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Nine German words that strike fear into foreigners in Switzerland

Some German words can only mean nothing good is coming. Here's The Local's list of terms that cause foreigners in German-speaking Switzerland to break out in a cold sweat.

Nine German words that strike fear into foreigners in Switzerland
Tax returns sound bad in any language. Photo: Helvetia


Moving to a new country is hard enough. But on top of the stress of finding a place to live and unpacking all those boxes, arrival in Switzerland has the added burden of the 'Anmeldungspflicht', or the need to register, generally in person, with your local city or town hall within two weeks (and before you start working).

In addition, if you move within Switzerland you will need to deregister at your current town hall as well as reregister with your new town hall. 


Anyone planning to live and work in Switzerland will need a residence permit known as an 'Aufenthaltsbewilligung' in German. To get your hands on one of these, you will need to get in touch with the relevant cantonal migration authorities (otherwise known as the kantonale Migrationsbehörde). You can read The Local's essential guide to Swiss work permits here.


This syllable-heavy word meaning “probability of precipitation” can usually be used when predicting Switzerland’s weather at any time of the year. Often a blissfully sunny summer day will seem too good to be true – and that’s because, well, it is. Thanks to that ominously grey cloud in the distance, the Niederschlagswahrscheinlichkeit is pretty high. 


Just when you thought Switzerland couldn’t get more expensive, here comes the dreaded Mietzinserhöhung, or rental increase. Sometimes, rents go up in line with local market values while at other times, it’s improvements (sometimes unwanted by tenants) that push up rents. But before you give in and move on, check that the rental increase being demanded is legal. Who knows, you may even be up for at Mietzinssenkung (rent reduction)


Dreaded by natives and foreigners in Switzerland alike, this tax declaration has to be filed by March 31st every year. You can either take on a Steuerberater (tax advisor) or tackle the process yourself using the online cantonal forms.


Rubbish is serious business in Switzerland and you might find your local council provides you with an ‘Abfallkalender’ (rubbish calendar) providing details on the pick-up dates for everything from paper to scrap metal not to mention disposal locations for items including, but not limited to, medical waste, poisons, cooking oils and animal corpses.



This is the credit check that you need to complete in Switzerland if you want to apply for a loan or a flat. It’s a bit of a nuisance for newbies in Switzerland, who are searching for a place to live and don’t yet have any Swiss credit built up; though some landlords might let you show your salary statement as evidence you can pay.


While the Italians have the mafia, Switzerland has insurance firms – or so the joke goes. In fact, living in Switzerland for any amount of time, you are likely to collect around half a dozen or so insurance policies ranging from plain vanilla health insurance (which is compulsory, by the way) to Haftpflichtversicherung (third-party liability insurance) and Rechtsschutzversicherung (legal insurance), which covers you for legal advice.


This is a huge word for a pretty simple idea (speed limits). These range from as low as 20 kilometres per hour in some built-up areas to 120 kph on the countries Autobahns. You have to pay close attention to these speed limits or face receiving a fine (Busse). Ouch.

File photo: Depositphotos

Read also: Nine surprising Swiss German words you need to know now

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