For members


Five things you should know if you’re a cross-border worker in Switzerland

There are a record number of "frontalier" workers in Switzerland or "grenzgänger" as they are called in German. Here's some important info that cross-border workers in Switzerland should know about.

What you need to know about cross-border working in Switzerland.
What you need to know about cross-border working in Switzerland. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP
Statistics show that a record number of 325, 291 workers from France, Germany, and Italy commute to their jobs in Switzerland every day. These G-permit holders work mostly in Geneva, Ticino, and Basel, but some are employed in other cantons as well.
Whatever canton you work in, there are many modalities you have to familiarise yourself with.

1: Health insurance

All frontaliers or grenzgänger must be insured against illness in Switzerland from the first day of their employment.

If you are a EU/EFTA national, you have a choice between the Swiss system or the coverage in your country of residence. This is called “right of option”. 

If you don’t want to be insured in Switzerland, you must submit a request for exemption to the health insurance services of the canton where you work within three months. After this deadline, the Swiss authorities will automatically sign you up for compulsory insurance coverage, choosing a carrier on your behalf.

If you are a French cross-border worker with Swiss insurance exemption, you must complete the form ‘Choix du système d’assurance-maladie’ of the French Caisse primaire d’assurance-maladie (CPAM), and return it within three months to the relevant authority in the canton in which you work. 

G permit holders who are not EU/EFTA nationals don’t have the ‘right of option’. They must be covered by a Swiss insurance.

Also, Swiss employers must take out accident insurance for their employees. For those who work less than eight hours a week, the insurance will cover workplace accidents only. Employees who work more than eight hours weekly will have insurance against non-occupational accidents as well — for instance, if something happens on the way to or from work.

2. Unemployment benefits

Contributions for unemployment benefits are automatically deducted from your salary. If you lose your job in Switzerland because your employer discontinued your contract, you would have to claim benefits from the unemployment office in your country of residence. In such a case, request a PD U1 form from the Swiss unemployment office, as well an international employment certificate from your former Swiss employer. 

In case of ‘partial unemployment’, that is, if your work hours are reduced, or if the company you work for temporarily or definitely ceases its activities, then you are entitled to Swiss benefits

3. Taxes

Taxation is a complicated matter for everyone, but even more so for cross-border workers. Normally, you pay Swiss taxes automatically, because your Swiss employer deducts them from your monthly salary.

Switzerland has double-taxation agreements with over 80 countries. This means that your Swiss taxes are deducted from your tax liability in your country of residence. You have to provide your Swiss salary statements to tax authorities in your home country as proof of tax payment.

Now, if you are a citizen of France, things are a bit different. If you work in cantons other than Geneva, then your taxes are collected by French authorities. However, if your place of employment is Geneva, you pay taxes in Switzerland.

If you reside in Germany but spend more than 60 nights per year in Switzerland for work-related reasons, you pay taxes in Switzerland rather than in Germany.

4. Bank accounts

Your Swiss employers will expect you to have a bank account in Switzerland into which they can deposit your salary directly.

However, some banks don’t accept customers who have no permanent residence in Switzerland. Others will accept cross-border workers but will charge them additional fees, which can amount to several hundred francs a year. Keep in mind that fees vary from one bank to another, so it is best to check.

Some financial institutions, like Banque Cantonale Vaudoise and Valiant Bank, do offer free accounts. UBS offers them to border workers who live in Germany, France, Italy or Austria, if at least 500 francs per month is deposited into the account.

Your salary will be paid in Swiss francs, but you can withdraw euros at most Bancomats in Switzerland free of charge.

5. Driving

You can use a private car registered in a EU country to commute to and from your Swiss workplace, but you cannot use your vehicle for work in Switzerland — such as, for instance, delivering goods or running errands for your employer.

If you remain in Switzerland during the work week and go home only on weekends, you must obtain a permit for your car from the Swiss customs office.

And if you drive your employer’s car registered in Switzerland, you can only use it to commute to and from work, not for any private business.

Also remember that you need a “motorway sticker” or “vignette” to drive in Switzerland  It is renewable every year and costs 40 francs.

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For members


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