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What the latest statistics tell us about dual nationals in Switzerland

About one-fifth of permanent residents are dual nationals. This is what a new study reveals about them.

 Almost one-fifth of Switzerland’s population have dual nationality. Photo by Etienne Girardet on Unsplash
Almost one-fifth of Switzerland’s population have dual nationality. Photo by Etienne Girardet on Unsplash

In 2020 — the most recent year for which official numbers are available —19 percent of permanent residents aged 15 or over had dual nationality, according to a study by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) released on Thursday. 

When foreigners gain citizenship of their country of residence while still maintaining the nationality of their place of origin, they become known as ‘dual nationals’.

What does the study show?

People from Italy account for the largest proportion — 23 percent — of dual nationals, followed by those from France (12 percent) and Germany (8 percent).

Less than 5 percent of UK citizens also have a Swiss passport.

In terms of residence, the majority of double nationals (45 percent) live in Geneva, Vaud (31 percent), Ticino (38 percent), and Basel-City (25 percent). 

Within this population, 65 percent obtained Swiss nationality by naturalisation, while 35 percent obtained it at birth.

Unlike many other countries like the United States or Canada, being born in Switzerland doesn’t automatically mean the person is Swiss; if their parents were born abroad and still hold foreign passports, a person will not obtain Swiss citizenship by birth. 

However, this could change, as the Social Democratic party wants the government to loosen naturalisation and citizenship rules to allow “citizenship by birth”.

READ MORE: How Switzerland’s Social Democrats want to introduce ‘citizenship by birth’

This article provides more general information about dual nationals in Switzerland:

What we know about dual nationals living in Switzerland

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EXPLAINED: The striking contrasts between Switzerland’s regions

The word "Switzerland" usually conjures up images of a small, mountainous and affluent country, but as a new study shows, there are significant disparities between various regions.

EXPLAINED: The striking contrasts between Switzerland's regions

To many people living abroad, Switzerland is a homogeneous nation of bankers, watchmakers, chocolate, cheese and mountains.

But unless you actually live here, you will likely not know that Switzerland is a diverse country — not only linguistically and culturally, but also in terms of its, economy, infrastructure, costs, and other aspects.

These differences are shown in a new study published by the Federal Statistical Office (OFS).

“Switzerland is diverse and rich in regional disparities. It presents striking contrasts between urban centers and mountain regions, but also experiences important differences within the agglomeration areas”, researchers reported.

Of nine categories measuring regional differences that OFS focused on, these are the main ones that impact foreign residents living in Switzerland the most:


Not surprisingly, most jobs are generally found in urban areas, especially in the agglomerations of Zurich (including the nearby Zug), Geneva and Lausanne.

However, when looking specifically at jobs that were created in new companies outside of the above-mentioned markets, most are found in agglomerations of Lugano and Mendrisio, Luzern, St. Gallen, Aarau-Olten, Reinach-Allschwil, and Freienbach-Glarus.

The largest red spots indicate where most new jobs were created. Image: OFS

READ MORE: Employment: This is where Switzerland’s jobs are right now


As the OFS pointed out, “differences in income between regions can encourage population movements and thus contribute to reinforcing disparities. Income distribution and social protection are important indicators of social well-being and equality”.

The highest incomes, according to OFS, are in the region of Zurich and Central Switzerland, with the greater Zurich region being “characterised by one of the lowest at-risk-of-poverty rates”.

READ MORE: REVEALED: What are the best and worst paid jobs in Switzerland?

This chart (in French) shows where in Switzerland salaries are highest and lowest.


As the OFS has noted, “the tax burden has an influence in the choice of the place of residence or establishment…There is tax competition between the cantons and between the municipalities”.

The lowest taxation rates for individuals and families are found in the central Swiss cantons of Zug, Nidwalden and Schwyz, “with Zug having the lowest tax burden”, according to FSO.  

The highest rates, on the other hand, are in the French-speaking cantons of Geneva, Neuchâtel, Vaud and Jura.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How where you live in Switzerland impacts how much income tax you pay


The highest rents are found in the urban municipalities of large agglomerations, while the lowest rents are in the rural regions, which is the usual, long-term pattern.

This chart shows how the rents have increased in the past two decades in Switzerland as a whole, followed by urban centres, suburbs of big cities, and smaller communities.

 Image: OFS

Services and infrastructure

Both are among the main determinants “of the economic and residential quality of a region. Combined with each other, infrastructures and services count in the choice of a place of residence or establishment”, the study found.

Among services that fall under this category is the proximity of public transportation stops, schools, shopping, and leisure / recreational activities.

While most people in Switzerland live reasonably close to this infrastructure, “access distances are above average in rural areas for almost all the services analysed”, OFS reports, adding that “distances are approximately twice as long in rural areas as in urban ones”.