Fast Facts

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Time Zone:

The Swiss time zone is CET (Central European Time). This is GMT +1.

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Largest Cities:

Zürich, Geneva, Basel, Bern, Lausanne 

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Size:

Switzerland is a relatively small country of only 41,285 square kilometers with a population of 8.5 million people.

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Currency:

The currency of Switzerland is the Swiss Franc.

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Region:

Switzerland is a federal republic, made up of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. It is situated in Western Europe, and is landlocked by Germany in the north, France in the west, Italy to the south, and Austria and Lichtenstein to the east.

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Language:

Switzerland has four official languages: German (spoken by 63.7% of the population), French, Italian and Romansh. English is also spoken, or at least understood in major cities such as Geneva or Zürich.

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Climate:

The Swiss climate is generally temperate, but can vary greatly between the localities ranging from glacial conditions on the mountaintops to a pleasant near Mediterranean climate in the south of the country.

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Wealth:

Switzerland is one of the richest countries in the world per capita and has the highest wealth per adult of any country in the world.

Swiss Culture

The polite and customary form to greet others would be a firm handshake for men and women. Children are also invited to greet others with a handshake. Close friends and family will commonly embrace. In the German populated areas, women will typically embrace. In the French and Italian areas, both men and women embrace at their greeting. It is common to receive a kiss on both cheeks from acquaintances. 

The Swiss do not carry themselves with boisterous or loud behaviors. One should avoid yelling across a room to call attention to someone. Additional negative gestures would be talking with one’s hands in their pockets, resting one’s ankle on their knee, and chewing gum in public.

While addressing others, one should use titles and last names. The younger generation take a more casual approach and refer to each other by only first names. One should follow a more formal traditional approach unless invited to do otherwise.

 Swiss Culture
 Swiss Culture

Swiss Culture

The polite and customary form to greet others would be a firm handshake for men and women. Children are also invited to greet others with a handshake. Close friends and family will commonly embrace. In the German populated areas, women will typically embrace. In the French and Italian areas, both men and women embrace at their greeting. It is common to receive a kiss on both cheeks from acquaintances. 

The Swiss do not carry themselves with boisterous or loud behaviors. One should avoid yelling across a room to call attention to someone. Additional negative gestures would be talking with one’s hands in their pockets, resting one’s ankle on their knee, and chewing gum in public.

While addressing others, one should use titles and last names. The younger generation take a more casual approach and refer to each other by only first names. One should follow a more formal traditional approach unless invited to do otherwise.

Swiss Culture

If invited to someone’s home for dinner, one should arrive promptly at the invited hour whether for business or a social setting. Guests should present the host with a bouquet of unwrapped flowers for their hospitality. 

During the meal, one should hold their fork in the left hand and the knife in the right. One should not take a sip of the beverage until the host or hostess initiates a customary toast. Guests should look directly at the host, respond verbally, and clink glasses with everyone within reach at the table prior to drinking.

Conversation at business or social settings should center around sports, sightseeing, local culture, and travel. One should avoid discussing personal matters and discussions of work if the setting is social.

Punctuality is highly important when meeting with Swiss counterparts.

Housing in Switzerland

If you’re moving to Zürich or Geneva, keep in mind that the cost of living is very high. 

More than half of the population in Switzerland rent apartments rather than buy housing. Recent reports however have indicated the rental market is changing as wealthier households’ transition to ownership. Because of this, apartment vacancies are on the rise and rental prices are decreasing. 

Legal residency is required to rent or own property in Switzerland. Keep in mind when you’re looking for housing to remain flexible regarding the location. If you’re move to Switzerland is permanent, it’s wise to first rent while familiarizing yourself with the area and then purchase a home. A general rule of thumb is to only purchase housing if you’re staying in the country longer than six years.

According to Internations, the most popular catons, or cities, for expats are Zürich, Geneva, Bern, Winterthur, Lausanne, Basel, Ticino, St. Gallen and Lucern.

 Housing in Switzerland
 Housing in Switzerland

Housing in Switzerland

If you’re moving to Zürich or Geneva, keep in mind that the cost of living is very high. 

More than half of the population in Switzerland rent apartments rather than buy housing. Recent reports however have indicated the rental market is changing as wealthier households’ transition to ownership. Because of this, apartment vacancies are on the rise and rental prices are decreasing. 

Legal residency is required to rent or own property in Switzerland. Keep in mind when you’re looking for housing to remain flexible regarding the location. If you’re move to Switzerland is permanent, it’s wise to first rent while familiarizing yourself with the area and then purchase a home. A general rule of thumb is to only purchase housing if you’re staying in the country longer than six years.

According to Internations, the most popular catons, or cities, for expats are Zürich, Geneva, Bern, Winterthur, Lausanne, Basel, Ticino, St. Gallen and Lucern.

Shipping a car to Switzerland

Shipping a car to Switzerland

Vehicles to be imported into Switzerland that have been owned for less than six months will be charged an import tax. Official documentation confirming the value of the car and its country of origin must be provided, and the import duties will include customs duties, 7.6% VAT, 15CHF for a required report and a consumption tax of 4% of the vehicle’s value.

Imported vehicles that have been owned for more than six months are not charged an import duty but will require a completed clearance request form for moving purposes. Once a car has been imported, the motor registration office will inform the owner that an official motor vehicle registration will take place within a year. Once this test has been completed, drivers pay a canton-specific road tax (between 100-200CHF depending on the engine size). Insurance and license plates must also be purchased.

Relocating Pets to Switzerland

Pets can be relocated into the country, albeit certain conditions apply. Animals must be imported as a pet (i.e. cannot be brought in to sell), and a maximum of only five animals may be imported. A veterinary certificate must be obtained, unless re-importing a Swiss animal.

Cats, dogs and ferrets imported from the EU must have a PETS Scheme Pet passport, which involves fitting said pet with a microchip and vaccinating against rabies at least 21 days before travel.

If a pet is being imported from a country that is outside the EU but considered a low rabies risk, they can be imported if they have been in the country for at least six months or from birth, and be administered a micro-chip prior to the anti-rabies vaccine, which must take place at least 21 days before travel.

Countries that are considered low risk include: Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand. It is advisable that that all micro-chips in an animal are ‘Euro chips’.

Importing a pet via air requires an animal health permit, which must be obtained at least three weeks before travel. This is obtained from the Federal Veterinary Office (FVO).

All pets must be registered upon arrival in Switzerland – for example, a dog must be registered to the local authorities so that a dog tax can be paid.

 Relocating Pets to Switzerland
 Relocating Pets to Switzerland

Relocating Pets to Switzerland

Pets can be relocated into the country, albeit certain conditions apply. Animals must be imported as a pet (i.e. cannot be brought in to sell), and a maximum of only five animals may be imported. A veterinary certificate must be obtained, unless re-importing a Swiss animal.

Cats, dogs and ferrets imported from the EU must have a PETS Scheme Pet passport, which involves fitting said pet with a microchip and vaccinating against rabies at least 21 days before travel.

If a pet is being imported from a country that is outside the EU but considered a low rabies risk, they can be imported if they have been in the country for at least six months or from birth, and be administered a micro-chip prior to the anti-rabies vaccine, which must take place at least 21 days before travel.

Countries that are considered low risk include: Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand. It is advisable that that all micro-chips in an animal are ‘Euro chips’.

Importing a pet via air requires an animal health permit, which must be obtained at least three weeks before travel. This is obtained from the Federal Veterinary Office (FVO).

All pets must be registered upon arrival in Switzerland – for example, a dog must be registered to the local authorities so that a dog tax can be paid.

Schooling in Switzerland

Schooling in Switzerland

Switzerland claims to have one of the world’s best education systems and there is a wealth of options available for families moving with children, including state, private and international schools. Switzerland’s education system aims to provide a healthy balance between academic knowledge and practical experience.

Education is mandatory across Switzerland for children who have turned 4 by the 31st July.

The school term lengths vary depending on the canton, but all regions have 1 week’s holiday in December for Christmas, 2 weeks’ holiday in February or March as a Sport Holiday, 2 weeks off in April or May for a Spring Holiday, 5 weeks’ holiday in July or August for Summer Holiday and 2 weeks off in October for an Autumn holiday.

About our Local Geneva Office

Date Opened: 2011

Country Manager: Dominique Mundia 

Location: 

Geneva, Switzerland
Route des Jeunes 5A, 1227 Les Acacias
Geneva, Switzerland
+41 22 750 60 60

Service offerings:

  • Full-service local, regional and international home moving services
  • Employee relocation services
  • Assignment management services
  • Visa and immigration services
  • Move management services
  • Lump sum program management 
  • Advisory and consulting services
About our Local Geneva Office
About our Local Geneva Office

About our Local Geneva Office

Date Opened: 2011

Country Manager: Dominique Mundia 

Location: 

Geneva, Switzerland
Route des Jeunes 5A, 1227 Les Acacias
Geneva, Switzerland
+41 22 750 60 60

Service offerings:

  • Full-service local, regional and international home moving services
  • Employee relocation services
  • Assignment management services
  • Visa and immigration services
  • Move management services
  • Lump sum program management 
  • Advisory and consulting services

Fun Facts About our Geneva Office

1

Our office location is in the United Nations European Headquarters

2

Lake Geneva, the largest lake in Europe, is very close to our office

3

The World Wide Web was invented and developed in Geneva at the CERN laboratories

4

Approx. 65,000 French residents cross the border to work in Geneva every day

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