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VAUD

Swiss bureaucracy: Ten tasks you can do online in Vaud

One of the least pleasant aspects of dealing with the administration in Switzerland is having to stand in lines. Here are the tasks that can be performed in Vaud without leaving the comfort of your home.

Swiss bureaucracy: Ten tasks you can do online in Vaud
What kind of official business can you carry out online in Vaud? Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

The Internet has changed our lives in many ways, and conducting official business online has become easier and more widespread. 

Vaud, along with other cantons, is encouraging residents to do as much as possible on the Internet, especially during the pandemic, so as not to crowd public spaces.

“The secure online portal allows you to access all of Vaud administration’s online services”, the canton’s website says.

Here are 10 bits of bureaucracy you can do online if you live in Vaud

Electronic identity

Besides getting a handle of the technical aspects, the most difficult tasks to perform online are often the first. 

This is because you’ll need to set everything up, which will be difficult – particularly if there are certain ID requirements. 

For some of the services, you will need to create an “electronic identity”, which can be established — you guessed it — online.

Taxes

Gone are the days when people did their taxes by hand — though some traditionalists may still prefer this way of filling out the declaration and then sending it out to tax authorities through the post.

But for those who want to tackle this unpleasant task in the most convenient way possible, Vaud is offering forms that can be filled out and sent online.

Before you even begin to prepare the declaration, you can calculate how much tax you owe.

Instructions on downloading the paperwork for various operating systems can be found here.

You can also request an extension of the tax filing deadline online.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What can I deduct from my tax bill in Switzerland?

Civil status documentation

In case you need any documents or certificates relating to your civil status, such as registration of birth, marriage, divorce, death, or any other official paperwork pertaining to changes in your family. 

Almost all kinds of official business can be carried out here, including changing your name.

You can do this through this link.

Health insurance subsidies

If you need financial help to pay your health insurance premiums, you can evaluate whether you are entitled to the cantonal subsidies and request them by filling out this online form.

Motor vehicles

You can beat the notoriously long queues and wait time at the Motor Vehicles Office (Service cantonal des automobiles) by doing these bits of business online.

Ask for a replacement if your driver’s license is lost.

Report a change of address or change the date for your car’s inspection.

Report the change of vehicle.

Last but not least, Covid vaccine

You can make an appointment for the shot on the dedicated site.

READ MORE: How to get the coronavirus vaccine in Vaud

In addition to these tasks, you can also find useful information on the cantonal site, including where to seek psychological help and dates of school vacations until 2026.

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OFFBEAT

Is Switzerland’s male-only mandatory military service ‘discriminatory’?

Under Swiss law, all men must serve at least one year in compulsory national service. But is this discriminatory?

Swiss military members walk across a road carrying guns
A new lawsuit seeks to challenge Switzerland's male-only military service requirement. Is this discriminatory? FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

All men aged between the ages of 18 and 30 are required to complete compulsory military service in Switzerland. 

A lawsuit which worked its way through the Swiss courts has now ended up in the European Court of Human Rights, where the judges will decide if Switzerland’s male-only conscription requirement violates anti-discrimination rules. 

Switzerland’s NZZ newspaper wrote on Monday the case has “explosive potential” and has “what it takes to cause a tremor” to a policy which was first laid out in Switzerland’s 1848 and 1874 Federal Constitutions. 

What is Switzerland’s compulsory military service? 

Article 59 of the Federal Constitution of Switzerland says “Every man with Swiss citizenship is liable for military service. Alternative civilian service shall be provided for by law.”

Recruits must generally do 18 weeks of boot camp (longer in some cases). 

They are then required to spend several weeks in the army every year until they have completed a minimum 245 days of service.

Military service is compulsory for Swiss men aged 18 and over. Women can chose to do military service but this is rare.

What about national rather than military service? 

Introduced in 1996, this is an alternative to the army, originally intended for those who objected to military service on moral grounds. 

READ MORE: The Swiss army’s growing problem with civilian service

Service is longer there than in the army, from the age of 20 to 40. 

This must be for 340 days in total, longer than the military service requirement. 

What about foreigners and dual nationals? 

Once you become a Swiss citizen and are between the ages of 18 and 30, you can expect to be conscripted. 

READ MORE: Do naturalised Swiss citizens have to do military service?

In general, having another citizenship in addition to the Swiss one is not going to exempt you from military service in Switzerland.

However, there is one exception: the obligation to serve will be waved, provided you can show that you have fulfilled your military duties in your other home country.

If you are a Swiss (naturalised or not) who lives abroad, you are not required to serve in the military in Switzerland, though you can voluntarily enlist. 

How do Swiss people feel about military and national service? 

Generally, the obligation is viewed relatively positively, both by the general public and by those who take part in compulsory service. 

While several other European countries have gotten rid of mandatory service, a 2013 referendum which attempted to abolish conscription was rejected by 73 percent of Swiss voters. 

What is the court case and what does it say? 

Martin D. Küng, the lawyer from the Swiss canton of Bern who has driven the case through the courts, has a personal interest in its success. 

He was found unfit for service but is still required to pay an annual bill to the Swiss government, which was 1662CHF for the last year he was required to pay it. 

While the 36-year-old no longer has to pay the amount – the obligation only lasts between the ages of 18 and 30 – Küng is bring the case on principle. 

So far, Küng has had little success in the Swiss courts, with his appeal rejected by the cantonal administrative court and later by the Swiss Federal Supreme Court. 

Previous Supreme Court cases, when hearing objections to men-only military service, said that women are less suitable for conscription due to “physiological and biological differences”.

In Küng’s case, the judges avoided this justification, saying instead that the matter was a constitutional issue. 

‘No objective reason why only men have to do military service’

He has now appealed the decision to the European level. 

While men have previously tried and failed when taking their case to the Supreme Court, no Swiss man has ever brought the matter to the European Court of Human Rights. 

Küng told the NZZ that he considered the rule to be unjust and said the Supreme Court’s decision is based on political considerations. 

“I would have expected the Federal Supreme Court to have the courage to clearly state the obvious in my case and not to decide on political grounds,” Küng said. 

“There is no objective reason why only men have to do military service or pay replacement taxes. On average, women may not be as physically productive as men, but that is not a criterion for excluding them from compulsory military service. 

There are quite a few men who cannot keep up with women in terms of stamina. Gender is simply the wrong demarcation criterion for deciding on compulsory service. If so, then one would have to focus on physical performance.”

Is it likely to pass? 

Küng is optimistic that the Strasbourg court will find in his favour, pointing to a successful appeal by a German man who complained about a fire brigade tax, which was only imposed on men. 

“This question has not yet been conclusively answered by the court” Küng said. 

The impact of a decision in his favour could be considerable, with European law technically taking precedence over Swiss law.

It would set Switzerland on a collision course with the bloc, particularly given the popularity of the conscription provision. 

Küng clarified that political outcomes and repercussions don’t concern him. 

“My only concern is for a court to determine that the current regulation is legally wrong.”

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