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Everything that changes about life in Switzerland in March 2023

From higher rents and tax votes, to the end of energy-cutting measures — this is what is set to change in Switzerland in March 2023.

Everything that changes about life in Switzerland in March 2023
March means beginning of spring. Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Swiss rents could increase

On March 1st, the Federal Housing Authority will announce whether, and by how much, Switzerland’s reference rate will rise.
This is important news for tenants, as reference rate is a benchmark used to set other interest rates as well.

It plays a role in determining rents in Switzerland, because when this rate is climbing, mortgages become more expensive for landlords, who then pass the additional cost on to their tenants.

Right now the reference rate is 1.25 percent, and currently 54 percent of rental contracts in Switzerland are based on that rate, though it fluctuates from one region to another.

If, for instance, the interest rate were to climb by 0.25 percentage points, and your rental agreement is based on the 1.25-percent reference rate, your  landlord will be able to charge 3 percent more rent. And an increase of 0.5 percentage points would allow them to raise rents by 6 percent.

READ MORE: Why many Swiss tenants face higher rent costs from March

Government to release reserve stock of antibiotics

To combat the shortage of essential medications, which has been plaguing Switzerland for months, the Federal Office for Economic Supply (FONES) “will completely release” the mandatory reserves of antibiotics on March 1st.

FONES stockpiles various essential supplies, including drugs, to be released in emergencies.

READ MORE: What medicines you could struggle to find in Switzerland right now

First 2023 referendum, March 12th

There will be no national vote in the first of four referendums held this year (the others are scheduled for June 18th, October 22nd, and November 26th), but in some cantons voters will weigh in on various issues of regional importance.

For instance, both Geneva and Basel-City will vote on tax issues.

In Geneva, the issue is whether large shareholders should pay more tax on their profits.

The left-wing alliance, which launched this referendum, is urging the ‘yes’ vote, while authorities say the approval of this proposal would make Geneva less attractive for businesses, and many may choose to leave the canton.

In Basel-City, voters will decide on the proposed tax cuts, which would provide financial relief to all taxpayers.

Socialists and the Greens are urging the ‘no’ vote because they claim the tax package is unbalanced and the top earners as well as the wealthy would benefit more than low and middle-income individuals and families.

Genevans will vote on March 12th. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

Spring begins

The first day of the spring season, the so-called Vernal Equinox, will occur on March 20th at precisely 10:24 pm.

That’s when the sun will sit vertically above the equator, making day and night equally long / short.

Rewind the clocks

Daylight saving time will begin at 02:00 am on Sunday March 26th, when Swiss clocks will go forward an hour.

Sunrise and sunset will be about one hour later and there will be more light in the evening.

Ski season ends in some Swiss resorts

While most of Switzerland’s high-altitude ski lifts remain open through April and even May, some close at the end of March.

You can see what they are, as well as closing dates for other resorts here.

Also, school ski holidays will end in several cantons between March 3rd and 12th. 

You won’t need these until next year. Photo: Pixabay

Taxman cometh

Swiss tax declarations are due on March 31st.

But if you don’t have it ready by this date, don’t worry: If your tax return is prepared by an accounting firm, they automatically file every year for extension for all their clients.

You should have received a confirmation letter or email from the firm to that effect.

But if you prepare your tax declaration yourself and you won’t be able to meet the deadline, you must ask the tax authorities in your canton of residence for extension.

The new filing date depends on where you live:

Appenzell-Ausserrhoden, Basel-City, Geneva, Luzern, Schwyz, St. Gallen, Uri, Valais, and Zurich: May 31st.
Aargau, Basel-Country, Fribourg, Nidwalden, Schaffhausen, Ticino, Vaud, and Zug: June 30th
Jura and Solothurn: July 31st.
Only one canton, Bern, allows extensions until September 15th.

This is how you can ask for an extension:

EXPLAINED: How to get an extension on your tax deadline in Switzerland 

Emergency energy measures to end

In August 2022, when the energy crisis was looming and power outages appeared a real possibility, Swiss authorities announced that they would reduce gas consumption by 15 percent during the winter months  — October to the end of March  — compared with average annual consumption.

The feared shortages have not materialised, and the government is expected to exit the crisis mode by March 31st.

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For members


Everything that changes in Switzerland in June 2023

From rent increases to an outdoor smoking ban in Geneva, these are the events that are planned in Switzerland in June 2023.

Everything that changes in Switzerland in June 2023

June 1st: many rents to rise sharply 

With the benchmark mortgage rate rising on June 1st many landlords will be able to increase rents.

The benchmark mortgage rate increases to 1.50 percent, which means landlords will be able to raise rents by 3 percent. the government said.

Currently, 54 percent of rental contracts in Switzerland are based on that rate, but regionally, the percentage is even higher.

In the Zurich area, for instance, as well as in central Switzerland more than 60 percent of rental contracts are based on a 1.25-percent reference rate.

READ ALSO: How do you know if your Swiss rent is too high — and how can you challenge it?

June 1st: No outdoor smoking in Geneva

In order to “provide a healthy environment,” smoking will be prohibited in certain outdoor spaces in Geneva from June 1st, the canton announced.

The new regulation forbids smoking within nine metres around playgrounds and schools.

The same smoke-free distance will apply to outdoor swimming pools, and outdoor spaces of bars and restaurants.

Smoking will also not be allowed at public transport stops, including in waiting areas.

READ ALSO: Geneva bans smoking in some outdoor areas

June 12th: Swiss air traffic to experience disruptions

NATO will be conducting extensive air force exercises from June 12th to 24th.

While these manoeuvres will take place on the German air space, the proximity to Switzerland means restrictions could be placed  on flights to and from Zurich airport.

This could result in flight delays and even cancellations. 

NATO planes over Germany will impact Swiss air traffic. Photo by THOMAS COEX / AFP

June 14th: Feminist strike

As part of a global movement, women across the country will march to highlight the gender bias that is widespread in Switzerland, especially regarding work and childcare conditions.

They will campaign for fewer working hours at the same pay; abolition of the three-pillar pension system in favour of a single pillar; paid parental leave of at least one year, as well as other demands detailed here

This annual event began in 2017, with women in various countries, including Switzerland, rallying for equal pay, as well as other gender and trans-gender rights.

Women will demonstrate throughout Switzerland on June 14th. Photo by Lou BENOIST / AFP

June 18th: Referendums

In the first of three referendums scheduled for 2023, the Swiss will cast their votes on three issues.

The first one is Covid Law. Even though the last health measures were lifted more than a year ago, voters will have to decide on various federal provisions  — especially pertaining to border measures in the event of a pandemic, the protection of vulnerable people, and the promotion and development of treatments for the coronavirus.

The second issue is related to climate, particularly the target of zero greenhouse gas emissions in Switzerland by 2050, thanks to funding of 2 billion over 10 years for the replacement of fossil fuels. 

The third issue Swiss voters will have to weigh in on is that of taxation of international companies.

Negotiated by nearly 140 countries around the world, the reform of the tax on profits of multinationals aims to establish a minimum rate of 15 percent on international corporations — higher than Switzerland’s current tax rate.

The Local will explain each of these issues in detail.

June 21st: First day of summer

The (mostly rainy and cool) spring will give way to the summer season.

Meteorologists don’t yet have an accurate forecast for the next months, but those who still remember the extreme, drought-causing heatwave of 2022 are hoping this summer will be more pleasant, weather-wise.

There are the public holidays in June in your canton:

  • 8th: Corpus Christi, national except AR, BL, BS, BE, GE, GL, NE, SH, SG, TG, VD, ZH
  • 23rd:  Independence of Jura, JU
  • 29th:  St Peter and St Paul,  GR, TI