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12 points to consider when moving to Switzerland


Switzerland is a country that is full of opportunities and has a great culture and environment. Therefore, convincing your mind to move there is fairly easy for most people. However, the preparation required to move there is still quite a lot and here is a list of 12 things that are a must do to think about when you are relocating to Switzerland.

1.     Prepare your immigration documents

The very first step in moving to any new country is the permission required to actually stay there. In simple terms, you need to apply for a residence or work visa. This may be dependent on the circumstances of your move and it is important that you apply for the right one. For some people moving for work this can be very easy as their companies take care of all the required paperwork and processing for acquiring the visa. If that is not the case for you, make sure you do this well ahead of the time when you actually plan to move to Switzerland. The immigration service may be top notch but there is still a designated processing and waiting time for acquiring the visa.

2.     Moving your belongings

A major part of long term or permanent shifting is to have the items you use with you when you settle into Switzerland. Moving all of your furniture and appliances can be a very hefty task and usually takes a lot of time, both in getting it ready for transport and shipping itself. Make sure you send all of your belongings to Switzerland ahead of time so that you don’t find yourself forced to shop for new things when you reach, simply because your household items haven’t arrived.

3.     Moving documents

The best thing about moving your belongings to Switzerland is that you can do it duty free which can help you save a lot of money. However, this is only possible if you fill out and submit “form 18.44” which is basically an application for the clearance of items that are being relocated. The form needs to be submitted at the Swiss customs office and can be acquired from their website. https://www.ezv.admin.ch/ezv/en/home.html

4.     Vaccinating your pets

Some people bring their pets along with them when moving to Switzerland and it is a mandatory requirement of the veterinary authorities that all dogs and cats be vaccinated for rabies before being brought to Switzerland. The vaccine must not be more than a year old and has to be done at least 30 days before the pet actually arrives in Switzerland. There is a further requirement of implanting microchips in all cats, dogs and ferrets which is basically for the purpose of identification. Further information on this can be obtained from the website of Swiss Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office. https://www.blv.admin.ch/blv/en/home.html

5.     Car driving license

It is a fairly obvious thing that like every other developed country you need to have a valid driving license before you are allowed to drive on Swiss roads. However, if you are not going to be able to acquire that immediately and find yourself needing to drive a car immediately, you can do that if you have valid license of your country for a maximum of 3 months. For driving on the motorways a yearly ticket needs to be purchased and must be placed inside the windsecreen of the vehicle. The sticker can be acquired from main border crossings, post offices or even from petrol stations around the country.

6.     Opening a bank account

If you are not moving permanently and intend to hold assets in your home country, it is important that you notify your current bank about your move. This way you can make payments like taxes etc. on your current assets at home while having it all processed by a new account that supports Swiss currency. Most banks nowadays support this system so it shouldn’t be much of an issue as long as you actually remember to do it. Alternatively you can opt for one of the local banks in Switzerland for all your transactions as the system is  high tech and can cater to all your needs.

7.     Schooling & Education

One of the biggest challenges for people who are moving to another country is how well their children are going to adjust. As far as the environment is concerned, Switzerland is definitely a great place for your children to grow up. However, a lot needs to be taken care of for their adjustment, especially their education. Depending on how old your children are, you will need to look at the schools and colleges that are operating in the canton you are moving to. You can choose from a range of different types of schools including public, private and even international schools. The education standards across all education institutions are of the best quality.

See my article on schooling here https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/switzerland-what-education-options-mark-muss/

8.     Health insurance

Having yourself covered in terms of healthcare is a very fundamental thing and you want to make sure that you are properly covered. the government makes it mandatory for everyone to have health insurance coverage for those who remain in country for more than 3 months.

There are a lot of companies nowadays who are providing health insurance globally and there is a good chance that your current company is probably operating globally. However, it doesn’t matter if that is the case or not as you should definitely look into local health insurance options operating within Switzerland.

9.     Make sure your income is at the right level.

There is a huge change that the country you are moving from has a lower cost of living as compared to Switzerland. While it is a great place to live in, Switzerland is generally considered to be one of the most expensive countries around the globe. If you are moving on behalf of your company, do ask the management to have your salary adjusted to make it affordable for yourself to live in Switzerland.

10. Learn the local language

There are three different regions of Switzerland in terms of language differences based on its geography; German, French and Italian. Do a little research about the place you are moving to and see which language is being spoken there. Learn that language if you can or at least familiarize yourself with the commonly used phrases. While almost all Swiss people can speak perfect English, the show great appreciation if you make an effort to speak their local language.

11. Learn about public transport

The Swiss public transport is quite good in terms of quality of service and timeliness. Unless you are living in a far flung area of the country, there is a very little chance that you will need to take a car to reach most destinations. Familiarizing yourself with how the Swiss public transport works can help you save a lot of money as driving your own car can be quite expensive as compared to traveling on public transport.

12. Be mentally prepared

While all else is just the preparation for your stay and your living circumstances, the most important part is still how well you take to living in Switzerland. Depending on your interests, try to find things in the area you are moving to that may be of interest to you. Make friends when you get there and try to be social as possible with other expats and well as the locals

Also what should not be missed is to explore the outdoors as this is something that you will find refreshing in Switzerland, giving you a chance to adjust easily in your new environment.