For members


What people with Swiss citizenship should know if they want to move to the EU

Most commonly, European Union nationals move to Switzerland, not vice versa. But it can certainly happen that someone with Swiss nationality settles within the EU. Here’s what you should know about making this move.

What people with Swiss citizenship should know if they want to move to the EU
Some things to know if you move to the EU. Image by Ralph from Pixabay

Around 1.4 million EU citizens live in Switzerland on permanent basis, and another 340,000 cross the border daily to work in the country.

Conversely, about 400,000 people with Swiss citizenship live in the European Union, which means the immigration is higher than emigration.

Whether you move abroad for professional or personal reasons, you should keep some things in mind.


If you are going to be working in one of the EU states, know that while your income may be sufficient for that (or possibly other) EU countries, it will not be enough to live in Switzerland.

That’s because Switzerland is a notoriously expensive country, so you won’t be able to live here unless you make a Swiss wage (and sometimes even then).

But the cost of living is generally lower abroad, and your EU salary will go farther there than here.

The exception is if you  work in Switzerland but live abroad (as is the case with cross-border workers). If you do, even an average Swiss salary will allow you to live very well.

If you decide to get naturalised in your new country but want to keep your Swiss passport as well, this will be possible in most of the EU.

The only nations that don’t allow dual nationalities are Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Spain.
If you move to one of those countries, you will either have to forego naturalisation, or give up your Swiss citizenship — with all the consequences this will incur.

Military service

Swiss nationals who live and work abroad are exempt from the military service obligation in times of peace.

They can do military service on a voluntary basis.
However, they are liable to pay military service exemption tax to the Swiss government instead. which amounts to 3 percent of their annual income.

Men over 30 are exempt from this tax.

You can find more information about it in this link.
READ ALSO: Switzerland’s strangest taxes – and what happens if you don’t pay them

Health insurance

You no longer have to pay Swiss health insurance premiums, so that’s a huge saving right there.

However, you have to comply with whatever government-sponsored plan is in place in your country of residence.

The good news is that with your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), you are entitled to receive free medical care if you get ill while visiting Switzerland.

Or, if you prefer to keep an unlimited access to Swiss health system, some providers offer basic health insurance to Swiss citizens living in EU.

For Swiss pensioners residing outside of Switzerland, the rules differ depending on which country they live in.

If you  are a retired Swiss national living in the EU and receive your entire pension from Switzerland, you are required to keep your Swiss health insurance, according to Moneyland consumer platform. 

However, “if you receive even part of your pension from the country you reside in, you will have to take out health insurance in your country of residence,” Moneyland said.

If you live in Germany, France, Italy, Austria or Spain, “you can choose to get health insurance in your country of residence regardless of whether you receive your pension from Switzerland or from the country in which you live.”


You will have to pay taxes in your country of residence, which is not really of benefit to you, as they are quite a bit higher in the EU than in Switzerland

In certain situations , however — for instance, if you own property in Switzerland —  you will still owe some money here.

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For members


EXPLAINED: The new bid to ease Swiss citizenship laws

A new initiative launched this week aims to shorten residency requirements for foreigners in order to quality for Swiss citizenship. Here's what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: The new bid to ease Swiss citizenship laws

The move, called a “Popular initiative for a modern nationality right (initiative for democracy),” is spearheaded by an organisation called Aktion Vierviertel in German and Action Quatre Quarts in French.

The group is campaigning for foreigners who have lived and worked in Switzerland for at least five years — rather than 10 years as is required currently — to be able to apply for a Swiss passport.

“Political participation is one of the cornerstones of democracy. Whoever has to obey the laws must [also] have a say,” the association said, pointing out that this right is denied to a quarter of the population, or two million foreigners, who contribute to Switzerland’s economic, cultural and social life.

READ ALSO: ‘Broken system’: The fight to make it easier for foreigners to get Swiss citizenship

One of the members of the initiative committee, Nadra Mao, is of Somali origin. Born in Bern, she acquired Swiss nationality when she was nine.

“40 percent of Switzerland’s population comes from immigration, but 26 percent of them don’t have a Swiss passport,” she said.

“The five-year period for naturalisation is already in effect in Germany and France,” she added.

Currently, people are required to have lived in Germany for eight years before applying for citizenship (although it can be reduced in some cases), however, the government is planning to reduce it to five years. 

Another supporter of the initiative, MP Lisa Mazzone — who has a migration background herself — agrees that this is “a necessary project for modern Switzerland, a recognition for all the foreign people who live, work, and weave their social ties here”.

The organisation now has until November 23rd 2024 to collect the 100,000 signatures that are needed to launch a referendum.

‘Not integrated’

Not everyone, however, agrees with the proposed change.

“After five years of living in Switzerland, foreigners are not integrated,” according to MP Erich Hess, who said he is “totally against the initiative.”

As for the former Federal Councillor Pascal Couchepin, he said the initiative is “doomed to failure, it has no chance”.

He added that “five years to become Swiss is very short”.

What are the current rules?

For ordinary naturalisation, 10 years of residency are required, though years spent living in Switzerland between ages of eight and 18 count as double.

The five-year rule already applies to foreign spouses of Swiss citizens: they must have lived for a total of five years in Switzerland, have spent the year prior to submitting the application in Switzerland and must have been married to and living with the Swiss citizen for three years. 

READ ALSO: The 7 common mistakes to avoid when applying for Swiss citizenship