Moving to Switzerland – expat information
If you’re moving to Switzerland there’s plenty to consider from education, travel and food. Make sure you’re prepared by reading our expat guide and then find out how Barclays can help.
As of December 2015, the population of Switzerland is 8.1 million
Source: CIA World Factbook
German (74%); French (21%); Italian (4%); Rumantsch (1%)
Roman Catholic and Protestant
Source: CIA World Factbook
Central European Time - GMT + 1
Popular Employment Sectors
Switzerland isn’t really a nation of bankers. It does have a large financial sector - but more people in the country work in retail, real estate, health and social work, and construction and transport. However almost 6% of its population works in financial services. This is one of the highest percentages of any country - beaten only by Singapore.
If you are a British Citizen or British Subject with Right of Abode in the UK, you will not need a visa to enter Switzerland. Other British passport holders should check entry requirements with the nearest Swiss Diplomatic mission.
Switzerland is a federal republic
Source: CIA World Factbook
Voltage - 230V 50Hz. C/J Type plug.
Source: World Standards
The currency of Switzerland is the Swiss franc (CHF)
International dialing code
The international dialling code for Switzerland is +41
The internet domain for Switzerland is .ch
Facebook is the most popular social media channel in Switzerland. In fact, it is the second most viewed website, after google. Facebook has 2.6m members in Switzerland - and 4.4bn page views per month. In contrast Twitter has just 6.1m page views a month.
Source: MVF Global
Switzerland enjoys some of the fastest broadband connection speeds in Europe. According to a recent survey the average speed in Switzerland was 15.6 Mbps, compared to average speeds of 11.8 Mbps in the UK.
Source: Expat Focus
Mobile network coverage
Mobile phone coverage in Switzerland is excellent, even in more remote and mountainous regions. Around 97% of the population have access to 4G. In urban areas - such as Geneva, Zurich and Basel customers now also have access to 4G+.
117 Police. 118 Fire Dept. 144 Ambulance.
If you already have an European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), you can get public medical treatment in Switzerland at a reduced cost while you are in the country for the first three months. An EHIC does not cover private treatment. You will need to keep any paperwork and receipts to apply for refunds or reimbursement on your return to your home country.
Once you take up permanent residence in Switzerland and/or employment you are no longer covered by the EHIC and must register with a Swiss health insurance company.
Swiss cuisine combines influences from German, French and North Italian cuisine.
Smart, edging on very smart in large cities. Layer up for the colder months.
There is no obligation to tip anybody in restaurants, cafés, bars, hotels. However, Swiss Federal law has required that all service charges be included in published prices. However many people in Switzerland do add a small tip in the region of 10-20%.
Responsibility for education lies with the 26 cantons (states), and varies. There are various stages, including kindergarten primary, secondary I and II, and tertiary.
Source: About Switzerland
Cost of private education
Private schools are fee paying, varying in price from approximately CHF 15,000 to CHF 30,000 per year.
Source: Hello Switzerland
- ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)
- Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
- University of Zurich, University of Geneva.
Source: Top Universities
Cost of childcare
There are more than 2,000 crèches in Switzerland, according to the Swiss Crèche Association (KiTaS). About 90% are private. They are primarily financed by parents’ contributions. The government contributes through subsidies to the centre, the parents or through childcare ‘vouchers’ issued by the government. Private crèches cost between CHF60 and CHF150 per day in the cities of Bern and Zurich. A subsidised place costs about CHF10, the crèche association estimates.
Cost of a nanny
A typical dinner for four costs around CHF140. Four cinema tickets costs around CHF70
People drive on the right side of the road. If you’re visiting Switzerland, you will be able to drive using your British driving licence. The minimum age to drive in Switzerland is 18, or 16 for motorcycles.
Train ticket costs
A three-day 2nd class travel pass costs CHF210 with First class at CHF336. Children under 16 travel at half this price.
Cost of a taxi journey
CHF30-35 for a five-mile journey on a business day.
Building insurance is required for property owners. Insurance usually sold in a package with contents insurance.
At least third-party insurance is obligatory. For fully comprehensive insurance, expect to pay in the region of CHF1,200 per year for an average car.
One month (heating, electricity, gas) for 2 people in an 85m2 flat ranges from approx CHF192-194 (in relation to Geneva)
National Insurance Contributions
When you live and work in the UK, you make National Insurance Contributions (NICS), which mean you’re entitled to claim a state pension at retirement and other benefits. If you move abroad and stop paying UK NICS, the amount of state pension and other benefits you can claim when you return to the UK could be affected. However, you can make voluntary payments to top up you contributions. There are two types of contribution that you can make, either Class 2 or Class 3.
The information above has been collated from a range of reputable sources. Some of the lifestyle information may be anecdotal or the opinion of the source and is therefore a guide only. If living abroad and planning to return to the UK, you may want to continue making National Insurance payments in the UK to contribute to a state pension. Visit HMRC.gov.uk for more information.
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