Road signs in Sweden are regulated in Vägmärkesförordningen, VMF (2007:90), and are to be placed 2 metres from the road with the sign 1.6m from the base for motorized roads. Except for route numbers, there are a maximum of three signs on a pole, with the most important sign at the top. All signs have a reflective layer added on selected parts of the sign as is custom in European countries; most larger signs also have their own illumination.
Most signs are based on pictograms, with some exceptions like the prohibition-sign for stop at customs and signal and speed limit signs. If the sign includes text, the text is written in Swedish, except the stop sign, which is written in English ("STOP").
Swedish road signs depict people with realistic (as opposed to stylized) silhouettes.
Major differences between Swedish and general European signs
Like other countries in Europe, Swedish signs follow the Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals. Whereas European signs usually have white background on warning and prohibition signs, the Swedish signs have a yellow/orange colour. This is for the purpose of enhancing the visibility of the sign during the winter, as white signs would be hard to see in the snow. The prohibition signs have a red line across them if there is a symbol on them, not if it is a numeric value. General European prohibition signs do usually not have such a red line. Swedish warning and prohibition signs also have a thicker border than their European counterparts. Traffic signs in Slovenia and Finland are quite similar.
Around 1930 some warning signs and prohibitory signs looking like today's signs with yellow background were introduced. The direction indication signs were however yellow with black text. Around 1965, there was a reform where the colour of those were changed to dark blue with white text. Around 1980, Sweden followed the Vienna convention rule that motorways should have a different colour, so green was introduced for them, and medium blue for ordinary roads.
The reason there is a sign indicating private road, is because they are not strictly private. A private road is a road that is not maintained by the state or municipality, but by a private person or association. An owner of a private road in Sweden can prohibit cars (but not people) from using the road. But if the state pays support for the maintenance, cars can't be prohibited. This is mostly the case if several families live along the road. Then they must form an association for it. The Swedish word for this kind of road is "enskild", that can be both translated to "private" and "individual". The background of the sign is yellow, indicating that the quality is often less good, and warning signs might be missing. Signs indicating roads owned by companies or leading to companies usually have white background instead.
Warning signs are triangular and have red borders, but in contrast with those of most other countries that use triangular warning signs, Swedish signs have yellow backgrounds, rather than white. More types of warning signs for animals are used than in most European countries, such as moose, deer, wild boar, reindeer, sheep, horse, and cow appearing alongside roads.
Dangerous curve to left
Dangerous curve to right
Dangerous curves ahead, first to left
Dangerous curves ahead, first to right
Steep hill downwards (10%)
Steep hill upwards (10%)
Road narrows from both sides
Quayside or ferry berth
Uneven road ahead
Falling rocks from corresponding side
Cyclists and moped riders on carriageway
Crosswind from corresponding side
Two-way traffic (One-way traffic is ending).
Junction with a road, the drivers of which must give way
Prohibitory signs are round with yellow backgrounds and red borders, except the international standard stop sign that is an octagon with red background and white border and the no parking and no standing signs that have a blue background instead of yellow.
No power-driven vehicles
No power-driven vehicles with more than 2 wheels
No motorcycles or mopeds Class I
No tractors, construction vehicles etc.
No vehicles carrying dangerous goods
No cycles or mopeds
No animal-drawn vehicles
No off-road vehicles
No vehicles having an overall width exceeding 2.2 meters
No vehicles having an overall height exceeding 3.5 meters
No vehicles or combination of vehicles exceeding 20 meters
Minimum distance between power driven vehicles
No vehicles exceeding 12 tonnes laden weight
No vehicles or combination of vehicles exceeding 30 tonnes laden weight or bearing capacity class
No vehicles having a weight exceeding 6 tonnes on one axle
No vehicles having a weight exceeding 10 tonnes on a tandem axle
No overtaking by lorries
End of overtaking restriction
End of overtaking by lorries restriction
Stop at the sign if the signal shows red
Stop for police control. There are variants STOPP VAKT (stop for guard) STOPP FÄRJA (stop here when waiting for ferry)