6 major changes coming to Switzerland in January 2023
With 2022 done and a new year set to begin, there are a number of important events and changes coming to Switzerland that expats need to know about. From a new president to traffic rules and deductions in Swiss taxes, here’s what you need to know about in January 2023.
1. Alain Berset to become Swiss president in 2023
On January 1, 2023, Health Minister Alain Berset will become the new president of Switzerland. He will take over from previous president Ignazio Cassis, starting the 175th presidential term since the office was established in 1848.
In Switzerland, the presidency is a rotating position taken by one of the seven members of the Federal Council. While the president is voted for by a joint session of the Swiss parliament in Bern, the vote is mostly ceremonial as the position typically goes to the person who has been on the council for the longest without being president, which in this case, for the second time, is Berset.
The presidency is a symbolic position - Berset can only order precautionary measures if the Federal Council is unable to meet. Berset will serve until a new president takes the reins on January 1, 2024.
2. Changes to Swiss roads and motorway vignette deadline
Drivers in Switzerland will see a number of major changes to roads and motorways in the new year. The plan, created by the Federal Roads Office, is designed to reduce traffic and road noise while encouraging eco-friendly practices like carpooling. To find out more, check out our guide on the changes to Switzerland’s roads in 2023.
What’s more, drivers looking to use the motorways in Switzerland have until January 31 to attach the 2023 motorway vignette to their windshields. The vignettes are available to buy at petrol stations, supermarkets and other shops on the border. Like last year, the vignette will cost 40 francs.
3. Switzerland to join the United Nations Security Council
For the first time in its history, Switzerland will join the 10-member United Nations Security Council on January 1, 2023. The role of the Security Council is to promote and ensure international peace and security by authorising peacekeeping missions, international sanctions and, in extreme cases, global military action.
The alpine nation has had a cautious relationship with the international body, having only joined the UN in 2002, but the government hopes that the country will use its role to "further peace and security globally."
However, many are concerned that taking a central role in global politics violates Swiss neutrality. Nevertheless, joining the council caps off a 12-month period where Switzerland has become more engaged in international affairs, having already taken the extraordinary step of sanctioning the Russian state and individuals after the invasion of Ukraine.
4. Chickenpox vaccine recommended for newborns in Switzerland
From January 1, 2023, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) will change its guidelines in regard to chickenpox. Instead of giving families no instruction as to whether to vaccinate against the disease - or deliberately catch it - the FOPH now recommends vaccinating newborn babies against chickenpox.
Authorities said that they hoped the policy would reduce the number of serious cases of chickenpox in the adult population, and the number of cases of shingles in children and young adults. To find out more, check out our guide.
5. Changes to childcare deductions in Swiss tax returns
From 2023, parents will be able to offset more of the cost of childcare services in Switzerland through their tax returns. The government has confirmed that people will be able to deduct childcare costs of up to 25.000 Swiss francs when filing federal taxes - an increase of 14.900 francs.
6. Price rises in Switzerland
Sadly, January will also see the cost of health insurance and energy rise significantly in Switzerland. Most of the price rises in energy will come into force from January, with the increases varying between cantons.
In addition, the government confirmed earlier in 2022 that the cost of basic health insurance would rise by an average of 6,6 percent when premiums are renewed. Unfortunately, with most insurance contracts locked in for the next year, people in Switzerland will now have to dig deep to pay for the extra costs.
Finally, people hoping to buy a house or rent property in Switzerland will see costs rise, after the Swiss National Bank raised interest rates in an effort to fight inflation. On the flip side, Swiss banks are also expected to raise interest rates on savings in the new year.