Important changes in Switzerland in 2024: What foreign citizens need to know!

Swiss Bundestag

The new year has arrived, and as always, it brings a number of changes. Let's discuss the most significant ones.

Increase in prices for health insurance and electricity, decrease in prices for food and mobile communication, reforms in education and pension systems—there are many changes expected. Here is a comprehensive list.

Let's start with the innovations in the lives of Swiss citizens and expatriates that will affect the cost of living, beginning with them.

Rising electricity prices

From the beginning of the year, residents of the Confederation will receive higher electricity bills. The percentage of increase will vary in each canton, with the country's average being 18%.

For example, households consuming 4,500 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year will pay an average of 1,446 Swiss francs more this year. For details, refer to the official government website.

Increase in the cost of health insurance

Starting from January 1, basic health insurance has become more expensive by 28.70 francs per month, representing an 8.7% increase from the previous year's cost. The average monthly insurance premium is now 359.50 francs. The amount varies depending on age, canton, and type of agreement.

Cost of housing rental in Switzerland

Due to the increase in the basic interest rate for mortgage loans, rental prices for housing will also rise. Rental costs are expected to increase by an average of 3% for half of the tenants.

The increase is anticipated to take effect upon the expiration of the lease agreement, which, for most cantons, will be on April 1, 2024.

Value-added tax (VAT) rate for the current year

From January 1, the VAT rate for goods and services has been increased from 7.7% to 8.1%. The reduced rate for certain agricultural products, water, food items, printed and electronic media, and medicines will rise from 2.5% to 2.6%.

Will prices decrease?

Yes, and it's something to look forward to. Specifically, this year is expected to see a reduction in the cost of mobile phone subscriptions and food.

It's also quite likely that the cost of non-electric cars and flights will decrease, and prices for furniture, bicycles, and gasoline are expected to become more affordable.

Additionally, an increase in the interest rate on savings in Swiss banks is forecasted, resulting in a slight income boost for citizens with deposits.

Changes in Swiss social security and education

This year, Switzerland will initiate substantial reforms in its pension and education systems.

Pension system reforms

As of January, the AHV21 reform, initiating changes in the Swiss pension system, comes into effect. One key modification is the increase in the retirement age for women to 65.

The process is divided into four stages and will conclude in 2028. In the near future, the reform will affect women born in 1961, who will receive financial compensation.

New standards for the Swiss high school diploma

Educational changes currently concern the high school diploma (Matura). Starting from Swiss National Day (August 1), to obtain this document, every student must attend secondary school for a minimum of four years.

Educational reforms also aim to strengthen curriculum in mathematics and the "language of instruction"—German, French, Italian, or Romansh. Additionally, subjects such as economics, law, and computer science will become essential for obtaining the diploma from the beginning of the 2024/25 academic year.

Changes for drivers in the country

Important changes in 2024 will also impact drivers. What are the most important things to know?

Government to change energy efficiency ratings for vehicles

In several cantons, the system for evaluating the energy efficiency of cars and other vehicles will be reviewed, potentially leading to some models being placed in a lower category of energy rating (from A to G).

In the cantons of Bern, Fribourg, Glarus, Obwalden, St. Gallen, and Thurgau, this will result in an increase in the vehicle tax, as the energy efficiency rating is used in its calculation. Penalties for exceeding the CO2 emission limit during the initial registration of cars are also being introduced.

Motorway vignette

By the end of January, drivers can attach the vignette for 2024, costing 40 francs, to their windshields or register an electronic vignette. Be aware: after January 31, driving on motorways without a valid vignette will result in a fine of 200 francs.

Changes in driving tests and Swiss driving licenses

From March 1, many changes will take effect in this segment.

Anyone holding a driver's license or learner's permit who wishes to obtain a new document for another category of vehicles will no longer need to undergo an additional vision test. The age limit for mandatory medical examinations will also be raised from 65 to 75 years.

Moreover, the time for driving tests for categories A (motorcycles with more than 48 horsepower) and B (vehicles weighing less than 3.5 tons) will be increased from 30 to 45 minutes.

Finally, old blue-paper driving licenses will become invalid from October 31. They must be exchanged for a plastic driver's license at local traffic offices in all cantons of Switzerland.

Speed electric bicycles must have speedometers

From April 1, electric bicycles capable of reaching speeds of up to 45 km/h must be equipped with a speedometer. However, owners of such vehicles have until April 1, 2027, to retrofit their bicycles according to the new rules. Offenders will be fined 20 francs. If a cyclist exceeds the speed by 20 or 30 km/h, the fine will be around 30 francs.

Political events in Switzerland in 2024

What to expect in the political life of the Confederation next year?

Referendums in 2024

Citizens will have four opportunities to vote on national issues. Referendums are scheduled for March 3, June 9, September 22, and November 24.

What will be voted on? Currently, only the referendum on March 3 is known. It will decide on two further pension system reforms, including the question of whether applicants should receive a 13th month of pension, similar to the 13th month of salary.

Negotiations with the European Union

In 2024, Switzerland will resume negotiations with the EU. Currently, the Confederation has a series of agreements with the European Union, allowing it to trade freely and citizens to move within the bloc. However, for ten years, all attempts to consolidate these agreements into one comprehensive one have been unsuccessful. Differences over workers' rights, immigration, and other issues hindered the process. Switzerland suspended negotiations in June 2019 and May 2021. But plans for this year include the resumption of negotiations, as confirmed by the Federal Council.

Viola Amherd becomes President of Switzerland

After the federal elections in October and the Federal Council elections in December, Switzerland will have a new composition of legislators, led by a new president. In 2024, Viola Amherd, Minister of Defense and Federal Councillor from the Centrist Party from Valais, will assume this role.

Technological changes

One significant technological change worth mentioning is that USB-C will become the sole standard in the country. From the beginning of the year, the USB-C port will be mandatory for use on all computers and mobile devices. This norm has been mandatory for the European Union since the end of 2022 and is now also in effect in Switzerland.

These are the main changes in the life of Switzerland in 2024 that are currently known. We hope this information will be useful to you throughout 2024.

Source: iamexpat


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