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Swiss citizenship For Members

Can I get Swiss citizenship and then move abroad?

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Can I get Swiss citizenship and then move abroad?
You can move abroad once you get it. Photo: Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash

Most people apply for Swiss naturalisation with the intent of remaining in the country. But what happens if you choose to live abroad right after receiving your passport?

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You may have a variety of reasons why you opt to move out of Switzerland after becoming a citizen.

Your decision may have to do with your work, education, family, or simply a desire to live elsewhere.

But is there a wait period before a newly-minted citizen can leav the country?

No, there isn’t.

There is no distinction between new citizens, those who had been naturalised years ago, or people who are Swiss from birth.

In the eyes of the law, they are all Swiss on equal footing.

This means you can leave the country and then return whenever you want — unless there is some compelling reason why you are not allowed to do so — for instance, if you are under criminal investigation.

In fact, an estimated 800,000 Swiss citizens — roughly 11 percent of the entire population — live abroad.

What’s more, you are not required to offer any explanations to any officials or authorities about why you choose to emigrate so quickly after becoming a Swiss citizen.

What do you have to do to leave the country?

Besides the usual steps you have to take when you relocate — like notifying your landlord and canceling your mail delivery — there are some official administrative procedures you are required to follow as well before you go.

One is de-registering from your commune of residence. 

Once you do so, you can submit the de-registration document to your health insurance company, so you can cancel your policy.

What about tax authorities?

Once you de-register from your commune, the tax office in your canton will be informed automatically of your departure.

While you will no longer be required to pay income tax in Switzerland if you are employed abroad, you will continue to be taxed on your wealth if, for instance, you own property or other assets in Switzerland.

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Primary versus secondary

All of the above applies if you leave Switzerland for good.

But some people, like dual nationals for instance, may choose to spend part of the year in their countries of origin, and the other part in Switzerland.

If this is your plan, you should decide whether Switzerland or another country will be your primary legal residence (for tax purposes you can have only one primary residence, with the other counting as your secondary one).

Primary  — or tax residence — means that you live in Switzerland 30 days per year in a row while working, or 90 consecutive days if not employed. 

If you choose another country as your main base, then you don’t have to do much of anything, from the administrative perspective.

However, in case you pick Switzerland as your main residence, you are required to maintain your Swiss health insurance, be registered in a commune where you live and, of course pay income taxes here.

What if you move away from Switzerland completely but want to come back?

Regardless of whether you leave the country immediately after becoming a citizen, and even if you have been living abroad for many years, you can always, at any time, return to Switzerland.

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