Everything you need to know about contracting in Switzerland

Glossary

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A

Accident and Accident insurance

In case you are contractually working more than 8 hours a week, your employer is obliged to provide an accident insurance, which covers you against professional and non-professional accidents as well as work-related illnesses.

Accommodation

Finding a flat in Swiss cities can be quite challenging and it pays off to be prepared.

This video gives you an overview what to keep in mind. Of course, it is a bit exaggerated!

Tenants usually must provide a certain amount of money in advance – a so-called deposit (or security deposit). The deposit can amount to a maximum of three-months’ rent and is paid into a special bank account held in the tenant’s name (Mietkautionskonto / Compte de garantie de loyer / conto deposito di garanzia). For the landlord the deposit serves as a security. When the tenant moves out, the deposit is repaid to him with interest. In a housing cooperative the tenant usually is not asked to pay a deposit. Instead, he must pay a certain contribution (which can amount to much more than three months’ rents) to become a member.

Generally, anyone interested in renting a flat must fill in an application form. The applicant must declare data/information such as age, marital status, profession, employer, salary, children, residency status, pets etc. Sometimes also a CV, “Betreibungsauszug” (document that states you don’t owe anyone money), recommendation letter from your former landlord, personal letter, work contract, work permit) are required. The more papers you provide, the better!

It is highly recommended to have your application folder ready when you go to an apartment viewing.

Landlord and tenant usually conclude a written rental contract.

In general, the rental contract includes the general conditions (Allgemeine Bedingungen / Conditions générales / condizioni generali di contratto) and the house rules (Hausordnung / Règlement d’immeuble / regolamento della casa). These conditions are part of the contract as well.

The tenant has the right to move into a clean and appropriate flat. A flat handover takes places before the new tenant moves in. Thereby landlord and tenant check the actual state of the apartment and keep record of possible defects or damage.

Keep in mind: If the tenant takes on objects or for instance agrees to a floor covering the previous tenant put down without asking the landlord for permission, he will have to dispose of them at his own expense when moving out. Therefore, don’t be afraid to be petty.

The tenant is obliged to pay the rent in advance for the following month. He usually also pays additional costs, for example for heating, hot water or cable television. The landlord can charge these additional costs in different ways. If the costs are paid in advance (akonto / par acompte / acconto), the landlord must provide a detailed statement once a year. According to the statement the tenant either must pay an additional amount to cover the costs or is repaid if the paid amount is larger than the actual costs.

A tenant moving out must leave behind a (very) clean apartment. If the tenant has questions about possible replacements before moving out, he should get in touch with the caretaker or landlord beforehand.

You don’t have time to clean the apartment when moving out? No problem! You can hire a service for that. Here you can choose between a moving service, a handover cleaning service or both:

https://www.movu.ch/en/

It is highly recommended that the tenant takes out house insurance and personal liability insurance policies. In some rental contracts this is obligatory. These insurances bear the cost for certain damages. For example, if an overflowing bathtub damages the floor or the washbasin is cracked.

If you are still looking for accommodation or a permanent home in Switzerland, you can search on the following pages for suitable offers:

Homegate
Alleimmobilien
Immoscout24
Immostreet
WGzimmer.ch
UMS
Comparis.ch
Visionapartments
Glandon-apartments
Citystay.ch
Service-apartments
Guggach
Stockberg hotel
The flag

AHV

AHV stands for “Eidgenössische Alters-, Hinterlassenenversicherung” or Old-Age Survivors Insurance and covers the old-age pensions and the survivors’ pension. The total contribution per employee is 8.7 %. Together with the “Invalidenversicherung”, short “IV” (disability insurance) and the EO (Income compensation allowance in case of service and in case of maternity) it forms the basic insurance (1st pillar) and it is compulsory for all persons who live or work in Switzerland. For more detailed information, please visit the Information Center of social insurances.

AHV- card

The AHV- card is an official document with your social security number on it. The number contains 13 numbers and starts always with “756.”. RM Group will do the registration for all employees who are new here in Switzerland. Once assigned the AHV-Number (a number with 13 digits) you will receive your AHV card. If you have lost your card, kindly inform RM Group in order to organize a duplicate.

For more information on the Swiss social security system, please check the following link: https://www.ch.ch/en/ahv/ >Health and social security

Airport

The largest airport in Switzerland is the Zurich Airport (Code: ZRH). There are several smaller airports that also have international connections. For more information, please check the following links:

Airports close to the Swiss border are

Tenancy law

Tenancy law is very comprehensive. It dictates not only what a rental contract must contain, how you must proceed when giving notice of termination and what you must attend during an apartment handover. It also dictates other duties and rights of tenants and landlords. Those who want to avoid trouble (and expense) should get all pertinent information in plenty of time and/or at least thoroughly read what they’re going to sign (even the small print).

On the following link you will get an overview over the most important topics regarding renting an apartment in Switzerland such as monthly rent, notice periods, take over or minor repairs: Key aspects of tenancy law.

Alps

The Swiss Alps cover two thirds of the Swiss territory and have a huge influence on the climate, the mentality, the culture, the agriculture and also on the free time activities. From tracking, climbing, over skiing, snowboarding, sledging, snowshoeing, tobogganing to paragliding, canyoning – the mountain activities are endless. The Swiss Alps Club SAC gives a good overview about what and how and when and where.

B

Bank and Bank account

Switzerland has over 200 different banks. The largest banks are UBS and Credit Suisse. Nearly every canton has its own cantonal bank (ZKB- “Zürcher Kantonalbank” for instance in the canton of Zurich). We recommend opening a Swiss bank account as soon as you’ve registered in the town hall. This way we can avoid unnecessary delays in your salary payment or additional fees such as international transfer fees. You will be able to open a Swiss bank account as soon as you have registered yourself. Here is an overview of Swiss banks for you.

Bank holiday

When it comes to bank holidays, Switzerland is complex. Every canton, sometimes even every community has different days listed that are treated as bank holidays. The most important ones (and free in most of Switzerland) are as follows:

  • The Swiss national day will be celebrated on 1st August
  • Christmas Day and Boxing Day (25. and 26. December)
  • 1st January
  • Easter

There are many local bank holidays such as “Sechseläuten” and “Knabenschiessen”.

Find the official bank holidays and days treated as such in your canton.

Berne – our capital city

Berne is the capital of Switzerland. The Federal Palace, called “Bundeshaus” is situated in the middle of the town. It’s worth a visit while they are having a “session”. For further information and more attractions, please visit the following links:

Swiss Capital Berne

Attractions in Berne

Birth certificate

In order to apply for child benefits, your employer needs the birth certificates of your children. The child allowance centre in Switzerland accepts foreign birth certificates in German, English, French and Italian. If you hold a birth certificate in a different language, please have it translated and certified by an official solicitor.

Books in Switzerland

Orell Füssli is the leading bookseller in Switzerland. Various very modern libraries offer a cheaper and more sustainable way to read. In the bigger cities books are also available in various foreign languages.

B-permit

The B-permit is a residence permit for foreigners from EU/EFTA countries who want to stay for a longer period in Switzerland (min. 1 year). It is usually valid for 5 years and can be extended.

C

Cantons

The 26 cantons of Switzerland are the federal states of the Swiss confederation. The cantons differ widely: From the size and population density over the spoken language to a variety of rules, regulations and taxes, the Swiss cantons make a real effort to keep their uniqueness and keep administration complex.

Car

You can drive your car with a foreign license plate in the first year. However, you must declare it at the customs when moving to Switzerland. In case you bought your car more than 6 months ago, it will be considered as personal property, so there is no custom fee.  In order to declare your car, you have to take the following documents with you:

  • Your ID
  • Certificate of car registration
  • Declaration form (Form 18.44)
  • Proof of moving (for example your tenancy contract). You need to bring your permit only, if you are a non-EU / non-EFTA- citizan or have a Bulgarian, Romanian or Croatian passport.

Good to know: The QuickZoll App enables you to declare your private belongings and to pay custom fees, if needed.

Before the end of the first year, you need to

  • Choose a Swiss car insurance
  • Get an inspection for your car, called «Motorfahrzeugkontrolle (MFK) »

Good to know: The Swiss number plate is not assigned to the vehicle, but to the person. If you buy a new car, you do not have to apply for a new plate.

Car Accident 

What should I do?
  1. Assess the situation
    • Stop
    • Keep calm; switch on your hazard warning lights and your headlights.
    • Assess how many other vehicles are involved in the accident, what type of vehicles they are, and where they are located.
    • Check whether anyone has been injured.
    • Is there any risk of fire or an explosion? Are any of the vehicles involved carrying dangerous goods?
  2. Secure the accident site
    • Set up your warning triangle at least 50 m from the site of the accident, or if the traffic is moving quickly, at least 100 m away.
  3. Give first aid
    • Move injured people out of the danger zone immediately, if they are at risk of being struck by oncoming traffic or if there is a risk of fire.
    • Provide first aid, using the first aid kit in your car if need be.
  4. Contact the emergency services
    • Call the police (117), the ambulance service (144) or if there is a fire, the fire brigade (118).
    • Do not move anything at the scene of the accident before the police arrive unless this is essential in order to protect injured people or for the safety of other road users.
    • If possible, take photographs of the original scene before moving vehicles or persons.
  5. Attend the injured
    • Take care of any injured people, monitor them closely and talk to them.
Damage to your vehicle

Has your vehicle been damaged? Don’t forget to do the following:

  1. Document the accident.
    • Don’t move the vehicles – if possible, photograph the damaged vehicles from all angles.
  2. Complete the European accident report (available at your insurance)
    • Don’t forget to sign the reverse side.
    • Formulate your answers in an understandable way. Never accept that you alone are responsible.
    • Take down the names and addresses of witnesses.
  3. Call the police
    • must always notify the police if anyone has sustained injuries that will require medical treatment.
    • If any of the people involved is causing difficulties, you can insist on calling the police.
    • In you have any doubts, call the police.
  4. Insurance
    • Report the damage to your insurance company immediately and only arrange for repairs to be made after your vehicle has been inspected. Always ask for a written estimate of the costs before having any repairs carried out.

Source : https://www.ch.ch/en/road-accident-what-should-i-do/

Car Break-Down

Most car insurances offer a roadside assistance service. We recommend you check that with your insurance. There is also the possibility to become a member by one of the two main breakdown services in Switzerland:

Car Rental

If you wish to rent a car in Switzerland, please visit the following web sites:

Car Sharing

The biggest car-sharing enterprise in Switzerland is called mobility. They offer a variety of subscriptions from annual contracts to “click and drive” for only one-time rentals.

Ubeeqo is a newer car-sharing partner on the market, worth to give it a try. To make it super-sustainable, edrive with its e-cars might be interesting.

Certificate of freedom from enforcement action (Betreibungsregisterauszug)

When you are in the process of applying to rent or buy an apartment, often it’s requested to provide a “Betreibungsregisterauszug”. This document shows if you owe anyone any money within Switzerland. You need to get this form from the town hall in your community or city. Usually, it’s the same place where you’ve applied for your permit. Only in the city of Zurich the “Betreibungsamt” is in a different building than where you’ve registered.

Child allowance

Everyone who works in Switzerland and has children is entitled to claim child allowance. Only one parent can get the child allowance, not both. : The amount differs from canton to canton and is defined by where the employer is located. As RM Group is based in Zurich the allowances are:

  • For children until 16 years old: CHF 200.- per child and month
  • For children between 16 and 25 years old: CHF 250.- per child and month (If child is studying)

These figures are only valid if the children live in Switzerland, or the parents don’t receive any child allowance in the country where the children live.
In order to apply for this, benefit the following documents are required:

  • Marriage certificate (if applicable)
  • Divorce certificate (if applicable)
  • Birth certificate
  • Confirmation of the amount of child benefits which the parents receive in the country where the children live
  • For children who already study, a confirmation from the school/university about the scheduled end
  • Form E411 if the parents do not receive any child allowance from any other European country

The child allowance will be paid retroactively since the day you’ve started working in Switzerland. It always will be paid out together with your salary. As soon as you leave the company you won’t receive any child allowance anymore unless you apply again for the child allowance through your new employer.

Church

Most of the churches in Switzerland are either catholic or protestant. The biggest church is the gothic cathedral in Lausanne. There is also a range of orthodox churches, such as Greek-orthodox, Russian-orthodox or Romanian-orthodox. On top of that, there are more than 600 communities with free churches.

Church Tax

Persons of Roman Catholic, Protestant or Christ Catholic denomination are subject to church tax.

A joining or withdrawal application can be sent to the competent ecclesiastical authority for the place of residence. This authority will provide a letter of confirmation, which must then be sent to the municipal authority at the place of residence so that they can adjust the withholding tax tariff.

Cinema

Every bigger town has a cinema, and the most films will be shown in the original language with French and German subtitles. The page cinema.ch one can search across Switzerland for cinemas, movies and playtimes.

Citizenship

Swiss citizenship is acquired through descent, adoption or naturalisation. Foreign nationals can only be legally naturalised after a lengthy procedure. Foreigners of good repute who are assimilated in Switzerland and familiar with Swiss ways must generally have lived in Switzerland for twelve years before they can apply for naturalisation. Time spent in Switzerland between the age of 10 and 20 counts double. Dual nationality is possible. For information on this subject, please consult the authorities in your commune of residence or the cantonal naturalisation office.

Foreign spouses of Swiss nationals and children of a Swiss parent who have not yet acquired Swiss nationality can benefit from simplified naturalisation. This possibility lies exclusively within the competence of the Federal Government.

Climate

The climate of Switzerland is influenced by the Atlantic Ocean. The westerly winds transport the sea air to Switzerland and are responsible for the precipitation levels in the country. In addition, the cold and dry northern wind can make temperatures drop very quickly, but also contributes to the often clear skies.

The Alps act as a climate barrier: Southern Switzerland, which is mainly influenced by the Mediterranean Sea, is characterized by a much milder climate than Northern Switzerland. The mountainous character of Switzerland is also responsible for spectacular differences in the weather among different regions. It is common to move from a cold and cloudy landscape to a beautiful clear blue sky in just a few minutes.

For a greater overview on the climate of Switzerland and a weather forecast, the Federal office of Meteorology is very helpful.

Commune

This is the general expression for the village or town you are living in. Commune is also a term which describes the town hall. You need to register within the first week of arrival in order to apply for your permit. Also, you would need to see the commune in order to request an extract from the debt collection register (see “Betreibungsregisterauszug”). Every commune in Switzerland has their own homepage with useful links and information.

Comparis.ch

comparis.ch is very helpful and worth to save in your favourites. It is an independent company which compares various offers in various topics, i.e., insurances, finance, telecommunication etc.

Corona

The State Secretariat for Migration SEM gives the most up-to date information regarding Corona, travel restrictions and quarantine. For more insights about Corona-figures, vaccinations, tests, Covid-App the Federal Office of Public Health FOPH is helpful.

Cost of living

The costs of living in Switzerland are among the highest in the world. The only way to get an idea of local prices (foodstuffs, upkeep, accommodation, public transport, etc.) is to go out have a look by yourself. Advertisements in the press also provide a view of the situation. “How far does a franc go?” might help to get an idea of the purchasing power in Switzerland

C-Permit (Residence Permit)

A Swiss permanent residence permit (settlement permit C) allows you to live in Switzerland under the same conditions and enjoy most of the same benefits as Swiss nationals. These include:

  • open access to employment, conditions of employment and working conditions.
  • being able to set up your own company.
  • the right to education, recognition of qualifications, grants.
  • being able to buy real estate without restriction.
  • being able to live anywhere in Switzerland.
  • access to welfare benefits and social assistance.

Please keep in mind that C permit holders do not pay source/withholding tax but must complete a tax declaration every year.

The duration of your stay in Switzerland until you can apply for the residence permit is depending on your country of origin. For more information, please contact the cantonal migration authority responsible for your place of residence.

Criminal record

Some companies in Switzerland request a Swiss criminal record check for your job application. The Swiss criminal record can be ordered online.

Currency

Switzerland doesn’t belong to the European Union and has its own currency: Swiss Francs (CHF). Bank notes are available in 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 1000 Swiss Francs.
Coins are available in 5,10,20 and 50 cetimes (in German called Rappen) as well as 1, 2 and 5 Swiss Francs.
100 Rappen equals 1 Swiss Franc

Customs

When moving to Switzerland, you can import most of your belongings duty-free. The imported belongings must be used (at least 6-month-old) and you need to cross the border during the opening hours of the customs office. A list of your belongings, a proof of your new residence (e.g., rental contract, permit, work contract, de-registration proof etc.) and a custom form are requested. Vehicles and animals are dutiable goods. For private car imports the local Road Traffic Department (Strassenverkehrsamt) will help to organise all the needed documents. To import pets or a horse further documents are required.

With the QuickZoll App you can declare goods before you cross the border

D

Data Security

The Swiss data protection law (DSG) and the related Ordinance protect personal data in Switzerland since 1993. Since the law from 1993 doesn’t serve the data security requirements of today’s modern world anymore, the Swiss government is working on a new version that is closer to other European data protection regulations. The law is expected to come into place in the 2nd half of 2022.

Deductions

If a certain gross salary was agreed on the signing of your employment contract, this represents the gross amount from which the social contributions are still to be deducted. These are:

  • Old-Age and Survivors’ Insurance (OASI), Disability Insurance (DI) and Income Loss Insurance: 5.275% of salary (without an upper limit)
  • Unemployment Insurance (UI): 1.1% of salary (upper limit: CHF 148’200.-/year) / earnings above the upper limit will be deducted with 0.5%
  • Occupational pension provision: approx. 7.5% of regular salary, depending on the age of the insured person and the pension scheme
  • Non-occupational accident insurance: between 0.7 and 3.4% of salary (upper limit: CHF 148’000.-/year), depending on the branch.

Please note that, except for non-occupational accident insurance, the employer pays an equal part to your own contribution for each item mentioned above.

In contrast, compulsory contributions to health insurance do not form part of the social contributions. In effect, they do not depend on income but vary depending on the insurer, the place of residence and the form of insurance chosen.

Demande de titre de séjour / Demande d’authorisation de séjour

This is the application form which foreigners living in the french part of Switzerland will need to complete. This form is required in order to register and renew your permit. The employer must sign this form.

Dentist

The treatments at the dentist are not included in a basic health insurance, but there are specific dental insurances available and cost between 25-40 francs per month. The health insurances or comparis.ch can help with further information. In every large town there is usually at least one dentist who also speaks English. For dental emergencies zahnarztzentrum.ch is offering their services in the German-speaking part of Switzerland 365 days a year.

For more complex and expensive dental treatments it might pay off to check the offers in Switzerlands neighbour countries.

De- registration

Anyone who leaves their commune or Switzerland must deregister and return the permit at the town hall or commune. The deregistration confirmation is needed at the customs if leaving the country or to register at a new commune.

Disability insurance (DI)

The disability insurance offers help to people who lost their ability to work. In the first place, the disability insurance wants to prevent these cases through different interventions. If prevention did not work, they offer – depending on the case – medical help as well as help in form of trainings and consultancy in order to gain the ability to work back. If that isn’t successful, the disability insurance pays a disability pension and covers the costs for any needed personal support. The DI offices can answer further questions.

Discrimination

Equality is legally consolidated in the Swiss laws. The Swiss constitution mentions discrimination because of origin, gender, social status, way of living and age. “Way of living” refers both to sexual orientation and to living without a permanent residence as the Yeniche, Sinti and Romas might do. Discrimination still happens, most cases at work or in a public area and in more than 50% of the cases because of nationality or language. Racism is on the rise in Switzerland, specifically on the Internet. Victims of racism can find help allover Switzerland and racist entries on the internet can get reported. Gender equality policy is famous in Switzerland, since the Swiss women were one of the last ones in Europe to get the right to vote in 1971. In the canton of Appenzell, it even took until 1990 for the suffrage to get introduced. However, the principle of equal pay (“Lohngleichheitsgebot”) fights against the pay gap since 1995, but the pay gap is still around 10%.

Divorce

In Switzerland, a divorce with mutual agreement takes (fastest) 1-6 months and costs between 3’000 – 6’000 CHF. A lawyer is not mandatory. Foreigners can divorce if min. one spouse lives since min. 1 year in Switzerland. The responsible authority for divorces is the cantonal court in your place of residence.

Doctor

If you need to find a doctor as you are not feeling well or if you wish to make a health, check-up, we recommend searching for the ideal doctor on doctor.ch

On this homepage you can choose either after the specific field or after region.

Driving License

In the first 12 months, you can drive with your German, French, Italian or English driving license in Switzerland. An international driver’s license must also be carried for all other countries.

You need a Swiss driver’s license after 12 months at the latest. Citizens of the EU / EFTA countries can have their driver’s license easily transferred into a Swiss one. All other countries must pass the Swiss driving license test.

You can find further information at the road traffic licensing department (German: Strassenverkehrsamt) of your canton.

E

Economy

Despite its limited area and lack of raw materials, Switzerland has achieved a remarkable level of economic success. Switzerland also boasts several large companies known all over the world. Nevertheless, it remains largely dependent on the importation of raw materials, sources of energy, semi-finished products and foodstuffs.

Agriculture in Switzerland is essentially geared towards the rearing of animals, the production of milk and cereals, viniculture and fruit growing. Switzerland also features on the international market owing to its cheese production. The unfavourable topographical conditions make the farmers’ work very difficult. Moreover, Swiss agriculture is increasingly confronted with international competition.

Switzerland’s industry excels through its production of high-quality goods. There is a predominance of small and medium-sized companies. A significant part of Switzerland’s industrial products is exported. Among the major branches of trade and industry, we find machine-building, the construction of appliances, metalworking, the watch industry as well as the chemical, pharmaceutical and food sectors. The most important branches of machine and instrument-making are the construction of tool-making machinery, textile machines, train engines, lifts and precision instruments. An increasing number of companies work with new technologies (environmental technology, microelectronics, nanotechnology, etc.).

The service sector is highly developed. Swiss banks and insurance companies are widely and firmly established and offer their services all over the world. Finally, we must mention tourism, which also plays an important role in the service sector. The diversity of the landscape, with countless opportunities for sporting activities and a well-developed gastronomic infrastructure, make Switzerland a favourable holiday and travel destination.

Switzerland is so firmly integrated in international business that today approximately every second franc is earned abroad. The main business partners are the EU/EFTA countries, the USA, Japan and China. The significance of new markets in the Pacific zone is also growing.

In 2019 Switzerland exported goods and services for CHF 312 billion; its imports amounted to CHF 276 billion, which resulted in an excellent trade balance CHF of 36 billion.

Educational Fund

The Vocational Training Act (BBG), provided in Art. 60, imposes, that all companies in a branch are obliged to make appropriate solidarity contributions for vocational training.

The Educational Fund is therefore a collective payment by all Swiss companies. The trainings are organized by the branch associations.

Electricity

The main sources of energy in Switzerland are oil, natural gas, nuclear power and hydropower. Since 2005 Switzerland has seen a surge in the use of renewable energies such as ambient heat, biomass, wind power and solar power.

At present, Switzerland is during an energy transition. One of the aims of the country’s ‘Energy Strategy 2050’ is the phase-out of nuclear power.

Switzerland has 638 hydroelectric power plants. They account for 59.9% of total domestic electricity production.

The largest dam in Switzerland is the 285-meter-high Grande-Dixence dam (canton of Valais). It is also the third-highest gravity dam in the world.

Embassy

Most foreign embassies are in Berne – Switzerland’s capital city. There are a few consulates in Geneva as well as in Zurich.

Switzerland is represented in most of the countries abroad with a Swiss embassy.

Emergency Number

112 – International emergency call

117 – Police

118 – Fire station

140 – Break-down service

143 – Crisis line

144 – Emergency rescue service

145 – Toxin information

147 – Children, youth emergency call

163 – Road condition

187 – All-points bulletin

1414 – Rega, air rescue

1415 – Air-Glacier

044 261 88 66 – Parents emergency call

061 284 81 11 – Tropes institute

044 211 22 22 – Animal rescue service

Entering Switzerland

In order to enter Switzerland, a valid passport or identity card is requested. It depends on the nationality whether a visa is necessary.

Events

Knabenschiessen
  • On the second weekend in September each year, about 4’000 Zurich boys, ages 12 to 16, (and since 1991 girls too) take part in a marksmanship contest. They use a modern rifle like the one they will later be issued in the army. The winner, who generally is picked in an elimination round on Monday, is named King of the Marksmen and holds the spotlight for a day.
  • Knabenschiessen is a regional public holiday (afternoon only) in the city of Zurich.

Source & more information: https://www.myswitzerland.com/en-ch/knabenschiessen-in-zurich-zh.html

Sechseläuten
  • The Sechseläuten (in Swissgerman: Sächsilüüte) is an annual highlight in Zurich. It’s a traditional spring celebration. The celebrations generally begin on the second or third Sunday in April with a colorful children’s procession before members of the guilds begin their procession on the Monday with 3,500 people, 350 riders, 50 horse-drawn wagons and 30 brass bands. Even a snowman gets burned.
Yodeling
  • Yodeling is a Swiss folk art and a way of singing and was traditionally used in the Alpine regions to call the cows for flocking, to communicate from village to village. Nowadays, it is practiced for fun and entertainment. Get an inside here or dive deeper and book a Yodel course.

Expats Groups

You can find several active expat groups in Switzerland, e.g.

F

Food

Swiss cuisine combines influences from the German, French and North Italian cuisine. However, it varies greatly from region to region with the language divisions constituting a rough boundary outline. However, many dishes have crossed the local borders and become firm favourites throughout Switzerland. These dishes include, among others: Cheese fondue, Raclette, Älpermagaronen, Rösti, Birchermüesli, Älplermagronen, Capuns and Zürcher Geschnetzeltes.

Form E 301

The form E 301 is needed if you want to claim unemployment benefits. It’s a European standard and will be completed by the ministry of work in Switzerland. In order to claim unemployment benefits you must prove that you worked at least one year within the last two years somewhere in Europe. If you worked in Switzerland in the past 12 months, you need a specific form filled out by all your employers within this period. This form is called “Arbeitgeberbescheinigung” in German.

Form E 411

Depending on where your children live the form E 411 is needed as soon as you want to claim child benefits in Switzerland. Your employer must complete the form and get it approved by the child benefit centre in Switzerland.

Furnished Apartments

Furnished apartments are available in every large town in Switzerland.

The biggest suppliers are:

Visionapartments
Glandon-apartments
Citystay.ch
Service-apartments
Guggach
Stockberg hotel
The flag
Plan-It
Apartments Swiss Star

G

Geography

Switzerland is situated in the central Alpine region of Europe, with its neighbor countries Italy in the south, Austria and the Principality of Liechtenstein in the east, Germany in the north and France in the west. Switzerland doesn’t have any direct access to the sea. With a total area of approx. 41,300 km2 Switzerland belongs to the smaller countries in Europe.

The Alps, situated in the south of the country, reach heights of over 4,000 m with its highest peak at 4’634 m (Dufourspitze). The Jura Mountain range can be found in the west and north of the country. Between the Alps and the Jura lies the hilly, densely populated Central Plateau.

Switzerland contains the sources of several major European rivers – the Rhine, the Rhone, the Inn (Danube) and the Ticino (Po) – and is important as a country for travel and transit.

Government

We recommend staying informed by checking the news regularly. You can find the most important news on the official website of the Swiss Government on the following link:

G-permit

The G-permit is a work permit for border commuters. You will get this type of permit if you continue living abroad and only come to Switzerland for work. If you have this status, you will need to decide whether you would prefer to pay your health insurance in Switzerland or abroad. Once this decision is made it is final and you may not be able to change later to the other side. With this permit you are not entitled to EXPAT, but you would need to pay source tax. It depends in which canton you are living there might be more special laws for G-permit holders.

Gross Salary

The gross salary shows the monthly income before tax and national insurance II

It shows the monthly salary that is subject to tax as well as the tax-free amount depending on whether you still maintain a house or an apartment back home that is not generating additional income through rent or lease.

Gym

The Swiss population is quite fit: 65% of residents engage in sports, gym workouts or other physical training at least once a week. Outdoor activities are very popular, but gyms provide a practical alternative to town dwellers and those looking for indoor sports, a trainer and a hot shower afterwards. There are plenty offers and the cost for memberships range from 500 to more than 2000 Swiss francs per year.

 

H

Health insurance

Basic health insurance is compulsory in Switzerland. You need to sign up for a Swiss health insurance within the first 3 months after your arrival in Switzerland. You are then retroactively insured from the date of entry. comparis.ch is very useful for finding an appropriate insurance.

The basic insurance covers all medically necessary treatments to keep you healthy and recover again. The benefits are required by law and are therefore standardised across every health insurance company. Depending on the insurance company and the area you are living in, the monthly premium can vary. The amount of premium depends on the place of residence, the age and as well on the amount of Excess (“Franchise”). The higher the selected Franchise, the lower the monthly premium. Up to the chosen Franchise you must pay yourself – everything above, the insurance will cover up to 90%. The highest franchise is CHF 2500. – The lowest is CHF 300. – per calendar year.

If you do not sign up for a health insurance within 3 months, the ministry of health is going to choose a health insurance for you. They will insure you with a Franchise of CHF 300 and it is normally the most expensive choice.

You only can change your health insurance once per year. You must hand in your notice by the 30. November for the basic insurance and you must have a new health insurance by 30. December. In order to change your health insurance, you need to prove that you have signed up for a new health insurance. Supplementary health insurance is voluntary and usually must be changed/cancelled until 30th of September.

When you leave the country then of course you can terminate your contract with the health insurance with the written confirmation of deregistration.

Some health insurances will give you a rebate if you join up with a gym. It’s worth checking with the insurance policy if you are thinking of joining a gym.

Highway fee

The use of highways is subject to a fee in Switzerland. You can buy a sticker for CHF 40 (called “Vignette”) to fix to the inside of the windscreen at any petrol station or in selected shops abroad. If you are caught without a vignette, a fine of min. CHF 200 must be expected.

History

If you would like to find some information about Switzerland’s history, please visit the following links:

Homegate

Homegate is the biggest platform in Switzerland if you are looking for an apartment. On homegate.ch you have the possibility to search for an apartment/house in the preferred area and for your budget. Also, if you wish to buy a property you will be able to find on homegate the perfect-suited property for you.

Hospital

In every large town in Switzerland, you will find a hospital with an emergency room. The most popular ones are:

Hotel

Switzerland offers a variety of hotels. The classification is like in every other country between 1 and 5 stars. The standard of hospitality in Switzerland is high. Even youth hostels are worth to check as the quality is good. Swisshotels.com is a search engine for all the classified hotels in Switzerland.

I

ID (identity card)

Switzerland provides two kinds of identity documents for its citizens: a passport and an identity card. These provide proof of identity and Swiss citizenship. If the Swiss ID is stolen or lost, a police report must be filed in order to get a new one from your town hall or community office.

Income declaration / Salary Statement

From your employer you will receive a salary statement document, stating your salary of a full calendar year. This document is needed to complete the tax declaration. This is an official document and valid without any signature.

Information

The following homepages include some useful information about Switzerland:

ch.ch
swissinfo.ch
about.ch
englishforum.ch

International school

Switzerland has a wide range of international schools all over in the country. In every bigger city you will find at least one international school. This overview might help to get a first orientation.

 

J

Jobs

You will find a lot of open jobs, mainly in the IT area, on our homepage: rmgroup.ch

Please feel free to contact us if you need any further information.

 

K

Kindergarten

In Switzerland, the kindergarten is part of the educational system and is (in most of the cantons) obligatory. It starts with ca. 4 years, lasts 2 years and is followed by the primary school. The kindergarten is usually free of charge.

Knabenschiessen

On the second weekend in September each year, about 4’000 Zurich boys, ages 12 to 16, (and since 1991 girls too) take part in a marksmanship contest. They use a modern rifle like the one they will later be issued in the army. The winner, who generally is picked in an elimination round on Monday, is named King of the Marksmen and holds the spotlight for a day.

Knabenschiessen is a regional public holiday (afternoon only) in the city of Zurich.

Source & more information: https://www.myswitzerland.com/en-ch/knabenschiessen-in-zurich-zh.html

L

Labour Market

Switzerland is a stable country as far as employment is concerned. Even crises on the world economic stage tend not to cause catastrophic effects.

But it is a busy job. Swiss full-time workers log on average 41.7 hours a week on the clock. In some Swiss companies, 42 working hours per week, sometimes even 45 working hours per week, are standard.

For all that work, full-time employees are entitled to paid leave of at least 20 working days per year. This is less than in many other European countries. Public holidays vary from canton to canton, but there are generally eight or nine.

Nearly one in three wage earners in Switzerland is foreign. The Swiss economy could not function without foreign workers of all sorts.

It is illegal to work in Switzerland without a permit and doing so is punishable by law. Legally you cannot begin work, even at a job for which you have been granted a permit, before you have registered with local authorities. Do not start a job before you have completed these steps. (See section on Work Permits).

Working illegally subjects you to a fine or worse. Your employer can also be punished. There are no legal grounds for an employer to pay you for work that has been done illegally.

Source & more information: https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/inside-the-labour-market/29265078

Language

In Switzerland, we have 4 national languages: German, French, Italian and Romansh. As most of the Swiss speak at least two languages, there shouldn’t be a language barrier. If you would like to sign up for a language course, there are numerous suppliers.

Law

If you need to know anything about the Swiss law, the official government page gives a good overview. If you need more specific information, please contact a lawyer. A good selection of English-speaking lawyers can be found at bestlawyers.com.

Leave – other types

In Switzerland, there is a whole range of leaves guaranteed by law or by the General Labour Agreement, aimed at offering employees a more agreeable working environment. Among these, there is, the so-called “youth leave”, which guarantees five extra days of leave per year to all employees and apprentices under the age of 30 who work voluntarily on behalf of young people. The employers furthermore undertake to grant employees the customary days and hours of leave, such as for example for their marriage, the birth(s) of their child(ren), the death of close relations or friends and for removals.

Liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung)

This type of insurance is not mandatory but well recommended. This insurance will cover in cases such as: burglary, high-risk sport accidents, damages of things that belong to third parties etc. If you like to rent an apartment, a lot of landlords request such insurance.

L-permit

This type of permit is the most known permit as in general, you will receive a L-permit on your arrival and up to 30 months before you will get a different type of permit. Unfortunately, RM Group doesn’t have any influence on which kind of permit will be given to you.

 

M

Major Cities

Berne:

With a population of 122,178 (half the size of Zurich), newcomers to Switzerland may be surprised to learn that Berne is the capital city. Located near the linguistic border between French and German Switzerland, the city combines the plateaus of the western region with the eastern mountains. All major Swiss political decisions are made in Berne, a surprisingly international city for its size. The medieval city centre is recognised by UNESCO as a Cultural World Heritage Site and still retains elements of its 12th-century origins. The city also possesses one of the longest shopping promenades in Europe. Transport connections to other major Swiss cities are very good, with various motorways, an extensive rail network and an airport nearby.

Zurich:

Zurich is often considered the economic powerhouse of Switzerland. The city was recently ranked second in a quality of living survey (www.mercer.com) due to its high standards of education, health and transport. Consequently, it is a popular destination for companies and families setting up a new home. The cost of living is high, especially in the city centre, despite the authorities’ efforts to expand the city by building new suburbs.

The city is arranged in 12 districts, which contain one to four neighbourhoods each. Main sights include the Kunsthaus, a classic modern art museum, Bahnhofstrasse (considered the Champs d’Elysees of Zurich), and Grossmunster, a church built in the 9th century.

Basel:

The city of Basel, located in northwest Switzerland, offers its inhabitants a great geographical position for enjoying Switzerland, France and Germany. It is considered a European cultural centre despite its small size. Small, winding backstreets in the old town connect shopping districts, museums and heritage sites. Picturesque views over the river Rhine can be enjoyed from numerous spots across the city and the river plays an important role in exporting and importing goods, since Basel is Switzerland’s only outlet to the ocean. There is also heavy industry along the main international borders with France and Germany. Transport connections are exceptionally good in Basel due to its seaport, international airport and proximity to both Zurich and Berne.

Lugano:

Switzerland’s most southern town, often regarded as the capital of Italian-speaking Switzerland, is a stark contrast to other towns of the country. The extreme climate ranges from metres of snowfall in winter to high temperatures averaging 27 degrees Celsius in the summer, which attracts visitors from the German and French-speaking regions. Due to the Mediterranean summers, winemaking is a key source of income for the Ticinese (inhabitants of Italian Switzerland). The Italian influence on the region is identifiable in its architecture, food, mannerisms, and even driving. Lugano is located an hour’s train ride from Milan.

Geneva:

Geneva is the second largest city in Switzerland behind Zurich and the most international city in Europe with over 40% of its population coming from outside Switzerland. The main industries are banking, inter- and non-governmental administration, technology, and tourism. Geneva prides itself as being one of the most beautiful and cultured cities in the world, combining the splendors of nature with a rich palette of historic and architectural offerings. As well, the city is a major gateway to the Alps for outdoor enthusiasts year-round.

Maternity leave

According to Swiss law, every woman who was insured with AHV at least for 9 months and 5 months out of the 9 months was employed in Switzerland, before giving birth, is entitled to claim maternity leave which includes 14 weeks (98days) of holiday paid 80% of your last salary after the child got born. The maximum daily rate is CHF 196.-

Medicine

You can buy medicine at a pharmacy. The German word is Apotheke and the French word would be pharmacie or officine. The chemists have also a huge knowledge about illnesses, sometimes it’s worth to go to the next pharmacy in order to get some information how you get healthy again.

Mobile phone

The largest mobile phone providers in Switzerland are Swisscom, Orange and Sunrise. If you like to sign up for a mobile phone contract, please see the next mobile phone store. You either can go to one of these stores or you can go to mobilezone which supplies all three providers. However, prepaid cards are widely spread in Switzerland and available in every bigger supermarket. They are often the cheaper option.

Mosques

There are around 200 mosques in Switzerland, but only 4 of them have a minaret. In 2009 the Swiss voted in a people’s initiative against the construction of minarets. Voiz gives an overview about the mosque locations.

Museums

Here are two overviews with all museums in Switzerland:

https://www.museums.ch/en/home/
https://www.myswitzerland.com/en

 

N

News

There are two very helpful pages that provide Swiss news in English:

thelocal.ch
swissinfo.ch

Also NZZ, one of the leading Swiss newspapers, is available in English.

NOV Nachträgliche ordentliche Veranlagung

Foreigners, who are not married to Swiss, not holding a C-permit and not earning more than 120‘000 CHF per year (in some cantons different limits may appear) can request their tax returns with the NOV. It might make sense for people who paid a lot into their pension fund, invested a lot into vocational training, moved to a different canton, other high costs, debts. A form needs to be handed in in the first quarter of the new year. For details a tax consultant is recommended.

Nursery

There are many options for a day care for your child/children and perfectly suited for each age. The best solution would be to find a local nursery. Spaces are limited and usually you find waiting lists, therefore it’s recommended to start searching on time. Nurseries up to the age of 4 years are private and not cheap. Another possibility is to find a daycare family. Kindly get in touch with the social part of your commune. Usually, it is found in the same building as the town hall or community center where you need to request your permit.

O

Old age insurance

Men who have reached the age of 65 and women aged 64 are entitled to an old-age pension. Payment may be advanced by one or two years (resulting in a reduction of the pension by 6.8% per year advanced) or postponed by 1 to 5 years (increase in pension by 5.2 to 31.1% depending on the number of months postponed). In certain circumstances, beneficiaries of old-age pensions are entitled to a pension for a child and/or an additional pension for their spouse.

The surviving spouse is entitled to a widower’s/widow’s pension if, on the death of a spouse, he/she has one or more children. The widow is additionally entitled to a pension if, on the death of her husband, she has no children but is aged 45 and the marriage has lasted at least 5 years. The right to the pension lapses with the remarriage, the death or, for the widower, when the last child reaches the age of 18. The children of the deceased person are entitled to orphans’ pensions. The right also lapses on the child’s 18th birthday (25th birthday if the child is studying) or on the death of the orphan. Insured invalids with a degree of at least 40% disability are entitled to a disability pension, staggered depending on the level of their disability. Beneficiaries are entitled to a pension for all those children who, on their death, would be entitled to an orphan’s pension.

For further information, please visit the following links:

P

Pension fund (pillar 2)

In the Swiss law the pension fund would be the second pillar of your retirement savings. If you have a contract which is longer than 90 days, you must pay into a pension fund.

Foreigners who leave Switzerland but stay in Europe are not entitled to cash out their pension fund savings if they paid the minimum amount in. For everything above that minimum limit, they are free to choose what should be done with these savings.

Foreigners who leave Europe would be entitled to cash out all the pension fund savings. In order to proof that you left Europe, you need to provide any notary-certified proof once you have settled down in your new home. If you are married, your wife/husband must agree on cashing out the pension fund savings.

Politics

Switzerland’s existence as a modern federal state date back to 1848. The government is made up of seven members, elected by the Federal Assembly. The government members take it in turns to act as president. The Swiss people can influence political affairs through the highly developed system of direct democracy.

Switzerland’s position as a neutral state allows it to play an important humanitarian role in world affairs and to act as a mediator between conflicting parties.

Population

Population in Switzerland increased to 7.91 million in December of 2011 from 7.83 million in December of 2010, according to a report released by the World Bank. Historically, from 1960 until 2011, Switzerland’s Population averaged 6.65 million reaching an all-time high of 7.91 million in December of 2011 and a record low of 5.36 million in December of 1960. The population of Switzerland represents 0.11 percent of the world´s total population which arguably means that one person in every 872 people on the planet is a resident of Switzerland

Private Pension (3rd pillar)

If you like to open up a third pillar account, we recommend opening such a trust account with your bank. The advantage of a third pillar account is you can save some taxes. The reason why it’s called third pillar is because it is also a part of the retirement savings (first pillar is AHV, the second pillar is the pension fund).
https://www.ch.ch/en/retirement/old-age-pension/the-3rd-pillar/

Public transport

The public transport is very efficient in Switzerland – and always on time. To commute to work it is much easier and less stressful to use the public transport than a car – also because parking in the cities is a nightmare. There is monthly or yearly passes available. If you plan to travel a lot in Switzerland a “GA Travelcard” Might make sense. This is a yearly ticket for everything in Switzerland: “You can enjoy unlimited travel on SBB trains and those of most other railways, as well as on much of the public transport in Switzerland. Your GA Travelcard comes on the SwissPass.”

Q

Qualification

Switzerland participates in the EU’s system of mutual recognition of professional qualifications. For diplomas from non-EU countries, one would need to apply for recognition of foreign qualifications. Further information can be found at the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation. This Youtube Video might help as well.

Questions

Please never hesitate to contact RM Group! We will do our best possible to answer your questions and solve your problems. Call us at: +41 58 356 06 00

R

Reference

By law RM (or any other company) is not allowed to give anyone any data about their employees. If you put us forward as a reference, kindly inform us in advance in order to be entitled to give any data to third parties.

Registration

You must register with the commune after your arrival. Berne requires your registration at your arrival day, Zurich, Vaud and Geneva within 8 days after your arrival. This waiting time is only relevant for people who already have a permit. If you do not have a permit, it is necessary to register on the first working day at the latest. Please make sure that you will be doing this important step on time as this is the most important step in order to receive your permit.

Relocation Company

If you wish to get professional help with the relocation, we recommend the following companies:

The advantage of such a professional relocation company is mainly you don’t lose any time on searching your perfect apartment. If you wish they are also organising your move from abroad to Switzerland or the other way around. The cost really varies therefore the best would be to get an offer directly from the preferred company.

Renting an apartment

The property market in Switzerland, in particularly in the bigger cities like Zurich, Geneva, Lausanne, Berne and Zug is difficult. The prices for the rents are high and there are most of the times more than 20 people applying for the same apartment. The best platforms to find an apartment are

If you found your perfect apartment, you need to apply for it. Usually there is a viewing. At the viewing you will usually get a form which you need to complete and send it to the landlord. You also must get a Betreibungsregisterauszug (please see under B) at the commune and add it to the application. It’s always worth to write a short personal letter where you introduce yourself and bring all your documents already to the viewing (copy of passport, Betreibungsauszug, application letter)

You must sign a rental agreement. It is normal to rent an apartment for at least 12 or even for 18 months. If you want or need to leave the apartment before this time, you need to find someone who wants to rent the apartment.

This video gives an insight about the situation.

Restaurants

Please find some good Restaurants in Zürich with the links below:

It’s always worth to book a table in advance.

Room mate

If you decide to share an apartment with a roommate, you will find a lot of possibilities to search for such an opportunity on the following homepages:

The positive aspects of such a way of living are for sure you can split all the costs with someone, and you might meet some locals who can support you with the integration process. Finally, you might learn a new language and it will be easier to integrate with the Swiss culture

Retirement

Now, men retire usually at an age of 65 and woman with 64 years. It is possible to start the retirement earlier or to postpone the retirement. Once you are retired, you will receive pensions based on the contributions you made before. In Switzerland, the pension scheme is based on 3 pillars: The Old Age and Survivor’s Insurance (pillar 1), the pension fund (pillar 2) and your private savings for the retirement time (pillar 3). The 3 pillars are nicely explained in this short video.

Richiesta nuovo permesso di dimora

This is the online application form which foreigners living in the italian part of Switzerland will need to complete. This form is required in order to register and renew your permit.

S

Safety

Switzerland is known as one of the safest countries in the world A low crime rate, strict laws as well as a high level of education help to keep Switzerland a safe country for travelling and living. In 2021 Switzerland was ranked as the 7th safest country in the world by the Global Peace Index.

SBB

SBB is the railway provider in Switzerland.

There are different ticket options, such as regular tickets, subscription-based tickets, such as Halbtax (Half-Fare travelcard) or Streckenabonnement (a point-to-point season ticket) and some more.

You can check the timetable and the prices online. You can also ask the SBB staff in one of their service centers at the railstation, which ticket and which connection is the best for you.

School

In Switzerland, there is generally compulsory schooling for kindergarten (around 4 years old), primary and lower secondary education. State schools and kindergartens are free of charge. There are also private schools, bilingual schools and international schools. You will get more information on state schools and kindergartens from your cantonal education department. You can find a list of private schools on swiss-schools.ch and privatschulen-schweiz.ch

Sick Leave

Globally, we can say that most employers require a doctor’s certificate for any absence of more than three consecutive days owing to illness. On this subject the law stipulates that the employer is obliged, during a limited period, to pay the salary to employees who are involuntarily prevented from working due to illness. During sick leave, the employees are moreover protected from the termination of their employment contract. The employer may not basically terminate the contract during a total or partial inability to work resulting from an illness or accident that cannot be attributed to the fault of the employee. This is regulated as follows: during 30 days over the first year of service, 90 days from the second to the fifth year and 180 days from the sixth year of service onwards.

Shopping

In the large towns there is a great number of supermarkets and shops of all types. In town they are mostly open over lunchtime. On Saturdays they might shut at 4 pm and on Sundays the shops are generally closed. On Weekdays or sometimes just on Thursday or Friday evenings they have late closing, normally at 8 or even 9pm. In the large railway stations, some shops open until 9 to 11pm as well as on Saturdays and Sundays. Please note that the official currency is the Swiss franc (CHF or SFR), not the euro (EUR).

Social security number (AHV Nummer)

This number always starts with 756 and has 13 digits. The card has a form of a credit card. Please keep the number on your files. Whenever you need to speak to the authorities, kindly take this number with you. You can also find our AHV number on your health insurance card or ask your employer for it.

Source tax, Withholding tax

As a foreigner with an L-permit, G-permit or a B-permit, you have to pay source tax which will be deducted from your salary every month. According to your civil status and the income you are paying a percentage of your salary. Every canton uses a different calculation. As always there are some exceptions when you do not need to pay any source tax, i.e when you are married to a Swiss citizen or to someone who is in the position of a C-permit.

A-Tariff
  • Foreign employees who do not hold a residence permit (C status) and who are in gainful employment, would need to pay source tax (also known as withholding tax) with every salary earned in Switzerland. The withholding tax is calculated on the monthly gross income from your profitable employment and is dependent on your family status.
  • The A-Tariff is for employees who are single, widowed, legally separated or divorced.
B-tariff
  • Foreign employees who do not hold a residence permit (C status) and who are in gainful employment, would need to pay source tax (also known as withholding tax) with every salary earned in Switzerland. The withholding tax is calculated on the monthly gross income from your profitable employment and is dependent on your family status.
  • B-Tariff applies for married persons when the partner does not generate additional family income. It would be adjusted for every child who receives the full child allowance in Switzerland: B1 tariff for full child benefits for one child, B2 tariff for full benefits for two children etc.
C-tariff
  • This source/withholding tax tariff is for married couples who have double income in Switzerland.

Sports

Thanks to its varied landscape and climate, Switzerland offers a great variety of sports to its visitors and inhabitants, who are regular and enthusiastic participants.

The Swiss mountains, with peaks reaching 4,000 meters above sea level, are a sheer paradise for skiers, hikers and climbers. Skiing is very popular, and Switzerland boasts several world-famous ski resorts. In summer, a dense network of well-kept footpaths covers the country and mountains. For the brave, many mountain bike trails are available as well.

The country offers numerous lakes, some as large as Lake Geneva (73 km. long, located on the border with France) or Lake Constance (63 km. long, on the border with Germany and with Austria), and many smaller mountain lakes. This makes Switzerland a wonderful destination for lovers of all kinds of water sports, including sailing, an extremely popular sport in the country. Several other sports, such as soccer, ice-hockey, skating, tennis and biking are widely practiced and have enthusiastic supporters in Switzerland. A few international champions, such as Roger Federer – one of the most famous and successful tennis champions of the moment, Stéphane Lambiel – twice world ice-skating champion, several ski champions, and many others hail from Switzerland.

Supermarkets

Switzerland has two main supermarkets: Migros (pronounced: Migro) and Coop. They are all over the country. If you prefer to get your groceries delivered, kindly check their homepages.

Swiss airlines

Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) is the official airline from Switzerland. From the airports in Zurich and Geneva, SWISS connects you to all over Europe and offers various long-distance flights to the whole world. Helvetic Airways brings you from Zurich of Berne to typical vacation destinations in the Mediterranean region.

Swisscom

This is officially the largest Swiss provider of telecommunications. If you wish to sign up for a mobile phone contract or internet or TV-subcription, kindly get in touch with Swisscom.

Swiss mentality

There are several books about this very special species called Swiss! The one we can recommend has the following title: “Beyond the Chocolate”. Following points, you might keep in mind about Swiss:

  • The Swiss have a distinct sense of order
  • The Swiss respect punctuality and they will expect promptness
  • Arriving 5 minutes late is considered inappropriate
  • It is not common for individuals to touch each other in public, nor do people casually invite visitors into their homes
  • A handshake is the most appropriate way to meet and greet business associates
  • You should always address Swiss adults with the appropriate title unless you have been invited to call someone by their first name
  • Standard office hours are about 8.00am until 5.00pm
  • Swiss will generally round the restaurant bill or taxi fare up a couple of francs

T

Taxes

Income tax is levied both by the federal government (Direct Federal Tax) as well as by the cantons and communes (Cantonal and Communal Taxes). As each of the 26 cantons has its own fiscal laws, the tax burden varies from one canton to another. In general, taxpayers must complete a declaration every year, based upon which income and assets tax are calculated.

Taxes are directly deducted (taxation at source) from the salaries of foreign workers who are not in possession of a permanent residence permit C but have their domicile in Switzerland under fiscal law. A deduction is subsequently levied in the case of gross salaries above CHF 120,000.–. (Limit may differ in cantons)

In some cantons all taxpayers receive an invoice for church tax! The imposition of taxes in the case of border-crossing commuters depends on various factors: place of residence, workplace, but also additional factors, such as wage levels. Switzerland has concluded agreements on the avoidance of double taxation with many other countries.

The Swiss taxation system: www.estv.admin.ch

Double taxation agreement: www.estv.admin.ch

Tax calculator: www.estv.admin.ch

Tax consultant

For many years RM Group works together with C. Dietrich Consulting. Mr Dietrich is an expert when it comes to questions about taxes in Switzerland. He is fluent in English, French and German. He is an expert when it comes to questions such as EXPAT.

Tax declaration

Every Swiss citizen above 18 years, every foreigner with a C-Permit and every foreigner whos income exceeds CHF 120’000 (in Geneva CHF 300’000) in the previous year is obliged to do a tax declaration. Everyone else can do a tax declaration (in this case called nachträgliche ordentliche Veranlagung, NOV) if wanted. The tax authorities send out the tax declaration forms by February and the forms need to be sent back by April.

Taxi

Uber is widely spread in Switzerlands cities Basel, Geneva, Lausanne and Zurich. Simply book your Uber with the Uber App. For regular Taxis, dail the following number:

Zurich: + 41 44 4444 44 44 or +41 44 777 77 77

Basel: +41 61 222 22 22 or +41 61 444 44 44

Berne: +41 31 312 12 12 or +41 313 313 313

Geneva: +41 22 3 202 202 or +41 22 33 141 33

Telephone / Internet / TV

There are different providers for telephone, internet and TV, e.g., Swisscom, Sunrise, UPC or Salt. The costs for cable TV (approx. 30 non-HD channels) are already included in many rental prices. Regardless of use, an additional radio and television fee is payable. You will receive mail as soon as you are registered.

swisscom.ch
sunrise.ch
upc.ch
salt.ch

In addition to mobile phone contracts, prepaid options are widespread in Switzerland. These are available quickly and without any paperwork in supermarkets. You can also buy prepaid cards for international calls in various shops, kiosks and supermarkets.

Tenancy law

Tenancy law is very comprehensive. It dictates not only what a rental contract must contain, how you must proceed when giving notice of termination and what you must attend during an apartment handover. It also dictates other duties and rights of tenants and landlords. Those who want to avoid trouble (and expense) should get all pertinent information in plenty of time and/or at least thoroughly read what they’re going to sign (even the small print).

On the following link you will get an overview over the most important topics regarding renting an apartment in Switzerland such as monthly rent, notice periods, take over or minor repairs: Key aspects of tenancy law.

Tip

Although there is no obligation to tip in restaurants, cafés, bars, hotels, taxis – or in establishments like hairdressers, many people here in Switzerland do add a small tip. If you are satisfied with your meal, feel free to round up the amount to the nearest five to ten francs.  If you are really delighted with the service or are in a larger group, add a little more. For a simple coffee or a beer people here will add from .50 Rp. to 1 Fr. or so.

Your waiter will appreciate a tip left in cash on the table.  If you have no cash and are paying by card, then add it to the charge as you might in the United States or the UK.

At the hairdresser tipping practice really varies by region and size of town.  In a small place leave 4frs as a minimum. In resorts and cities leave 10frs or more. Same goes for treatment in spas.

Toppreise.ch

This is another website recommended for your favourites. You can search for anything you may be interested in buying and it will show you all the suppliers ordered by price. Why pay more?

toppreise.ch

Traffic

Most important: In Switzerland you need to drive on the right lane. It’s recommended to have a “Vignette” sticker in your windscreen in order to use motorways. The speed limits are:

  • 120 km/h on motorways (where you need the Vignette)
  • 100 km/h on highways
  • 80 km/h outside of towns
  • 50 km/h inside towns
  • 100 km/h if driving a trailer

Seat belts are obligatory for all passengers. The maximum alcohol level in the blood allowed is 0.25 mg/l. Being on the phone without headset while driving is forbidden. The Swiss traffic laws are strict, and the fines are high.

For further details visit myswisalps.com

Transportation

Switzerland has a very dense and efficient public transport system. Every day, many hundred thousand of passengers take the train or bus to work or school. This range of transport facilities also has its price – train tickets are expensive. Many Swiss therefore have a so-called half-fare card (Halbtax), which enables to travel at half price. Fares are also reduced for many other forms of public transport.

  • Halbtax: You buy a “Halbtax” travelcard (a kind of discount card) for one year and only pay 50% for all tickets.
  • GA Travelcard: If you travel a lot, you can buy one general ticket and travel unlimited for one year.

In towns, many people travel to work or to their free-time activities by bike. All bicycles require a sticker (vignette), which is compulsory and valid for one year (June to May). The vignette serves as third-party liability insurance and covers costs up to CHF 2,000,000. – (available at the post-office, supermarkets or train stations).

There is a dense network of motorways in Switzerland’s central plateau. Vehicles using the motorway system must have a motorway sticker (vignette). This costs CHF 40. – per calendar year and can be purchased at the customs as well as at post offices and petrol stations or outside of Switzerland.

Swiss Federal Railways (SBB): www.sbb.ch

Road vehicle offices: www.asa.ch

U

Unemployment

You can claim unemployment benefits in Switzerland if you fulfil the following:

  • You are living in Switzerland, and you are fully or partially unemployed
  • You must have worked in the 2 years prior to your claim (the deadline for the contribution period) and for at least 12 months full time or part time with paid ALV contributions. Education and training, illness, accident, maternity may affect your claim and be taken into consideration.
  • You must be available for work, i.e., you must be willing to accept a suitable job or attend an integration or training scheme. You must also be available to attend regular consulting appointments with the RAV (Rationale Arbeitsvermittlungszentrum) and to do everything possible in order to find a new job.

For more information, visit www.arbeit.swiss

Units

In Switzerland, the following units are used:

  • Temperature: °C
  • Length: mm / cm / m / km
  • Weight: mg / g / kg
  • Distance: m / km
  • Volume: ml / l

V

Vacation

The right to holidays is a fundamental one (OR Art. 329ff) that the employer must grant to all employees for each year of service. The minimum fixed by law is:

  • 5 weeks for employees and apprentices below the age of 20
  • 4 weeks for employees and apprentices above the age of 20. This minimum duration may be extended by contractual agreements. General Labour Agreements, moreover, often foresee longer holidays, above all for employees who have worked for a certain number of years or who have reached a certain age.

Validity of your driving license

During the first twelve months of your stay in Switzerland you may, without further formalities, drive a vehicle corresponding to the categories listed in your national driving licence, provided you have reached the minimum age (at least 18 for motorcycles, cars). After this period, you must exchange your foreign driving licence for a Swiss one.

You can exchange your driving licence at the road vehicle office in your canton.

The following documents are required for your application:

  • Fully completed and signed application form
  • Passport or identity card
  • Initial or permanent residence permit
  • Original driving licence
  • Current passport photograph

W

Wedding

In order to get married, you and your spouse need to make sure:

  • you are at least 18 years old
  • you are not married or living in a registered partnership
  • for foreigners: you have a Visa that lasts (at least) until the wedding day
  • Since July 1st 2022,  gay marriage is recognized

Simply make an appointment at your Civil Register office. The civil wedding will cost around CHF 300 – 400.

Wellness

Switzerland offers a variety of wellness and spa hotels and activities.

Please find some helpful links below:

Working hours

The Swiss are diligent. Often, the weekly working time is 42 hours, sometimes even 45 hours. Working between 11 pm and 6 am is prohibited and subject to special authorization.
Office work often starts at 8 am and lunch break is taken at noon.