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Eight apps to make your life in Switzerland easier

There so many different mobile applications available, it’s sometimes difficult to know which ones are practical and valuable. We list here eight apps that you will find most useful for life in Switzerland.

A close up of a smart phone
What apps do you know that make life easier in Switzerland? Photo by Daniel Romero on Unsplash

SwissCovid

Launched in June 2020 in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, its intention — then and now — is to curb the spread of the virus by allowing to track chains of infection. 

It uses bluetooth to digitally trace contact in order to get a more accurate idea for how the virus is spreading within the general public – and how to stop it. 

The app registers when an individual comes into contact with others through a person’s smartphone location systems and bluetooth. 

Such contacts are recorded anonymously on both devices. 

If one of those users tests positive for the coronavirus, the person will receive a ‘covid code’ from the cantonal authorities.

Using this code, those who have been in contact with the positive person will be notified via the app. Once notified, users will be asked to contact the Swiss coronavirus hotline.

You can download this app here

Twint

If you live in Switzerland, you are probably familiar with this quick and convenient  payment method.

Twint is a great tool when you want to transfer money from one person’s smartphone to another’s, to pay for a purchase in a shop, restaurant, or anywhere else.

Cashless payments in Switzerland: What is Twint and how does it work?

Practically all retailers in Switzerland offer the option of a Twint payment.

The only requirement is that you have a Swiss bank account.

Twint can be downloaded here. 

Google Translate

Unless you are fluent in all of Switzerland’s national languages, you will need to look up words and phrases when you travel from one region to another.

It also includes an image option, allowing you to take a photo of a sign or other forms of written text and receive a translation in the language of your choice.

In a multi-lingual country like Switzerland, you want to make sure nothing is lost in translation.

Google Translate app. 

Swiss Federal Railways / SBB / CFF

Everyone who uses trains and other forms of public transportation in Switzerland needs this app for ticketless travel.

Just like the Swiss army knife, this app is multi-functional: you can see the timetable, purchase tickets,  find every connection that takes you from one point to another, and also see if a train or bus is delayed. 

Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

Comparis price finder app

Switzerland is notoriously expensive but this app from a well-known independent consumer site lets you find the best deals from 130 online shops in Switzerland.

It compares prices on electronics, household appliances, sports equipment, cosmetics, games, and other items.

Other apps from this source show best prices for housing and cars.

You can download all of them here.

MeteoSwiss

The National Meteorological Service app is useful to know if bad or dangerous weather conditions like heavy thunderstorms, winds or snowfall are predicted for your area, especially if you are planning trips or hikes.

It’s better to be prepared for this kind of weather. Photo by Johann GRODER / AFP

Swiss Post Apps

This app lets you track consignments, write postcards, request stamps and do many other tasks from your smartphone that would normally require a trip to the post office and most likely standing in a queue.

App for iPhone. 

For Android. 

We left the best for last: The Local Switzerland app

If you have no time to sit down and read the Swiss news but must do it on the go, then this mobile application is right up your alley.

The app is available for iOs and Android and gives you access not only to Switzerland’s news but also to each of our nine European sites.

You can opt to receive curated push notifications for the countries you are most interested in. We only send alerts for breaking news and our most compelling content.

Member comments

  1. Twint isn’t available to everyone, double check with your bank, especially if you’re American.

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LIVING IN SWITZERLAND

Do foreigners in Switzerland have the same legal rights as the Swiss ?

Foreigners living in Switzerland may be wondering what their basic rights are compared to Swiss citizens. The answer depends on several factors.

Do foreigners in Switzerland have the same legal rights as the Swiss ?

There are currently 2.2 million foreign nationals living in Switzerland — roughly 25 percent of the population.

Simply put, everyone residing in the country legally, regardless of nationality, has the same basic constitutional rights as Swiss citizens do — for instance, the right to human dignity, free expression, equality, protection against discrimination, and freedom of religion, among other rights.

They also have the right to fair and equitable treatment in the workplace, in terms of wages, work hours, and other employment-related matters.

As the law states, cantons and municipalities “shall create favourable regulatory conditions for equal opportunities and for the participation of the foreign population in public life”. 

If they are arrested or imprisoned, foreigners also have the right to fair trial and to the same treatment as their Swiss-citizen counterparts, including legal representation and due process of the law.

Even those who are subject to deportation have the right to be represented by a lawyer.

And the Swiss legal system doesn’t necessarily favour Swiss litigants over foreign ones. For instance, in some cases, foreign nationals whose request for naturalisation was denied but who then appealed the decision, eventually won.

The most recent example is a man in the canton of Schwyz whose application for citizenship was rejected due to a minor car accident, but a Swiss court overturned the decision, ordering that the man be naturalised this year.

READ MORE : Foreigner wins appeal after being denied Swiss citizenship due to car accident

Where the rights and privileges differ between foreigners and Swiss, as well as among foreigners themselves, is when it comes to work and residency rights.

 EU / EFTA nationals

People from these countries, who have B or C permanent residence status have sweeping rights in terms of residence, employment (including self-employment), and home ownership.

The only right that is denied them is the vote, though some cantons and communes grant their resident foreigners the right to vote on local issues and to elect local politicians. 

READ MORE : Where in Switzerland can foreigners vote?

Apart from the limit on political participation, EU / EFTA nationals can live in Switzerland in pretty much the same way as their Swiss counterparts.

There are, however, some groups of foreigners whose rights are curtailed by the Swiss government.

Third country nationals

They are people from countries outside Europe, for whom various restrictions are in place in terms of entry, employment and residency.

For instance, their “future employer must prove that there is no suitable person to fill the job vacancy from Switzerland or from an EU/EFTA state”, according to State Secretariat for Migration. This could be seen as a discrimination of sorts, but that’s what the law says.

Once employed, however, “their salary, social security contributions and the terms of employment must be in accordance with conditions customary to the region, the profession and the particular sector” — in other words, no discrimination is allowed.

Another area where non-European foreigners are disadvantaged in comparison with their EU / EFTA counterparts is home ownership. While third-nation B-permit holders can buy a property to live in (but not rent out), they can’t purchase a holiday or second home without a special permission.

To sum up, all foreigners in Switzerland, regardless of their status, are entitled to fundamental “human” rights, including freedom of speech and religion, and freedom from discrimination in life and employment.

They also have the right to legal protection and representation during litigation or other court actions.

However they don’t have the right to participate in the country’s political process and, depending on their status, have equal access to residency and employment.

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