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Everything that changes in October 2019 in Switzerland

From winding back the clocks to preparing for (a possible) Brexit, plenty of changes are set to take place in Switzerland in October.

Everything that changes in October 2019 in Switzerland
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Here’s a list of some of the most significant changes that will be taking place across Switzerland in October.

While it's only early October, from swapping out your summer jacket for a winter one to sampling seasonal cuisine, our readers will have already noticed plenty of changes as autumn swings into gear.  

READ: Five things to do in autumn in Switzerland

There are however a range of specific changes which are set to take place this month – along with a few others that are up in the air at this stage. 

The government (potentially)

The Swiss will go to the polls on October 20th, 2019, electing all members of both the upper and the lower house of the Federal Assembly. 

Although the elections are organised individually by the cantons, all but one will take place on the third Sunday in October, with the exception being Appenzell Innerrhoden which held its elections back in April. 

Here’s our detailed rundown of the major parties ahead of the Swiss election. 

READ: The Local readers’ view on Swiss Elections: 'I pay taxes but have no say'

Winding back the clocks

The coming of winter means daylight savings time is coming to an end. On Sunday, October 27th, the clocks will be wound back from 3am to 2am – giving all of us an all-important extra hour of sleep. 






L’horloge fleurie a vu le jour en 1955 grâce au soutien financier de l’Union des fabricants d’horlogerie de Genève et de Vaud. Cette image prise l’année de sa création nous la montre dans sa version originale aux couleurs genevoises. 5000 plantes composent le parterre! Photographe anonyme travaillant pour les éditions Jaeger, Genève, promenade du Lac: l’horloge fleurie, 1955, Bibliothèque de Genève, CIG Crédit: Ville de Genève . . #photographiegeneve #collection #Geneve #geneva #horlogefleurie #flowerclock #horlogerie #watchmaking #igersgeneva #photooftheday #picoftheday #photography #followme #like4like #likeforlike #instalike

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Geneva's famous flower clock will be wound back – potentially for the second-last time ever – in October. 

While the debate surrounding ending daylight savings time has ramped up in recent years across the EU, suggested changes are not set to come in until 2021, meaning this October is likely to be the second-last time that Swiss residents will wind their clocks back.

READ: Switzerland bides time on daylight savings decision

Brexit game

On October 31st 2019, the United Kingdom is set to leave the European Union. This deadline was set pursuant to the second extension the UK government has received, with the first set for March 29th 2019 and the second set at 30th June 2019. 

While current British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has indicated that the October 31st deadline will not be extended under any circumstances, debate surrounding the nature of the UK’s withdrawal deal is continuing. 

Read: Brexit Q&A: Embassy answers questions from anxious Brits in Switzerland 

Another important October date is the 19th, with the current law requiring the UK to seek another extension to the deadline if an agreement is not reached by this date. The suggested extension deadline should this October 19th deadline be met is January 31st, 2020. 

While Switzerland is not a member of the European Union, there are potentially a range of consequences for British nationals as a result of the UK’s withdrawal. Our full Brexit coverage can be found here



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Brexit: EU issues guidance after Britons ‘wrongfully held’ at Schengen borders

The European Commission has been forced to issue guidance to EU member states on the treatment of UK citizens with post-Brexit residence rights transiting the Schengen borders, after it emerged some were wrongfully detained last year.

Brexit: EU issues guidance after Britons 'wrongfully held' at Schengen borders

The document was distributed on July 14th to national delegations of EU countries, as well as Iceland, Norway and Switzerland/Liechtenstein, but it was made public only on September 5th by Statewatch, a charity reporting on civil liberties.

It was distributed after the Commission noted in 2022 that there have been some cases of UK citizens with post-Brexit rights as legal residents of EU member states “encountering problems when transiting Schengen states on their way to the member state where they reside.”

The Commission received reports of UK beneficiaries of the withdrawal agreement entering another Schengen country and being “held by the police because they did not have a valid residence document”.

In the first case, the individual had a valid document, but the state that issued it had not asked the Commission to include the documents in the Schengen Practical Handbook for Border Guards, which is used as a reference regarding which forms of documentation are valid for which purposes, Statewatch explained. The second case concerned residence documents that were no longer valid.

The cases were reported to the Commission, which is tasked to monitor the correct implementation of the post-Brexit arrangements for UK citizens. The issue was then brought to the attention of the UK-EU Specialised Committee on Citizens’ Rights.

UK nationals living in the EU did not retain free movement rights after Brexit. Under the Withdrawal Agreement the rights they previously enjoyed were maintained only in their country of residence.

In July, the Commission circulated the note to “remind member states of the applicable rules with regard to UK nationals that are beneficiaries of the withdrawal agreement” and “to prevent that they are being wrongfully detained whilst transiting through the Schengen area”. The guidelines apply to UK nationals and their family members.

The Commission specifies: “In a nutshell, beneficiaries of the withdrawal agreement can use their residence documents issued under the Withdrawal Agreement as well as other means of evidence at the border to prove their residence status and connected rights, such as not being subject to the maximum duration of stay of up to 90 days in a 180 days’ period in their host State.”

As a “fall-back solution to tackle comparable incidents”, it is also recommended to border guards of “second member states” (not those of residence) “to ensure that the individuals concerned are afforded the opportunity to rebut the presumption of their illegal stay” and to “regularise” their short-term stay by an entry stamp on the passport.

The note further reminds countries that UK citizens legally resident in the Schengen area will not be included in the Entry Exit System (EES) and the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), which are expected to be introduced probably next year.

“Further practical instructions will be issued closer to the entry into application of these two systems,” the document says.