Once you've found your home in Switzerland, it's essential to set up your appliances and communications systems.
Electricity, voltage and appliances in Switzerland
Depending on your apartment size and usage level, electricity is relatively cheap in Switzerland. It is billed directly to the apartment occupant, usually on a quarterly basis.
Voltage in Switzerland for small appliances and electrical equipment up to 2,200 watts is 230 volts/50 hertz (single phase). Larger electrical items, such as cookers, washers and dryers, need a three phase (3 X 400 volt) supply. Appliances needing 110 volts will require a transformer.
If you are planning on moving your appliances to Switzerland, there are several things to consider first, such any required adapters, electrical requirements, voltage requirements, etc. In the end, it may be cheaper and more practical to buy new electrical appliances once you arrive.
The back of an electrical appliance will list both the required current and the frequency. In Switzerland it is 50 Hz.
Electrical appliances from the US are usually 60Hz. US appliances marked as 50/60 may or may not work in Switzerland. To use foreign appliances you will have to use an adapter or change your plugs. Check that laptop transformers have European voltage capacity. Since electrical transformers and adapters are relatively expensive in Switzerland it is advisable to buy them before you arrive.
Many electronics, like TVs and DVD players, have regional restrictions and will not always work in other countries. Make sure to check your device compatibility before packing it up and shipping it to Switzerland.
Tenants need permission to install appliances or white goods, such as a washing machine or tumble drier, in apartments. In most cases, a clause in the lease contract will state that the tenant will bear the costs if there is water damage. A professional tradesman must connect the appliance, or else insurance will not cover any damages, should they occur.
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Connecting to telephone, television and internet services in Switzerland
There are several telecommunication service providers in Switzerland, including Swisscom, Sunrise, Cablecom and Salt. Setup time frames vary depending on your provider, but they often require several weeks, so it is advisable to apply for telecommunications services as soon as possible before moving in to your new home.
Swisscom providers special offers and services to international customers who are moving to Switzerland. With Swisscom, it is possible that all of your telecommunication needs, including internet, telephone and television, are ready from day one in your new home.
Swiss radio and television license fees
Billag has been commissioned by the Swiss government to collect license fees from any household that owns a device that can receive radio or TV, until 1 January 2019. This includes computers and smartphones! If you would stay in Switzerland for longer than 3 months, you would be obliged to register with Billag within 14 days of arrival.
Starting from 1 January 2019, it is mandatory for all households to pay a radio-television licence fee which costs CHF 365.- per year. This is device-independent and must be paid by every household. The fee will be collected by Serafe AG. Serafe will automatically send every household an invoice, using data from the cantonal and municipal registers of residents.
There is a hefty fine for households discovered without a license.
This licensing fee is paid separately from standard TV network connection charges.
Connecting to the internet in Switzerland
The speed of your internet will determine its cost. There are free Wi-Fi hotspots all over Switzerland, and many restaurants, cafes and other public locations offer free Wi-Fi all across the country.
Television in Switzerland
Most apartment buildings have basic cable TV included in their rates. This will provide a standard range of around 30 non-HD channels, in various languages. Most tenants decide to connect an additional TV package from another provider, to receive a better selection of channels and higher quality screen resolution. If you want to install a satellite dish, you need permission from the renting agency or landlord and you must cover installation and removal costs yourself.
Learn more about saving money by cutting hidden costs in your utility bill.
Fixed line telephone connections in Switzerland
When taking over an apartment, the previous tenant's name is needed in order to connect your new phone line. If the connection was terminated six months before the apartment was vacated, there was no previous connection, or the building is new, an authorised contractor must carry out the installation work.
Mobile telephones in Switzerland
A range of contract and prepaid mobile phone options are available in Switzerland. To apply for a mobile phone contract, documents, including passport, work permit, proof of residence, a bank account, and credit card details may be required. Hello Switzerland customers benefit from special conditions with Swisscom. Contact us directly for full details.
Shops, supermarkets and kiosks sell prepaid mobile cards and affordable international calling cards.
If you're looking for a mobile telephone/data plan, Hello Switzerland recommends Swisscom. Swisscom offers excellent network coverage all across Switzerland, including rural areas not always covered by other operators. Swisscom offers flexible plans for roaming, international calling plans and data plans. Hello Switzerland customers benefit from special conditions with Swisscom.
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