Swedish Privacy Laws in Relation to Genealogy

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Historically some countries have taken the approach to records and privacy laws that “all government records are under privacy protection until permission is granted” to access them. Sweden has taken the opposite approach in that all records created by the state or municipalities should be considered accessible unless they are restricted under privacy laws.[1]

The general rule in Sweden is that all information created by the state and municipalities has to be accessible by the public (2 kap 1 § tryckfrihetsförordningen, meaning chapter 2 Freedom of the Press.) There are many exceptions stated in the Sekretesslagen (literally translated as the secrecy law, 1980:100) which was repealed with the Offentlighets- och sekretesslagen (literally translated as Public Access to Information and Secrecy Law, 2009:400).

The privacy laws that protect personal confidential information in a general sense are limited up to 70 years. The 70 year rule is based upon when the record was created, even if the people mentioned are still living. Exceptions to the 70 year rule are given occasionally. In such cases it should be accompanied with a written statement that the information is for your own research and will not be shared with anyone else. [2]

Requesting information that is protected by privacy laws

To request information that is restricted by privacy laws a person must:

1. Make a request to see the protected document. This request is submitted to the archive that has the original record with legal responsibility for the record.

2. The request is examined by the same record authority. Within each archive there are specific individuals who handle the cases for request of information from records restricted by the privacy laws.

3. The government representative cannot ask who the requesting person is, or the purpose of the request, except to the extent that is necessary to rule on the impediments to the disclosure. The authority can then exercise judgement to provide information from the protected document or not (unless the information is classified.) A decision made in the matter of privacy laws can be appealed to Kammarrätten.


  1. Sverige har intagit motsatt inställning på så sätt att all information ska anses fri om den inte är begränsad i lag. Undantagen enligt lag är dock många. http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sekretess
  2. Släktforska steg för steg, p. 14


Clemensson, Per and Andersson, Kjell. Släktforska steg för steg. Falköping, Natur och Kultur/Fakta, 2005

Wikipedia Community. Sekretess. Swedish Wikipedia, March 2011