Emigrate to Switzerland

⇒ Switzerland culture

⇒ Climate

⇒ Language

⇒ School system in Switzerland

⇒ Health care system

⇒ Vaccinations and medical certificates

⇒ Tax system

⇒ Economy

⇒ Prices by index

⇒ Real estate

⇒ Company foundation

⇒ Visa

⇒ Safety

Switzerland culture

Switzerland’s culture is characterized by its diversity and regional characteristics, due to its multilingualism and geographical location in the heart of Europe. Some key aspects are:

  1. Multilingualism: Switzerland has four official languages (German, French, Italian and Romansh), which manifests itself in a variety of cultural influences and a strong regional identity.
  2. Political culture: Swiss democracy is known for its federalist system and direct democracy, where citizens regularly vote on national and local issues.
  3. Culinary diversity: Swiss cuisine is varied and ranges from cheese fondue and raclette to rösti and chocolate, with regional specialties strongly represented.
  4. Traditions and festivals: Switzerland has numerous local festivals and traditions, such as Sechseläuten in Zurich, Basel Fasnacht and the Swiss Wrestling and Alpine Festival, which have deep regional roots.
  5. Art and music: Switzerland has a rich history in the visual arts and music, with famous artists such as Paul Klee and world-famous music festivals such as the Montreux Jazz Festival.
  6. Architecture and design: Swiss architecture and design are renowned for their precision and functionality, with outstanding examples of modern and traditional architecture.
  7. Nature and landscape: Switzerland’s breathtaking nature, from the Alps to the lakes, plays a central role in people’s lives and inspires both local art and tourism.
  8. Education and innovation: Switzerland is known for its high-quality education system and its innovative strength, particularly in areas such as pharmaceuticals, technology and finance.
Die Schweiz und seine sehr abwechslungsreiche Landschaft

Climate

The climate in Switzerland is characterized by the country’s topographical diversity, which leads to different climatic conditions in different regions. Basically, the climate in Switzerland can be described as follows:

  1. Temperate climate: Switzerland has a largely temperate climate with four distinct seasons – spring, summer, fall and winter.
  2. Regional differences: Due to the Alps that characterize the country, there are major regional differences. The Alps act as a climate divide, with the northern side having a more continental climate and the southern side, particularly in Ticino, a Mediterranean climate.
  3. Summer: Summers are generally warm with average temperatures between 18 and 28 degrees Celsius. Temperatures can be higher in the cities, while they remain cooler in the mountains.
  4. Winter: Winters are cold, especially in the mountain regions. Temperatures can drop below zero and there is frequent snowfall, especially in the Alps, making Switzerland a popular destination for winter sports.
  5. Precipitation: The amount of precipitation varies greatly depending on the region. The western and central parts of Switzerland, especially along the Jura and the Alps, receive more precipitation than the eastern areas.
  6. Microclimate: In some regions, such as the valleys of the Alps, special microclimates can prevail, which can lead to unusual weather phenomena.

Language

Four official national languages are spoken in Switzerland, reflecting the country’s linguistic diversity:

  1. German: German is the most widely spoken language in Switzerland and is used as the main language in the majority of cantons. This is a specific form of High German with its own dialects, known as Swiss German.
  2. French: French is the second most common language and is mainly spoken in French-speaking Switzerland, particularly in cantons such as Geneva, Vaud and Neuchâtel.
  3. Italian: Italian is the third most widely spoken national language and is mainly spoken in the canton of Ticino and in some areas of Graubünden.
  4. Rhaeto-Romanic: Rhaeto-Romanic is the fourth official language, but is only spoken by a small population group in some parts of the canton of Graubünden. It is a Romance language that exists in several dialects.

In addition to these four national languages, there are also a considerable number of people who speak languages other than their mother tongue, particularly as a result of immigration. English, Portuguese, Spanish, Serbo-Croatian and Albanian are some of the most commonly spoken non-official languages in Switzerland. This linguistic diversity reflects the multicultural nature of Swiss society.

School system in Switzerland

When emigrating to Switzerland with your family, the school system naturally plays a major role:

The school system in Switzerland is characterized by its diversity and decentralization, as education is mainly the responsibility of the cantons. Despite some differences between the cantons, there is a general education scheme that looks like this:

  1. Pre-school education: Pre-school education is for children aged around 4 to 6 years and usually includes two years of kindergarten or a similar pre-school educational institution.
  2. Elementary school: Primary school begins at around the age of 6 and usually lasts 6 years. Here, pupils acquire basic knowledge in subjects such as language, mathematics, science, social studies, art and sport.
  3. Secondary level I: Elementary school is followed by lower secondary level, which lasts around 3 years. In this phase, students are placed in different types of schools based on their academic abilities and interests, ranging from hands-on classes to more academically oriented programs.
  4. Secondary level II: This level covers a wide range of educational pathways, including grammar schools (for university preparation), specialized secondary schools and vocational training. Vocational education and training, which offers a combination of apprenticeship and school education, is an important and highly regarded educational pathway in Switzerland.
  5. Tertiary education: This includes universities, universities of applied sciences and higher technical colleges. Switzerland offers a wide range of higher education opportunities, including both technical and academic courses.
  6. Continuing education: Switzerland places great emphasis on lifelong learning, and there are numerous opportunities for adult education and professional development.

The Swiss education system is known for its high quality and its ability to respond flexibly to students’ needs and interests. It is also praised for its strong emphasis on vocational training and the close link between education and the labor market.

Healthcare system

The healthcare system in Switzerland is considered to be one of the best in the world and is characterized by high quality, comprehensive care and strong competition. Here are some key elements:

  1. Compulsory insurance: In Switzerland, health insurance is compulsory for all residents. Everyone must register with a private health insurance company that offers basic insurance to ensure basic care.
  2. Private health insurance: There is a wide range of private health insurance companies for people to choose from. This competitive situation is intended to ensure quality and efficiency in the system. In addition to basic insurance, insured persons can take out optional supplementary insurance for extended benefits.
  3. High healthcare expenditure: Switzerland has one of the highest per capita healthcare expenditures in the world. This is reflected in the high quality of the medical facilities, the training of the staff and the availability of advanced technologies.
  4. Access to care: Citizens have free access to doctors and hospitals of their choice. The waiting times for treatments and special examinations are generally short.
  5. Prevention and public health: There are strong public health and prevention programs promoted by the government and the cantons.
  6. Federal structure: The healthcare system is organized on a federal basis, with the cantons responsible for the provision and regulation of healthcare services. This leads to some differences in healthcare provision between the cantons.
  7. Challenges: Despite the high quality, Swiss healthcare services face challenges such as rising costs and the need for reforms to improve long-term care and the integration of healthcare services.
Das wohl bekannteste Tier im Auswanderungsland Schweiz

Vaccinations and medical certificates

No special vaccinations are normally required for emigration to Switzerland. Switzerland has no vaccination requirements for people entering the country. Nevertheless, it is advisable to take certain aspects into account:

  1. Standard vaccinations: It is recommended that all standard vaccinations are up to date according to the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) and your home country. These include vaccinations against tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), measles, mumps, rubella, polio, hepatitis A and B and, if necessary, pneumococcus and meningococcus.
  2. Travel vaccinations: If you have been to a country with a high risk of infection for certain diseases before arriving in Switzerland, additional vaccinations may be recommended. This could include vaccinations against yellow fever, typhoid or rabies, depending on which country you have previously visited.
  3. Health advice: Before emigrating, it is always a good idea to have a travel or health consultation to ensure that all necessary health precautions have been taken.

Tax system

The tax system in Switzerland is complex and is characterized by its federal structure. Taxes are levied at three levels: Confederation, cantons and municipalities. Here are some key features:

  1. Direct federal tax: This tax is levied by the federal government and applies to the income of natural persons and the income of legal entities (corporate tax).
  2. Cantonal and municipal taxes: The cantons and municipalities levy their own taxes on the income and assets of individuals and on the profits and capital of companies. Tax rates vary considerably between the cantons and municipalities, which leads to considerable tax competition.
  3. Value added tax (VAT): Switzerland levies VAT on most goods and services. The standard VAT rate in Switzerland is relatively low compared to many other European countries.
  4. Withholding tax: Foreign employees who live and work in Switzerland may be subject to withholding tax. This tax is deducted directly from your salary.
  5. Capital gains tax: Capital gains from the sale of private assets (e.g. real estate) are generally taxed, although the regulations and tax rates vary from canton to canton.
  6. Inheritance and gift taxes: These taxes are also levied by the cantons and not by the federal government. The rules and rates vary from canton to canton.
  7. Tax return and assessment: Taxpayers must submit an annual tax return. The tax system is progressive, which means that higher incomes are taxed at a higher rate.
  8. Lump-sum taxation: Under certain conditions, foreigners in Switzerland can benefit from lump-sum taxation, which is not based on worldwide income but on living expenses in Switzerland.

Tax tricks

In Switzerland, there are several legal ways to save taxes that apply to both private individuals and companies. Here are some examples of legal tax-saving methods:

  1. Pillar 3a (private pension provision): Contributions to pillar 3a, a private pension scheme, are deductible from taxable income. This can represent a considerable tax saving, especially if these contributions are made over several years.
  2. Occupational pension plan (pillar 2): Contributions to occupational pension plans can also be deducted from taxable income. This is part of the three-tier Swiss pension system.
  3. Energy-efficient investments: Investments in energy-efficient technologies or renovations (such as solar panels or environmentally friendly heating systems) can offer tax advantages under certain circumstances.
  4. Child and education allowances: Expenses for childcare or education can be deducted from taxes in many cantons.
  5. Donations: Donations to recognized charitable organizations are generally tax-deductible to a certain extent.
  6. Lump-sum taxation: This is an option for some foreign nationals living in Switzerland. The tax is not calculated on the basis of worldwide income, but on the cost of living in Switzerland.
  7. Choice of canton of residence: As tax rates in Switzerland vary from canton to canton, the choice of domicile can have a significant impact on the tax burden.
  8. Asset management and planning: Well thought-out asset management and planning, including the use of tax-privileged forms of investment, can also lead to tax savings.

Economy

Switzerland’s economy is considered to be one of the most stable, competitive and innovative in the world. It is characterized by various key features:

  1. High standard of living: Switzerland has one of the highest standards of living in the world. This is reflected in high incomes, comprehensive social security and a high quality of life.
  2. Diversified economic structure: The Swiss economy is multifaceted and includes sectors such as financial services, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, mechanical and electrical engineering, and food processing. The service sector, especially banking and insurance, plays a central role.
  3. Innovation and research: Switzerland invests heavily in research and development and has one of the highest innovation rates in the world. It is home to numerous high-ranking universities and research institutions.
  4. Export orientation: The Swiss economy is strongly export-oriented. Important export goods include machinery and electronics, watches, pharmaceutical products and chemical products.
  5. Stable political and economic environment: Switzerland is known for its political stability, its neutral foreign policy and a strong legal system, which makes it an attractive location for international companies and investments.
  6. Banking and financial sector: Switzerland has a world-renowned financial sector known for its banking secrecy and wealth management services, although in recent years it has taken steps to increase transparency and comply with international standards.
  7. Low unemployment and a qualified workforce: Switzerland has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe and a highly qualified labor market.
  8. Tourism: Tourism is also an important economic sector, especially in the Alpine regions, which attract summer and winter tourism.
  9. High costs and high price index: Switzerland has one of the highest price levels in Europe, which is reflected in the high cost of living.
Auswandern in die Schweiz mit Informationen von Frequenza

Prices by index

Since prices can change constantly even in a stable and prosperous economy such as Switzerland, we refer here to the Cost of Living website. This constantly updates its values and thus keeps you up to date.

Real Estate

In Switzerland, immigrants can both buy and rent real estate, but certain regulations and restrictions apply, especially when buying real estate:

  1. Renting: Renting accommodation in Switzerland is relatively straightforward for immigrants. There is a wide range of rental apartments and houses. However, rental prices can be very high, depending on the region and the quality of the property.
  2. Purchase of real estate by non-Swiss nationals: The purchase of real estate by non-Swiss nationals is regulated by the Federal Law on the Acquisition of Real Estate by Persons Abroad, often referred to as the “Lex Koller”. This law restricts the purchase of real estate by persons without Swiss citizenship.
  3. Lex Koller: Under this law, non-Swiss nationals require a permit to purchase real estate in Switzerland. This regulation applies in particular to vacation homes, second homes and agricultural properties. Main residences and properties for business purposes (e.g. business premises) are generally exempt from these restrictions.
  4. Residence status: People with a permanent residence permit (C permit) or EU/EFTA citizens with a residence permit (B permit) generally find it easier to obtain a purchase permit.
  5. Regional differences: The application of the Lex Koller regulations may vary from canton to canton, and in some tourist regions there may be additional restrictions.
  6. Financing and purchase process: A substantial equity investment is often required to purchase real estate in Switzerland. The purchase process itself is quite formalized and requires the involvement of a notary.
  7. Investment opportunities: Despite the regulations, there are opportunities for foreign investors to invest in the Swiss real estate market, for example by purchasing shares in real estate funds or companies.
Company foundation

Immigrants can set up a company in Switzerland. Switzerland offers an entrepreneur-friendly environment and promotes the establishment of new companies, regardless of the nationality of the founder. However, there are a few important points to bear in mind:

  1. Residence status: To set up a company in Switzerland, you must either be resident in Switzerland or appoint a person resident in Switzerland as a director or representative of your company.
  2. Registration and authorizations: The company must be registered in the commercial register of the relevant canton. Depending on the type of business, additional permits or licenses may be required.
  3. Tax aspects: Entrepreneurs must familiarize themselves with Swiss tax laws and regulations. This includes value added tax (VAT), income tax and corporate tax.
  4. Bank account: A business account with a Swiss bank is usually required to set up a company.
  5. Social insurance: As an entrepreneur, you must take care of your own social insurance, including old-age and survivors’ insurance (AHV), disability insurance (IV) and income compensation (EO).
  6. Business plan and financing: A solid business plan is crucial for tapping into financing opportunities and ensuring the long-term success of the company.
  7. Support services: There are various organizations and services that offer support for starting a business in Switzerland, including advice, networking and financial support.
  8. Language skills: Good knowledge of one of the national languages (German, French, Italian or Romansh) can be an advantage for business activities and communication with authorities and local networks.

Company forms

In Switzerland, immigrants can set up different types of companies depending on their needs, the size of their business and the capital required. The most common types of company include

  1. Sole proprietorship (sole proprietorship): Ideal for individuals or small businesses. This form is easy to set up and requires no minimum capital. However, the owner is liable with his personal assets.
  2. Limited liability company (GmbH): This form is suitable for small to medium-sized companies. It requires a minimum share capital of CHF 20,000. Liability is limited to the company’s assets. The formation formalities are more extensive than for a sole proprietorship.
  3. Public limited company (AG): Suitable for larger companies. The AG requires a minimum capital of CHF 100,000, whereby at least CHF 50,000 must be paid in at the time of formation. Liability is limited to the company’s assets. This form offers opportunities to raise capital and is often the choice for companies looking to expand or trade publicly.
  4. Limited partnership (KG): This is a partnership that requires at least one partner with unlimited liability (general partner) and one or more partners with limited liability (limited partners). It is often used for family businesses or smaller partnerships.
  5. Simple partnership: A loose form of partnership for cooperation on a specific project or for a specific duration. It is not regarded as a separate legal entity.
  6. Cooperative: An association of persons or companies that pursue a common economic, social or cultural goal. It is suitable for groups that pursue common interests such as housing projects or business ventures.
  7. Branch office: Foreign companies can establish a branch office in Switzerland. This is legally dependent on the main company, but must be entered in the commercial register and fulfill certain local business requirements.
Visa

Various visa and residence categories are available for emigration to Switzerland, depending on the purpose of the stay, the nationality of the applicant and other factors. Here are the main categories:

  1. Schengen visa (type C): For short-term stays of up to 90 days within a 180-day period. This visa is suitable for tourists, business travelers or for visits to family and friends. It entitles the holder to travel within the Schengen area.
  2. National visa (type D): For longer stays in Switzerland, for example for study, work or family reasons. A type D visa is required if the stay lasts longer than 90 days and is usually linked to a residence permit.
  3. Residence permits: These are required for longer stays and are issued depending on the purpose of the stay:
    • Permit L: Short-term residence permit, valid for up to one year, usually for temporary employment contracts or training.
    • Permit B: Residence permit usually valid for five years, renewable, for persons with permanent employment contracts or longer-term residence intentions.
    • Permit C: Permanent residence permit, unlimited, usually available after an uninterrupted stay of five years in Switzerland.
    • Permit G: Cross-border commuter permit for persons who live in a neighboring country and work in Switzerland.
  4. Student visas: For international students who are enrolled at a Swiss college or university.
  5. Work visas: For people who wish to work in Switzerland. This usually requires a confirmed job offer and the employer must prove that the position cannot be filled by a person from Switzerland or the EU/EFTA.
  6. Family reunification: For family members of persons residing in Switzerland, in particular spouses and children.
Security in the country

Switzerland is generally regarded as one of the safest countries in the world. Several factors contribute to this high level of safety:

  1. Low crime rate: Switzerland has one of the lowest crime rates in Europe, especially with regard to violent crime. Petty crime such as pickpocketing or burglaries do occur, especially in tourist areas and larger cities, but the overall crime rate is relatively low.
  2. Political stability: Switzerland is known for its political stability, its neutral foreign policy and its robust democratic system, which contributes to a secure and stable environment.
  3. High standard of living and social security: Switzerland has one of the highest standards of living in the world. A comprehensive social safety net, high incomes and good healthcare contribute to the general security and well-being of the population.
  4. Efficient law enforcement: The Swiss police and judiciary are effective and trustworthy. The legal systems and law enforcement authorities work efficiently and are well trained.
  5. High environmental standards: Switzerland attaches great importance to environmental protection and has high air and water quality, which contributes to the general quality of life.
  6. Emergency and rescue services: Switzerland has efficient and well-organized emergency and rescue services that respond quickly and professionally in the event of an accident or disaster.
  7. Natural disasters: Switzerland is largely free of serious natural disasters. Occasional minor earthquakes do occur, but they are rare and do not usually cause major damage.

However, as in any country, it is always advisable to check the official warnings and safety instructions. Please refer to the Federal Foreign Office: Security advice for Switzerland.

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