Emigrating & living abroad

Citizens liable for military service who wish to spend an uninterrupted period of more than 12 months abroad and who deregister with their commune of residence must request military leave for residence abroad before their departure.

Before departing

Citizens wishing to spend an uninterrupted period of more than 12 months abroad and who inform their commune of residence of their departure must also request military leave for residence abroad. The “Application for leave for residence abroad” form is available from the head of section or at the district command. The application must be sent to the district command in good time, generally two months before departure. The addresses are listed on the army website.

This also applies to all officers. Leave for residence abroad is granted if applicants have met their full military obligations up to departure from Switzerland (military service, compulsory shooting practice, military service exemption tax etc.). Specific details concerning compulsory registration in Switzerland and abroad and return of personal equipment are dealt with by the competent district command.

A person whose stay abroad does not exceed twelve months or who does not deregister with his commune does not require leave for residence abroad. These persons remain fully liable for military service. They liaise with the section head by notifying him of their temporary address or by appointing a third party to maintain contact. If a period of military service is announced during their stay abroad, they should submit a request for service postponement in good time. Men liable for shooting should additionally request dispensation from compulsory shooting practice.

To register abroad

A person who has obtained a period of leave for residence abroad must make himself known, in person or in writing, to the competent Swiss representation in his region within a month following his departure from Switzerland, and presents the “Leave for residence abroad” form. Later on he will also have to inform them of any changes of address. If he has to move to another consular district, he must inform his former place of residence of his departure and his new place of residence of his arrival, with reference to his military obligations.

As a general rule, a soldier who has obtained a period of leave for residence abroad is obliged to keep the administration informed of his whereabouts until the end of the calendar year marking the end of a three-year uninterrupted stay abroad. Beyond this period, Swiss expatriates who have not obtained a period of leave for residence abroad and those who have not yet paid their military service exemption tax must keep the authorities informed of their whereabouts. The obligation to inform the administration of one’s whereabouts only comes into force after the return to Switzerland if a Swiss expatriate wishes to return to Switzerland for longer than three months.

Military service abroad

The competent Swiss representations urge all young Swiss expatriates aged between 18 and 19 to enrol with the military authorities. They generally do not receive a military service record but rather an information sheet which explains their obligations, especially if they decide to take up residence in Switzerland. For as long as they live abroad they are released from their military obligations.

Special provisions apply to Swiss cross-border commuters residing abroad who work or are pursuing an education in Switzerland.

For further information, contact: