If you want to live and work for long term in Switzerland, you can apply for Swiss citizenship. This will not only help in terms of tax incentives, but allow you better access to the facilities provided by the Swiss government through various special programs. . Before applying for Swiss citizenship, there are a number of pertinent elements you should fulfil.
Swiss citizenship is obtained through two distinctive processes
The ordinary or regular naturalization process is the most popular route taken by most individuals to obtain citizenship in Switzerland. The simplified naturalization is a shorter process, less complicated, but it is usually only open for foreign spouses and children of Swiss citizens. Third generation foreigners now have permission to go through facilitated naturalization. By comparison, in 2015, less than 25% of the citizenships were obtainable by naturalization.
Different sets of requirements to apply for the Swiss citizenship
People who want to obtain regular naturalization as foreigners, must meet several requirements laid out on three levels: the Confederation, each Swiss canton and each commune. At the federal level, the basic rules require that the applicant must have lived in Switzerland for at least 12 years (less time for those who spend their adolescence in Switzerland). Furthermore, applicants must abide to the Swiss laws, and they should pose no threat to the country, be familiar by Swiss customs and be well integrated. It’s the role of the canton and the commune authorities to decide how well the applicant has integrated into local communities.
Living in the same canton makes a difference
Even though a person has lived for 12 years in Switzerland, the period spent in one place is also important. It is more difficult to move from one canton to another and then apply for citizenship. Each canton has its own regulations and it is expected to have lived for a considerable period of time in the respective canton before you apply for citizenship. For example, some cantons such as Bern and Geneva require only a two-year residency, while others, such as Uri requiring eight uninterrupted years of residency in the canton. Therefore, it is important to the legal requirement of each Swiss canton.
Cantonal and communal rules are very distinct
Each Swiss canton has its own requirements, the same applies for the communes. In order to establish how well a person has been integrated in the local communities, the following factors are very important—language skills, having friends and colleagues in the community, knowing local history and geography, knowing Swiss traditions, customs and politics, and being financially solvent.
Local residents play an important part
Most Swiss cantons and communes require the applicants for Swiss citizenships to pass interviews, in order to prove their integration and knowledge of Switzerland. In some cases, a local committee of residents might be required to gather and vote on the application. Thus, it is important to create and maintain good relationships with the locals.
The length of this process varies, depending on the canton where the applicant lives, but it usually takes several years. It is also important to note that if the applicant decides to move to another canton, they might have to start the process all over again, according to the regulations of the new canton.
Expect a costly process
Since obtaining the Swiss citizenship depends on three levels of authority, there are also three different fees to pay. The Swiss Confederation requires a fee varying between 50 – 150 CHF, but the costs set out by cantons and communes can come up significantly higher. For example, the canton of Zurich requires 500 CHF, while the basic rate for a citizenship application in Geneva is more than 900 CHF. The rate goes up the more a person earns. Adding to all of this the costs set out by the communes, the process of obtaining a Swiss citizenship is not only lengthy, but also quite costly.
The success rate depends on where you live.
Usually, cantons in Western Switzerland are more generous when it comes to the number of naturalizations. The canton of Zurich naturalized the highest number of people in 2015, but it also has the largest population. Other cantons, such as Bern, while having a larger population than Geneva, for example, naturalized significantly less people.
If you are interested in obtaining Swiss citizenship, the first step is to obtain a job in Switzerland and a residence permit (which allows you to live and work in Switzerland for a certain period (depending on the type of permit).
For more details and assistance regarding tax deductions in Switzerland, you can reach out to our expert consultants. Our highly experienced and well-informed team is ready to answer all your questions and give you all the help you might need.