Birth and death

Gaetan Bally/Keystone

As in most other countries, authorities in Switzerland need to be informed about births and deaths that happen in the country, regardless of citizenship. 

The formalities required for registering a birth are often straightforward and automatic. Registering a person's death requires informing local authorities as well as the appropriate embassy if the deceased is a foreign national.

Birth

All births must be registered in the place of birth and recorded in a birth register. This will happen automatically if the birth takes place in a hospital, but the parents will have to show proof of citizenship.

Here is a list of resources for new parents, including information on whom to notify, family allowance, health insurance, parental authority for unmarried parents, assisted reproduction and what the child’s surname will be.

For children born to foreign parents another registration process should take place at the embassy or consulate

Joint same-sex parenthood is illegal in Switzerland and marriage is required for artificial insemination (same-sex marriage is also illegal).

Debates continue in Switzerland on C-sections (Caesareans) and breast-feeding.

Women can get an abortion on request in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. After the first trimester, abortions are allowed for health reasons, including the risk of severe mental distress, without the need for a second medical opinion. Further information, including a list of family planning centres in Switzerland, can be found here.

Death

When a person dies, this must be reported within two days to the registrar at the place of death, which will issue a death certificate. In some cases the death must be reported within two days to the communal funeral office in the place where the deceased person lived.

If a person dies at home, a doctor should still be called immediately to formally pronounce the death. A burial or cremation can only take place after the death has been reported.

If the cause of death was an accident or a crime, the police must be notified to determine the exact course of events.

The death of foreign nationals without residency in Switzerland and not registered with the registration office should still be reported to the registrar in the place of death as well as to the appropriate embassy.

Customs and arrangements for funerals vary from one canton to another. People must be buried in a public cemetery unless permission has been given for other arrangements. For more on death in Switzerland click here.

Switzerland has two main groups that cater to people who seek an assisted suicide: EXIT and Dignitas. While Dignitas will also assist people from abroad, EXIT will only support a citizen or permanent resident of Switzerland in taking their own life. Both organisations only provide their services to people with a terminal illness, those living with extreme pain or “unbearable” symptoms, or with an unendurable disability.

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