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SWISS CITIZENSHIP

How much does it cost to become a Swiss citizen?

Becoming a Swiss citizen is difficult and at times expensive. But the exact amount differs from canton to canton.

How much does it cost to become a Swiss citizen?

Swiss citizenship is among the most sought after in the world. 

Along with Switzerland being one of the world’s most expensive countries, means that citizenship in the Alpine nation is likely to set you back. 

It’s official! Switzerland is the most expensive country in the world

Here are some of the more common costs you’ll need to pay when applying for Swiss citizenship. 

Also, it is imperative that you have your documents in order when you apply. 

According to Swiss immigration agent Fragomen, application fees are non-refundable in all Swiss cantons

26 cantons – and 26 different price structures? 

As is typical in Switzerland, the amount you are going to pay will differ from canton to canton. 

How to apply for Swiss citizenship: An essential guide

No matter where you live in Switzerland, there are effectively three different levels of citizenship: federal, municipal and cantonal. 

Switzerland’s fierce defence of its local customs can mean significant differences from canton to canton. 

In addition to the varying costs you have to pay, there’s also a wide variety in the questions you’ll face as part of the citizenship process. 

This can lead to absurd consequences, like when an Italian man who lived in Switzerland for 30 years was denied citizenship because he didn’t know enough about the animals in the local zoo.

But that’s a matter for a whole other article. 

READ MORE: Would you pass a Swiss citizenship test?

Regarding the various costs from place to place, there was an attempt to bring these varying administrative costs in line across the country back in 2006.

However, this fell flat and the amount you pay is likely to differ depending on where you live. 

Filing an application with federal authorities

When looked at in isolation, many of the costs associated with becoming a Swiss citizen are relatively reasonable. It’s only when you start to add them up that things get a bit out of hand. 

The cost of filing an application with federal authorities is relatively low (100 Swiss francs for an adult, or 150 francs for a couple).

However, cantonal and communal/municipal authorities also charge non-refundable administrative fees which can seriously mount up.

Filing an application with cantonal authorities

According to a study by Le Matin Dimanche, the amount you’re set to pay to cantonal and municipal authorities can vary from a low of 500 francs to more than 3,000. 

The study reveals that administrative costs can range from 500–1,600 francs in the canton of Jura to 1,800–3,000 francs in Fribourg, depending on which commune you live in.

Costs in other cantons include 550 to 800 francs in canton Vaud, 1,000 francs in Valais.

In Geneva, while fees used to be based on income, they are now charged at a flat rate depending on age and whether you are applying as an individual or a couple. 

According to official sources, naturalisation in Geneva costs CHF300.- for minors from 11 to 17 years old; CHF850.- for adults under 25; CHF1250.- for people over 25; CHF1360.- for couples with one member under 25; CHF2000.- for couples over 25; CHF 300.- per child included in the different procedures.

For the canton of Zurich, the cost is listed on the cantonal homepage as 1,200 francs for foreign-born adults aged over 25. 

For people under 25, the municipal authority has recently waived application fees – although you will still need to pay money at cantonal level

Contacted by Le Matin Dimanche, authorities in Fribourg said there was no political motivation behind the high administrative costs associated with citizenship in that canton. A spokesperson said costs of individual applications were calculated based on actual costs incurred.

NOTE: This article is only a guide to some of the most common costs and procedures associated with becoming a Swiss citizen. It is not intended to serve as legal advice. Have we gotten something wrong? Get in touch at [email protected]

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For members

LIVING IN SWITZERLAND

How to dispose of unwanted furniture or whitegoods in Zurich legally

Got an unwanted mattress, fridge or sofa? Here’s how you can legally get it off your hands in Zurich.

How to dispose of unwanted furniture or whitegoods in Zurich legally

If you’ve bought a new piece of furniture in Zurich or a mattress, you may be faced with the problem of what to do with the old one. 

This is particularly the case in cities like Zurich, where space is at a premium and you may not be able to kit out your spare room with the old furniture. 

While there are waste disposal centres, even getting there without a car can be a problem. 

One man’s trash…

First things first, think about whether you really need to get rid of the thing in question. 

While you may not want it, there may be someone out there willing to take it off your hands – particularly if you aren’t going to charge them. 

The first point of call is to ask your friends and colleagues if they’re interested, with social media the perfect place to ask around. 

If you live in an apartment complex, you might try placing the item in a common area with a note saying “zu verschenken” (to give away) or ‘gratis’ (free). 

After that, there are several online options like eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Free Your Stuff Zurich, Ricardo, Anibis, Craig’s List and Tutti. 

Some of these sites will charge a fee – even if you’re giving something away – so be sure to read the fine print first. 

Another option is to donate the goods to a charity organisation. They will usually charge you money to pick it up and prices can vary dramatically. 

Caritas charge CHF35 per 100kg plus transport costs, while Sozialwerk Pfarrer Sieber will pick up small items of furniture for a flat fee, although you’ll need to send them pictures first before they give you a quote. 

Can I put old furniture on the street in Zurich? 

Although less common than many other European cities, occasionally you will see furniture out on the street in front of homes and apartment blocks in Zurich. 

While it might clutter up the sidewalk, it is technically not illegal – provided you only do so for a maximum of 24 hours. 

You also need to make sure it doesn’t block cars, bikes or pedestrians. If it does – or if you leave it out for longer – you risk a fine.

Entsorgungstram: Zurich’s recycling and waste disposal tram

One option is the Entsorgungstram, a mobile recycling centre on rails for all Zurich residents. 

This tram weaves its way through several parts of Zurich, picking up old bulky waste including electrical devices and furniture. 

If you are lucky to live near an Entsorgungstram line, just check the timetable and bring your waste items along to meet the tram. 

There are some rules, as laid out by the Zurich council. 

“The delivered items must not be longer than 2.5 meters (exception: sofa/upholstered furniture can be no longer than 2 meters) and no heavier than 40 kilograms per item. Separate the material beforehand according to its composition: flammable, large metal and landfill”. 

Unfortunately, only pedestrians and cyclists can use this service, i.e. you cannot drive from elsewhere and deposit the stuff. 

More information including route details can be found at the following link. 

Regular waste disposal

Your next option is to see whether you can get rid of it in your usual waste disposal. 

This being Switzerland, there are a lot of rules about what the waste management company will take and will not. 

If you’re throwing away a mirror, for instance, you cannot put that with your other glass waste and will need to dispose of it elsewhere. 

On the other hand, they may take things like carpets and mattresses – although you’ll need to pay a bit extra. 

The exact rules will depend on your municipality, but generally speaking you will need to buy additional waste stickers – which cost money. 

In Zurich itself, every household receives four coupons for disposal of waste (up to 100kg) each. 

When you run out of coupons, you’ll need to pay by the kilo. 

You’ll still need to bring it to the waste disposal facility, or pay a pick up fee of around CHF80. 

This may sound steep, but they do come to your home and pick it up – which will likely be cheaper than a rental car or van. 

In Winterthur, you will need to buy stickers for CHF1.80 from the council, with each sticker letting you dispose of 10kg of waste. 

Check with the retailer where you bought the new item

One option offered by furniture sellers is to buy your old furniture or whitegoods or accept them as a trade in. 

While this is likely to be more common with second hand retailers who might see potential in your unwanted item, it is also a service offered by retailers who only sell new goods. 

One example is Ikea, who will take your old mattress, furniture or electronic device and recycle it. 

This service is available at Ikea outlets for a cost of CHF10 each. 

It is also available when you get something new delivered, although you must pre-book so the driver can be sure to set aside enough space. 

This will cost you CHF80 for furniture, or CHF50 for electronic devices and mattresses. Keep in mind that (at least with Ikea) this service is only available when you buy something new. 

Several other furniture companies offer a similar service, including Schubiger Möbel, Möbel Pfister and Conforama.  

Electrical item retails will often take your old electrical goods for recycling, whether these are small like iPhones or large like fridges and washing machines. 

More information about which goods can be recycled and how in Switzerland is available at the following link. 

Moving companies

Removalist companies are another option – whether you are moving house or not. 

If you are moving house then a disposal service may be included in the overall fees. 

If not, you can still contact the company and get the item taken off your hands. 

While different companies will charge different amounts, you’ll usually pay per 100kg rather than per item, which can be a better (or worse) option than contacting the local council. 

Swiss comparison site Comparis has detailed info about how to find a moving company here

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