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Swiss citizenship For Members

Is there any benefit in becoming Swiss if I want to stay and retire here?

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Is there any benefit in becoming Swiss if I want to stay and retire here?
Some people may want to become Swiss after they retire. Photo by Etienne Girardet on Unsplash

There are many reasons why a foreign resident may want to be naturalised in Switzerland. Is planning to retire in the country one of them?

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If you have been working in Switzerland for a number of years and don’t feel any urge to return to your home country after you retire, you may be wondering whether applying for a Swiss citizenship could be to your advantage.

A lot depends, of course, on what you mean by ‘advantage.’

The best reason for this step is patriotic, rather than merely a pragmatic one. In fact, if naturalisation authorities suspect you want to get a Swiss passport for self-serving reasons, they will likely turn you down.

Let’s examine various scenarios.

You are a citizen of a third country

In that case, you are most likely in Switzerland under a permit quota system that is in effect for non-EU/EFTA nationals.

If you have a B or L permit that is tied to your employer, then you must leave Switzerland when you retire — unless you are eligible, and are able to obtain, a permanent settlement permit C. 

The latter scenario would entail having lived in Switzerland continuously for at least 10 years, except for US and Canadian citizens, who only need five years on residence.

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You are a national of an EU or EFTA (Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein) state

You don’t have to worry about having to leave Switzerland upon retirement and can continue to live here.

Now let’s go back to the original question — is a Swiss passport a ‘plus’ (or even a ‘must’) if you intend to remain in the country?

The simple answer here is this: if you have a C permit and the right to remain in Switzerland indefinitely (regardless of your nationality), then the only two additional benefits that a Swiss citizenship would offer you is the right to vote and run for an elective office, and the possibility to leave the country for an extended period of time without worrying about losing your residency status.

The particular situation would be all the more relevant if you plan on splitting your post-retirement time between Switzerland and your home country; if you spend more than six months abroad, you could lose your permanent residence status.

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

On the other hand, if you are living in Switzerland with a B permit which will expire sooner or later, or could be withdrawn once you retire, then a Swiss citizenship (or C permit) will ensure that you can remain in the country for the long haul.

To conclude, if you already have the permanent residence status in Switzerland, you don’t need to have a Swiss passport in order to continue living, and drawing your pension, here.

There are however, less tangible benefits of becoming a citizen, as described here:

READ ALSO: What it's like to become Swiss

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