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May 4, 2020

Sweden introduces tax on plastic bags

On 1 May 2020 a tax on plastic bags has been introduced in Sweden. This is intended to reduce the pollution of nature and the seas caused by plastic. Companies can save time and administrative effort by registering as an Approved Stockholder – Gerlach Customs can help them do so.

In 2015 the EU member states decided that the consumption of plastic carrier bags should be reduced to 40 thin plastic bags per person per year by 2025. To achieve the EU target, Sweden now wants to use the tax to ensure that bags and pouches are reused.

The tax on plastic carrier bags also affects imports from third countries, such as Norway. It will already be levied at the time of import if the importer is not an Approved Stockholder – i.e. the tax will be paid each time a plastic carrier bag is imported. Being an Approved Stockholder means that the importer must periodically report the tax directly to the tax authorities in a periodic declaration.

According to the Swedish Tax Agency’s definition, a plastic carrier bag is a bag with or without a handle that is made of plastic. It is intended for consumers to pack goods in or carry home and is not intended for long-term use.

Exceptions make tax confusing

This means, for example, that paper bags with plastic handles or with a plastic film that allows the packaged product to be seen must also be taxed. The level for „free import” (import without tax) is 40 plastic bags per occasion.

Tax rate:
3 SEK/piece
30 øre/piece for plastic carriers with a capacity of not more than seven litres and a wall thickness of less than 15 microns (e.g. fruit and vegetable bags)

The tax is not levied on consumer packaging that is not intended for the packaging or transport of goods.


  • Dog bags
  • Garbage bags
  • Waste bag
  • small freezer bags
  • Carrier bags, for example made of paper, where plastic is only an additive of glue or paint used in the production process.

“Gerlach Customs can help you save time and money”

Gerlach Customs sees several advantages for companies that apply to the Swedish Tax Agency for an “Approved Stockholder” permit. One example is that as an Approved Stockholder you pay no tax when the plastic carriers are delivered to a buyer in another EU country.

If you would like help in applying for an “Approved Stockholder” permit or have any other customs questions, please contact us quickly and easily via the contact form.

This article was written by:

Daniel Mahnken

Corporate Communication

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