into a marriage-like relationship may be found guilty of a child marriage crime in a Swedish court of law. A person who marries a child can also be penalised, and in some cases so can the wedding officiant. The crime can result in up to four years in prison.
The new Act from 2020 also introduces a ban on leaving the country, in order to protect children who are at risk of being taken out of Sweden in order to be subject to child marriage. Anyone who violates a ban on leaving the country can be sentenced to up to two years in prison. If a child has a ban on leaving the country, the child cannot obtain a passport. If the child already has a passport, it can be revoked.
Things to consider if you are to travel abroad
- Tell someone you trust about your situation. Provide that person with contact and address details, a copy of your passport and the date on which you plan to return. You can also agree with the person that he or she should contact the municipality or the Swedish embassy if you have not returned or been in contact by a specific date.
- Take along the phone number and email address of the person at social services or the police you have spoken to, or of any contact person in Sweden whom you can trust.
- Take your mobile phone and an extra SIM card with you.
- Write down or memorise the phone number and email address of the Swedish embassy or consulate in the country to which you are travelling.
- Write down the contact details of relatives or friends in the country to which you are travelling who you think may be willing to help you.
- Get information about which laws apply, for example, to marriage and what assistance you can get in the country to which you are travelling. You can phone the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or a voluntary organisation.
Risks of travelling abroad
Many marriages take place abroad. If you think there is a risk that you will be forced to get married while you are abroad, you should try to stop the trip, as it is more difficult for Swedish authorities to help you when you are abroad. For help with stopping the trip, you can talk to a voluntary organisation, the police or social services.
Find out more on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website about honour-related crime (this page is in Swedish). Please note: there is no panic button to exit the website quickly.
Assistance from Swedish authorities abroad
If you are a Swedish citizen, refugee or stateless person resident in Sweden, you can get assistance from Swedish embassies and consulates while you are abroad. If you are in an emergency situation, due to to threats or violence, or are being forced to marry or to remain in another country without a passport or ticket to return home, Swedish embassies and consulates can help by:
- Offering advice and support.
- Contacting relatives or solving other problems.
- Contacting a defence lawyer, doctor or interpreter.
- Arranging a provisional or ordinary passport.
- Lending money to travel to Sweden.
But sometimes it can be difficult to get help, for example if the law is different in the country you are in. If you are a citizen of both Sweden and the country to which you are travelling, it can be difficult for the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, embassies and consulates to help, as they must work according to the laws and regulations of that country. Something that is a crime in Sweden is not necessarily a crime in another country. If the authorities in the other country are not willing to cooperate, it can therefore be difficult for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to help you to return to Sweden, for example.
Remember that this is what Swedish law says!
- You always have the right to say no to marriage if you don’t want to get married. Threatening or forcing someone to marry, for example by using violence, is illegal.
- The two people getting married must both be present at the wedding and give their consent to getting married.
- Swedish authorities may refuse to recognise a foreign marriage that has been entered into under force. But if you are already married, it is often difficult to prove in court that it happened under force. It is therefore important to speak up beforehand and to remember that you have the law on your side.
- You must be 18 years old in order to get married.
- If you are already married to one person, you may not marry someone else without first getting a divorce.
- If you are already married, you can always get a divorce in Sweden, but you may not be able to get a foreign divorce.
Find out more
Swedish authorities abroad (Please note: there is no panic button here to exit the website quickly.)
Government (Please note: there is no panic button here to exit the website quickly.)