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Checklist: Everything you need to do if you leave Switzerland for good

Katherine Price
Katherine Price - [email protected]
Checklist: Everything you need to do if you leave Switzerland for good
What you need to do if you are leaving Switzerland. Photo by Idan Gil on Unsplash

Whether you’re returning to your home country, seeking new adventures elsewhere or retiring abroad, leaving Switzerland means more Swiss bureaucracy and there are lots of things you’ll need to arrange before you leave.


We’ve compiled a checklist of what to do before you leave Switzerland permanently to ensure the process goes smoothly:

If you’re renting accommodation

Start with checking the conditions of your rental agreement – specifically, how long is your notice period? If you need to leave earlier than your contract states, you’ll be responsible for finding a new tenant. You’ll need to send an official letter to your landlord by registered post to terminate your lease.

Before your handover, it’s recommended to get professional cleaners in. Look for those that offer a deposit guarantee.

As basic utilities are usually included in rent, terminating your contract may also cancel some of your utility bills. But make sure you’ve thought about any other payments related to your home such as parking. Keep your insurance until after the end of your contract, as you’ll still be responsible for any damage up to that date.

If you own your home

You’ll probably have already thought about whether you want to sell your house in Switzerland. As well as cancelling your utility bills and insurance, if you’re keeping your property in Switzerland, you’ll need to talk to your bank about whether you can keep your mortgage while living abroad. You’ll also need to consider any tax implications this will have.

De-register with your local authority

High on your list of priorities should be a visit to your local municipality to deregister, which can usually be done up to 30 days before departure.


They will be able to issue you a deregistration certificate (for a fee), which will be necessary for multiple aspects of the leaving process. Be aware that you will probably be required to deregister in person and should take your passport or identity card along with you, as well as your confirmation of registration from when you arrived and residence permit, if applicable.

For example Zurich local authority says deregistering is not possible online.

It asks foreigners leaving the country to bring their

  • Passport (for EU/EFTA nationals, identity card is sufficient)
  • Residence permit (if available)
  • Confirmation of registration / «Schriftenempfangsschein»
  • CHF 20.- for the certificate of deregistration

The cantonal tax office will be able to advise you on payment of any outstanding taxes or refunds.


Talk to your bank

You’ll need to contact your bank and ask if you can keep your Swiss bank account(s). Even if you can, there may be certain conditions or charges attached, and if not, there may be procedures or forms involved in closing your account. You’ll also need to have an account for the bank to transfer funds into.

Make sure you cancel any direct debits as they may not be cancelled automatically by simply closing your account, and this may incur debts. And be aware that getting your deposit back from a landlord can take up to a year and some landlords and real estate agencies don’t like transferring into non-Swiss accounts.

Check your visa conditions and/or work permit

If you’re on a B or C permit and moving abroad but expect to come back within four years, you can ‘freeze’ your permit for a specified time, which will ensure your permit and rights will be reinstated automatically on your return. However, this is subject to approval. Check your visa conditions if you have one and contact your local authority to discuss your circumstances.


READ ALSO: How long can I leave Switzerland for without losing my work permit?

Health insurance

You can cancel your Swiss health insurance with your deregistration certificate as most people aren’t required to have Swiss health insurance once they’ve left the country. You may be able to keep your health insurance if you wish, and there are some Swiss companies that offer voluntary international health insurance for people living outside of Switzerland.

Sort out your pension

When leaving Switzerland, you’ll want to think about what you’re going to do with your pension. You may be able to voluntarily contribute to the Swiss old age and invalidity insurance (OASI/IV) or have your OASI contributions reimbursed. If you are a Swiss citizen, you can receive your old age pension no matter where you live.

It may be that you will need to move your pension contributions, and sometimes these can be withdrawn. For more information, contact the Swiss Compensation Office (SCO). Early withdrawals will probably be subject to tax, although you may be able to save on taxes depending on when you withdraw. You should also consider how any child, unemployment or disability benefits will be affected by your move.


If you have a Swiss car and a Swiss driving licence

You’ll need to inform your local Road Traffic Office and the Vehicle Licensing Office of your move abroad. Many countries recognise Swiss driving licences, although some require an English-language licence. You can pay for a (temporary) international driving licence at your cantonal road traffic office; however, you may be required to apply for a national licence in your destination country after a certain period.

READ ALSO: How to convert your driver's licence for a Swiss one

Cancel any subscriptions, memberships or direct debits

Make sure you cancel any subscriptions or direct debits that you may still be liable for even if you close your bank account in Switzerland – for example, your SBB Travelcard. As well as any utilities and insurance, don’t forget to cancel phone contracts, Swiss television licence and internet – and check your contract cancellation terms. You’ll also need to notify any schools, nurseries or universities that you or your children are registered with of your departure.

Military/civilian service

If you are liable for military or civilian service in Switzerland, you’ll need to apply to the relevant authorities, which may involve paying an exemption tax.

Check customs

Make sure you check customs conditions for moving your possessions, pets and vehicles, and you should also contact your vet if you have a pet that is moving with you.

Forward your mail

For 90CHF, Swiss Post will forward your mail to your new address abroad for a year. This can kick in from the next working day, but it’s recommended to get this sorted no later than four working days before your move.

Once you’ve checked off all the relevant boxes, all that should be left is to say is arrivederci, au revoir, auf Wiedersehen, and a revair!


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