Reader question: Can I leave Switzerland to fill up my car in Germany?

From Wednesday, June 1st, Germany will reduce taxes on petrol by around 30 cents per litre. Can Swiss residents cross the border and fill up?

Petrol prices in Switzerland are climbing. Photo by Erik Mclean on Pexels
Petrol prices in Switzerland are climbing. Photo by Erik Mclean on Pexels

Among many of the common items to be hit with inflation over the past few months, perhaps the most painful has been the cost of petrol. 

While drivers are all to aware of the price hike when they visit the pump, even people without cars have been hit due to the flow on effect of increases in the cost of petrol. 

To soften the blow, the German government has put in place a temporary reduction in tax on petrol and diesel across the country. 

Petrol costs will fall by around 30 cents per litre – or as much as 35 cents including VAT – while diesel costs have been slashed by 17 cents per litre. 

Can Swiss drivers cross into Germany and fill up?

Yes. Germany will not charge foreign drivers different amounts, meaning everyone can benefit from the tax cut. 

Some countries, like Hungary, have restricted fuel discounts only to locals, however Germany has declined to do so. 

German automobile club ADAC expects a significant increase in Swiss customers for German petrol stations. 

READ MORE: Where in Switzerland can you find the cheapest fuel?

Is a similar plan being considered in Switzerland? 

Some Swiss petrol stations have complained about the German government’s decision, saying they fear significant losses if customers decide to cross the border and fill up. 

A similar decision by the Italian government saw drivers flock over the border, with fuel companies in the southern canton of Ticino saying they saw a 35 percent drop in customers. 

The Swiss government is currently considering a tax cut. The issue will be debated in mid-June, with the populist Swiss People’s Party advocating for a cut in costs. 

National Councillor Franz Grüter said the government should do more to release the pressure. 

“The pressure is enormous, I know people who turn off the gas pump because they don’t know how to pay for the gas. The federal government collects hundreds of millions of francs in additional taxes because fuel prices are so high.”

If implemented however, the impact of such a change would be less significant than in Germany, as Switzerland already has comparatively low tax on fuel. 

Only Austria has lower fuel taxes than Switzerland (among Switzerland’s neighbours).

Fuel in Switzerland: Why are Germans crossing the border to fill up?

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Reader question: How can I bring my family to live with me in Switzerland?

Family reunification can be tricky in Switzerland, depending on where you and your family are from. Here is what you need to know.

Reader question: How can I bring my family to live with me in Switzerland?

If you live in Switzerland, you might want to bring your family from abroad to live with you. However, this will not be possible in every case, as the rules for family reunification vary broadly depending on where you and your family are from and how closely related you are.

Family reunification might not be a given right for those living in Switzerland on a permit. Instead, it may be a possibility left to the discretion of the authorities. Unlike those on a B permit (residence permit), people in Switzerland on a C permit (settlement permit), for example, don’t necessarily have a right to bring their family.

READ ALSO: Five things to consider when organising childcare in Switzerland

Additionally, you can’t bring just any family members to Switzerland. Who you are allowed to bring, and under what circumstances, will depend on your nationality.

For Swiss citizens

If the person living in Switzerland is a Swiss citizen, they are allowed to bring their spouse or registered partner, any children and grandchildren under the age of 18 (or 21 or dependent if the child comes from an EU/EFTA country), your dependent parents and grandparents if they come from an EU/EFTA country.

For citizens of an EU/EFTA country

Citizens of the European Union or an EFTA country can bring a spouse or registered partner, any children or grandchildren under the age of 21 (or dependent), and any dependent parents or grandparents.

For citizens from a third country

Citizens from a third country such as the US, Canada, Brazil, the UK, South Africa or Australia, for example, are only allowed to bring a spouse or registered partner and children under the age of 18.

How to bring them?

It’s important to mention that there are time limits to applying for family reunification. In general, people have five years to apply for family reunification, but only one year if the application is for children over 12 years old. The Swiss government says it is “so that they can integrate more rapidly into Swiss society”.

READ ALSO: What is the EU’s ‘single permit’ for third-country nationals and can I get one?

There are several other conditions that need to be met. For example, you need to prove the relationship to the person you want to bring, and you need to have a large enough accommodation to house the whole family.

Additionally, those who are self-employed or unemployed need to show proof of sufficient financial resources.

The family members need a valid identity card or passport, a visa (if necessary), and a certificate proving the relationship and proving they are dependents (if required). In addition, a spouse needs to show proof of A1 language or a certificate of enrolment in a language course of the area where they apply for the permit.

The application must be made with the immigration authority in your canton, who may ask for extra documents or further information.

READ ALSO: How long can I stay out of Switzerland and keep my residency rights?

If the application is accepted, the family members will receive a residence permit – the exact type depends on the person in Switzerland’s status. The family will be allowed to work in Switzerland unless they are parents or grandparents.

Children are required to attend free compulsory schooling at least until the age of 16 and all family members need to have a Swiss health insurance.

Each canton may have its own particular rules and minor differences in status and documents may lead to different outcomes depending on the case. Therefore, don’t forget to check with your cantonal immigration authority what applies to your particular case.