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Old 13.03.2018, 05:10
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How We Left Switzerland

Final departure from Switzerland can be a strenuous affair in itself. Here is how it was handled by my partner and myself. As usual, YMMV; also, there may be better ways to go about the tasks; just sharing our own experience here. To give some context, we were moving back to Australia in 2017 after living and working in the canton of Zurich for 3.5 years; we had B permits from our third year on.

The checklist we made for ourselves and followed was this:

Three full months in advance (e.g., December if departing[*] on the 31st of March)
- give written notice to the landlord. That was in our lease contract that it was only possible to end the lease on the last day of a month and the notice period was 3 full months. Fortunately for us, it could be any month except December. You will definitely want to check your own lease contract for the termination conditions well in advance (up to a year)
- get rid of any unwanted items in the suitable annual / semi-annual rubbish pickups such as Mineralabfallsammlung (old crockery, empty plant pots, etc), Metallsammlung (old metal items such as pots and pans etc), and so on

Two full months in advance (e.g., January if departing[*] on the 31st of March)
- sit back and relax (I was really surprised to have nothing big going on for the month)

One full month in advance (e.g., February if departing[*] on the 31st of March)
- give notice to the employer. Mine required I quit on the last day of a month and notice be given one full month in advance. You will need to check your own job contract for the termination conditions and/or talk to the HR department well in advance (a few months)
- shop around for overseas shipping options

1st half of the last month (e.g., March if departing[*] on the 31st of March)
- first of all, deregister at the Gemeinde. Just our passports and B-permits were required for the procedure itself. However, on top of that we needed to provide a Swiss contact that would be getting our mail from the taxation office once we left. In our case it was the local office of an international tax agency as my wife was transferring within the same global employer. From what I heard, other options may include your Swiss tax agent if they are OK with that, or even a friend who is going to keep living in Switzerland for some more years. Basically, the contact just needs to forward you any letters from the Steueramt (e.g. scan & email them) until you are done with all of your Swiss tax liabilities (up to 3-4 years?)
- cancel the Internet/ADSL/mobile contracts as of the departure date using the departure certificate(s). At least with UPC Cablecom and Swisscom it was perfectly OK to cancel an annual contract early if leaving Switzerland for good; there seems to be a special clause for that case in favour of the customer
- cancel the Mobility subscriptions. The guys require 1 month of advance notice, if I remember correctly
- cancel the liability insurance policy renewal so it doesn't get extended automatically. The insurer (ours was AXA) requested a copy of the departure certificate and kindly issued a refund for the remaining period until the end of the year
- cancel the health insurance policy (KVG) as of the departure date using the departure certificate(s). A refund should be issued if the policy was annual. I had had our policies switched to monthly premium payments just in case at the beginning of 2017, so I just paid for the last month's premium and that was it. Probably I was overcautious since getting a refund for the unused time turned out to be a standard procedure for all other services
- stop Billag (the radio/TV tax) via their self-service website. The guys accept an online request for that in advance and then you don't even have to provide supporting documents, just your departure date and a bank account IBAN for refund. (But if you do it after departure, you need to give them a copy of your deregistration certificate etc)
- stop the automatic extension of the Halbtax via swisspass.ch
- request transfer of the Pillar 2 pension to Pensfree. We went with Pensfree to minimize the cantonal tax on Pillar 2 cashout. See, e.g., https://www.englishforum.ch/finance-...-lump-sum.html . It was useful to learn that Pensfree had a special 'holding' account type that accrued no interest but could be transferred from immediately unlike a regular vested benefits account (which can be transferred from only after 90 days IIRC). All communication went in English via email and the whole process was pretty easy and straightforward. All in all the guys were very helpful
- book professional cleaning of the apartment at the end of the lease. We went with Zuriclean and were very happy: https://www.englishforum.ch/housing-...ml#post2772168

2nd half of the last month (e.g., March if you plan to depart[*] on the 31st of March)
- sell on ricardo.ch any good items we weren't taking with us. We weren't looking to recover much of their original value, but it was really great to have unwieldy pieces like a modular wardrobe just picked up from our place by people who wanted them
- forward mail to the new (overseas) address. Having no fixed overseas address yet, we just asked an Australian friend to do us a favour and hold our mail for the time being
- talk to the bank (Postfinance in our case) about the change of 'domicile' status to non-resident and the contact address to overseas. Once I convinced them I needed the account to stay open for a few years for things like paying tax bills, they were pretty helpful with the procedure, which involved mailing them a signed form they emailed to me first, if I remember correctly
- apply for Pillar 1 refund as per https://www.englishforum.ch/leaving-...ess-story.html
- apply for Pillar 2 refund as per instructions from Pensfree. We just kept our Postfinance account to receive the money into and see what we want to do with it later on
- ship our stuff to Australia
- have the apartment cleaned

Last day
- remove the name plaques from our mailbox and doorbell and keep them as a memento of our time in Switzerland
- hand the apartment over to the landlord
- celebrate

First month after departure
- file the final tax return

After that
- file the tax return for the previous year if you haven't yet
- watch and pay any bills you still may be getting from Switzerland for a while such as tax, utilities, rent, etc. For example, our former landlord sent us a final settlement of the Nebenkosten only 6 months later. Keeping a Swiss bank account open really helps to deal with those

That should be about it.

(*) Above, the departure date is what you are going to have in your departure certificate (Abmeldebestaetigung). Depending on your circumstances, you may not have to actually fly out from Switzerland on that day. For example, we 'departed' as of March, 31, flew to Sydney on April, 11 and had a holiday in Mallorca in between. At the border control for our flight to Sydney we were asked if it was our actual final departure, which it was.
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Old 13.03.2018, 09:18
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Re: How We Left Switzerland

Very nice post. thanks for sharing all this stuff (wow, I have a lot to do before leaving)

Say - can you recommend a moving company? I need someone that can handle a shipping container for Non-eu country
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Old 13.03.2018, 12:08
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Re: How We Left Switzerland

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Very nice post. thanks for sharing all this stuff (wow, I have a lot to do before leaving)

Say - can you recommend a moving company? I need someone that can handle a shipping container for Non-eu country
You are welcome, and the best of luck with your move. Looking back, the biggest challenge was getting the timing right since some tasks depended on others and so on. Hoping our experience will be of some help to the community. But in the end it all went very smoothly, if a bit packed in the last weeks.

We used www.packimpex.ch for the shipping. It wasn't the cheapest option but in the end we were extremely happy with the quality of their service at both ends, such as their being very careful to do no damage to the home (floor/walls) when moving the boxes around etc. We had had a bit of substandard experience when moving to Switzerland, so we could really appreciate it. We had ~ 10 cubic metres of stuff and it was ~ 7'100 CHF door to door.
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Old 13.03.2018, 14:47
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Re: How We Left Switzerland

Thanks, yarique, for a very helpful thread!

Could you please write more about the shipping? For example:
Did you pack the boxes, or have packimpex do it? Physically loading containier? Timescale for the packing and loading? Delivery upon arrival in the new city? Unloading? Unpacking? How did the calcuations work, of volume and then of final costs? Other fees not included?
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Old 14.03.2018, 02:56
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Re: How We Left Switzerland

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Thanks, yarique, for a very helpful thread!

Could you please write more about the shipping? For example:
Did you pack the boxes, or have packimpex do it? Physically loading containier? Timescale for the packing and loading? Delivery upon arrival in the new city? Unloading? Unpacking? How did the calcuations work, of volume and then of final costs? Other fees not included?
You are very welcome.

Packimpex was to provide boxes and wrapping material. It was essentially an end-to-end service. Basically, it went like this: To simplify things, we had put most of the stuff to be shipped in one room -- had a 3.5 Zimmer flat so there was room to separate the stuff to ship from the stuff to sell or give away. (The movers appreciated that, by the way.) To avoid too much mess, we had packed small bits such as books and documents in the few boxes we had left from moving to CH. We had also put clothes in large plastic bags. All the rest (including some really small bits such as toiletries) was picked up and packed by the movers and I was amazed by the great job they did. They kept it all very well organized.

I had also disassembled the furniture as far as reasonable, such as removed the dining table legs.

On the pickup day, the movers came with a box truck. First of all, they put protective plastic sheets on the floor (which was very much appreciated.) Then they boxed the smaller bits, wrapped the larger bits such as furniture pieces in something like heavy-duty bubble wrap, and took everything away. It all took like 3-4 hours including a short lunch break. All the rest was up to Packimpex. The Packimpex manual suggests a happy customer be free to tip the movers, which I happily did with 40 CHF (20 CHF per person).

The shipping was by sea and expected to take 2-3 months, but the ship managed to arrive a bit earlier. IIRC, the pickup was on March, 27 and the delivery was in late May.

In Australia, the procedure was just the reverse. The local mover team brought our stuff to our front door in a box truck, unloaded it into the house, unwrapped everything, unboxed most of the stuff, and took the wrapping and empty boxes away. A 20AUD tip was well deserved. I asked them to leave some stuff in boxes so we could take our time to set our home up. I think they can even put things on shelves etc for you, but we'd just rather do that ourselves.

There was a ~ 1100AUD customs clearance fee and a 440CHF storage fee on top of the 7'100CHF paid initially. The base rate was by volume.

Hoping this helps.
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Old 14.03.2018, 22:09
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Re: How We Left Switzerland

Thank you for sharing your experiences, so generously.
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Old 14.03.2018, 22:46
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Re: How We Left Switzerland

Leaving can be a lot more complex than arriving.

To the OP, not wanting to pry, but curious about the return of your rental deposit. Did you have deposit insurance so nothing to get back from a rental surety account?

This was not mentioned in your post. This is often something that drags on and on after people have left even in cases where the handover went well.
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Old 15.03.2018, 03:24
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Re: How We Left Switzerland

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Leaving can be a lot more complex than arriving.

To the OP, not wanting to pry, but curious about the return of your rental deposit. Did you have deposit insurance so nothing to get back from a rental surety account?

This was not mentioned in your post. This is often something that drags on and on after people have left even in cases where the handover went well.
Ha ha, leaving CH in good character is certainly more complex and requires superior project management skills -- one can rightfully claim those on the CV if successful.

I don't think we had deposit insurance, just personal liability insurance. Our apartment was in a block recently built to let by a corporation, so the property management guys weren't really interested in making problems up or nitpicking. In short, we got the deposit back no problem. The property management rep was even very helpful and made sure we were able to send the deposit claim form through before the Easter holidays.
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Old 15.03.2018, 04:40
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Re: How We Left Switzerland

UPDATE

I can't seem to edit the original post, so here are a few important bits I failed to include in it -- sorry:

- When deregistering at the Gemeinde, double check your marital status is correct in the deregistration certificate. It will be required to claim your Pillar 2 money without dramas, from what I heard. Basically, it's THE proof of your marital status you are to provide when claiming Pillar 2.

- At the rental home handover, remember to ask the landlord or their rep about the deposit claim form. Also, let them know your overseas address so they can send you final utility bills etc. If renting from a property management company, those guys normally know the drill, but a private landlord may need a bit of your help in that respect.

- You will probably want to mail as much of the paperwork as possible while you are still in CH:

For the rental deposit claim and the Pillar 1 claim it's just a matter of convenience. So you won't have to go international post and the papers will come through faster and more reliably.

For the Pillar 2 claim, this is pretty much CRITICAL if you are married. The catch is that to claim Pillar 2, you need your spouse's consent certified by a Swiss-recognised notary. Basically, both of you sign the claim form and then a notary certifies BOTH of your signatures. (To the best of my knowledge, nobody cares if your signature is fake when you are single.) If already overseas, you will have to look for a Swiss mission with a recognised notary, and those are very rare from what I remember. So your best bet is to get this done while still in CH. The cheapest notary is normally at your local Gemeindehaus / Town Hall -- just look for Notariat.

We had a bit of a funny experience when at that. The Gemeinde Horgen Notariat had a funky procedure for certifying signatures in that they couldn't just stamp & sign the dedicated blank space on the Pillar 2 claim form. Instead, they needed to print out separate sheets of paper and attach those to the claim form with an important-looking seal. On top of that, they asked us if it was OK to use just one set of certificates for both of our Pillar 2 claims. We weren't sure and went with two sets for a double fee (BOTH signatures are to be certified on EITHER Pillar 2 claim of a departing couple, remember?) So extra 40 CHF bought us some peace of mind. It all went through fine with Pensfree in the end. Still, even the finest of Swiss red tape seems to have some kinks in it.

HTH.
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Old 15.03.2018, 17:19
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Re: How We Left Switzerland

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So extra 40 CHF bought us some peace of mind.
Yes, getting signatures notarised in Switzerland can save a fortune and, in some cases, not getting it done can block a procedure entirely, later.

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... certified by a Swiss-recognised notary. ....
If already overseas, you will have to look for a Swiss mission with a recognised notary, and those are very rare from what I remember. So your best bet is to get this done while still in CH. The cheapest notary is normally at your local Gemeindehaus / Town Hall -- just look for Notariat.
In another case (not about pension) of which I know, the person outside of Switzerland whose signature was required was too ill to travel what would have been several hundred kilometeres to the next Swiss-recognised notary. The remaining affected parties literally had no option but to wait until that person died, so they could then put in new paperwork to that effect.

Put in that perspective, a mere Fr. 40 really doesn't seem like that much to pay for the convenience and peace of mind.
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Old 03.08.2018, 13:04
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Re: How We Left Switzerland

Just wondering, why it is that such obviously lovely and helpful people of Ukranian nationality chose to go and live in Australia. We hope you will be happy there - takes a while to settle, or at least it did for us
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Old 05.08.2018, 00:30
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Re: How We Left Switzerland

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Just wondering, why it is that such obviously lovely and helpful people of Ukranian nationality chose to go and live in Australia. We hope you will be happy there - takes a while to settle, or at least it did for us
Thanks for the kind words Evianers. I guess we have just been naturally predisposed to become Antipodeans and do things back to front (or upside down). It was from Australia that we moved to Switzerland in the first place, mostly because of the infamous Avocado Toast Index making itself felt. The move really hit the spot as Zurich turned out to be a top place for avocado toast forgoers --- in all senses, if you know what I mean. Now back in Oz, we can chuckle softly as we order the oversize avocado toast dubbed "Screw the Mortgage" in the corner cafe, of course along with the indispensable flat white which was badly missed while in Switzerland.
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Old 22.08.2018, 18:17
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Re: How We Left Switzerland

Thank you for this helpful overview.
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Old 30.08.2018, 14:52
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Re: How We Left Switzerland

This is still great info, thanks for much for posting it (I'm late to the game, I know:P)
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Old 12.10.2018, 12:11
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Re: How We Left Switzerland

Thank you for this detailed post! Any updates on how difficult it is/was to close a bank account once you've left the country?
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Old 12.10.2018, 12:28
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Re: How We Left Switzerland

Great post. We have done this (and since moved back to CH) and that is very comprehensive list. Wish we had that list a couple of years back !

Enjoy the good coffee !
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Old 12.10.2018, 22:39
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Re: How We Left Switzerland

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Thank you for this detailed post! Any updates on how difficult it is/was to close a bank account once you've left the country?
Sorry but no update on that from me; we have kept our Postfinance account so far. I guess it would just be a matter of filling the account termination form out and posting it to the Postfinance head office. I had to mail Postfinance some forms about my tax residency in the meanwhile and that seems to have worked fine in the end. At least they stopped bothering me to send them more forms through.
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Old 12.10.2018, 22:46
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Re: How We Left Switzerland

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Great post. We have done this (and since moved back to CH) and that is very comprehensive list. Wish we had that list a couple of years back !

Enjoy the good coffee !
Thanks Rumpole. Time to start a "Moving Back to Switzerland" forum section, eh?
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Old 13.10.2018, 00:44
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Re: How We Left Switzerland

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Sorry but no update on that from me; we have kept our Postfinance account so far. I guess it would just be a matter of filling the account termination form out and posting it to the Postfinance head office. I had to mail Postfinance some forms about my tax residency in the meanwhile and that seems to have worked fine in the end. At least they stopped bothering me to send them more forms through.
No worries! thanks for your help anyway!
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