Buying alcohol in Sweden

Did you know that you can’t buy beverages with more than 3.5 % alcohol in a regular supermarket anywhere in Sweden?

In fact you won’t be able to buy alcohol in any other store either, except for Systembolaget (or ”Systemet”, as Swedes often call it).


Let me tell you a little bit about Systembolaget and why we only have this one store that can sell alcohol with a higher percentage (actually it’s a store chain that’s operated through franchise).

The main purpose of maintaining this state owned alcohol monopoly store is to reduce and control alcohol consumption. “Out of date and too controlling” says one customer, “helpful and secure” says another.

Rules and limitations

You must be 20 years of age and have a Swedish ID to be able to buy alcoholic beverages in “Systemet”.

It is an ”institution” (if you wish) that is state-owned and state-run. It is also, by many, both respected and beloved, even though quite a few people find it too controlling and too limiting.

”Systemet” would never offer discounts or any other offers, nor stay open outside the quite restrictive opening hours (same everywhere).

Developments and adjustments

For some 30 years now customers are allowed to browse the store freely and on their own, as compared to before when shoppers were obliged to ask Systembolaget’s staff for a specific product.

The last store to be transformered to a self-service store was inaugurated in 2014 in the outskirts of Stockholm.

Purposes and goals

Systembolaget aims to be responsible and responsive, both to new customer behaviours and to educate the staff.

They show it e.g. by giving that little extra attention to the customer, wich includes advicing about drinking safely and how to pair alcohol with food.


Published by MissPetra

Freelance writer, proof reader, blogger and webbdesigner based in Sweden. I run this and two other blogs: and prtextochbild/blogg when not writing for others.