Relocation Essentials

Moving can be daunting at any stage so it’s no surprise that many people find it difficult to get their footing when arriving in a country that has four official languages. With this in mind, we’ve gathered some useful information that we hope will make settling into Zug a step easier. As an English information platform dedicated to expats we know how important it is to land on your feet. If you do not find the information you are looking for, please contact us through our contact form.

 

The Department of Economic Affairs has also edited an Expat Guide in English, which contains detailed information about the canton. You can order a copy of the guide at:

 
Department of Economic Affairs
Canton of Zug
Economic Development

Aabachstrasse 5
6301 Zug
Switzerland

economy@zug.ch

www.zg.ch/economy
T: 041 728 55 04

 

Residency


First things first: residence permit upon arrival


Anyone who works during his or her stay or who remains in Switzerland for longer than three months requires a permit. Residence permits are issued by the Cantonal Office for Migration. A distinction is made between EU/EFTA and non-EU/EFTA citizens.


The various residence permits for foreigners:
 

  →  L permit (Short-term residents)
  →  B permit (Resident foreign nationals)
  →  C permit (Settled foreign nationals)
  →  G permit (Cross-border commuters)

 

You should register within 14 days of your arrival in Switzerland at the Amt für Migration (Office for Migration, see address below), even if you are staying in a hotel. If you already have an employment contract, take the following documents with you:

EU Nationals:
 

  • Copy of passport
  • Two passport photos
  • Copy of civil status documents such as family book, marriage certificate, birth certificates
  • Copy of employment contract
  • Copy of rental agreement
  • Copy of school registration
  • Form A1 and form F1 if your family is moving with you - you can download the forms here.
  • Health insurance certificate (showing you hold a policy with a Swiss health insurer) - if you don't have an insurance by the time of your move, you may deliver this document at a later stage.
     

Non-EU Nationals:

You will have received a document by your employer called "Zusicherung der Aufenthaltsbewilligung".
 

  • Copy of passport
  • Copy of rental agreement
  • Copy of school registration
  • Form A2 - you can download the form here.
  • One passport photo per family member


Note: Since 2020, the authorities have introduced the biometrical identification for all EU and non-EU residents. You will need to book an appointment to have your biometrical data taken (also for children) - please call +41 41 728 50 88


For further information, contact:
 

Amt für Migration
Aabachstrasse 1
6301 Zug
 

info.afm@sd.zg.ch

Tel. +41 41 728 50 50
Fax +41 41 728 50 59

Opening hours:

Monday                   08.30 - 11.45  and 14.00 - 18.00

Tuesday - Friday     08.30 - 11.45  and 14.00 - 17.00

 

 

Customs


Household

Did you know your household belongings could be imported duty and tax-free into Switzerland? To qualify, furniture, personal effects, electronic appliances, etc. have to have been in your possession and for personal use for at least six months prior to your move here. Your belongings must be imported within a reasonable period of time after your change of residence to Switzerland. Be sure to check the custom regulations here for more detailed information.


Vehicles

In general, if you are a resident in Switzerland, you are not allowed to use a foreign vehicle registered abroad in Switzerland. This also applies to vehicles which relatives or acquaintances from abroad allow you to use occasionally, for example. 

If you wish to import your car, you may drive it for up to one year with the number plates from your country of origin. Please note that you need to declare that vehicle for customs clearance spontaneously and without delay when driving into Switzerland (principle of self-assessment). Make sure to keep hold of any customs papers in the event that you are pulled over by police.


Furthermore, foreign drivers licences must be exchanged for a Swiss permit within the first year of your arrival. Find more detailed information about owning and driving a car in Switzerland here or here.


Pets

Bringing a pet abroad is an important step for many families. Switzerland allows you to bring in pets and it is advised to make the necessary arrangements well in advance, with regard to vaccinations, identification and permits. Special conditions apply to dogs, cats, ferrets and birds as these pets can be affected by rabies. Regulations will vary depending on whether you are entering from an EU or non-EU country. Please refer to the Swiss Federal Veterinary website for more detailed information.

 

Housing



In the past, many expats preferred to rent as opposed to buy during their stay in Switzerland. However, there is now a growing trend in home ownership, due in part to the bilateral agreements with the EU on the free movement of workers and residents. Zug has a range of beautiful homes and apartments, with rental prices being above average due to the low-tax benefits offered here.
 

Rental agreements are of a standard format and based on Swiss regulations. A typical rental agreement will stipulate the rental value, costs for heating, water and electricity, the lease start date, the termination conditions and the security deposit required. By law, the landlord may ask for a security deposit equivalent to three months' rent to be paid into a savings account at a bank. Normally, termination dates are only at the end of March, June and September, and it is customary for tenants to give three months' notice. If you find another person willing to take over the lease (a so-called "Nachmieter"), you may terminate your rental agreement prior to the termination date. A garage or parking space is normally charged separately from the rental price.
 

When buying, there is a great deal of information to consider regarding the Swiss real estate market. Fortunately, our partners at UBS have created a brochure that goes into great detail for foreign residents who wish to buy property while living here. You can download the brochure here.
 

There are many good websites where you can look for properties to buy and rent. You will also find the contact details of many agents who will look for property on your behalf in our Services Guide under Relocation & Real Estate.

Useful links for property searches:


www.homegate.ch
www.immoscout24.ch
www.newhome.ch
 

Good to know:
 

Radio and Television Reception Fees
Every household in Switzerland is legally obliged to pay the radio and television fee. Your fee contributes to the public service offered by radio and television broadcasting in Switzerland. More information here.
 

Electricity
Electricity in Switzerland is 220V, alternating at 50 cycles per second. You can use a voltage converter for your electrical appliances but most people decide to buy new equipment when moving here. This link will show you which plugs are used in Switzerland.

Good to know when renting:


Furnishings
Rental apartments in Switzerland usually come unfurnished and also do not include the likes of light fixtures, closets or window treatments, which means it is up to the tenant to acquire these items. Kitchens on the other hand, always comes fully equipped with built-in electrical appliances.

 

Handover
The tenant has the right to move into a clean and functional apartment. The formal handover of the apartment takes place on the day you agree with the landlord. The tenant and landlord inspect the condition of the apartment together and record any defects in writing on a protocol form. If you notice damages that were not visible when you signed the protocol, inform your landlord within two weeks. It is important that you do so in writing.

 

Minor repairs
The tenant is responsible for minor repairs. These could include defect water taps, electrical switches and sockets, door locks, etc. In most cases the costs for small improvements should not exceed a reference value of CHF 150 per repair. You will also be expected to carry out all repairs that fall under minor repairs before you move out of your apartment. Revise the general terms and conditions of your rental contract for more details.

 

Reporting defects
It is important that you immediately report defects that you cannot remedy yourself. If you fail to do so, you may be held liable for the damage caused by not reporting the defect.

 

We recommend purchasing a private liability insurance that will cover certain damages.

 

 

Insurance

 

Switzerland has one of the best healthcare systems in Europe. Unlike other European countries, however, healthcare isn’t charged via social security payments rather administered by the cantonal health authorities. By law, everyone living in Switzerland needs to take out a basic health insurance policy within three months of becoming a resident, with private top-ups available. 
 

If you are a tenant, household insurance is not mandatory but in some cases can be stipulated as a requirement by your landlord. You can also take out third-party liability insurance for incidents where you cause loss or damage to another person and have been ordered to compensate them. Please note that cars must always be covered with third-party insurance.  
 

Other insurances you may want to consider include legal expenses insurance, travel insurance, and pet insurance. 


For all insurance-related queries, we are happy to put forward our partner CAVEO:


Alexander Hesselvik, Co-Founder
alexander@caveo.ch

Social security


The pension system in Switzerland is based on three pillars. The state pension covers the basic costs of living. Occupational pensions contribute towards maintaining the accustomed standard of living. Additional private pension plans support retirees’ individual needs. In addition to paying retirement benefits, the first two pillars also provide benefits in the event of disability or death. Like pillar 2, pillar 3 is also tax privileged. It offers various investment products and provides flexibility with respect to your personal investment preferences. Download the brochures of our partner UBS for further information on the Swiss pension system (here) and what happens to your retirement savings should you move back abroad (here).

Taxation


In Switzerland taxes are levied at three different levels as follows:

 

1.    Federal: federal tax is charged on income and applies equally to all cantons throughout Switzerland as defined by the Swiss Confederation.
 

2.    Cantonal: cantonal tax is charged on income and net wealth of individuals.


3.    Municipal: municipal taxes are a surcharge on the cantonal tax.

 

Zug is well-known for its low taxation levels and is often described as a tax haven. Depending on your residence permit and income, you will either be taxed at source or pay tax at the end of each year upon submission of your tax return. To find out which one applies to you, consult your company’s HR department or contact the local tax authorities.
 
Tax Administration of the Canton Zug
Bahnhofstrasse 26
6301 Zug
Tel. + 41 41 728 26 11
Fax + 41 41 728 26 95
www.zug.ch/tax


You can also consult the tax calculator.
 
The standard VAT rate in Switzerland is 7.7%. A special rate of 3.8% applies to accommodation services. There is also a reduced rate of 2.5% on goods for basic needs such as groceries, newspapers, medicine and agricultural products.


Good to know - ways to reduce the tax burden and the advantages of being an expatriate:
 

In addition to the permissible cantonal deductions, local residents can reduce their tax burden by paying extra contributions into their pension fund and the private provision for old age, the so-called 3rd pillar of the Swiss social security system. Individuals may also achieve an optimisation by restructuring their investment portfolio and planning their real estate investments or educational expenses. Sometimes it may also help to move to another town or village. Retirement needs to be planned well in advance too, as huge fiscal reductions are possible. Also important is the point in time when succession planning occurs and life insurances are purchased.


To remain an attractive financial location for international people, the canton of Zug offers the following additional deductions for expatriates, provided the expenses are paid by the expatriate him-/herself:
 

1. Relocation expenses incurred moving to Switzerland and back home: this means expenses incurred after the date of registration as a local resident.
 

2. Appropriate living expenses in Switzerland if the residence in the home country is still maintained. Rental income from the home residence while an expatriate is living in Switzerland is added to the overall income and is thus subject to taxation. Please check beforehand whether a ‘double taxation agreement’ exists between Switzerland and your home country, in order to avoid double taxation.
 

3. School expenses of minor children if the state school system cannot provide adequate education, e.g. where a child needs to be taught in a foreign language.
 

In addition to their salary, most expatriates receive allowances for housing, healthcare, cars and other personal expenses. The company should declare on the salary statement the purpose of an allowance in order to distinguish between deductible and other expenses. Companies with more than 10 employees are recommended to establish a ‘tax ruling’ with the tax authorities. This ruling defines a fixed amount, which approximately covers the effective expenses of the employee. The positive side effect is a lower administrative burden for the taxpayer. However, such ‘tax rulings’ are not accepted by all cantons so that companies with affiliates in different cantons may establish different rulings in each canton.


The "Good to know" section has been provided by our advertising partner Ledergerber Treuhand - tax advisors.

 

 

Driving

 

You may only temporarily drive in Switzerland holding your foreign driving licence, which must be exchanged for a Swiss one within 12 months from your arrival date. Please note that you will need to hand in your old driving licence from your last residence country as it will be returned to the issuing authority.

You can apply for the licence at:

Strassenverkehrsamt
Hinterbergstrasse 41
6312 Steinhausen
Tel. +41 41 728 47 11
Fax +41 41 728 47 27
info.stva@zg.ch

Website


Opening times:

Monday - Friday
07:30 - 11:45
13:00 - 16:30

 

Good to know:


Road safety
One important fact to note in Switzerland is that drivers will normally always stop at every zebra crossing for a pedestrian. It is essential to be careful and pay attention, as many people often walk onto the zebra crossing with the expectation that cars will stop. Children (and some adults) will wave at you and make sure you have seen them as they cross. Driving is on the right-hand side, as in all of Europe.

Speed and alcohol limits
Standard speed limits are 50 kph in built-up areas, 80 kph on country roads and 120 kph on motorways. A special speed limit of 30 kph is being introduced in an increasing number of residential districts. The alcohol limit for drivers is 0.5 o/oo.


Car-sharing
Car-sharing is the clever way to be mobile whenever you want, without the commitment that owning a car entails. Mobility has 2,600 vehicles waiting for you at 1,300 stations throughout Switzerland around the clock and on a self-service basis. For more information visit the Mobility website here.

 

 

Education

Private schools 
 

Education and knowledge within Switzerland are highly regarded, allowing the country to claim to have one of the world's best education systems. The canton of Zug is no exception and should you choose to go the private route, there are numerous reputable private and international schools. These schools offer bilingual classes and programs from preschool, kindergarten and primary school to the world recognized Primary Year Program (PYP), Middle Years Program (MYP), Advanced Placement (AP), American High School Diploma and the International Baccalaureate Diploma (IBDP). While living in this small and central location, Zug families can rest assured they have many options when it comes to the education and future growth of their children.


You can find a list of international and private schools in Zug in our Services Guide.


Local school system


Children and adolescents in the canton of Zug have access to high-quality public schools. Attendance at public schools for the years of compulsory education is free of charge. Compulsory schooling in the canton of Zug begins with a mandatory pre-school (kindergarten) year before a child reaches primary school age and lasts for 10 years in all. Primary school comprises six grades (six school years). At the end of primary school, on the threshold to lower secondary level (Sekundarstufe I), the educational path splits into different directions. Progression from primary to secondary level is effected by means of performance-based grouping, involving no admission or other exams, in a transition procedure called Übertritt I.
 

The lower secondary level is divided – with progressively higher intellectual demands on students – into Werkschule, Realschule and Sekundarschule, as well as Untergymnasium and Langzeitgymnasium, the latter two being geared to subsequent university studies. The end of the lower secondary years signifies the end of compulsory schooling. It is followed by upper secondary level (Sekundarstufe II).
 

At this stage, 70% of the canton of Zug’s youngsters opt for vocational education and training, which combines on-the-job training with school education (dual-track education system). Sekundarschule students have the possibility of continuing their education at an upper-secondary baccalaureate school (Kantonale Mittelschule). This progression is organised and executed in a further transition procedure (Übertritt II). No exams are involved in this procedure, either.
 

At the end of the upper secondary period, students either take up a profession or continue their education at tertiary level. All educational paths at upper secondary level — including vocational education and training — leave students with the option of a baccalaureate (Matura), provided they have sufficient academic talent and willingness to work hard at school. Graduating with a baccalaureate opens the door to university-level education.
 

Please visit the cantonal website for very detailed and updated information on the local school system.