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What about military service if I return to Switzerland?

07.06.2021 – Legal Service | OSA

I am a 19-year-old Swiss citizen who has grown up in Brazil. I am now thinking of doing a bachelor’s degree in Switzerland after I leave school. But what about Swiss military service?

Essentially, every Swiss male aged 18 or over must do military service or, alternatively, civilian service until the end of the year in which he reaches the age of 36. If you return to Switzerland, you will therefore be required to fulfil your military service obligation – assuming that you are deemed fit for military service. You are liable for conscription until the end of the year in which you reach the age of 24. You must complete basic military training by the end of the following year, i.e. the year in which you turn 25.

If you wish to study in Switzerland and therefore intend to stay in Switzerland for a period of more than three months, you will be obliged to report to the relevant cantonal district command within 14 days of your arrival for the purpose of carrying out military service.

If you come to Switzerland to study after you have turned 25, you will be exempt from military service due to your age. Hence, you will not have to complete basic military training, but you will have to pay military service exemption tax.

Some exceptions apply to dual nationals. If you hold dual nationality and have already carried out military service or civilian service in the other country of which you are a citizen, you no longer have to do military service in Switzerland. However, this does not release you from the obligation to provide notification of your arrival to the district command and pay the military service exemption tax. Only if you have done military service in Germany, France, Austria or Italy will you be exempt from paying the military service exemption tax, owing to agreements that Switzerland has concluded with these countries.

Incidentally, Swiss Abroad can also volunteer to do basic military training in Switzerland. Requests in such cases should be addressed to:

Kommando Ausbildung Personelles der Armee
Steuerung und Vorgaben
Rodtmattstrasse 110
3003 Berne
tel.: +41 58 464 20 63
fax: +41 58 464 32 70