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Switzerland in 2023: New year, new laws

Legal cases: Passengers can now claim more compensation for delayed or lost luggage Keystone / Alessandro Crinari

From getting a drone licence to paying for Covid tests, here’s a selection of ten legal tweaks that came into force in Switzerland on January 1.

AIRLINES: Passengers can claim more compensation for delayed or lost luggage – up to around CHF1,640 ($1,770). Previously it was CHF1,520. The tedious paperwork hasn’t changed, however.

INHERITANCE LAW: Testators are more free to dispose of their estate as they wish than before. Previously, parents had to leave three-quarters of the legal share of their inheritance to their children; now it’s only half. Going in the other direction, children no longer have to leave a certain amount to their parents. Nothing changes for spouses or registered partners.

DRONES: European Union regulation on the manufacture and flying of drones now applies in Switzerland. This includes rules on maximum altitudes, weight limitations and restrictions on the airspace in which drones can fly. Long-range flights will require ground-based controllers to have a special licence.

ADOPTION: People with jobs who adopt a child less than four years old are now entitled to two weeks’ paid holiday – to be allocated as they like. If both parents work, they can divide the two weeks as they like, but they can’t be off work at the same time. Also, they have to use the two weeks within a year of the adoption. Various cantons already provide for adoption leave, but there’s still no entitlement to benefits when adopting a stepchild.

INVESTOR PROTECTION: Banks and other financial service providers must comply with new minimum standards when informing customers about complex financial products. Specifically, they must prepare and present a basic information sheet.

COVID: Anyone who takes a Covid test must pay for it themselves. Health insurance will cover the test costs only in individual cases – namely if a positive test leads to medical treatment.

PLANT PROTECTION: Plant protection products – for example herbicides and pesticides – with a high potential risk may no longer be used. Such products are banned for private use if they pose certain health risks, are toxic or very toxic to aquatic organisms or pose a risk for bees.

TERRORISM: It’s harder for private citizens to access chemicals that can be used to make bombs. In the case of higher concentrations a licence from the Federal Office of Police (Fedpol) is generally required for purchase. Only in exceptional cases are specialised shops allowed to sell certain products in small quantities.

VALUE-ADDED TAX: Non-profit, voluntarily run sports and cultural associations and charitable institutions with a turnover of less than CHF250,000 no longer have to pay VAT. Until now the turnover limit was CHF150,000.

CARPOOLING: A new traffic sign for carpooling (car-sharing) allows carpools to drive in bus lanes if they don’t obstruct public traffic and park in special reserved spaces. In addition, things could slow down: the requirements for 30km/h zones have been relaxed, so local authorities can lower the speed limit in accident hotspots much more easily. Until now a particularly dangerous situation had to exist.

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SWI – the international service of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC). Since 1999, has fulfilled the federal government’s mandate to distribute information about Switzerland internationally, supplementing the online offerings of the radio and television stations of the SBC. Today, the international service is directed above all at an international audience interested in Switzerland, as well as at Swiss citizens living abroad.
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