Wonen en leven in Zwitserland

Naar een nieuw land verhuizen is spannend. Aan de andere kant kan het ook verwarrend zijn – vooral in een bureaucratisch land als Zwitserland.

Als je hulp nodig hebt om een ziekteverzekering te vinden die bij jou past, of je hebt assistentie nodig bij je financiele planning: contacteer ons en wij brengen je in contact met specialisten die je gratis advies geven.

Hieronder vind je alvast de belangrijkste dingen die je moet weten bij aankomst in Zwitserland.

Administration || Health Insurance || General Insurance || Pension || Taxation

Administration

Prior to Arrival

  • Visit Switzerland with your family and the area in which you intend to settle prior to making your final decision.
  • Before moving to Switzerland make sure your employer arranges for a valid assurance for a residence permit (Zusicherung der Aufenthaltsbewilligung), an official document stating that you will be eligible for a residence permit once you arrive in Switzerland.
  • Organize temporary or permanent accommodation in Switzerland and relevant insurances (i.e. health, car, home & contents). Health insurance is mandatory in Switzerland and if you do not choose within the first 3 months, you will be placed at a health insurer by the state (usually not advisable ones).
  • Select a moving company specialized in international relocations.
  • Open a bank account with a local bank in order to facilitate payments, deposits and withdrawals in the first few weeks.
  • Place all important administrative documents in one place. You will need to have all of them ready with each visit to any administrative office.
  • When crossing the border, give your permit / visa approval / permit assurance to an official to be stamped.
  • If importing your car, be sure to have all the relevant documentation available when crossing the border.
  • Within 8 days after your arrival in Switzerland you have to announce and register yourself at the citizen registration department (Einwohnerkontrolle) at your local town hall. For this you will need:

After Arrival

o    Passports for all family members (including any animals even!).

o    Assurance for a residence permit (Zusicherung der Aufenthaltsbewilligung). This form will be kept by the registration department and you will be notified when your permit can be picked up.

o    Certificate of marriage (if applicable).

o    Divorce papers (if applicable, especially important if you have children with you from a prior marriage).

o    Birth certificates for all family members.

o    Proof of registration with a local health insurance company.

o    Copy of your housing contract.

o    Your work permit (if applicable).

o    2 passport photos per family member (35 x 45mm pictures only).

  • Be aware of that most administrative tasks will usually carry a fee ranging anywhere from CHF 20 – CHF 200.

Paying Bills

The common practice in Switzerland is to receive a payment slip with each bill called an Einzahlungsschein. Any other form of bill is quite rare. Once you have received this, you can proceed in one of the following ways:

  1. Go to a post office with the bill and cash (you cannot pay by card unless you have a bank account with the post). You can pay at any counter and will receive a proof of payment.
  2. At your bank teller (although additional charges apply at certain banks).
  3. E-banking is another possibility. You will have to request e-banking to be initiated by your bank and will receive all the necessary documentation for this. Some leading banks have e-banking apps that you may use to take a picture of your bill and it will be paid.
  4. For recurring bills it would be advisable to set up automatic payments (Dauerauftrag) or direct debiting (LSV – Lastschriftverfahren). These can both be set up at your bank (note: for direct debit the company billing you will send a form with your first invoice which you need to hand in at your bank).

Health Insurance

Basic Insurance (KVG / Grundversicherung) in a Nut Shell – Manditory

  • Comprised of a legal standard that is identical at every single company.
  • Can be changed annually
  • Additional coverage for accidents is manditory. If you work more than 8 hours a week, your employer must cover you.
  • This insurance covers you for basic things. If hospitalization is necessary you will be placed in the Cantonal hospitals and general ward (up to 8 people per room).
  • You can select various different models of the basic insurance depending on the insurer. Some standard ones are:

o   No special model

  • You are free to choose any doctor you want and receive no discount

o   Family doctor

  • You declare your doctor of choice for a significant discount.

o   Telephone model

  • You first call a service center and describe your health issue if one arises. They will then decide if a visit to the doctor is warranted or not.
  • Franchise

o   You have the option to set your franchise at either 300, 500, 1000, 1500, 2000 or 2500.

o   Franchise is what you will pay yourself (annually). For example if your franchise is at 300 and the doctor bills for the year are CHF 1,500.- you pay the first CHF 300.- and your insurer will pay the other CHF 1,200.-

o   Rule of thumb: If you are sick a lot – franchise 300; if you are never sick – franchise 2500.

Additional Insurance (VVG / Zusatzversicherung) in a Nut Shell

  • Not manditory
  • Accident (Yes or no) following same regulations as basic insurance
  • Following building blocks are standardized and can be mixed:

o   Worldwide Coverage

o   Hospital Stay Category (the higher the category the better the doctors, the food, the care you receive down to the quality of stitching of a wound)

  • General ward (up to 8 people)
  • Half-Private ward (max 2 people)
  • Private ward (max 1 person)

o   Capital Payments

o   Alternative Medicine

o   Dental

o   Perks

  • Payments towards gym membership
  • Payments toward glasses
  • Some health insurers will have the franchise system in the additionals as well.

General Insurances

Personal Liability Insurance

Personal Liability Insurance (Privathaftpflicht Versicherung) covers damages that you cause to a 3rd party. This includes damages to both property and persons, for example:

  • Death, injury or other damages caused to another person
  • Destruction, damage or loss of property
  • Additional clauses can be added for renting of horses, hunting activities, borrowing motor vehicles and gross negligence.

Home Content Insurance

The home content insurance (Hausrat Versicherung) covers the content of your home. The standard home content insurance will cover replacement / reparation costs of the following:

  • Fire
  • Water
  • Natural Hazards
  • Theft
  • Additional clauses can be added for full coverage of all glass surfaces, theft outside the home, luggage, fridge/freezer content and gross negligence

Car Insurance

Car Insurance (MFZ Versicherung or Autoversicherung) covers damages to your car as well as damages you cause to other cars (depending on who is at fault). The following building blocks make up a car insurance, each building block has special sub-options (such as gross negligence, special insurance for all glass-like surfaces etc.):

  • Third-Party Liability (Haftpflicht) – Mandatory!
  • Partial Cover (Teilkasko)

o   Car is insured against theft, fire, natural hazards, collision with animals, glass breakage and vandalism.

  • Complete Cover (Vollkasko)

o   Covers your car for damages to your own vehicle caused by collision, overturning, falling or sinking.

  • Additional clauses can be added for the following:

o   Capital Payments in case of an accident (Unfall Kapital)

o   Parking Damages (Parkschaden)

o   Legal Protection (Rechtschutz)

o   Motor Assistance (MFZ Assistance)

Pension System

The Swiss pension system is comprised of 3 pillars. The first and second pillars are intended to allow you somewhat continue your accustomed standard of living. These first two pillars will secure you roughly 60% of your wage in case of invalidity, death (paid out to your partner / children), and retirement. The third pillar is designed as a supplement to this, in order to allow you to maintain your standard of living and fill in this gap.

First Pillar: State Social Security

The first pillar comprises of:

  • AHV: old age and surviving dependents insurance.
  • IV: disability Insurance.
  • EO: compensation for loss of earned income during military service.
  • ALV: unemployment insurance

AHV/IV is mandatory for all Swiss residents. If you registered correctly in your first weeks at your local office this should all be in order. Your workplace will register that you are employed by them to the AHV office directly.

Second Pillar: Occupational Pension Fund

The second pillar is based on the laws on occupational pension provision (BVG) and accident insurance (UVG). The range of persons insured under second pillar provision is restricted in comparison with the first pillar.

Employees with an income of more than CHF 21,060.- are automatically insured by a second pillar pension fund through their employer.

UVG and BVG insurance has been mandatory for all employees since 1984 and 1985 respectively, while the self-employed can join on a voluntary basis.

It is also possible to integrate your previous employers’ pension plan into your new, Swiss employer’s pension plan. If you should leave Switzerland again it is important to think of what to do with the pension benefits you have earned while working here.

Third Pillar: Private Pension Contributions

As the first two pillars only partially achieve their objective, the state also supports private pension contributions known as the third pillar. This too is enshrined in law and offers partial tax advantages.

In the case of the third pillar, we distinguish between:

  • 3a: Fixed Retirement Savings Schemes

o   Offers tax benefits (whatever is paid in can be pulled of taxable income)

o   Maximum that can be paid in for 2014 is CHF 6,739.- This is adjusted every few years.

  • 3b: Flexible Retirement Saving Schemes

o   Usually do not offer tax benefits

o   No limit to how much you can pay in to

In contrast to the mandatory first and second pillar, individuals have a free choice of savings arrangements for their third pillar contributions.

 

Taxation

Understanding the possible tax errors sometimes made by foreign employees residing in Switzerland and how to avoid them is crucial. Taxes in Switzerland are complex both in determining taxable income and because income is subject to tax at three levels: federal, cantonal and communal/municipal. In addition, a wealth tax is imposed by the canton and the commune.

B-Permit Holders and Tax

Paying tax at source does not mean that all tax obligations have been fulfilled and the tax payer is compliant with the Swiss law. This common misconception can lead to potential troubles with tax authorities.

Foreigners coming to live and work in Switzerland normally receive a B-permit on arrival. This permit is generally valid for five years, after which the individual may qualify for a C-permit (permanent residency).

All B-permit holders are taxed at source. Employers withhold tax directly from your salary based personal details (marital status, children, etc.). Taxable income from all other sources is not included in the employers withholding calculation.

The primary principle in Swiss tax law is that everyone must pay taxes according to their global economic capacities. In other words Swiss tax rates are based on worldwide income and wealth.

Swiss tax responsibilities

Any salary earned in the Swiss place of residence is taxable in Switzerland.

Foreign income (credit interest on bank accounts, bond coupons, share dividends and so on) may be taxed at source (withholding tax) by the local bank outside Switzerland. However this income must also be declared in Switzerland and is taxed in Switzerland.

To avoid double taxation, the foreign tax at source/withholding tax can, in general, be partially claimed back in the Swiss tax return and through specific forms relating to the CDI (Convention of Double Taxation).

Real estate follows the in situ rule; that is, it is taxable in the place where it is physically located. But it must also be declared in Switzerland. For example a person paying UK taxes on a house in the UK is still obligated to declare it in Switzerland. A house in another country is taxable in that country, but must also be included in the Swiss tax calculation in order to reach the correct determination of a tax payer’s Swiss marginal tax rates. If the property is not declared, the Swiss tax fine can be high – far greater than the tax burden.