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New rules: Everything that changes in Switzerland in 2020

New rules: Everything that changes in Switzerland in 2020
Photo: Depositphotos
Another year has come to an end. Here's everything that's set to change in Switzerland in 2020.

From single use plastics to train timetables, there are plenty of things set to change in 2020. 

Single use plastic ban

Single use plastics are banned in Geneva from January 1st, 2020. Not just limited to plastic bags from supermarket counters, this will also include cups, cutlery, straws, plates and sachets. 

Traders have been repeatedly informed of the ban – and face fines of 100 francs if they continue to offer single use plastics. 

Animal welfare laws

A number of animal welfare laws are set to come in to effect in January of 2020, including a ban on the shredding of live chicks. 

As reported by The Local in December 2019, the ban will stop the process of live chicks being shredded or crushed in factory egg production.

Male chicks are considered a by product and are of little value in factory farming as they do not lay eggs.

Photo: Sebastien SALOM-GOMIS / AFP 

A number of other changes have also been forecast, including bans on certain pesticides as well as military support for farmers during times of drought. 

The law is set to be changed to make it easier for farmers to access military helicopters to move water to feed their cows. 

Read: Minimum wage in Switzerland: What you need to know

Rise in social protection contributions:

Employees and employers will see the social contributions (AVS / AI / APG / AC) go up from the current 12.45 percent to 12.75 percent in 2020. This increase will guarantee more than 2 billion francs a year in social insurance.

The minimum monthly social security payouts will remain fixed at 1,185 francs. However, the basic wages for housekeepers will increase by 1.6 percent. 

Environmental measures:

Cars: New vehicles will have to meet certain regulations related to CO2 emissions. They cannot emit more than 95 grams of CO2 per kilometre — the average is currently around 138 grams / km. Drivers will be liable for fines for non-compliance.

Housing:

Homeowners who want to replace old buildings will be able to deduct demolition costs from taxes. This measure aims to encourage owners to improve the energy efficiency of their dwellings.

Health care:

Starting in 2020, costs of medicines for patients suffering from chronic conditions will be taken into account more efficiently in the risk compensation system between health insurers.

Nurses will be able to assess care needs of patients without the intervention of a doctor.

Also, Switzerland will be able to better monitor the development of cancers and create prevention and early detection measures thanks to a new national register.

Internet:

The Internet will be three times faster next year. For downloading, the speed will be at least 10 megabits per second (Mbit/s) instead of the current 3.

Banknote exchange:

Swiss residents will be able to exchange their old denominations of one thousand francs issued between 1976 and 1979.

Marriage:

The bride and groom will no longer have to wait 10 days to wed after receiving the agreement from the local authorities. But they would have to marry, in the presence of two witnesses, within three months of getting the official ‘go-ahead’.

Retirement age (most likely)

One major change to take place in 2020 will most likely be an increase in the retirement age for women. 

Currently set at 64, the federal government is in favour of raising it to 65 – the level it is set at for men – however will need to undergo a public consultation sometime in early 2020. 

Older Swiss reject increasing the retirement age: Study

Trains, trains, trains

Fortunately for train passengers, more and more urban and regional lines will be added from 2020 onwards. Even where new fares haven’t been introduced, there are timetable changes that you should know about. 

Fortunately, The Local broke down a number of these changes already

You can also find out more about the Leman Express network, which opened on December 15, 2019. We broke down how this will improve commuting times and cut traffic. 

Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Health insurance premiums 

Health insurance premiums are set to rise from 2020. The average premium is set to increase by around 0.2 percent to roughly CHF315.14 francs per month. 

Note that there are however differences from canton to canton, so check with your local authorities to see the exact amount of your increase. 

Tax

Switzerland’s ageing population has forecast a need to increase contributions to the old age pension fund (AHV). 

For the first time in 40 years, the contribution made by employees will increase – from 8.4 percent to 8.7 percent, although half of this increase will be paid by employers.

Self employed or freelancing? You’ll need to come up with the entire difference yourself. 

Check out the specifics of the changes according to wage bracket here

READ: Switzerland's strangest taxes – and what happens if you don't pay them

Corporate taxes

For anyone with a company in Switzerland, there are also some important changes to the corporate tax – although these are a little too complicated to outline in full here.

KPMG have given a full run down of the taxation changes which can be read here to see if it applies to you, while you can get all of the info straight from the Swiss horse’s mouth here

No longer a tax haven

The new year brings with it not only changes to taxation laws, but to the character of Switzerland and taxation more broadly. 

In 2020, the European Union will change Switzerland’s status from ‘tax haven’ to one which is EU-compliant, removing strict controls on transactions within the EU. 

While the decision was made in October, it will become official from January 1st. 

Doctors, medication and therapeutic products

From January 1st, doctors will be restricted from receiving financial benefits from particular medication companies if this could influence the choice of treatment. 

Price discounting will also be restricted, while all discounts must be passed on to patients – meaning doctors will no longer be allowed to take the benefit. 

Organ donor rules

In 2020, the Federal Government is set to submit its new organ donor rules to parliament. Under the rules, every Swiss resident will be presumed to consent to donating their organs unless they opt out. 

READ: Three quarters of Swiss in favour of controversial ‘opt-out’ organ donation law

While the proposal has widespread support among the Swiss populace, there have been some objections – particularly in the cantons of Lucerne and Zug

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Although the government plans on bringing the new bill to parliament, there is no set date for when the laws will be introduced. 

by Daniel Wighton / Helena Bachmann


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