For members


EXPLAINED: How to register your address in Switzerland

When you rent an apartment or buy a property in Switzerland, you will have to announce your arrival at your local municipality or commune. Here’s how to do this.

Registration is required prior to moving.
No anonymity: when you move in Switzerland, you must let authorities know where you are. Photo by léa b on Unsplash

The ‘address registration’ rules may come as somewhat of a shock to people from some other places, like the United States, where you can move from one location to another and stay pretty much under the radar.

Not so in Switzerland. Swiss authorities want to know who is living in their country and where.

When you settle in a new home, you have 14 days to announce your arrival in your new commune of residence, though in some places the deadline may be longer.

In some cantons, you can do this procedure online, while in others you must come to your local residents’ registration office (Einwohnerkontrolle / Contrôle des habitants/ Controllo abitanti) in person.

Whether you register online or in person, you will need the following documents:

  • A passport or ID card for each member of the family, in addition to a passport-sized photo for everyone
  • Documents about your family status — whether you are single, married, and with children.
  • Your work or residency permit 
  • Your lease contract or proof of home ownership

You must bring your documents with you when registering at the commune. Photo by Kindel Media from Pexels

The rules are the same regardless of where you arrive from, i.e. if you are Swiss, an EU citizen or from abroad, however the supporting documentation may vary. 

Some cantons may require other or additional documents, which you can find out ahead of time on your commune or canton’s website.

Once you register and pay a fee — which varies from one canton to another and depends on the type of work / residency permit you have — you can request a proof of residence document (Wohnsitzbescheinigungen/ Attestation de domicile / certificati di residenza), which you may need to show in some situations to prove your address.

The entire process will have to be repeated when you move to another home, even if you remain in the same commune. You will have to de-register your old address and register the new one.

Even when you leave Switzerland you are required to deregister. Those who do not deregister may face penalties should they return to Switzerland. 

What happens if you fail to do so?

Local authorities will find you anyway sooner or later — probably sooner — and impose a hefty fine on you, the amount of which will depend on the reason why you didn’t register in the first place.

READ MORE: The most essential pieces of paperwork you’ll need in Switzerland

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For members


How to talk email, websites, social media and phone numbers in Swiss French

It's a very common experience to have to give out your phone number or email address in Switzerland, or take down the address of a website, so here's how to do this if you're in the French-speaking part of the country.

How to talk email, websites, social media and phone numbers in Swiss French

The correct names for punctuation marks used to be fairly low down on any French-learner’s list, but these days they are vital whenever you need to explain an email address, website or social media account.

Likewise if you want to talk about websites, or social media posts, there are some things that you need to know. 


Obviously punctuation points have their own names, and making sure you get the periods, dashes and underscores correct is vital to giving out account details. 

Full stop/period . point. Pronounced pwan, this is most commonly heard for Swiss websites or email addresses which end in. ch (pronounced pwan ce ash).

If you have a site that ends in .com you say ‘com’ as a word just as you would in English – pwan com.

At symbol @ Arobase – so for example the email address [email protected] would be jean pwan dupont arobas bluewin pwan ce ash.

Ampersand/and symbol & esperluette

Dash – tiret

Underscore _ tiret bas 

Forward slash / barre oblique

Upper case/capital lettersMajuscule (or lettre majuscule)

Lower caseminiscule

The following punctuation points are less common in email or web addresses, but worth knowing anyway:

Comma , virgule. In French a decimal point is indicated with a comma so two and a half would be 2,5 (deux virgule cinq)

Exclamation mark ! point d’exclamation – when you are writing in French you always leave a space between the final letter of the word and the exclamation mark – comme ça !

Question mark ? point d’interrogation – likewise, leave a space between the final character and a question mark 

Brackets/parentheses ( ) parenthèse

Quotation marks « » guillemets 


If you need to give your phone number out, the key thing to know is that Swiss-French people pair the numbers in a phone number when speaking.

So say your number is 079 345 6780, in French you would say zero septante-neuf, trois-cents quarante-cinq, soixante-sept, huitante (zero seventy-nine, three hundred forty-five, sixty-seven, eighty ).

Mobile numbers in Switzerland  begin with 079 or 078 (zero septante-neuf or zero septante-huit).

Social media

If you want to give out your Twitter or Instagram handle, the chances are you might need to know some punctuation terms as described above.

Otherwise the good news is that a lot of English-language social media terms are used in Switzerland too.

Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have the same names in Switzerland and have entered the language in other ways too, for example you might describe your dinner as très instagrammable – ie it’s photogenic and would look good on Instagram.

On Twitter you can suivre (follow), aimer (like) or retweet (take a wild guess). You’ll often hear the English words for these terms too, though pronounced with a French accent.

There is a French translation for hashtag – it’s dièse mot, but in reality hashtag is also very widely used.

Tech is one of those areas where new concepts come along so quickly that the English terms often get embedded into everyday use before the French-speakers can think up an alternative.

READ MORE: French-speaking Switzerland: Seven life hacks that will make you feel like a local