Major changes in Switzerland in 2022: What expats need to know
As the New Year comes into view, there are many things that we know 2022 will bring. From new marriage laws to cheaper rail fairs and lights on e-bikes, there is plenty expats need to know about life in Switzerland in 2022.
Same-sex marriage allowed from July 1
In September 2021, Switzerland said yes to the "Marriage for all" initiative at referendum. This allows same-sex couples to enter into a civil marriage, instead of the previous system of civil partnerships. Swiss citizens gave the act overwhelming support, with over 64 percent of voters saying “Ja, ich will.”
From July 1, same-sex couples will be able to get married in all Swiss cantons, and can have their previous partnership converted to a marriage. From then on, civil partnerships will no longer be issued. From this date, same-sex couples can also access more benefits such as simplified naturalisation for citizenship, adoption rights and access to sperm donation.
Region price locking to be restricted in Switzerland
From January 1, online shoppers in Switzerland may find prices to be a little cheaper than usual. This is because the Swiss government has restricted so-called “geoblocking,” or the practice of charging different prices depending on region. A report by Watson found people in Switzerland can pay 280 Swiss francs a year more than those in the rest of Europe, as they are often redirected to a more expensive, separate Swiss website.
From the beginning of the year, consumers will have the right to shop at all online stores with a ".de" extension, without being redirected to a Swiss site. However, online traders are still not obliged to ship to Switzerland if customers choose to use a German site.
Price of letters in Switzerland to increase
For people sending letters, the Swiss postal service will increase prices from January 1, 2022. From then on, A class letters will cost 1,10 Swiss francs, an increase of 10 percent. B class mail will also become more expensive, costing up to 90 Rappen (0,90 Swiss francs) a letter. Despite the large price increases, Swiss Post still aren’t happy with the agreed change: “The price increase is half of what was applied for,” said price supervisor Stefan Meierhans.
Croatia and Switzerland agree on new immigration deal
From January 1, 2022, Switzerland may see more Croatian citizens come to work in the alpine nation. The government has agreed to a full freedom of movement deal with Croatia, allowing full EU rights for Croatian citizens in regard to residence permits, housing and jobs in Switzerland.
Despite being an EU member state since 2013, Croatia is not part of the Schengen area and does not use the Euro, meaning that a separate agreement had to be made for the change to happen. The new laws will see Croatians put on the same legal footing as other EU citizens in Switzerland.
Cheaper first-class upgrades on Swiss trains
From February 2022, riders on Swiss public transport will have the opportunity to upgrade their rail fare cheaply. The new “economy class change” is a supersaver ticket that allows for cheap upgrades from second class to first. Currently, supersaver tickets are only available for early bookings on specific trains. With this new switch, an upgrade will be available for a much cheaper price.
E-bikes must keep their lights on
In order to avoid road accidents, the Swiss government has enforced a new rule for all e-bikes to have their lights on at all times. From April, all bikes with an electronic assistance function must use their lights at all times, or risk a fine.
The Federal Council wants to reduce the number of accidents involving e-bikes, as their speed makes a collision more likely. The police confirmed that any e-bike without its lights on must submit to a fine if they are caught while riding.
Clavaleyres to switch from Bern to Fribourg
It may not seem like a huge difference, but to the small village of Clavaleyres, the switch from Canton Bern to Canton Fribourg cannot come soon enough. From January 1, the 51 residents of this small village will become Fribourgois instead of Bernese. Der Bund reported that the main reason for the switch was because "Residents were finding it increasingly difficult to carry out the tasks in the community, from fire services to social services to school lessons.”
COVID restrictions and lockdowns remain a possibility
Finally, what would an article on the future be without mentioning COVID? Despite being announced earlier in December, 2G+ rules will begin to be enforced at the start of 2022, restricting access to most public places to those who are vaccinated or recovered and tested for COVID-19.
The new Omicron variant has raised the possibility of new restrictions, and the Federal Council has already been debating closures in certain sectors such as nightclubs and restaurants. Regardless of the uncertainty, it is hoped that 2022 in Switzerland will be better than the years that came before.