11 important things expats in Switzerland need to know about in November 2023
With the nights closing in and 2024 slowly coming into view, there are plenty of important things happening in Switzerland in the second to last month of the year. From the start of the ski season to health insurance and flu shots, here are 11 important things happening in the alpine nation in November 2023.
1. Deadline looms for changing Swiss health insurance
Back in September, the Swiss government confirmed that the cost of basic health insurance would rise by 8,7 percent on average when premiums are renewed for 2024, a phenomenon the authorities blamed on the rising cost of healthcare. Some age groups will see premiums rise even more.
With plans to curb health insurance costs still being debated, many will be looking to change their health insurance provider to get the best deal. If you have a basic health insurance package, you are allowed to switch insurance plans so long as you inform your current insurer in writing by November 30. The terms for cancelling supplemental health insurance plans will be stated within the policy itself.
The government also provides its own calculator to see if your insurance premium can be reduced by switching providers, along with templates for the letter that you must send to your current provider by post. To make sure it arrives on time, officials recommend that the letter be sent by November 15 at the latest.
2. Blood donation rules to change in Switzerland
November 1 will see new blood donation rules come into force in Switzerland. From that date, people of any sexual orientation will be allowed to give blood so long as certain conditions are met, and homosexual or bisexual men will be subject to the same “abstinence” rules as everyone else.
To learn more about the changes, and to give blood yourself, check out the official website (in English).
3. Flu shot campaign gets underway
On November 10, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) will hold National Flu Vaccination Day in an attempt to get more people to take the shot. Currently, the flu shot is recommended for anyone 65 years old or older, anyone who is pregnant, premature children aged six months and over and any person who has certain chronic conditions or low levels of immunity.
With the latest COVID vaccination campaign also ongoing, many clinics will offer both jabs during the same appointment, so long as the eligibility criteria are fulfilled. For more information, check out the FOPH website.
4. Swiss Council of States run-off elections to be held
As if Swiss citizens couldn’t get enough of the federal elections in October, the weekends of November will be filled with a number of run-off votes. While the composition of the National Council was decided on October 22, voters will be given another chance to fill the 15 Council of States seats where a candidate did not secure enough votes.
Run-off elections are set to take place in Canton Geneva (2 seats), Valais (2), Fribourg (2), Bern (2), Ticino (2), Aargau (1), Solothurn (1) Vaud (1), Schaffhausen (1) and Zurich (1). Run-offs will be held on the second, third and fourth Sundays in November.
5. Residents able to access Swiss federal documents
In what will be good news for students and academics across the country, from November 1 the government will be scrapping the fee required to access Swiss federal documents and laws. The Federal Council wrote in a statement that in principle, anyone should be able to access official and non-classified documents as they please, even without providing a reason to do so.
However, charges will still be applied if the request “requires particularly complex processing by the authorities.” In practice, if archivists require eight working hours or more to fulfil a request, every additional hour costs 100 francs.
6. Month Without Tobacco
With the days getting shorter and the weather getting colder, November may not seem like the ideal time to try and quit smoking - of course, the sooner the habit can be kicked the better - but the second to last month is earmarked as the “Month Without Tobacco” in Switzerland. The national campaign, run and promoted by the Tobacco Prevention Fund, hopes to offer a way for people to “free themselves from cigarettes”.
According to the Federal Office for Public Health (FOPH), around 27 percent of the Swiss population smoke. While some measures, such as the ban on tobacco advertising for children, have been implemented, the country has yet to set a date to phase out smoking completely.
7. Change to Disney+ subscriptions in Switzerland
Due to rising costs at the company, Disney is due to introduce a new subscription model in Switzerland in November. The standard Disney+ subscription will still cost 12,90 francs a month, but there will also be a cheaper version with ads and no download function available for just 7,90 francs. There is also a premium subscription available for 17,90 francs a month, promising more simultaneous streams and better audio and video quality.
8. Ad-free Facebook and Instagram deal to launch
Speaking of price changes, ever-fancied scrolling through Facebook and Instagram without being hassled by ads? Starting in November, users across the European Union, EEA and Switzerland will be able to pay to use Meta’s platforms without ads.
Android and iOS users will be expected to pay 12,99 euros a month for the service, while desktop users will have to pay 9,99 euros a month. From March 2024, users will also have to pay an additional 6 euros for each additional account.
The new system has been brought about thanks to the European Court of Justice, which ruled that Meta must get consent from users before showing them ads in order to adhere to EU data privacy laws.
9. Swiss ski resorts to open
In what will be great news for adrenaline junkies across the country, November will also see the start of the ski season in a selection of ski resorts. Generally speaking, resorts highest in the mountains will open first, with lower-lying resorts opening once the snow line gets low enough.
Engelberg is set to be the first to open on November 4, followed by Davos on November 10. By the end of the month, the majority of high-altitude resorts should be open.
10. Christmas markets in Switzerland to open
If you aren’t in the mood for carving powder, a number of stunning Christmas markets should be returning to Switzerland in November. With tasty hot chocolate and Glühwein accompanied by cute trinkets and carols, the market season is arguably the alpine nation at its very best!
11. All Saints’ Day in Switzerland
For communities in 15 different Swiss cantons, the beginning of the month will be a chance to put their feet up thanks to the arrival of All Saints’ Day on November 1. These cantons are Aargau, Appenzell Innerrhoden, Fribourg, Glarus, Jura, Lucerne, Nidwalden, Obwalden, St. Gallen, Solothurn, Schwyz, Ticino, Uri, Valais and Zug - approximately 40 percent of Swiss councils have November 1 as a day off!