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Old 27.02.2009, 15:10
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working remotely, is that legal?

Hello all,

I am a foreigner currently working in Switzerland in the computing field. I will leave the country next summer and travel over the world. My initial plan was to make a "long-term" break, and I already gave my resignation letter to my company.

My company is proposing me now to work remotely from time to time while traveling (I just need to have an internet connection so this is not a problem).

Now my main worry is: legally, how can this work? I guess I would have to work under my Swiss contract and would still be paid on my Swiss account, and I will still pay my taxes in Switzerland, and keep my medical insurances in Switzerland. Do I need to keep an address in Switzerland? Is that legal? I don't want to do anything illegal. Can I be paid on my swiss account without having an address here and a work permit?

Thanks a lot in advance for all your answers /tips!
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Old 27.02.2009, 18:07
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Re: working remotely, is that legal?

I donít see a problem in working remotely from anywhere in the world for a Swiss company.

But you are right that you will need an address in Switzerland, a valid working permit and you will have to pay tax and social security on your income.

As the company asked you to do so talk to them about the Swiss address. Maybe the company address could be your address here in Switzerland. Consider also about your permit. I donít know if this is still so but it used to be the way that after you are away from Switzerland for a year your permit is not valid anymore and you have to start over the process from the beginning. So if you work in Switzerland remotely this may helps you also for this.
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Old 02.03.2009, 07:05
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Re: working remotely, is that legal?

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I donít see a problem in working remotely from anywhere in the world for a Swiss company.

But you are right that you will need an address in Switzerland, a valid working permit and you will have to pay tax and social security on your income.

As the company asked you to do so talk to them about the Swiss address. Maybe the company address could be your address here in Switzerland. Consider also about your permit. I donít know if this is still so but it used to be the way that after you are away from Switzerland for a year your permit is not valid anymore and you have to start over the process from the beginning. So if you work in Switzerland remotely this may helps you also for this.
Not quite. In fact, not at all.

You are liable for tax and social payments in the country in which you are resident for such payments. How else would the concept of offshoring work?

You do not need a work permit unless you are in Switzerland. Example, offshore workers do not need work permits.

The assumption (by the op) that the Swiss contract would have to be used and that payment would have to be to a Swiss bank account is also wrong.
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Old 02.03.2009, 10:31
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Re: working remotely, is that legal?

Thanks to both of you for your answers!

Well but I can't ask a work permit in each country I am going to travel too... that wouldn't be do-able.

My assumption is that Switzerland would be happy I still pay my taxes here, how could I be considered as an outlaw?



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Not quite. In fact, not at all.

You are liable for tax and social payments in the country in which you are resident for such payments. How else would the concept of offshoring work?

You do not need a work permit unless you are in Switzerland. Example, offshore workers do not need work permits.

The assumption (by the op) that the Swiss contract would have to be used and that payment would have to be to a Swiss bank account is also wrong.
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Old 02.03.2009, 11:15
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Re: working remotely, is that legal?

You are traveling as a tourist, and you will not become resident of any the countries you visit. Therefore I do not see any reason why you should be worried about paying taxes in countries you visit.

If I worked a few days during my holiday abroad, would that make me legally working in that country?

While you are traveling, you will still be a resident of Switzerland.
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Old 02.03.2009, 13:06
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Re: working remotely, is that legal?

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Not quite. In fact, not at all.

You are liable for tax and social payments in the country in which you are resident for such payments. How else would the concept of offshoring work?

You do not need a work permit unless you are in Switzerland. Example, offshore workers do not need work permits.

The assumption (by the op) that the Swiss contract would have to be used and that payment would have to be to a Swiss bank account is also wrong.

Why should this not work?

As he has written he is just travelling and do not take residence in the countries he visits. So the situation is like a Swiss residence with a contract with a Swiss company travailing around the world doing business.

Thatís why I have written it is important to have an address and a valid working permit to be counted as a Swiss residence.
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Old 02.03.2009, 14:51
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Re: working remotely, is that legal?

Yes, you can do it but get advice from a tax lawyer for the Swiss side to be done properly. I don't know enough about the Swiss side of things, but you may (i.e. probably will) need work permits, etc. for the countries you are travelling in.

For example, if you are going to spend any time in the USA or parts of the Caribbean that are part of the US common travel area (or whatever they call it), you need a special telecommuting visa otherwise you have the potential to be kicked out as an illegal worker.

Many countries have exemptions for 5-7 days consultancy work, for example, but many don't so if you are planning on spending a month or so anywhere you may have problems.
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Old 04.03.2009, 10:21
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Re: working remotely, is that legal?

thanks for your answers!

ah yes getting a work permit in the countries I will be traveling to is another problem ...

Anyway I think I will give my company's address as my new home address.

Do you think it's possible to make my bank statements sent to my hometown in Italy (I dont want anyone from my company to open them) without make it look suspicious?

Thanks again!
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Old 04.03.2009, 11:03
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Re: working remotely, is that legal?

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Why should this not work?

As he has written he is just travelling and do not take residence in the countries he visits.
If he is there more than 180 days (typically) or 90 days (sometimes) or even from day 1 (rare) he is liable for tax and social payments in that country.

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So the situation is like a Swiss residence with a contract with a Swiss company travailing around the world doing business.
Such a person would typically return home on a regular basis.

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Thatís why I have written it is important to have an address and a valid working permit to be counted as a Swiss residence.
The autorities will not normally accept a business address as a residential address.
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Old 04.03.2009, 11:05
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Re: working remotely, is that legal?

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My assumption is that Switzerland would be happy I still pay my taxes here, how could I be considered as an outlaw?
That depends on who is doing the considering in the countries you reside in.

Also, if you effectively leave Switzerland without deregistering then you are acting illegally.
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Old 04.03.2009, 11:11
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Re: working remotely, is that legal?

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You are traveling as a tourist, and you will not become resident of any the countries you visit.
That depends on the regulations in the country visited.

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Therefore I do not see any reason why you should be worried about paying taxes in countries you visit.
The authorities in those countries may see things differently.

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If I worked a few days during my holiday abroad, would that make me legally working in that country?
No, but it could mean you are working illegally in that country.

Most countries that have a tourist visa typically of 3 months duration also include the stipulation that working for gain is not allowed at all - working 1 day breaks the law in that case.

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While you are traveling, you will still be a resident of Switzerland.
That depends on the timing and circumstances.
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Old 17.03.2009, 18:12
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Re: working remotely, is that legal?

indeed I can't give my company's address. I am gonna give up my work permit here and officially leave Switzerland.

My company still proposes me to work for it, but I have no idea how to do that legally.

I will leave in two weeks and I don't know how to sort this out.
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Old 17.03.2009, 18:22
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Re: working remotely, is that legal?

Depends also on your citizenship. For example with Australians, soon as you inform the gemainde (commune) that you have left your Swiss residence you are counted as a tax resident of Australia and liable for tax in that country for any income even from Switzerland. The question to you - are you leaving your residence in Switzerland? You can be a world traveller for a year and be a tax resident in Switzerland if you have your residence,
Cheers
Raja
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Old 18.03.2009, 11:55
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Re: working remotely, is that legal?

well no I am gonna lose my residence here.... but I am not going back to my home country... I have no idea where to pay tax...
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Old 18.03.2009, 12:56
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Re: working remotely, is that legal?

Well if you are not going to be a resident/tax resident of Switzerland you will have to pay tax in your home country usually. Whats your home country? You may need to check with a tax specialist of your home country. If you are not a tax resident in another country you usually have to pay tax in your home country even if you do not live there Somebody gets the tax there is no escape.
Cheers
Raja
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Old 18.03.2009, 12:56
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Re: working remotely, is that legal?

But why can't you stay resident? Use a friends address. No problem as long as it isn't for years and years. Less than a year really shouldn't be a problem.


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well no I am gonna lose my residence here.... but I am not going back to my home country... I have no idea where to pay tax...
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Old 18.03.2009, 13:08
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Re: working remotely, is that legal?

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Depends also on your citizenship. For example with Australians, soon as you inform the gemainde (commune) that you have left your Swiss residence you are counted as a tax resident of Australia and liable for tax in that country for any income even from Switzerland. The question to you - are you leaving your residence in Switzerland? You can be a world traveller for a year and be a tax resident in Switzerland if you have your residence,
Cheers
Raja
You are only considered a "Tax Resident" of Australia if you are living there for >180 days of a financial year.

(Bearing in mind that the financial year in Australia runs July-June.)
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Old 18.03.2009, 13:11
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Re: working remotely, is that legal?

well I dont know anyone good enough to share me his address....
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Old 18.03.2009, 13:38
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Re: working remotely, is that legal?

what about the famous swiss bank secrecy?
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Old 18.03.2009, 15:53
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Re: working remotely, is that legal?

It's perfectly possible (and totally legal) not to be resident ANYWHERE for tax purposes if you don't spend enough time in any single country to qualify as a resident

Unless you're a citizen of the US or another country that taxes its citizens on their global income, your country of nationality will typically only ask you to pay tax there if you're resident there. And just because you invoice a Swiss company for work that you perform abroad, that doesn't mean you are liable to Swiss income tax on the money you earn.
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