Voluntary military service in Switzerland

Every year young Swiss from abroad complete the Recruit School (RS) on a voluntary basis. This lasts for 18 or 21 weeks and is normally completed at the age of 20.

It should be made clear, however, that not every Swiss expatriate who so desires will be called up for Recruit School (RS). The main condition is that the person cannot simultaneously be a citizen of his country of residence (although he can announce his intention to renounce citizenship of his country of residence in due course). On the other hand, dual nationals who do not reside in their second country but live in a third country, can be called up.

Moreover, the future recruit must be proficient in at least one of the Swiss national languages and must not have been sentenced for an offence in his country of residence.

Swiss expatriates who wish to complete the RS on a voluntary basis should enrol with the competent Swiss representation. Recruitment age is normally 19 and a special procedure is followed, however it can be brought forward without any problem (from the age of maturity). It is in any case advisable to contact the competent Swiss representation in good time. The military service record will be issued by the authorities in Switzerland.

The Federal Administration reimburses the travel costs from abroad 1x per journey.

The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad, SwissCommunity, finds host families for Swiss recruits abroad. Contact person: Marie Bloch,, Tel. +41 (0) 31 356 61 00.

Please note: Military service in foreign armies

According to Article 94 of the Swiss Military Penal Code, anyone who completes military service in a foreign army without permission from the Federal Council is punishable with a prison sentence.

On the other hand, a dual national who completes military service in his second country is not punishable if he also has his residence in that country.

For further information, contact: