“Will I Have to Do Military Service When I Return to Switzerland?”

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Military service in Switzerland always raises questions for young Swiss Abroad. What happens, for example, when they study in Switzerland?

Question: “I live in France and have both a Swiss and French passport. I am 18 years old and would soon like to start a university course. I am now thinking of studying in Switzerland. Will I have to do military service when I return to Switzerland?”

Answer: Military service in Switzerland is mandatory for all Swiss men but voluntary for Swiss women. You are obliged to do military service after you turn 18, and are liable for conscription until you reach the age of 25. You must complete basic military training within a year of conscription.

Provided you are living abroad, you are exempt from conscription and military service in peacetime. However, if you return to Switzerland to study and therefore intend to stay in Switzerland for a period of more than three months, you will be liable for conscription and obliged to do military service – assuming that you are deemed fit for military service. You will consequently be obliged to report to the relevant cantonal district command within 14 days of your arrival in Switzerland.

Alternatively, you have the option of doing civilian service instead of military service. If you do neither military service nor civilian service, you must pay a levy called the military service exemption tax. If you return to Switzerland after you turn 25, this tax obligation will continue at the latest until the end of the year in which you reach the age of 37.

Military service is also mandatory if you hold dual nationality. However, if you can prove that you are a dual national and have already carried out military service or civilian service in the other country of which you are a citizen, you no longer have to do military service in Switzerland.

Switzerland has concluded bilateral agreements with various countries – including France – with regard to military service for dual nationals. In your specific case, you can do military service in either France or Switzerland, after which the obligation to do military service or pay exemption tax would then no longer apply in any other country.

Source : SWI