The administrative fees that go with becoming a Swiss citizen vary considerably across cantons, a new report has shown. In other countries, the process is often free.
At a time when the value of a passport, both symbolic and actual, is a widely-discussed topic, obtaining the Swiss version will cost you anything between a couple of hundred and a couple of thousand francs, reports the Le Matin Dimanche paper.
This despite the fact that a 2006 law ended the practice of cantons charging what they liked for citizenship; the current regulation states that only administrative costs should be billed to the candidate.
However, administrative costs vary widely: in canton Fribourg, the fees can range from between CHF1800-3000 (depending on municipality); in neighbouring canton Vaud, the fees run from CHF550-850. Geneva is a fixed CHF1,250, Zurich CHF1,700.
Practically giving them away
Why the disparities? Officials from canton Fribourg, contacted by Le Matin Dimanche, explained for their part that individual bills are prepared for each citizenship candidate, in which each administrative step is counted.
In canton Neuchâtel, on the other hand (CHF1,650), an average fee is calculated and charged to all, while in canton Vaud, the amount is effectively subsidised by the authorities.
In the latter’s case, this is done to help reach the canton’s written goal of “encouraging the naturalisation of foreigners”, according to a spokeswoman from the canton’s citizenship division; a step criticized as “giving away the passport” by People’s Party politician Jean-Luc Addor.
Whatever the reasons, a deeper investigation into the disparities is underway, the paper reports. The Swiss price watchdog has opened an enquiry to learn more about whether the differences are justified or not.