Monday, 18 June 2012

Swiss-ocracy . . . .

Today's blog will reflect exactly what I did today, i.e. spend most of it in various government offices officially "leaving" Switzerland. You can't just leave this country, you have to give notice and present yourself accordingly. For those of you thinking of leaving, or for that matter coming here let me give you a taste of the day.

1. Office of Population Control for the Canton of Geneva.

This Stalinist sounding place is the key to your success if you wish to extracate yourself from the idyllic Swiss lifestyle. You need to present yourself and officially declare via "Form D" that you are leaving the country permanently. You then have to provide your Swiss ID, in my case it was my B Pass and my Passport. Additionally your spouse and children, if you have one or both, have to be there as well. You then sign on the dotted line and in return you can purchase an "attestation" for CHF 25 which is evidence that you are leaving. You will need this no matter what you are told. Pay up and be happy as your multi-hour wait at the OPC allows you to move on to step 2.

2. Office of Tax (whatever the the French is . . . ?)

When you arrive here bring your newly acquired attestation, your passport and Swiss ID. You have to come here to fill out a form that says you owe the government nothing. The document you sign requires all sorts information about where you've been living and what you may have bought in terms of property while here. Essentially they're trying to ascertain whether they need to charge you capital gains or other associated taxes. Be very carefull about this part. If you're leaving a property behind they'll be applying taxes galore, so you may want to get the advice of an accountant. In my case we have a letter releasing us from our apartment lease. We found a replacement tenant and have an official letter from our managing agent, they didn't ask to see it, but there was a question about this on the form, so if you're skipping the country be careful. At the end they'll stamp your last tax return if they're happy and let you go. Proceed to step 3.

3. Pension

Take everything you have and if you're married bring your marriage certificate and head over to your pension fund to collect your pension. You are entitled to all those contributions your employer made to the government pension scheme. If you're Australian, or Canadian or American you get the cash. If you are EU then you get to transfer it to your home pension fund. Just do it. I've read the horror stories of people trying to claim it years after the fact . . . the Swiss don't want to give you a cent back, so get it while you can.

We estimate the day was about 4-6hrs of waiting around and travel. Obviously we stopped for lunch because that's what the Swiss do. A complete joke, but just pack your iPhone with music and books and you'll survive.

And finally on the markets . . . . I'll leave you with the the quote of the day from Bill Gross of Pimco:

"Germany, to me, is a credit risk"

Goodnight, good luck  . . . . and Ciao!

1 comment:

  1. This is part of the cost, in terms of inconvenience, of living in a well-ordered society. The bureaucracy, I've found, works pretty well and the bureaucrats actually want to help you. Compare, for example, with France or (God help you) Italy.

    Yes, the bureaucracy is more laid-back in Australia, but things aren't so well-ordered there, either. Don't get me started on the USA...