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Why young foreigners are opting out of Swiss citizenship

Young people eligible for Swiss citizenship, including some born in Switzerland, are deciding not to pursue the famous red passport. Here’s what you need to know.

A red Swiss passport up close
A Swiss biometric passport. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

Switzerland’s naturalisation process is one of the toughest in Europe due to a variety of federal, cantonal and communal rules. 

While these rules place significant restrictions on who can actually become naturalised, even those who are eligible can in some cases be reluctant to do so. 

READ MORE: The nine most surprising questions on Switzerland’s citizenship exam

A recent assessment by the Federal Migration Commission (FKM) shows that only a fraction of those who are eligible use this option.

One of the reasons, according to FKM director Walter Leimgruber, is that many migrants are EU nationals who feel no need to become Swiss as they face almost no restrictions in Switzerland, apart from the inability to vote.

A consequence of Switzerland’s stringent nationalisation rules is that roughly 25 percent of the population cannot vote in federal or cantonal elections, while a handful of municipalities grant the right to vote on a communal level. 

OPINION: Switzerland’s denial of voting rights to foreigners motivated by fear

Also, naturalisation procedures, both regular and fast-track, are complex, deterring many eligible foreigners from applying.

“The bureaucratic hurdles are still too high”, Leimgruber told Swiss news outlet 20 Minutes. 

As a result, even those born in Switzerland and who have never lived anywhere else have not pursued Swiss citizenship. 

EXPLAINED: Why ‘simplified’ Swiss naturalisation is actually not that simple

Have your say: Are you eligible to become Swiss but choose not to?

Whether by descent or any other reason, we want to hear from those who are eligible for naturalisation but who haven’t done so. 

If you are able to become Swiss – or will soon be able to – but will not go through the process, we’d like to get to the bottom of why. 

Please let us know below and click through to give us more specific information. If it is a combination of reasons, let us know the major one.

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‘Curate your messages carefully’: Our readers on dating in Switzerland

In June, we asked our readers for their tips for what to do - and what not to do - when dating someone from Switzerland. Here’s what they had to say.

'Curate your messages carefully': Our readers on dating in Switzerland

Finding love – or pursuing lust – can be tough at the best of times, but a new cultural environment will undoubtedly throw up its own challenges. 

These differences can be fun, surprising or downright shocking. 

We asked our readers about their dating life in Switzerland. We wanted to know if they’d had any struggles or challenges – and how they could avoid them. 

Half had an ‘odd experience’

We had just over 30 responses to the survey, which is a relatively strong result for any Local Switzerland poll not focused on Covid measures. 

Approximately half – 53.1 percent – said they’d had an odd experience when dating someone from Switzerland. The rest – 46.9 percent – said they had not. 

‘Cold’, ‘closed’ and ‘cheap’

For those who said they had an odd experience, we got a full spectrum. Some of the responses were similar to previous reader callouts, while others were somewhat surprising. 

Jessica, who lives in Lucerne, said the Swiss – perhaps the richest country in Europe – can sometimes be cheap dates. 

“He claimed he forgotten his wallet and (on the) second date, the same excuses”. 

Several readers said the person they dated was “cold” and would not open up. 

READ MORE: Are the Swiss really unfriendly – or are foreigners to blame? 

Mariah, who lives in Zurich, said Swiss men can be closed and may not want you to be a part of their lives. 

“I am Brazilian and come from a very open and affectionate culture. I was dating a Swiss-French guy for 2 months and one day he organised a trip to the mountains. 

“He was during the whole way in the train talking about how amazing his birthday party would be in a few weeks and “everyone” would be there but he was never mentioning to invite me.”

“I mentioned to another Swiss friend and she said this is normal.”

Another reader, from Zurich, agreed, saying anyone making themselves vulnerable could mean they get hurt.

After telling a Swiss German man relatively early on that she loved him, the relationship changed permanently. 

“As soon as I had sent it, I realised “OMG, that is not what I meant to send…”, she told The Local. 

READ MORE: Great salaries but ‘no human warmth’: Your views on living and working in Geneva

 “It was not the way I had felt (yet), but the previously very cheeky and chatty (by Swiss German standards) guy suddenly started responding in typical very polite Swiss style, and only when I messaged him.” 

“This might have scared off someone from another culture, but as the Swiss Germans typically take their time to get to know people it was obviously unforgivable.”

Simon, who lives in Nyon, said he struggled with Swiss women. 

“Be careful, they are very feminist and can be domineering.”

What advice do you have for dating a Swiss?

Mariah said it was important to have a clear conversation about boundaries and expectations. 

“Don’t assume you will be part of their life without talking openly about it and don’t assume the relationship status either.”

Another, from Zurich, said you should think twice about what messages you send as the Swiss can be quite literal. 

“Curate messages carefully. Things can be taken very literally, and not easily be laughed off as a slip of the tongue / Freudian slip!”

Claudia said some cultural norms can be surprising at first. 

“They are super comfortable getting changed (naked) in public”, she said. 

She did however say that foreigners criticising the Swiss for being closed minded should take a good hard look in the mirror first. 

“Actually they are more fun than we think! Be open minded!”