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Old 12.02.2020, 13:52
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Military Service (Switzerland - Italy Bilateral Agreement?)

Hi all,

About two months ago I received a bill from the Swiss Military Office for the first time at the age of 36 y.o. I'm naturalized Swiss since 2016, but before that I was born in Argentina, and also got my Italian Citizenship in 2012.

When I received this bill I got mad. I remember very well having asked the Swiss entity whether the military service was something I would have to do, or not. By then I was 32 y.o. and this duty was not mandatory for naturalized. So I agreed and applied for the swiss citizenship.

Now, in the beggining of 2018 the rules changed (no referendum, it was just decided and end of story): the Swiss Military Office decided to extend the range of age (until 37 years old) for the contribution of the military service, this would mean by paying or participating.

I have strong feelings against any military service: in Switzerland; Italy, Argentina or any other part of the world. But this could be a chapter apart.

I found out that there's an bilateral agreement between Italy and Switzerland in regards of the military service. And this is: "If the dual citizen already fulfilled military duties before naturalization in the state of which he already had nationality, or if he was exempted or exempted from it, he is only required to fulfill the other military duties in that country. Military obligations are deemed to have been fulfilled vis-à-vis the state whose citizenship he acquired through naturalization." Art 4, Paragraff 2.

So, after reading this I start refering to this agreement in order to avoid doing/mantaining any military activities. I was exempted from the military service in Italy due to the nature of it being optional. So I communicated this to the Swiss Military Office.

What was the answer of the Swiss Military Office?: "you need to prove that you did at least 90 days of work in Italy (i.e: Military Service, Civil Defense, Community Service, or anything similar)." They basically ignored the information I gave them about being exempted.

My response to that was: "How?"

Meaning, how can someone proove something that didn't have to do? Basically the Swiss Military Office is struggling in understanding the words of the agreement. The meaning of exemption is the following: the action of freeing or state of being free from an obligation or liability imposed on others. This is a very easy find in Google, or any dictionary.

In Parallel, I'm contacting the Italian Consulate for informing about this situation. I asked them for this "proof" of exemption that the Swiss Military Office requests, but unfortunately they are clueless. The Italian Consul responded me "we don't provide this kind of service. The Military Office closed in 1996".

Once again, I investigated what's the purpose of a Consulate (in the World) and between other descriptions of its duties this is what I found: "handling the military formalities and control for its own citizens...".

So basically I find myself trying to defend my rights and I feel I don't get any support from no nation for resolving my right of not being involved in any military activity.

On one hand I have Switzerland asking me for a proof of exemption of something that I didn't do. On the other hand I have Italy clueless about the whole situation and not knowing how to proceed.

What do think I should do?; I even asked the Swiss Military Office whether I should start finding a lawyer. Because I have no clue what might happen next. I wouldn't be happy if I get blacklisted just because I don't pay a bill I'm not supposed to.

If anyone is in a similar situation, I would be very happy to read your comments.

Thanks for reading and supporting.

Maure
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Old 12.02.2020, 14:13
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Re: Military Service (Switzerland - Italy Bilateral Agreement?)

Being exempted is different from choosing not to do something by your own choice. So based on the rules you show here I'd say you are obligated to pay up.
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Old 12.02.2020, 14:28
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Re: Military Service (Switzerland - Italy Bilateral Agreement?)

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What was the answer of the Swiss Military Office?: "you need to prove that you did at least 90 days of work in Italy (i.e: Military Service, Civil Defense, Community Service, or anything similar)." They basically ignored the information I gave them about being exempted.
It is a long time ago since I looked into this, but as far as I remember you needed to have been resident in the country (i.e. Italy) at the time you received the exemption and of course you needed evidence of it.

Any chance you can get them to give you a reference to the law they are relying on for this decision. Otherwise I guess it's either pay, get a lawyer and may be still pay...
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Old 12.02.2020, 14:39
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Re: Military Service (Switzerland - Italy Bilateral Agreement?)

OP, I had a read of the article you mentioned and while my German is not great...

You have the read the article in it's entirety, S1 - refers to S2 in the context of residency, which is in line with what I remember => you need to be resident in Italy at the time you got the exemption. If that is not the case, then I expect you are on a looser with this one.
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Old 12.02.2020, 14:55
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Re: Military Service (Switzerland - Italy Bilateral Agreement?)

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You have the read the article in it's entirety, S1 - refers to S2 in the context of residency, which is in line with what I remember => you need to be resident in Italy at the time you got the exemption. If that is not the case, then I expect you are on a looser with this one.

OP, IF you were resident in Italy when you received the Italian Nationality, ask your "Comune di residenza" at that time for a "Certificato di posizione rispetto agli obblighi militari".

That should be enough, with said certificate stating "ESENTE" / exempted or "MILITE ESENTE".


If you where already in Switzerland at that time I do not see any option.
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Old 12.02.2020, 15:19
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Re: Military Service (Switzerland - Italy Bilateral Agreement?)

I don't think you are "exempted", you simply didn't to anything in Italy, which is different.

The concept is: if one State asks you to do some service, you can't be asked again by the other State. But if you are never asked, you can still be.
This is coherent with their response, asking you to prove you did something, or to prove you can't be asked to do it.

The suggestion from estiqaa is certain valid, but might not be enough to the Swiss burocracy.
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Old 12.02.2020, 15:41
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Re: Military Service (Switzerland - Italy Bilateral Agreement?)

In Italy military service was still compulsory until 2003. Everyone born before 1985 (included) had to ask to postpone their military service (in my case I had to finish high school and Uni). I only had to do this twice, after that they just said "ok guys forget it, no need to postpone you are all free of your military obligations forever and ever".

The agreement between Italy and Switzerland became relevant after this change in the Italian system as now it's more "convenient" to be an Italian citizen rather than a Swiss one as basically in Italy by doing nothing you are fine with your military obligations. For this reason, as many Swiss citizens have a dual-Italian citizenship and some overall international agreement states that you can't serve/being in the reserve of two different Countries' armies, a lot of Italo-Swiss "skipped" the swiss military service or the tax saying they were fine with their military obligation having "completed" them in Italy.

For this reason the agreement is clear: if you are a dual Italian-Swiss citizen you are subject of the Military Rules of the Country were you are living at the moment you became eligible for military service (so when you turn 18 years old). This made much harder for italo-swiss to avoid the military because they would have needed to move to Italy.

As in Italy military service is automatically "done" without spending a single day in the army, when you become an Italian citizen no-one sent you the "cartolina di precetto" and you never had to request exemption.

And as in Switzerland they changed the law, technically you were in Switzerland when you become eligible for military service AKA when you got your Swiss citizenship so by the Italo-Swiss treaty you are subject to the Swiss military law (so either go pew-pew, civil protection or pay).

As other suggested, it's worth a try to ask in Italy.

You have to identify the last city where you officially lived in Italy (meaning you registered at the city hall that you were permanently living at said address) as that city should be your "Comune di ultima residenza". As mentioned you should ask for a certificate on your military status and should clearly state that you are "in regola con gli obblighi di leva" (not "Esente" - exempted - because even if it's not compulsory you are eligible for being enlisted in case of War).

If you the last city where you lived has not your personal file then you were probably registered as a "Comune di ultima residenza" in Rome. For this I say good luck as it's also my "Comune di ultima residenza" and getting the military certificate (or even just getting some info) is going to be a long journey.

BTW registering at the AIRE (the registry of the Italians abroad) if you haven't done so also might help.

If you struggle with Italian or you have no people in Italy who could help you (as sometimes the Swiss want the original certificate and don't accept a digitally signed one and many Italian cities are not equipped to produce digital certificates) there are many services you can find on google of people you can pay 30-50 euros and will get the certificate for you (usually in a week, a month if it's Rome because it's hard also for them ).

EDIT: I was just checking and for example in Milan (that has better services than Rome) the Military Certificate is issued only in person.

EDIT 2: a few of those paid services don't cover the Military certificate as it's quite useless in Italy at the moment so there is not much demand
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Old 12.02.2020, 15:43
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Re: Military Service (Switzerland - Italy Bilateral Agreement?)

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I don't think you are "exempted", you simply didn't to anything in Italy, which is different.

The concept is: if one State asks you to do some service, you can't be asked again by the other State. But if you are never asked, you can still be.
This is coherent with their response, asking you to prove you did something, or to prove you can't be asked to do it.

The suggestion from estiqaa is certain valid, but might not be enough to the Swiss burocracy.
No because in Italy you are not exempted, you comply with your military duties by doing nothing. But in case of war you are considered a potential soldier.

To be exempted from the military you need to be an orphan, disabled, crazy, etc...

So technically any Italian-Swiss dual citizen that lives in Italy when he turns 18 is automatically ok with his Italian military duties and thus, per the agreement, ok with the Swiss one.
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Old 12.02.2020, 17:34
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Re: Military Service (Switzerland - Italy Bilateral Agreement?)

Be happy you only have to pay.

The helmet they give you is not very comfortable.
On the other side they give you lots of neat stuff you can keep after the service and the food isn't that bad.
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Old 12.02.2020, 18:09
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Re: Military Service (Switzerland - Italy Bilateral Agreement?)

I think you're onto a loser with this one. You're Swiss, full stop. If you're living in Switzerland the Swiss disregard any other nationality you have (works the same in other countries) which is the reason if you get into trouble you cannot go to the Italian or Argentina embassy for help.

If you are a conscientious objector, then sign up for civil service and you will avoid the tax. Otherwise do what most other Swiss do and fulfil your duty!
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Old 12.02.2020, 18:45
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In Italy military service was still compulsory until 2003. Everyone born before 1985 (included) had to ask to postpone their military service (in my case I had to finish high school and Uni). I only had to do this twice, after that they just said "ok guys forget it, no need to postpone you are all free of your military obligations forever and ever".

The agreement between Italy and Switzerland became relevant after this change in the Italian system as now it's more "convenient" to be an Italian citizen rather than a Swiss one as basically in Italy by doing nothing you are fine with your military obligations. For this reason, as many Swiss citizens have a dual-Italian citizenship and some overall international agreement states that you can't serve/being in the reserve of two different Countries' armies, a lot of Italo-Swiss "skipped" the swiss military service or the tax saying they were fine with their military obligation having "completed" them in Italy.

For this reason the agreement is clear: if you are a dual Italian-Swiss citizen you are subject of the Military Rules of the Country were you are living at the moment you became eligible for military service (so when you turn 18 years old). This made much harder for italo-swiss to avoid the military because they would have needed to move to Italy.

As in Italy military service is automatically "done" without spending a single day in the army, when you become an Italian citizen no-one sent you the "cartolina di precetto" and you never had to request exemption.

And as in Switzerland they changed the law, technically you were in Switzerland when you become eligible for military service AKA when you got your Swiss citizenship so by the Italo-Swiss treaty you are subject to the Swiss military law (so either go pew-pew, civil protection or pay).

As other suggested, it's worth a try to ask in Italy.

You have to identify the last city where you officially lived in Italy (meaning you registered at the city hall that you were permanently living at said address) as that city should be your "Comune di ultima residenza". As mentioned you should ask for a certificate on your military status and should clearly state that you are "in regola con gli obblighi di leva" (not "Esente" - exempted - because even if it's not compulsory you are eligible for being enlisted in case of War).

If you the last city where you lived has not your personal file then you were probably registered as a "Comune di ultima residenza" in Rome. For this I say good luck as it's also my "Comune di ultima residenza" and getting the military certificate (or even just getting some info) is going to be a long journey.

BTW registering at the AIRE (the registry of the Italians abroad) if you haven't done so also might help.

If you struggle with Italian or you have no people in Italy who could help you (as sometimes the Swiss want the original certificate and don't accept a digitally signed one and many Italian cities are not equipped to produce digital certificates) there are many services you can find on google of people you can pay 30-50 euros and will get the certificate for you (usually in a week, a month if it's Rome because it's hard also for them ).

EDIT: I was just checking and for example in Milan (that has better services than Rome) the Military Certificate is issued only in person.

EDIT 2: a few of those paid services don't cover the Military certificate as it's quite useless in Italy at the moment so there is not much demand
Hi There, and thanks a lot for the long reply and investigation. My situation is a bit different. I'm Italian but never lived before there, but always in Argentina. I got the Italian passport before the swiss one at the age of 29 years old. The law says that double nationals have 1 year to decide where to do the military service (either Italy or Switzerland).
The fun fact is that I was never asked this by the Swiss Military Office, they just sent me a bill. And even funnier, because of my age I'm not even fit (according to the law), to provide any military service, but propably do the Civil Defense activity or pay. Either way I would prefer to do nothing like that.
In regards of the certificate, I'm in contact with the Italian Consulate but they basically dispatch me with short and helpless responses like "...we don't provide this service..."; or "...military service is optional in Italy so this confirmation will be useless, in any case you have to contact military office in Italy directly.".
So if they can't help me being the representative, who then?
Thanks to you I now know at least what to ask for: certificate of military status in Italy. That's something the consulate wouldn't even mention.
Any Idea on where to aim for this?; would it be a problem when I never had residence in Italy before?; my entire family (also Italian naturalized) received all the documentation every time there are elections in Italy for voting. And none of them have lived in Italy before. However we've been always involved on the development of the country with this right.

Thanks for your time.

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I think you're onto a loser with this one. You're Swiss, full stop. If you're living in Switzerland the Swiss disregard any other nationality you have (works the same in other countries) which is the reason if you get into trouble you cannot go to the Italian or Argentina embassy for help.

If you are a conscientious objector, then sign up for civil service and you will avoid the tax. Otherwise do what most other Swiss do and fulfil your duty!
Hi Lugano, I'm sorry but you are wrong on two things with your comment.
1. I am also Italian, no there's no full stop.
2. I am living in Switzerland, yes. But I mentioned in my original post that there's a bilateral agreement (and also provided a link). In this bilateral agreement Art. 4 paragraph 2 you'll be able to read that "double nationals are exempted from the swiss duties when their obligations in the other nation have been fullfilled." In Italy the military service is optional. And your obligations with Italy are completed even by chosing not to do the military.

What I don't understand is why the definition of the word "exempted" requires a "proof". Again, the nature something being optional exempts automatically anyone from having or doing something.
Imagine that I demand from you to get into a supermarket and ask you to buy a coke. Buying a coke is not mandatory, right? and maybe you don't want to buy a coke because you are not thirsty. Then you get out of the supermarket and tell me "I didn't want to buy a coke because I didn't have and also didn't want to". Now, what would you tell me if I ask you for a proof of "not having bought a coke"?

Last edited by 3Wishes; 13.02.2020 at 22:34. Reason: merging consecutive replies
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Old 12.02.2020, 19:10
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Re: Military Service (Switzerland - Italy Bilateral Agreement?)

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What I don't understand is why the definition of the word "exempted" requires a "proof".
Because you apply logic, and burocracy does not More seriously, it's probably because the procedures were not updated after the military service became voluntary. I was also surprised that an international treaty with Italy signed 5 years after the change still referred to the military service as being compulsory and subject to certifications of fitness, exemptions and so on.

A small detail, but it could have a weight in here: military service is Italy was not abolished, rather suspended, because suspension can be done with a regular law, while abolishment would have required a more complicated change in the Constitution. Suspension will still allow people to be called under the arms in case of national needs.

I should have some sort of certificate at home, but just because I was one of the last to be called and I delayed the service to attend university, so they had to sent me a letter in order to close my procedure. But I don't think anyone in Italy is receiving any military certificate right now.
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Old 12.02.2020, 19:11
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Re: Military Service (Switzerland - Italy Bilateral Agreement?)

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Hi Lugano, I'm sorry but you are wrong on two things with your comment.
1. I am also Italian, no there's no full stop.
Actually, from the the Swiss point of view you are Swiss, and only Swiss.

That you have another nationality is irrelevant unless you are outside of Switzerland.

Tom
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Old 12.02.2020, 19:24
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OP, IF you were resident in Italy when you received the Italian Nationality, ask your "Comune di residenza" at that time for a "Certificato di posizione rispetto agli obblighi militari".

That should be enough, with said certificate stating "ESENTE" / exempted or "MILITE ESENTE".


If you where already in Switzerland at that time I do not see any option.
Hi Estigaa, thanks very much for commenting. And also thanks for letting me know about this document. Regarding your comment, I never actually lived in Italy, but I don't see why this could signifiy a different treatment.
I actually got my citizenship in 2012, and until then my nationality was Argentina.
In cronological order these are the years I got each of them: 1983 Argentina - 2012 Italy (age of 29 years old) - 2016 Swiss (age of 34 years old)-
In Argentina the military service is also optional, same as in Italy.
So I understand that Italo Swiss people living in Switzerland have 1 year time (at the age of 18 years old) to chose where to do the military service. But this is not my case. I had no time to choose, but directly got a bill due to an imposed decision made in the beggining of 2018 where it was decided to extend the range of age until 37 years old. Nobody ever asked me as if I was 19 years old what military system from my two nations to chose. Maybe because I was 29 years when I became Italian and Italy they didn't bother.
Now the Swiss military office needs money and they send me a bill, without respecting the agreement between the two nations: in Italy is optional, and I'm very happy with the idea of chosing become a part something or not. But Switzerland prefers to ignore my right for gathering money.

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Being exempted is different from choosing not to do something by your own choice. So based on the rules you show here I'd say you are obligated to pay up.
Hi Edwin, thanks very much for your comment. Here you can read the definition of exemption: "the action of freeing or state of being free from an obligation or liability imposed on others."

If you have another definition, I would be happy to read it.

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Old 12.02.2020, 19:31
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Re: Military Service (Switzerland - Italy Bilateral Agreement?)

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Hi Edwin, thanks very much for your comment. Here you can read the definition of exemption: "the action of freeing or state of being free from an obligation or liability imposed on others."

If you have another definition, I would be happy to read it.
A dictionary definition and a legal definition are not necessarily the same thing.
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Old 12.02.2020, 19:31
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Actually, from the the Swiss point of view you are Swiss, and only Swiss.

That you have another nationality is irrelevant unless you are outside of Switzerland.

Tom
Hi Tom, thanks again for responding. Please note that I provided the link of the bilateral agreement where Switzerland recognizes the two nations in regards of the military service. So, it's not irrelevant as you say. It is very relevant that they have an agreement between two nations and they just don't follow the rules agreed between the two nations.

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A dictionary definition and a legal definition are not necessarily the same thing.
If there's a different definition of the word exemption I'm happy to read it.

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Old 12.02.2020, 19:35
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Re: Military Service (Switzerland - Italy Bilateral Agreement?)

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Hi Edwin, thanks very much for your comment. Here you can read the definition of exemption: "the action of freeing or state of being free from an obligation or liability imposed on others."

If you have another definition, I would be happy to read it.
And exactly what obligation or liability is imposed on others?

(besides that, English definitions for English words are sort of useless when debating Swiss Law)
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Old 12.02.2020, 19:39
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Re: Military Service (Switzerland - Italy Bilateral Agreement?)

At least you have to pay for only 2 years and have the rest of your life to vote against the army, maybe it helps psychologically.
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Old 12.02.2020, 19:40
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Because you apply logic, and burocracy does not More seriously, it's probably because the procedures were not updated after the military service became voluntary. I was also surprised that an international treaty with Italy signed 5 years after the change still referred to the military service as being compulsory and subject to certifications of fitness, exemptions and so on.

A small detail, but it could have a weight in here: military service is Italy was not abolished, rather suspended, because suspension can be done with a regular law, while abolishment would have required a more complicated change in the Constitution. Suspension will still allow people to be called under the arms in case of national needs.

I should have some sort of certificate at home, but just because I was one of the last to be called and I delayed the service to attend university, so they had to sent me a letter in order to close my procedure. But I don't think anyone in Italy is receiving any military certificate right now.
Thanks for highlighting this. It's actually why I'm struggling with the Swiss Military Office. Now I contacted the Italian Consulate in order to understand where to get my "status of Italian Obligations".
I understand completely the difference between suspension and abolishment, but luckily I haven't heard any critical situation that requires the suspension to be reinstated. So I'm on a safe side

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At least you have to pay for only 2 years and have the rest of your life to vote against the army, maybe it helps psychologically.
I'm all against violent presence in any part of the world. I despite the idea of anyone holding a gun. Imagine what I feel when a whole national organization makes you do to do it.
In any case I don't want to get emotional with this. I have my thoughts about the military Service, but this is a different discussion.

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OP, I had a read of the article you mentioned and while my German is not great...

You have the read the article in it's entirety, S1 - refers to S2 in the context of residency, which is in line with what I remember => you need to be resident in Italy at the time you got the exemption. If that is not the case, then I expect you are on a looser with this one.
By the age of 18 years old I was living in Argentina, and got the Italian citizenship only when I was 29 years old. The Agreement between Italy and Switzerland is valid. And it's not about a residency but a right to choose between where to do it at the age of 18 years old.
Today I'm 36 years old, and I applied to everything this agreement requires, ony that I'm not being let to chose.

Last edited by roegner; 12.02.2020 at 21:30. Reason: Please use the multiquote button? Next to the quote button
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Old 12.02.2020, 20:00
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Re: Military Service (Switzerland - Italy Bilateral Agreement?)

At least it's only until 37 these days.

It used to be until retirement!

Tom
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