The United Kingdom and Switzerland have strong diplomatic and economic ties, and advance similar foreign policy objectives and economic priorities. Both countries are members of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the Council of Europe, the United Nations, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). UK tourists constitute the third largest national contingent of visitors to Switzerland every year. Though neither country is a member of the single-currency eurozone, international money transfers can be made with relative ease from the UK to Switzerland.
UK citizens are not required to obtain a visa when entering Switzerland as a visitor, but must present a valid British passport when entering and exiting the country. The process of applying for a residence permit, which a foreign national to live and work in Switzerland for longer than 90 days, is relatively straightforward for UK citizens. Permits are issued by Swiss cantonal immigration offices. For the most up-to-date information regarding the Free Movement of Persons between Switzerland and European Union member countries, visit the site for the State Secretariat for Migration.
There are several different categories of residence permits in Switzerland and those who wish to apply for residency will need to determine which is best suited to their particular situation before applying.
Switzerland is a popular choice for students from the UK who are pursuing tertiary degrees. Swiss universities are famed for relatively low tuition fees and excellence in teaching and research. Universities there are welcoming to citizens of EU countries. Only 7 of the 12 tertiary institutions require international students to pay additional fees. Unfortunately, Swiss government scholarships are not available to UK nationals.
UK nationals must obtain a resident’s permit to remain in Switzerland for long term studies, which begins with registering with the local Resident’s Registration Office within 14 days of arrival in Switzerland. This requires a valid passport, proof of address, proof of registration with the university, passport photographs and a bank statement to show available funds.
Banking in Switzerland is very straightforward, however, it is more expensive for non-residents. Expats interested in conducting business or staying for in Switzerland long-term will find a useful array of investment and private banking options.
There are over 400 different banks in Switzerland and expats can benefit from excellent service whether they opt for a local bank or one that is internationally based. The top Swiss banks for expats who speak English are Credit Suisse and UBS.
Before opening a bank account in Switzerland it is wise to first call around to find out the specific requirements for the particular bank. Customers seeking to open an account are normally required to present a passport, a recent utility bill as proof of address, documents to substantiate economic background, and a minimum amount of money for a deposit.
Those living in Switzerland for more than 180 days will be required to pay taxes on worldwide income. There is a double taxation treaty in place between the UK and Switzerland, which makes British citizens eligible for tax deductions.
There are 21 organisations of the United Nations based in Geneva, Switzerland. These include the World Health Organization, the United Nations Office at Geneva, the International Labour Office, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. It is an important hub for procuring products and services with a particular focus on emergency relief, health and crisis recovery.
The UK and Switzerland are close partners in trade and have strong economic ties. The UK was Switzerland’s eight largest source of imports and its fifth most important market for exports in 2013. The total trade volume that year amounted to CHF 17.8bn. The leading exports from the UK to Switzerland include vehicles, paper and stationery, metals, energy sources, leather, rubber, toys, plastics, works of art, chemicals, antiques, precious metals and semi-precious stones and soils.
Swiss direct investment in the UK totaled CHF 78.8bn at the end of 2013, making the UK the third most important investment channel for Switzerland in 2013, according to the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. Direct investments in Switzerland from the UK amounted to CHF 21.3bn in 2013; investments from the UK created approximately 27,000 jobs in Switzerland that year.
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