Major changes in Switzerland in 2024: What expats need to know
Happy New Year! With the arrival of 2024, people across Switzerland have a number of important changes to bear in mind. From updates to driving tests to hikes in health insurance, here are all of the important things you need to know about the next 12 months.
Cost of living changes in Switzerland in 2024
People across Switzerland will face several changes related to the cost of living in 2024:
Cost of health insurance in Switzerland to rise
From January 1, basic health insurance will cost more in Switzerland. The cost of compulsory insurance will rise by 28,70 francs a month or 8,7 percent on average, with the average monthly premium now set at 359,50 francs - although this will vary by age, canton and type of insurance deal.
Sadly, those who did not change their basic health insurance policy by the November 30 deadline last year are locked into their deal until December 31, 2024. The Swiss government will announce how insurance premiums will change in 2025 at some point in September.
Higher electricity costs arriving in 2024
People who pay for their electricity will also be subject to higher bills from the start of the year. On average, prices will rise by 18 percent, but this rate also varies by canton and local council.
Those who use 4.500 kilowatt hours of electricity a year should expect their annual bill to rise to 1.446 Swiss francs on average. To see how electricity prices compare, check out the official government website.
Switzerland to raise VAT rate in 2024
Also on January 1, the government will raise the VAT rate placed on goods and services in Switzerland. The standard rate of VAT will rise from 7,7 to 8,1 percent, while the reduced rate - placed on a range of agricultural goods, water, food, printed and e-media and medicine - will rise from 2,5 to 2,6 percent.
Swiss rental costs to rise
In the final nationwide price rise, thanks to the most recent increase in the reference interest rate on mortgages, people who rent a house or apartment in Switzerland will face higher rental costs. The higher rate should allow landlords to raise rents by 3 percent on average for roughly half the renting population.
Is there anything that won’t be getting more expensive in 2024?
While this list seems very doom and gloom, several products and services are expected to get cheaper in Switzerland in the next year. According to Moneyland spokesperson Ralf Beyler, the cost of mobile phone subscriptions and groceries is expected to fall in 2024.
Martin Eichler, chief economist at BAK Economics, also predicted that inflation and competition will force Swiss banks to offer higher interest rates on savings. He also predicted that furniture, bikes, and petrol should become cheaper in 2024. Back in September 2023, SWISS CEO Dieter Vranckx even hinted that the cost of flying could go down.
Finally, Ferdinand Dudenhöffer from the Center Automotive Research in Duisburg told 20 Minuten that the cost of buying non-electric cars should fall as well.
Changes to Swiss social security and education
AHV21 to come into effect
From January, the so-called AHV21 reforms will come into force and begin the slow process of modifying the Swiss pension system. As part of the reform, the retirement age for women will be gradually raised to 65 years old, in order to be in line with men.
The increase will be done in four stages starting with women born in 1961 - those immediately caught out by the reform will be financially compensated. By 2028, the retirement age will be 65 for everyone.
New standards for Swiss Matura students
Several official changes will also be coming to the Swiss school system regarding the Certificate of Maturity (Matura). From Swiss National Day (August 1), the government will specify that any recipient of the Matura must have been in secondary school for at least four years before receiving the qualification.
There will also be reforms designed to strengthen the curricula related to mathematics and the “language of instruction” - German, French, Italian or Romansh depending on location. Economics, law and computer science will also be offered as basic Matura subjects from the start of the 2024 / 25 academic year.
Changes for drivers in Switzerland
Switzerland to scrap tax breaks on electric vehicles
From 2024, some of the tax breaks given to help people buy electric vehicles (EVs) will be scrapped. Most notably, this will mean that EVs will no longer be exempt from the duty charged on those importing vehicles to Switzerland. Electric cars will now be subject to the same 4 percent duty placed on all imported vehicles.
Government to change vehicle efficiency ratings
The Swiss government will also be revising its energy efficiency rating system for passenger vehicles. The criteria will be changed in a number of areas, meaning some car models may fall into a worse energy rating category (A through G).
Bear in mind that six Swiss cantons - Bern, Fribourg, Glarus, Obwalden, St. Gallen and Thurgau - use the energy efficiency rating to calculate vehicle tax, so you may end up paying more. In another change, anyone registering a vehicle for the first time which exceeds a set CO2 emissions target will have to pay a one-off penalty.
German traffic fines to be better enforced
Thanks to a new agreement between German and Swiss police, the emergency services will be able to more easily fine German drivers who are caught speeding in Switzerland. Upon request, German authorities will be able to notify residents of their infractions.
Bear in mind that the same system applies to Swiss drivers caught breaking the speed limit in Germany.
Motorway vignette 2024
As with every year, those who want to use Swiss motorways will have to purchase a vignette. Drivers have until the end of January to either affix the 40-franc vignette to their windscreen or register for an e-vignette online.
Anyone caught using the motorways without an up-to-date vignette after January 31 will be subject to a 200-franc fine.
Changes to road tests and Swiss driving licences
From March 1, many changes are set to come into force for those learning to drive in Switzerland. First, anyone with a driving licence or learner’s licence who would like to acquire a new ID for a different category of road vehicle will no longer be required to take an additional eye test.
The age threshold for taking a mandatory traffic medical examination will also be raised from 65 to 75 years. Driving tests for Category A (motorbikes over 48 brake horsepower) and B (motor vehicles that weigh less than 3,5 tons) will also be extended from 30 to 45 minutes of driving time.
Finally, the old blue paper driving licences will no longer be valid from October 31. This licence can be exchanged for an official plastic driving licence ID at local road traffic offices across Swiss cantons.
Fast e-bikes must be fitted with speedometers
To ensure they follow the speed limit, new e-bikes with pedal assistance capable of travelling up to 45 kilometres per hour must have a speedometer to ride on Swiss roads from April 1. Owners of fast e-bikes bought before that date have until April 1, 2027, to retrofit their bikes to follow the rules.
Anyone caught breaking the new regulation could be fined 20 francs, while bikers who exceed 20 or 30 km / h speed limits could be fined up to 30 francs.
Political developments in Switzerland in 2024
Of course, the coming of a new year also means the start of new political intrigue and debate. Here are the things expected in parliament in the next year:
Referendums in Switzerland 2024
First, Swiss citizens will have four opportunities to vote on national issues through referendum. These dates have been set for March 3, June 9, September 22 and November 24.
So far, federal authorities have only revealed what will be voted on during the March 3 poll. These will be two further reforms to the pension system, including whether claimants should receive a 13th month of pension, similar to a 13th month of salary.
Switzerland to restart negotiations with European Union
2024 will also see Switzerland restart negotiations with the European Union. As Switzerland’s largest trading partner, the EU has a number of treaties with the alpine nation that allow it to trade freely within the bloc and engage in the free movement of people.
However, disagreements over workers' rights, immigration and other sovereign issues meant a nearly 10-year-long attempt to consolidate these agreements into one new deal was put on hold, with Switzerland walking away from the negotiating table in June 2019 and May 2021. However, the Federal Council has confirmed that negotiations on the deal will resume at some point in 2024.
Viola Amherd becomes President of Switzerland
Following the federal elections in October and the Federal Council elections in December, Switzerland will have a new set of lawmakers who will debate and act on the major issues gripping the country. They will all be led - symbolically at least - by the new President of Switzerland.
Assuming the role for 2024 will be Viola Amherd, Defence Minister and Centre Party Federal Councillor from Valais. She will be joined by St. Galler FDP Federal Councillor and Finance Minister Karin Keller-Sutter, who will take up the role of Vice President.
Tech changes happening in Switzerland this year
Alongside the rising cost of living, political intrigue and changes to driving, there is one change to tech that expats should know about:
USB-C to become standard in Switzerland
From the start of the year, the USB-C port will become the mandatory connector for new devices in Switzerland. The decision brings the alpine nation in line with the European Union, which made the system mandatory at the end of 2022.
2024 in Switzerland: Changes you need to know
Well there we have it, all the changes you need to know about in Switzerland in 2024. Got a change that we’ve missed out on? Let us know in the comments below!