Although not easy, contrary to popular belief, metal detecting in Sweden is not illegal, provided that certain rules are being followed. Since the 1st of January 2014, a special licence is required to use metal detectors in Sweden and to bring them into areas where ancient monuments can be found. It is also not possible to obtain permission to use a metal detector in order to look for ancient artefacts. Permits are not given in or near an ancient monument or a place where unknown ancient monuments or artefacts are likely to be found. In general, the licence period should not exceed one year. As a matter of fact, these types of metal detecting permits tend to last for just 3 months.
However, according to Swedish officials, some problems have arisen as a result of the permit/licence system. The number of applications for the use of metal detectors has increased severely. In 2012 the County Administrative Boards received 409 cases, compared to 2153 in 2015. Approximately 90% of the applications came from hobbyists, many of whom are searching in several counties simultaneously, as a result of which the applications usually cover a large number of areas. Because of the huge amount of these applications, the County Administrative Boards are often unable make decisions within a reasonable amount time.
The Swedish National Heritage Board (Riksantikvarieämbetet) has now proposed that a fee for applications for the use and carrying of metal detectors should be introduced from the 1st of July 2017. This new change is intended to combat the high number of applications in order to make the whole process more efficient.
The size of the fee will be based on class 2 of the 10§ Fees Ordinance (1992:191), which corresponds to 700 SEK (approximately €73), same as the fee for a licence to own a firearm. Furthermore, each geographical area which is included in the application will be considered to be a chargeable case, as a result of which it will not be possible to apply for a wide range of areas within a single application. Individuals who need to use metal detectors as part of their business may be granted a so-called general permit for a larger area and for more than one year.
On the surface it looks just like an ordinary change in the administrative procedure. However, this does not tell the whole story. At the moment, many (if not most) applications for the permission to use metal detectors are denied, which means that countless numbers of individuals will pay for something that they will not actually get if this new law gets passed. As already mentioned, these permits usually last for just 3 months, which means that metal detectorists will have to renew them quite often and pay the application fee each time. In addition, these individuals are sometimes forced to wait up to 12 months just to get an answer (which tends to be negative more often than not) about their applications.
Even though the introduction of an application fee for the use and carrying of metal detectors may seem reasonable at first, there are many problems which could arise as a result of it. It’s possible to foresee that some people will be unable to pay the application fee (especially if permits have to be renewed every 3 months or so), while others will be put off by long waiting times in some counties. Unfortunately, this means that there is likely to be an increase in nighthawking and other illegal activities if the new law gets passed. The County Administrative Boards are going to reduce the number applications for the use of metal detectors, but they will also have to deal with a whole new array of problems.
Source: Kulturdepartementet Ku2016/01648/KL
(Article prepared by Filip Jarosz with the help of Robbin Ask of http://www.sverigesmetallsokarforening.se/ )