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Where in Switzerland your citizenship application will cost you the most

A new study reveals the priciest (and cheapest) places to apply for Swiss citizenship.

Where in Switzerland your citizenship application will cost you the most
File photo: Depositphotos

Applying for a Swiss passport is a complicated process and the rules are different depending on the canton and commune where you live.

Fees for making an application also differ widely depending on your place of residence. While the federal government charges a flat fee of 100 Swiss francs (€90) for applications by single adults, there is no fixed price when it comes to additional cantonal and communal costs.

READ ALSO: How to apply for Swiss citizenship: an essential guide

Now research by Swiss comparison site Comparis reveals which cantonal capitals are the most expensive – and cheapest – in terms of applying for a prized red passport.

The study shows that the most expensive cantonal capital is the tax haven of Schwyz. Here a Swiss citizenship application costs 3,600 francs, which is made up of 100 francs in federal fees, 500 francs in cantonal fees and a huge 3,000 francs in communal fees.

READ MORE: The nine most surprising questions on Switzerland’s citizenship exam

At the other end of the scale is Lausanne where an application is more than four times cheaper at 800 francs. This is made up of 100 francs in federal fees, 450 francs in cantonal fees and 250 francs in communal fees.

Generally speaking, fees are cheaper in Switzerland’s French and Italian speaking cantons, although the German-speaking canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden in the east of the country also has relatively inexpensive citizenship application costs.

Other ‘hidden’ costs

The authors of the Comparis study note that applicants may also have to pay other costs alongside the fees outlined above. Depending on where you live, you could also have to pay separately for a citizenship course.

In Schwyz, this is included in the (high) fees but in Zurich you would have to splash out an additional 360 francs to do the course with an external provider. In Zug, the course will set you back 300 francs.

READ MORE: Nine things you need to know about work permits in Switzerland

Meanwhile, a language test to prove your linguistics skills would cost 250 francs in Zurich.

On top of all that, getting citizenship doesn’t mean you automatically get a Swiss passport. The document itself costs 140 francs for adults, or, for 148 francs, you can get a passport and a Swiss ID card at the same time.

‘Arbitrary and unjust’

The president of the Swiss Socialists Migrant group, Mustafa Atici, described the high fees in some cantons as “arbitrary and unjust”. In comments made to the 20 Minuten news site, he added the fees dissuaded people – especially young people – from applying for citizenship.

But André Brugger with The Liberals (FDP) in Schwyz defended the fees. He said they simply covered the costs of the process, including that of courses involved, and that “no profits” were derived from the charges.

The Swiss federal price watchdog last year said it would open an inquiry into why administrative costs for applying for citizenship vary so much across the country.

A version of this story was originally published in July, 2019. 

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For members


REVEALED: The Swiss cities turning off their lights for weekend meteor shower

The Perseids is one of the best annual meteor showers, showing their fireballs on warm summer nights in the northern hemisphere. In Switzerland, some towns want to make the event even more special by turning off their lights.

REVEALED: The Swiss cities turning off their lights for weekend meteor shower

Every year, skywatchers get ready for the Perseid meteor shower, which in 2022 is going to peak in the early hours of Saturday, just before dawn. At its peak, it will be possible to see about 200 shooting starts per hour if the conditions are optimal.

The Perseids, as this particular meteor shower is known, are fragments of the comet Swift-Tuttle. Its small dust particles (not actual stars) burn up when they enter Earth’s atmosphere at high speed. They can be observed worldwide but are best viewed in the northern hemisphere.

READ ALSO: Five beautiful Swiss villages located near Alpine lakes

And they may be in large parts of Switzerland. Despite the full moon blocking some of the views (don’t worry, the moon should set at around 2 am), the skies should be clear of clouds during the early hours of Saturday, according to the Swiss meteorology agency MeteoSchweiz.

Some cities also want to remove another major obstacle to stargazing: the artificial lightning that hides most of our stars, the Milky Way, and many shooting stars. The Projet Perseides invites Swiss towns to turn off municipal lights and incentivise stargazing.

The project, created in the French-speaking cantons, has gathered support mainly in western Swiss, but, according to the organisers: “Ultimately, we are targeting the whole of Europe”.

Which cities are participating?

You can find the complete list of municipalities here. The communes include Champagne, Grandson, La Chaux, Lausanne, Neuchâtel, Provence, Yverdon-les-Bains, Fribourg, and more than 100 others.

The project invites the municipalities to turn off their public lightning and convince citizens and businesses to do the same – all voluntarily.

READ ALSO: Travel: What are the best night train routes to and from Switzerland?

Projet Perseides started in Orbe in 2019 when the non-profit association convinced the town and surrounding municipalities to turn out the lights. In 2020, nearly 120 Vaud cities joined the project. The following year, they were joined by cities in Valais, Fribourg and Neuchâtel, according to the site.

What if my city is not among them?

Even if your city is not a part of the project, it is still possible to watch the phenomenon. The best time would be between 2 am (when the bright full moon sets) and pre-dawn hours, so until around 5 am.

The association says: “to enjoy the night, don’t look at light sources. Let your eyes become accustomed to the darkness”. This includes ditching your phone for a few hours.

If you can visit a part of town with little artificial light, perhaps going up a mountain, for example, you also improve your chances of seeing more of the shower.