As the maxim says, “Whether you think you can, or you can’t, you’re right.”
New Swiss Laws for 2019
While everyone was taking a day off on January 1st, a number of new Swiss laws came into effect.
Passed by the parliament in Bern last year, they include issues covering foreigners with resident permits, people who shop online, car drivers, child protection agencies, people born from sperm donors, and when you can and cannot do your washing.
Foreigners in Switzerland
Before residence permits can be renewed, applicants now have to demonstrate how they have attempted to integrate into Swiss society – such as learning the local language – and respect the country’s public order and constitutional values. Those who fail to meet the new criteria may have to sign an integration agreement that outlines the expectations to be met or risk having their permits revoked.
Child Protection Law
From now on, professionals in regular contact with children must report any suspicion of child abuse.
In the past, only people such as teachers and social workers were legally required to report any such suspicion to the authorities. The new legislation now includes day-care staff, music teachers and sports coaches. Doctors, lawyers, and psychologists have also been included in this list. Perviously, due to professional confidentiality laws, they were exempt from having to contact child protection agencies unless an offense had been committed.
Until last year, all 70-year-olds had to undergo a medical exam in order to renew their driver’s license. The age requirement has now been pushed back to 75 years of age. As a thoughtful gesture, the age of doctors allowed to offically conduct such tests has also been raised to 75.
People born from donated sperm can now more easily obtain information on their biological fathers (anonymous sperm donations have been illegal in Switzerland since 2001). Before the new piece of legislation, those who wanted to know more about their background had to visit the Federal Office of Civil Status in Bern, where all confidential information is kept for 80 years. Now, it can be sent directly by mail.
In an effort to create a level playing-field for online shoppers, sites based outsite of Switzerland such as Amazon – which regularly undercut Swiss prices – must now charge Swiss value added tax (VAT) rates on shipped products. Exceptions have been made for apps and e-books. On the upside, processing fees, which are generally far greater than VAT, have been abolished.
Washing at lunchtime
Yes, it is now possible to do so in all of Switzerland! Some Swiss energy companies previously banned the act during the day, as it contributed to “peak energy use” and therefore often overloaded power grids (not in Geneva though). If utility companies still feel that washing machines, as well as other energy-hungry appliances should not be used around noon, they must first ask customers for their permission. If they agree, cheaper electricity rates will then be offered to them.
- Conseil Fédéral Suisse :
- “Accès facilité des enfants de donneurs de sperme aux données sur leur ascendance” (Reproduction Law)
- “Loi sur l’approvisionnement en électricité” (Energy Law)
- “Protection des enfants contre les abus et les mauvais traitements” (Child Protection Law)
- “Loi fédérale sur les étrangers et l’intégration : améliorer l’intégration par des incitations” (Integration of foreigners)
- Pestalozzi : “Cross-border mail order trading: New Swiss VAT rules as from 1 January 2019“
- KPMG : “The New Swiss VAT Law 2018“
- Tribune de Genève : “Permis: l’âge du premier contrôle passe à 75 ans“
- Wikipedia : “Flag Map of Switzerland“