Value Added Tax
➤ VAT is 25 percent, and is charged on goods imported into or purchased in Sweden, as well as on most services. It is often applied to exhibitor registration and show-service expenses.
➤ Exhibitors can recover most VAT charges by submitting the appropriate forms to the Swedish Tax Authority (www.skatteverket.se
➤ An ATA Carnet may be used to avoid VAT on items that will not remain in Sweden after the show.
➤ Stockholm operates on 230 volts, and typical electrical sockets require two-prong Euro-plugs.
➤ Trash generated during I&D must be properly sorted and deposited into recycling containers.
➤ Booth cleaning is ordered from the show organizer.
➤ Garbage handling is ordered from the venue.
➤ Purchase a prepaid phone or an international calling card at the airport or from local kiosks.
➤ You can also arrange for international calling with your cellphone provider or purchase a SIM card for unlocked cell phones.
➤ To allow adequate handling time, a shipment sent by ocean freight should arrive at least 10 days before it is required at an exhibition, and airfreight shipments should arrive five days in advance.
➤ Using a freight forwarder is highly recommended.
➤ Sending your shipments to Stockholm via airfreight can take from three to five days; ocean freight takes roughly one month.
➤ Royalties must be paid to Svenska Tonsättares Internationella Musikbyrå (STIIM) for all in-booth music performed by Swedish artists.
➤ Venues require exhibitors to have any appropriate copyrights in place for any music played regardless of the country of origin.
➤ Dial 112 for all emergencies in Stockholm.
Greetings and Culture
➤ While friendly and informal, most business conversations in Stockholm tend not to be familiar. As such, sharing information of a more personal nature should be avoided.
➤ In business meetings, Swedish colleagues generally won't engage in small talk and prefer to get to the point.
➤ A handshake with a friendly "hello" (or "Hej" which means "Hi" in Swedish) is appropriate for men and women. Maintain eye contact and shake hands with each person in a group when being introduced and when ending conversations.
➤ It is acceptable to greet Swedish business associates by their first names.
➤ Personal space is important. Leave two arm lengths between you and those you are speaking with, and avoid physical contact beyond a handshake.
➤ In-booth hospitality is common in larger exhibits, which typically have some sort of bar or hospitality lounge. Very large companies may serve full meals.
➤ Small booths often serve coffee, soft drinks, candies, or local sweet breads.
➤ Alcohol is common on the show floor, and exhibitors at some shows will host happy hours in their exhibits. Refer to the trade show manual for regulations.
➤ Breakfast meetings are uncommon in Sweden. When hosting informal receptions or lunch/dinner meetings, do not discuss business unless your Swedish guest brings it up. The weather and nature are popular, neutral topics of conversation in social settings.
➤ English is widely spoken in the business community in Sweden, but you may want to have a translator fluent in languages from Baltic countries or Russia depending on the anticipated show attendance.
➤ Signs and literature should be printed in English and Swedish, but it is acceptable to have business cards printed in English only.
➤ Business suits in conservative colors such as black and gray are common for both men and women.
➤ Body piercings (other than traditional earrings) and tattoos should be concealed unless you're at an industry show where such adornments are common.
Installation and Dismantle
➤ Sweden does not have labor unions, and workers can be secured through an exhibit builder or through the show organizer.
➤ If you will require exhibit moving services from the loading dock to your booth, order those services from the venue in advance to avoid potential surcharges.
➤ You will need to provide booth plans to the show organizer prior to exhibiting. A technical-services department must approve all construction over 8 feet tall.
➤ Fabric may be used in exhibits, though it must carry a B3 fireproof rating.
➤ Exhibitors may set up their own booths.
General Facts and Tips
➤ Stockholm benefits from a widely accessible and efficient public transportation system, with light-rail service and a bus system that are both easy to navigate.
➤ To arrange client meetings while at a show in Stockholm, schedule those appointments at least two weeks prior to your arrival.
➤ Punctuality is extremely important in the Swedish culture, so it is imperative to strictly adhere to scheduled appointment times.
➤ Many Swedish businesses are nonhierarchical, and there are few management layers within companies. In other words, purchasing decisions can often be made without multiple levels of approval.
➤ Etiquette requires that dinner guests offer to pay the bill. So to avoid any awkwardness, it is best to prearrange payment with the venue or restaurant when hosting Swedish dinner guests.
➤ Gift giving is uncommon in the Swedish business culture, unless given as a thank you for an invitation to a social event or dinner party. If giving a gift, fine liquor or wine are appropriate, as are items that reflect your country of origin.
Venue and Resources
➤ Stockholmsmässan has 1.2 million square feet of event and exhibition space.
➤ Kistamässan is a 100,000-square-foot event venue with two exhibit halls and 10 meeting rooms. It's 19 miles from Arlanda International Airport.
➤ The Swedish Expo Association (SEF) comprises various exhibition companies and marketing firms (www.swedexpo.se
Ed Jacquest, transportation manager, MG Design Associates, Chicago; Maria Karlsson, customer support, Stockholmsmässan, Stockholm; Kelli Steckbauer, director of global business, MG Design Associates, Chicago; Hans-Peter Thorsen, director, L-Konsult Exhibition AB, Malmö, Sweden; Johan Zethelius, manager, Expoint Logistics AB, Stockholm