The business traveler to Sweden will quickly realize that most customs and entry procedures are similar to those of the United States. After arriving in the world class Arlanda airport, one can catch a cab to center Stockholm, being sure to ask for the fixed fee before departing, all very standard. There are in addition to cabs, a speed train which will take you to the city center in 20 minutes, as well as an inexpensive, but much slower, airport bus service.
Swedes tend to be less formal than Americans are in all but two areas, “toasting guests” and more formal dinner parties. The procedure is well defined and best explained by your Swedish host. If one remembers to make strong eye contact before and after a “toast” and not to drink until the host “toasts” you, the rest will fall into place. The guest of honor usually is seated to the left of the hostess and is responsible for offering the “thanks” or behalf of all the guests in a toast to the host and hostess.
There is an anecdote that concludes the Swedish worker is the most efficient in the world, unfortunately he only works 9 months a year. Swedish workers do get 5 weeks of vacation each year. Business slows down in Sweden during the month of July. July begins the day before mid-summer’s night June 20 and ends in mid August. The Christmas celebration actually begins when the country slows down for the Nobel prize ceremonies December 10, and the St Lucia festival December 13. Business is usually back to normal after Orthodox Christmas and New Year’s celebrations in January. The month of May has three official holidays, making it the month of long weekends. Consequently the business traveler should focus on specific periods, e.g., September 15 to December 10, January 15 to April 30, and early June. Business is conducted during the vacation periods, but the senior management is often not available.