Total Defence Service
There are three types of total defence service:
- Military service (conscription).
- Civilian service in, e.g., the emergency services or the armed forces.
- General compulsory national service, which only applies in the event of a heightened state of alert.
As a conscript, you defend Sweden militarily. To serve as a conscript, you must have completed basic military training and be posted. After basic training, you will receive a posting and must follow the instructions in your wartime posting order should the government heighten the state of alert and mobilise. You may also be called for refresher training to maintain and refresh your skills.
The wartime posting of a conscript continues ten years after your last tour of duty, but no longer than the year in which you turn 47.
The year you turn 18, you must complete an enlistment form. The Swedish Defence Conscription and Assessment Agency is responsible for providing you with login details for the questionnaire and deciding whether you will be called for enlistment. If you are called up - and enlisted - you can do basic training with military service. If you are not enlisted, but still wish to complete basic training with military service, you can make your own application to the Defence Conscription and Assessment Agency. You can do this after you have turned 18 and learned whether you will be enlisted.
If you are enlisted but know you are unable to use lethal force, then you can apply for conscientious objector status at the Defence Conscription and Assessment Agency. If you apply for conscientious objector status, you may still be called up for basic training with civilian service or be required to serve your community in other ways.
If you are enrolled in the training reserve and have not been called for basic training before you turn 24, you must only complete basic training if there are special reasons for doing so. The government may extend your enrolment in the training reserve if it is necessary in view of Sweden's state of alert, at most until the calendar year in which you turn 30.
Civilian service is about ensuring that important parts of society function. Like military service, it includes basic training, refresher training, standby duty and wartime service. At present, no basic training is carried out with civilian service, but the government may reintroduce it if the need arises. If civilian service is activated, the Government will decide which responsibilities the civilian service shall carry out. This could mean, for example, serving as a nurse, in preschools or as a firefighter.
If civilian service is activated, those who have completed basic training with civilian service must be posted in a war zone. You may also be enrolled directly in the civilian service based on any expertise or competence you may possess.
General compulsory national service
Those not enrolled in military or civilian service are obligated to perform general compulsory national service. This service is carried out by remaining at work or by carrying out other assignments, serving under voluntary contracts or performing work assigned by, e.g., Arbetsförmedlingen. These individuals assist with necessary societal tasks, e.g., water transport, childcare or food preparation. These tasks should preferably be related to your work under normal circumstances. General compulsory national service only applies in the event of a state of heightened alert.
What does it mean to receive a wartime posting?
In the event of a heightened state of alert, organisations must continue their activities to the greatest extent possible. As an employee, you may receive a wartime posting, which means that you are obligated to serve during a state of heightened alert. The obligation to serve starts when the government heightens the state of alert and activates the general compulsory national service obligation.
Can you be punished for not fulfilling your total defence service?
Yes. If you are subject to total defence service, you are obligated to serve in total defence as a military conscript, or in the civilian service or general compulsory national service. Those refusing to serve in total defence may be fined or imprisoned for up to one year. In the event of a heightened state of emergency, you may be imprisoned for up to four years if you refuse to serve in total defence.
What happens to children whose parents must serve in total defence?
Each municipality has a responsibility to manage its activities even during heightened state of alert, including providing childcare. If the government heightens the state of alert, and you must serve in some form of total defence, your municipality should provide childcare.
Must I serve in total defence if I am ill and cannot work?
According to the Total Defence Service Act (Lagen om totalförsvarsplikt) (1994:1809), you are obligated to serve to the extent permitted by your physical abilities and state of health.
Do I have to carry a weapon?
Only those who have completed basic military training or other military training are considered for military service.