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Old 20.07.2021, 07:26
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Military Service for Dual Citizen who only speaks English

Good morning to all of you on the forum,

I am a 24 y/o male working at a large bank in ZH. I'm a dual U.S. - Swiss citizen, and only speak English.

The military has sent me a recruiting letter via the post. Naturally, they sent it in German, so I used a translating app on my phone to decipher this message. Essentially it said to pack my bags and come to the training center on a certain date in September.

Some questions:

1. Do I have to go? If they can't instruct me, I wouldn't be able to participate fully. Will I be ruled as ineligible when they find I don't speak a lick of German?

2. If they do force me to serve, will I lose my U.S. citizenship as a consequence?

3. If I am ruled ineligible (likely), willy I have to perform some alternative service - such as Civil Service - or am I absolved of all my duties?

Thanks for your help with this
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Old 20.07.2021, 08:08
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Re: Military Service for Dual Citizen who only speaks English

You can opt not to do it, then you have to pay a tax. Or you can do civil service instead.
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Old 20.07.2021, 08:33
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Re: Military Service for Dual Citizen who only speaks English

Here is a link to the official military website. Service is compulsory; do not even think of not showing up. If you want to do alternate civil service, you must apply...they may find a use for an English-only speaker at a desk. On paper, CH has (at last count) around 600,000 peeps in the military. Your service lasts until age 44, and if you go civil you pay additional income tax until sometime in your late 30s.

https://www.vtg.admin.ch/en/mein-mil...aerdienst.html

If I were you, I'd start by calling Bern.

P.S.: Your employer will not help, unless you are critical to the operation, but that is generally just postponement of duty. OTOH, unlike most other Americans, you will learn to use a gun properly.

Last edited by bossybaby; 20.07.2021 at 08:44.
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Old 20.07.2021, 08:43
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Re: Military Service for Dual Citizen who only speaks English

and here is the State Dept advice on foreign military service for dual citizens:

https://travel.state.gov/content/tra...y-Service.html
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Old 20.07.2021, 08:48
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Re: Military Service for Dual Citizen who only speaks English

I recall the tax was 4% of your income or 2% if you did civil service. (That may have changed)

Also have a word with your employer to understand what their policy is. (They don’t have the option of not letting you take the time off work.

I’d very surprised it it affected your US nationality.

It’s a great opportunity to immerse yourself in German …, or French …, or Italian …, or Romanche. Or all of the above.
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Old 20.07.2021, 08:50
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Re: Military Service for Dual Citizen who only speaks English

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and here is the State Dept advice on foreign military service for dual citizens:

https://travel.state.gov/content/tra...y-Service.html
The important bit:

Military service in a foreign country is not an expatriating act if service is as a soldier who is not an officer, unless the foreign military is engaged in hostilities with the United States. Further, foreign military service usually does not cause loss of nationality since an intention to relinquish nationality normally is lacking. In adjudicating loss of nationality cases, the Department has established an administrative presumption that a person serving in the armed forces of a foreign state not engaged in hostilities against the United States does not have the intention to relinquish nationality.


So no. It's unlikely you'll lose your US nationality. However, think of the tax simplicity if you do!
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Old 20.07.2021, 09:18
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Re: Military Service for Dual Citizen who only speaks English

The below is a translation of Swiss law governing compulsory military service. Please note the highlighted lines:

Chapter 2: Compulsory Military Service Section 1:
Compulsory military service of Swiss nationals, Swiss nationals abroad and dual nationals
Art. 2 Swiss and Swiss abroad
(Art. 3 para. 1 and 2, Art. 4 para. 2 ML)

1 Swiss nationals and Swiss nationals abroad may register for military service in writing with the Training Command.
Training Command (Kdo Ausb) for military service.
2 The Kdo Ausb shall accept the registration if:
a. the person enrolled:
1. can complete the enlistment by the end of the year in which he or she
reaches the age of 24, 2
2. demonstrates a good knowledge of a Swiss national language,
3. has submitted the documents required for personal identification and the
medical questionnaire, and
4. has not already performed military service for any other state; subject to other
other regulations in state treaties remain reserved; b. in the case of the registered person:
1. there is no obvious unfitness for service,
2. in the case of special personal circumstances, consent by analogy with Article 33 paragraph 1 has been obtained for enlistment,
3. there are no grounds for non-recruitment in accordance with Article 21 MG; and
c. there is a need on the part of the armed forces.

https://www.newsd.admin.ch/newsd/mes...ents/50506.pdf

Added:
Under the U.S.-Swiss Treaty of 1937 regarding military obligations for dual citizens, it might be possible to avoid paying a military service exemption tax to Switzerland (German):

https://www.fedlex.admin.ch/eli/cc/54/854_878_896/de

Also see the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad's website for information on Swiss military service for dual nationals (English):

https://www.swisscommunity.org/en/li...litary-service

Last edited by Mullhollander; 20.07.2021 at 09:53.
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Old 20.07.2021, 13:35
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Re: Military Service for Dual Citizen who only speaks English

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2. If they do force me to serve, will I lose my U.S. citizenship as a consequence?
I would consider this an additional benefit!

I might even consider volunteering if it could get me out of the draconian renunciation fees.
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Old 20.07.2021, 15:01
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Re: Military Service for Dual Citizen who only speaks English

Out of curiosity, how long have you been living in Switzerland for, and how come you haven't started to learn German (you mention not knowing any)?
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Old 20.07.2021, 17:28
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Re: Military Service for Dual Citizen who only speaks English

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Good morning to all of you on the forum,

I am a 24 y/o male working at a large bank in ZH. I'm a dual U.S. - Swiss citizen, and only speak English.

The military has sent me a recruiting letter via the post. Naturally, they sent it in German, so I used a translating app on my phone to decipher this message. Essentially it said to pack my bags and come to the training center on a certain date in September.

Some questions:

1. Do I have to go? If they can't instruct me, I wouldn't be able to participate fully. Will I be ruled as ineligible when they find I don't speak a lick of German?

2. If they do force me to serve, will I lose my U.S. citizenship as a consequence?

3. If I am ruled ineligible (likely), willy I have to perform some alternative service - such as Civil Service - or am I absolved of all my duties?

Thanks for your help with this

You could opt to do your national service in a regiment that's strictly ceremonial - Join the Swiss Guards !


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Old 20.07.2021, 17:30
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Re: Military Service for Dual Citizen who only speaks English

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You could opt to do your national service in a regiment that's strictly ceremonial - Join the Swiss Guards !


Attachment 142266
Only if you're Catholic, discrimination I tell ya. Cancel the Swiss Guard!
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Old 20.07.2021, 17:32
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Re: Military Service for Dual Citizen who only speaks English

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Out of curiosity, how long have you been living in Switzerland for, and how come you haven't started to learn German (you mention not knowing any)?
Why one would want to learn German ? Especially if he already works in the bank.
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Old 20.07.2021, 17:44
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Re: Military Service for Dual Citizen who only speaks English

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You could opt to do your national service in a regiment that's strictly ceremonial - Join the Swiss Guards !


Attachment 142266
You have to be catholic, a top shot, an expert at hand to hand combat, and various other criteria.

It is hardly "strictly ceremonial".

Tom
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Old 20.07.2021, 17:45
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Re: Military Service for Dual Citizen who only speaks English

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Out of curiosity, how long have you been living in Switzerland for, and how come you haven't started to learn German (you mention not knowing any)?
My wife has lived here her entire life (58 years), is from Zuri-oberland, and speaks no German.

When she goes north of the Alps, she continues to speak Italian. If people don't understand her, it's because they are foreigners and not Swiss.

Tom
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Old 20.07.2021, 18:10
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Re: Military Service for Dual Citizen who only speaks English

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Out of curiosity, how long have you been living in Switzerland for, and how come you haven't started to learn German (you mention not knowing any)?
Rather indelicate to question an Über-Expat (CH-nationality/not a smidgen of a clue) about their lack of motivation
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Old 20.07.2021, 22:19
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Re: Military Service for Dual Citizen who only speaks English

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You have to be catholic, a top shot, an expert at hand to hand combat, and various other criteria.

It is hardly "strictly ceremonial".

Tom
And 2 meter tall ,My nephew was in it I am looking up on him ,I am only 5 foot six
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Old 20.07.2021, 22:34
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Re: Military Service for Dual Citizen who only speaks English

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And 2 meter tall ,My nephew was in it I am looking up on him ,I am only 5 foot six
To a mouse, every molehill looks like a mountain

IIRC the "should" size is a little short of 1.80m.
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Old 20.07.2021, 22:57
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Re: Military Service for Dual Citizen who only speaks English

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To a mouse, every molehill looks like a mountain

IIRC the "should" size is a little short of 1.80m.
Me a mouse ! Rat maybe
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Old 20.07.2021, 23:46
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Re: Military Service for Dual Citizen who only speaks English

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And 2 meter tall ,My nephew was in it I am looking up on him ,I am only 5 foot six
Sounds awful, surprised they don't require Sieg Heil without an accent there
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Old 21.07.2021, 06:21
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Re: Military Service for Dual Citizen who only speaks English

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Out of curiosity, how long have you been living in Switzerland for, and how come you haven't started to learn German (you mention not knowing any)?
I've been in Switzerland for 6 months now.

Actually took a German course a few years ago in Bern, but frankly I just don't like how the language sounds. It feels very unfriendly/cold, and it's relatively hard to express yourself when compared to English. Anytime I hear a woman speaking with a German accent, it's an immediate turn off

When I can muster up the motivation, I'll take a jab learning French. There's a tradition among the international school crowd that a true gentlemen has a mastery of both English and French. As an aside, French sounds a lot better than German, is more emotional/expressive, and would be very useful should I decide to visit France someday.

Til then I'll continue to exclusively use English
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