2008 Statistics on the Swiss abroad

Bern, Press release, 13.02.2009

After the record increase of 23,097 persons in 2007, the number of Swiss living abroad increased by only 8,069 persons in 2008. The total is now 676,176. The community of the Swiss abroad has increased by 114,620 (20.4 %) over the last 10 years.

At the end of December 2008, 676,176 Swiss nationals were living abroad. This represents an increase of 8,069 (1.2 %) on the previous year. In the years from 1999 to 2006, the yearly rate of increase fluctuated between 1.2 % and 2.3 % and in 2007 it rose to 3.6 %. This record was mainly due to higher registration figures for persons who have been living abroad for a longer period. The reason for this retrospective registration was probably the final expiry of prolonged passports Model 85. 

In absolute figures the largest increase in 2008 (884) was in the USA, followed by France (875), Canada (516), Israel (515) and Germany (431). The biggest decrease was in Venezuela (-79). 

In percentage terms, Asia with 6.1 % shows by far the highest rate of increase, followed by Oceania with 2.0 %, America with 1.2 %, Africa with 1.1 % and Europe with 0.8 %. The rate of increase in the European Union was 0.6 %. 

Looking at countries with large Swiss communities, (> 10’000) Israel tops the list with a rate of increase of 3.9 %, followed by Australia (1.9 %), Canada (1.4 %), Spain (1.3 %) and the USA (1.2 %). 

High rates of increase in countries with medium-sized Swiss communities (500 – 10,000) occurred in the United Arab Emirates (20.9 %, 299 persons), Serbia (12.8 %, 108 persons), Croatia (10.8 %, 87 persons), Turkey (10.4 %, 220 persons) and Singapore (10.4 %, 214 persons). 

The causes of these changes are not recorded in the statistics. 

The majority of Swiss nationals abroad – 405,393 or 60 % - live in countries of the European Union. The largest communities of the Swiss abroad (including border crossers) are in France (177,598), Germany (75,439), Italy (48,147), Great Britain (28,438), Spain (23,622) and Austria (14,002). 

Outside Europe, the largest numbers of Swiss abroad live in the USA (74,862), Canada (38,200), Australia (22,429), Argentina (15,489), Brazil (14,442), Israel (13,666) and South Africa (9,045). 

485,286 persons (71.6 %) have dual nationality. The highest proportion is in Argentina (91.1 %). The statistics are based on data provided at the time of registration. Nationalities acquired at a later date are often not reported by Swiss nationals abroad. Ten years ago the percentage in this category was 69.5 %. 

57.6 % (1998: 60.0 %) of adult persons abroad (excluding the Principality of Liechtenstein), a total of 299,929 persons, are women. 22.5 % (1998: 23.5 %) of all Swiss nationals abroad – 152,247 persons – are under 18. 17.3 % (1998: 14.5 %) – 117,339 persons – are aged 65 and over. 

The statistics include all Swiss nationals living abroad who have registered at a Swiss representation abroad. Swiss nationals who intend to reside in a consular district for more than twelve months are required to register with a Swiss representation (Regulation of the Swiss Diplomatic and Consular Service of 24 November 1967; SR 191.1). 


Further information:

2008 Statistics on the Swiss abroad


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