Special provisions apply to Swiss nationals living abroad with regard to citizenship, the obligation to perform military service, and social insurance.
Other areas subject to national law
Swiss citizenship confers rights and obligations in terms of political participation as well as the right to enter and stay in Switzerland at any time.
There are four ways in which individuals domiciled abroad can acquire Swiss citizenship:
- Birth (paternal or maternal side)
- Adoption as a minor (by Swiss citizens)
- Facilitated naturalisation
Individuals domiciled abroad can apply for facilitated naturalisation via the responsible representation. In particular, this option is available to:
Children of a Swiss parent who do not yet hold Swiss citizenship
Foreign spouses of Swiss citizens who live abroad; naturalisation is not possible for individuals in registered same-sex relationships who are domiciled abroad
Responsibility for facilitated naturalisation lies solely with the Confederation. Applications should be made via the responsible representation.
Loss of or discharge from citizenship
Children who are born abroad and whose mother or father is a Swiss citizen must be registered with a Swiss authority (e.g. representation of the country in which they are domiciled) before they reach the age of 22 or declare that they want to keep their Swiss citizenship (right to opt in). Otherwise, they will lose the citizenship that they acquired at birth.
Swiss nationals domiciled abroad can apply to be discharged from citizenship if they hold or have been guaranteed any other nationality. Applications should be made via the responsible representation.
Obligation to perform military service
Compulsory national service (i.e. military service or alternative civilian service) applies in Switzerland. Swiss citizens who live in Switzerland are required to enlist for national service at the age of 18.
Swiss nationals who live and work abroad are exempt from the obligation to perform military service in times of peace. They can do military service on a voluntary basis.
Swiss nationals with dual citizenship who have fulfilled military obligations in their other home country are, according to Swiss law, exempt from the obligation to perform military service.
Swiss nationals whose domicile and place of work are situated abroad can voluntarily enlist with a view to doing basic military training and performing training drills.
Obligation to perform military service for Swiss nationals with dual citizenship
Domicile determines the extent to which Swiss nationals with dual citizenship are obliged to perform military service:
If Switzerland is the country of domicile, the obligation to perform military service is comprehensive
Swiss nationals with dual citizenship who live and work abroad are, according to Swiss law, exempt from performing military service, provided they have fulfilled military obligations in their other home country (military service or financial contribution in lieu). However, they are liable to pay military service exemption tax to the Confederation instead
Social insurance and Swiss nationals abroad
In principle, individuals who are domiciled in Switzerland and/or who work in Switzerland are subject to Swiss social security insurance. Under certain conditions, this insurance is also an option for individuals domiciled abroad.
The responsible representation will, on request, provide you with information about social insurance for Swiss nationals abroad.
The Agreement of 21 June 1999 on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP) between Switzerland and the EU, which also applies to EFTA states, complements the right of free movement with the coordination of national social security systems in respect of old age, disability, surviving dependents, illness, maternity, occupational accidents and unemployment. However, the agreement does not cover social welfare.
The provisions of the AFMP apply to Swiss nationals abroad who live in the territory of one of the parties to the agreement.
Health and accident insurance
Individuals who live and/or work in Switzerland are subject to health and accident insurance on a compulsory basis. As a rule, Swiss nationals living abroad are personally responsible for obtaining adequate private insurance cover.