Sweden's path to NATO membership


Here you will find information about what Sweden’s path to NATO membership involves. You can also read about why Sweden has applied for NATO membership and what NATO membership will mean for Sweden. There are also links here to relevant documents, including Sweden’s application for NATO membership, the letter of intent and the agreement between Sweden, Finland and Türkiye.

The process toward membership: key events ahead

  • Once all NATO countries have approved Sweden’s application, NATO’s Secretary General will invite Sweden to join the North Atlantic Treaty, which is NATO’s founding document. As a NATO member, Sweden will become part of NATO’s collective defence and will be covered by mutual defence guarantees under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty. Under Article 5, an armed attack against one or more of the Allies in Europe or North America will be considered an attack against them all.

  • Once the Government has decided that Sweden will accede to the North Atlantic Treaty, Sweden’s instrument of accession can be deposited with the Government of the United States of America, which is the depository of the Treaty.

  • When the instrument of accession is deposited, Sweden becomes a member of NATO. The Swedish flag is flown together with the flags of the other Allies at NATO Headquarters in Brussels and Sweden participates fully as a member country of the organisation.

The process toward membership: what’s happened so far

  • 24 February – Russia launches its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
  • 25 February – Sweden, Finland and NATO enter into enhanced cooperation, with intensified exchanges of information and coordination of activities and strategic communications linked to the crisis situation, called Modalities for Strengthened Interaction (MSI). Sweden also provides more liaison staff for its relations with NATO’s military headquarters and staffs.
  • 16 March – The Government initiates security policy discussions with the parties of the Riksdag on the changed security situation following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
  • 13 May – A report on the results of the security policy discussions and its conclusions is presented: Report: Deterioration of the security environment – implications for Sweden (In Swedish)
  • 16 May – The Government decides that Sweden will apply for NATO membership. The decision is based on the security analysis presented in the report.
  • 17–18 May – Sweden’s application for NATO membership is signed by then Minister for Foreign Affairs Ann Linde and presented to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg by Swedish Ambassador to NATO Axl Wernhoff. Finland submits its application for NATO membership at the same time. Finland and Sweden submit applications to join NATO (article on NATO website)
  • 28 June – Trilateral agreement between Türkiye, Finland and Sweden. Trilateral memorandum between Türkiye, Finland and Sweden (pdf)
  • 29–30 June – At the NATO Madrid Summit, NATO Allies decide to offer Sweden and Finland membership.
  • 4 July – Sweden takes part in accession talks at NATO Headquarters to discuss the formal obligations that are required for a country’s accession to NATO. Finland and Sweden complete NATO accession talks (article on NATO website)
  • 5 July – All NATO member countries sign the NATO Accession Protocols for Finland and Sweden. Sweden and Finland thus have Invitee status. NATO Allies sign Accession Protocols for Finland and Sweden (article on NATO website)
  • 5 July–27 September – 28 of NATO’s 30 member countries ratify the Accession Protocols for Finland and Sweden in their national parliaments. Only Türkiye and Hungary remain.
  • 5 October – The memorandum on Sweden’s NATO membership is circulated for comment, and relevant stakeholders and the general public in Sweden have the chance to express their views.
  • 26 October – The Government appoints an inquiry to review certain legal issues ahead of becoming a member of NATO. The inquiry will present its final report in December 2023. 

Questions and answers

It is the Government’s assessment that joining NATO is the best way for Sweden to protect its security. The decision was taken in the light of the fundamentally changed security situation following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The decision was preceded by a report (Ds 2022:7) by the cross-party working group appointed by the Government to review the changed security situation following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Until all NATO countries have ratified Sweden’s application for NATO membership, it has the status of invitee country. Sweden is now gradually being integrated into NATO’s structures.

As an invitee country, Sweden participates in all aspects of NATO activities except for matters concerning nuclear weapons within the framework of the Nuclear Planning Group. As a NATO Invitee, Sweden does not have the right to vote.

As a NATO member, Sweden will be expected to provide staff to NATO’s political and military structures. Moreover, Sweden will be expected to contribute approximately SEK 600–700 million per year to NATO’s common budget.

It is also the stated target that the organisation’s members commit a minimum of 2 per cent of GDP to defence spending, in accordance with NATO’s Defence Investment Pledge that was adopted at NATO’s Wales Summit in 2014. Sweden continues to invest in defence and will reach NATO’s current level of 2 per cent of GDP by 2026.

NATO members also aim to allocate at least 20 per cent of defence spending for defence material and research and development.

5 July 2022: Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Norway

6 July 2022: Estonia, United Kingdom

7 July 2022: Albania

8 July 2022: Germany

12 July 2022: Netherlands, Luxembourg

13 July 2022: Bulgaria

14 July 2022: Latvia, Slovenia

15 July 2022: Croatia

20 July 2022: Lithuania, Poland

21 July 2022: Belgium, Romania

27 July 2022: North Macedonia

28 July 2022: Montenegro

2 August 2022: France

3 August 2022: Italy, United States

27 August 2022: Czech Republic

15 September 2022: Greece

16 September 2022: Portugal

21 September 2022: Spain

27 September 2022: Slovakia

4 April 2023: Finland

The timeline above indicates the date of ratification by NATO Allies. To take effect, ratification instruments must be deposited with the United States Government.

Read more about the ratification process: Finland & Sweden Accession | NATO PA (nato-pa.int)

Trilateral memorandum between Türkiye, Finland and Sweden

Deterioration of the security environment – implications for Sweden

On 16 March, the Government set up a working group to deliberate on the changed security environment following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The decision to apply for NATO membership was based in part on the working group’s report (Ds 2022:7).

The Swedish Protective Security Act

The Swedish Protective Security Act and Protective Security Ordinance lay the foundation for how Swedish agencies and businesses uphold security.

About NATO

NATO is an intergovernmental political and military alliance comprising 31 member states in Europe and North America with collective defence obligations and defence planning.