Consulting

Taking up residence in Switzerland

By Claudia Mattig and Dr Willy Huber, Treuhand- und Revisionsgesellschaft Mattig-Suter & Partner

Moving to Switzerland needs to be considered carefully and must be prepared, planned, organised and carried out with attention to detail. Otherwise there might be many unpleasant surprises, disappointments and problems, and above all there might be problems with Swiss laws. Anyone intending to move to Switzerland should study those requirements and regulations of Swiss law which are important to them and this should be done in good time, as well as during and after moving to Switzerland.

This fact sheet gives foreign nationals moving to Switzerland information about important legal aspects and problems. Due to the limited space available, the information provided can only be of a general nature and foreign nationals interested in moving to Switzerland will also need to seek individual advice well beforehand from specialists. For further information, please refer to the full version of this fact sheet, containing also a separate helpful check list, available at www.mattig.ch.

1. Requirement for settlement and residence permit for Switzerland

Anyone who wants to take up residence in Switzerland requires a residence or settlement permit from the local authority responsible for issuing such permits. The regulations are very extensive and complex. A decision to issue a permit is dependent on factors such as nationality, age, kind of employment or professional activity, the financial situation and previous connections to Switzerland. For pensioners and those who are not gainfully employed at all or not gainfully employed in Switzerland, there is a simplified authorisation process.

2. Customs duty and value added tax on imported household effects and vehicles

Those moving to Switzerland to take up residence can import used and personal household effects (home furnishings, personal items, vehicles for personal use older than six months etc.) into Switzerland without having to pay customs duty and VAT. However, it will be necessary to deal with customs formalities.

3. Registration of imported vehicles and recognition of foreign driving licences

Imported vehicles must be registered with the road traffic authorities of the canton of residence within one year of taking up residence. The foreign driving licence is valid for the first 12 months of residence in Switzerland and must then be exchanged for a Swiss driving licence. The holder of a valid driving licence does not need to take a full driving test again in Switzerland, but has to prove fitness to drive and knowledge of the Swiss highway code in a test drive.

4. Income and wealth tax situation (direct taxes)

Switzerland levies income and wealth tax from all residents on three levels (federation, canton and commune). Foreign nationals wishing to move to Switzerland will have to carefully research their tax situation and take appropriate action, both before and after their move. Foreign nationals from a country where residents are taxed according to the nationality principle (i.e. unrelated to the place of residence) will still have to pay the taxes of their home country when they have moved to Switzerland. This applies to U.S. citizens, for example. In such cases, it is important to avoid double taxation by the home country and the new country of residence. People who keep assets abroad after moving to Switzerland (e.g. in the form of property, financial and business assets) will have to take care of tax issues both abroad or in the country they are moving from and in Switzerland to avoid undesirable tax consequences and double taxation.

5. National social security

Switzerland has a national social security system which also applies to foreign nationals moving to Switzerland. Essentially, whether employed, self-employed or not economically active, everyone is required to pay contributions to state compulsory social security (Old Age and Survivors Insurance, AHV) from the age of 18. Liability to pay contributions for those in employment persists throughout the entire duration of employment in Switzerland. Those not in employment are liable to pay AHV contributions based on their personal assets until they reach the normal retirement age (for men on reaching their 65th birthday, for women on reaching their 64th birthday). Just as with the tax situation, there can also be problems and conflicts with the social insurance system of Switzerland and that of the country the foreign national is moving from or the foreign country in which the new Swiss resident continues to be employed. Foreign nationals moving to Switzerland are therefore also urgently advised to seek specialist advice on their individual social insurance situation.

6. Private insurance

All insurance policies should be checked thoroughly and amended in line with the new life situation.

The following insurances are compulsory in Switzerland: health insurance for everybody, accident insurance for employees, vehicle insurance and building insurance.

7. Matrimonial property regime in the case of married couples

In most countries, married couples are subject to a legally regulated law of property for married people. In Switzerland, this is called the matrimonial property regime. This regulates what belongs to which spouse and how marital property settlement is handled when the marriage is dissolved through the death of a spouse or divorce.

Individual countries have totally different state regulations according to their legal systems and cultural backgrounds. Married foreign nationals moving to Switzerland should therefore review and adapt their matrimonial property situation very carefully. Married couples who are subject to the Swiss matrimonial property regime can arrange their financial assets relatively freely to suit their own needs in the form of a marriage contract.

8. Inheritance law

What inheritance law applies after moving to Switzerland? Who is to inherit from a deceased foreign national who moved to Switzerland and to what extent? How would the foreign national moving to Switzerland like to have his inheritance rights regulated? Do the statutory rights of inheritance of the foreign home country or former country of residence continue to apply despite moving to Switzerland or does Swiss inheritance law apply as Switzerland is the foreign national’s new country of residence? How are assets abroad bequeathed in inheritance cases? Should the inheritance law of the home country apply or does Swiss inheritance law apply? As it is the case with matrimonial property law, we would like to remind you that the same applies to inheritance law – every country throughout the world has totally different legal provisions.

9. Inheritance and gift tax

Inheritance taxes are closely linked to inheritance law (cf. point 8): high inheritance taxes are levied in many countries. The problem is currently becoming increasingly critical as many countries are seeking to tap new sources of income due to the international debt crisis. An inheritance is sometimes subject to a tax burden of between 40% and?50?%, or even higher depending on the country concerned. There is (currently) no inheritance tax at federal level in Switzerland. Inheritance taxes vary widely in the 26 Swiss cantons according to their own regulations. However, bequests to spouses and direct descendants are free of inheritance tax or at least enjoy generous relief in most cantons. Only the canton of Schwyz levies no inheritance tax at all.

When foreign nationals move to Switzerland, the inheritance tax situation changes radically and can lead to severe inheritance tax problems, including double taxation. Inheritance tax planning is therefore crucial for people moving to Switzerland.

10. Property rent and purchase

There is no restriction on property rental in Switzerland by foreign nationals, in other words no state or official approval is required. Swiss rental law applies to the civil law aspect, i.e. the tenancy agreement.

The purchase of property in Switzerland by foreign nationals who do not have Swiss citizenship can be subject to restrictions depending on the nationality of the foreign national. Nationals of EU or EFTA countries who are resident in Switzerland can acquire property in Switzerland just like Swiss citizens without any restrictions. Citizens of countries outside the EU and EFTA, who live in Switzerland on the basis of a temporary residence permit, can only acquire an apartment or house without authorisation if it is for their own use. The acquisition of other property requires authorisation in accordance with “the federal law on the acquisition of real estate by non-residents”.


Claudia Mattig, Swiss Certified Accountant
Treuhand- und Revisionsgesellschaft Mattig-Suter & Partner
Altdorf, Brig, Schwyz, Zug, Switzerland
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; W: http://www.mattig.ch

 

 

 



Dr. Willy Huber,  Lawyer and Notary public
Treuhand- und Revisionsgesellschaft Mattig-Suter & Partner
Altdorf, Brig, Schwyz, Zug, Switzerland
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; W: http://www.mattig.ch

 

 

 

 


published: November 2014

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This privacy policy describes the collection and use of your personal data made by GGI Geneva Group International AG Zürich as data controller, a joint-stock company incorporated under Swiss law with Swiss company registration number CH-170.3.020.433-0 whose registered offices at Schaffhauserstrasse 550, 8052 Zurich, Switzerland (hereinafter referred to as "GGI"). GGI’s data protection manager is Mr. Marco IZZO, who can be contacted by email at the following address: izzo@ggi.com.

A. Which data does GGI collect?

In the context of your organisation’s membership in GGI (or potential membership) or collaboration or your participation to a GGI event, GGI may collect the following information about you: name, gender, title, date of birth, position, email address, phone number, key competences, practice area, special interests, CV, picture, social media pages (such as your LinkedIn profile), memberships, languages spoken, private, political and business positions, insurances, signature, address, travel arrangement details, accommodation preferences, credit card details, identity card or passport copy, visa information, participation in meetings, participation in optional activities, information about transactions and deals concluded.

GGI may also collect data about your (minor) children when they accompany you to events organised by GGI. In that case, GGI may collect their names, photo, accommodation dates, travel arrangement details, participation in optional activities and their identity card or visa when it is necessary.

This information may qualify as personal data under the applicable legislation (including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) n° 2016/679).

GGI may also collect “special categories” of personal data, such as health condition, allergies and dietary preferences.
The collected personal data are considered useful or even necessary for GGI to provide its services to its members and events’ participants. Some data are mandatory (such as name, e-mail address, picture, address, accommodation dates, participation in meetings, participation in optional activities, your company name: without these data, you will not be able to benefit from GGI’s services. Other data is optional and will allow GGI to provide a better service.

B. Use of personal data

1. Purposes of the processing and legal bases for processing

GGI processes the above-mentioned information for the following purposes:
- Compiling and using general or specific mailing lists for sending newsletters, announcements (e.g. new members) and information emails (e.g. related to a particular conference)
- Listing in the GGI global directory publicly accessible online at www.ggi.com
- Organising and executing GGI activities (e.g. contacting members for participating in GGI projects such as writing articles for the newsletter or publications on social media, matchmaking and networking, organising social events, invoicing)
- Analysis of the activities and the functioning of the GGI organisations (e.g. post-event analysis based on the attendance of the delegates of the various sessions)
- Business development activities related to candidates for GGI membership, potential partnerships and/or collaborations
- Announcements on new members on social media and sharing of members’ articles on social media
- Inclusion in the GGI’s website internal area downloadable Excel files (including the contact details)
- Publication of tombstones related to members’ transactions

Where possible GGI requests your consent for the processing of your personal data. GGI will also ask for your specific consent when it processes sensitive data (e.g. dietary requirements). However, it is not always possible to process your personal data on the basis of your consent. GGI will process your personal data where you act as the contact person or representative of your organisation, for the performance of the contract that GGI has with your organisation (e.g. organisations of meetings, networking or conferences); such processing will serve the legitimate interest of GGI, your organisation and third parties involved. GGI also has a legitimate interest in processing the personal data of representatives or contact persons of prospects on the basis of its legitimate interests, i.e. for promoting GGI’s activities and membership. Similarly, prospects have a legitimate interest in being informed about GGI opportunities. Such processing has a limited impact on your rights and freedoms (as a representatives of your organisation), considering the non-sensitive nature of the data and the limited data processing involved.
Concerning the processing of special categories of data, you have given your explicit consent for such processing.

2. Recipients of personal data

GGI may share your personal data with other GGI members (e.g. for referrals or recommendations or in the context of Practice Group activities).

GGI may share your data with processors and GGI partners, such as genevents GmbH, GGI North America Services Corp., Geneva Group International (Latin America) S.A., Geneva Capital Group AG, Geneva Consulting Group AG, and GCG International AG. GGI will only transfer your data in the pursuit of purposes such as the organisation of events and conferences, networking, matchmaking or business development activities.

GGI may also share your personal data (in particular your name and contact details), when it communicates publicly on the (new) membership of organisations (e.g. for marketing purposes and for the listing in the global rankings). Recipients of your personal data will be organisations such as Association of International Law Firms Network (AILFN), European Group of International Accounting Networks (EGIAN), International Accounting Bulletin (IAB), Accountancy Magazine and Accountancy Age.

Your personal data may also be communicated to the general public when GGI sends newsletters or posts announcements via social media.

3. Transfer outside the European Economic Area

Your data will be processed outside the European Economic Area, i.e. in Switzerland, and transferred to and within the European Economic Area, the United States, Argentina and and Uruguay. These countries have been recognised as providing an adequate level of protection of personal data, by the adoption of an adequacy decision by the European Commission (see
https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/law-topic/data-protection/data-transfers-outside-eu/adequacy-protection-personal-data-non-eu-countries_en).

Your data may also be transferred to Thailand and the United Arab Emirates. Your rights as a data subject are guaranteed on the basis of the standard data protection clauses (as proposed by the European Commission).

4. Retention of your personal data

GGI will process your personal data as long as your data are useful for the listed purposes. In principle, it will store and use your data as long as your organisation is a member or a prospect of GGI and you remain a representative for your organisation. Where the processing is based on consent, GGI will stop processing your data when you withdraw your consent.

5. Your rights as data subjects

In addition to the information contained in this data protection policy, you have the right to access the personal data which GGI processes regarding you. Should the personal data that GGI has regarding you be incorrect or incomplete, you are entitled to have the data rectified.

You have the right to request from GGI the erasure of your personal data, when they are no longer necessary for the listed purposes, when you withdraw your consent or when you object to the processing (if GGI or third parties have no overriding legitimate grounds for the processing), when GGI has unlawfully processed the personal data or when GGI is subject to a legal obligation to erase the data. GGI will honour your request, unless it is subject to a legal obligation requiring it to process your personal data, the processing is done for reasons of public interest (public health), for archiving or statistical purposes and for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims.

You are entitled to request the restriction of processing (temporarily) if the accuracy of the personal data is contested, the processing is unlawful and you prefer the restriction of the processing to the erasure of your data, if GGI no longer needs your data except for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims or while it is being verified whether your legitimate interests override GGI’s.

You have the right to object to the processing, when the processing is based on GGI’s or third party’s legitimate interests, on the basis of your particular situation. You also have the right to object when your data are processed for direct marketing purposes by clicking the “unsubscribe” link in the newsletters that you receive.

You are entitled to receive the data concerning you in a structured, machine-readable format that is commonly used and you have the right to have the data transmitted to a controller of your choice (data portability).

You can exercise these rights by sending an e-mail to the data protection manager, Mr. Marco IZZO at izzo@ggi.com.
Should you have a complaint concerning the processing of your personal data, you have the right to lodge a complaint with the competent national supervisory authority.

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