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Reader question: What should I do if I lose my Swiss residency permit?

Getting a residence or work permit in Switzerland is not always easy, so its loss can throw you into disarray. Here are the steps to take toward re-establishing this important document.

Reader question: What should I do if I lose my Swiss residency permit?
To enter Switzerland for work, you must have your permit. SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP

If you are a foreign national employed in Switzerland (or just living here), your permit is a very valuable possession.

You should, of course, guard it with your life and never part with it, but sometimes that little credit-card-like document disappears mysteriously from your wallet. You probably won’t know whether it was lost or stolen; all you know is that it is missing.

Photo: State Secretariat for Migration SEM

What should you do?

First of all, don’t panic. It is not the end of the world — though it may seem like it — and it doesn’t mean you’ll be thrown out of Switzerland.

You will need to request a replacement from your canton of residence, a process which is usually pretty efficient.

Here are the steps to take:

First, you must announce the loss / theft to the police in your place of residence, who will issue a report.

You must then bring this certificate to your local administration’s population department (Einwohnerkontrolle in German, contrôle des habitants in French, and Controllo abitanti in Italian), which is in charge of all matters related to residence in a given municipality.
 
In some cases, you can find online a form requesting a replacement, print it, fill it out and bring it with you to the administration office.

How to apply for Swiss citizenship: An essential guide
 
When you go there, bring your passport, a passport photo, as well as and the police report of the loss / theft. of permit.

A duplicate permit will be issued to you, though the fee for this service and the time it takes to get a new permit varies from one canton to another, and also depends on what kind of permit you are replacing. 

What happens if your permit is lost / stolen abroad?

In this event, the procedure is a bit more complicated (or a lot more complicated, depending on a country’s bureaucracy).

As is the case in Switzerland, you must first announce the loss / theft to the local police and bring the report to a Swiss Embassy or Consulate, which will issue a temporary document enabling you to return to Switzerland.

This, however, will take some time, as the foreign representation will have to contact the canton which issued your permit.

Once back in Switzerland, you should take this paperwork to your local Einwohnerkontrolle / contrôle des habitants / controllo abitanti office and request a new permit, as above.

Note, however, that once a replacement permit is issued, the original one is invalidated, so if you happen to find it afterwards, don’t use it.

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LIVING IN SWITZERLAND

Meals, commuting and ‘home office’: What can you claim on tax in Zurich?

Working from home has been mandatory in Zurich for much of the past tax year. What can you claim on tax - and what costs do you have to bear yourself?

Meals, commuting and 'home office': What can you claim on tax in Zurich?

On Thursday, February 17th, the Swiss government rolled back the working from home recommendation, meaning that working from home was purely up to employers for the first time since the start of the pandemic. 

Technological advances and the enduring legacy of the pandemic will see working from home – known in German as ‘Home Office’ – become more common in several industries in the coming years, which has clear tax implications. 

These can be relatively complex, particularly as many of the tax rules are in place at a cantonal level. 

Here’s an overview of what you can claim in Zurich – and what you cannot – when it comes to working from home. 

For a general guide on tax rules in Switzerland when it comes to working from home, check out the following link.

Reader question: Can I deduct working-from-home costs from my Swiss taxes?

Don’t live in Zurich – or want to know what costs other than working from home you can deduct? Check out the following extensive guide. 

EXPLAINED: What can I deduct from my tax bill in Switzerland?

What tax deductions can I have working from home in Zurich? 

Along with Zug, Geneva and Basel (both City and Country), Zurich allows residents to claim professional expenses as they would in a normal year, i.e. despite the Covid pandemic.

This means that you can claim meal costs and transport to work, even if you worked from home during this time. 

You can claim up to CHF15 per day, or 3,200 francs per year in Zurich. 

If you employer offers subsidised meals, you can claim a maximum of CHF7.50 per day (or CHF1,600)

Regarding transport costs, you can deduct up to CHF3,000 per year for your commute. 

This includes public transport, bicycles and mopeds. 

If you travel by private car, you can only deduct this if it is difficult to take public transport.

This is deemed to be the case if both your home and workplace are more than a kilometre from the nearest public transport stop, or if more than one hour is saved by travelling by car (per day). 

If you are unable to travel by public transport due to an injury, then you are permitted to deduct your car expenses. 

What about rent, electricity and other working-from-home expenses? 

While several Swiss cantons allow you to claim expenses of working from home like rent, electricity etc, Zurich authorities have expressly ruled this out. 

As the above costs (transport and meal allowances) have been kept in place, this is seen as a form of compromise. 

Taxpayers in Zurich are also able to claim the flat-rate deduction for all professional costs associated with working from home that are not covered by the employer, although this is only in relatively narrow scenarios. 

“This solution is advantageous for most taxpayers” say Zurich cantonal authorities. 

As with all our tax reports, this is intended as a guide only and should not take the place of qualified tax advice. More Zurich-specific information is available at this link. 

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