The foreign ministry says it has replaced its existing IT system for registering Swiss nationals abroad with a new system allowing expats to register with the authorities online.
The online desk allows Swiss citizens living abroad to enter, modify and consult their data at any time and from any location, according to a statement published on Wednesday.
It enables citizens to add personally their names to the Register of the Swiss Abroad.
Consular services, including confirmation of registration and citizenship, can also be ordered online and paid by credit card or Postcard, the foreign ministry says.
The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) has welcomed the move as a boost for the expat community around the world.
“The online desk has been a longstanding demand of our organisation,” says OSA director Ariane Rustichelli. “It might partly offset the growing number of Swiss consulate closures and the resulting service shortcomings.”
It also facilitates the distribution of the Swiss Revue magazine.
“The fact that subscribers can update their data themselves with the correct information makes it possible to send both digital and paper versions of the Swiss Revue,” Rustichelli says.
The online service for Swiss expats is part of Switzerland’s first e-government strategy, adopted in 2007.
It is aimed at ensuring user-friendly and secure electronic interactions between government offices and citizens as well as between national, cantonal and local authorities.
At the end of last year there were about 762,000 registered Swiss citizens living abroad, mainly in neighbouring European countries but also in north America.