So, the Evil Family is moving. We’re just moving to a different suburb of Basel, but it means a change in town.
In the US, you pack up and you move. You change your driver’s license address and your car registration and all that jazz, but there’s no official reporting in and out.
In Switzerland, that is different.
Yesterday, I went to our current township office to deregister. I presented our residency cards and the woman disappeared for about 30 seconds and came back with a file folder for our family.
Yes, our town had a file folder on us. In this was all the immigration paperwork we filled out nine years ago. It had copies of our passports, the children’s birth certificates, our marriage license, and who knows what else. She clicked a few buttons and printed out a sheet of paper for me to review that contained all our pertinent information on it. Turns out or marriage date was off by one day in their system, but since she had the marriage license right there, I pointed it out and she corrected it.
I signed it. She signed it, stamped it, and gave me a copy and told me I had 14 days to register in the new town.
I then went over to the new town hall to register. There was a very nice lady there as well, along with a teenage intern who was clearly new to the job. He was adorable and I love the internship system here.
Anyway, I messed up because I didn’t have enough documents to register completely. While I had my husband’s residency permit, I didn’t have his passport or his insurance card or his work contract. She made new copies of all our permits and the passports and insurance cards for me and the children and gave me her email address to have my husband email her copies of his information. I also had to provide her a copy of our rental agreement for our new house.
The only thing this doesn’t do is change our drivers’ licenses, which we can do online, she told me.
She said that anyone who wants to can come in and get a print out of all the information on anyone in the town. If we’d like to have our information private, we have to tell her. I said yes, please, keep that private.
This isn’t just because we’re foreigners, by the way. The Swiss have to register when they move as well. Although, I doubt they have to present work contracts when they do so. (Switzerland doesn’t have at-will employment like they do in the US. Everyone has a contract.)
With this system, the Swiss know where everyone is, all the time. For foreigners like us, it makes it much more difficult to overstay your visa because you’re super easy to find. (The new town was able to pull our electronic records from the old town. This may be because we didn’t change cantons, so it might be a cantonal thing. I don’t know.)
I was fortunate to have a Swiss friend, whose first name is Lukas, which causes all sorts of hilarity, come with me. He does professional relocation assistance for his job, so he knows the ins and outs of most everything.
The whole process was quite smooth, but I don’t know how I feel about it. I know Americans would never stand for it, but it didn’t feel invasive. It was weird, though, that there was a paper file on us. Of course, the Swiss LOVE paper. They love it. Teachers rarely use email to communicate and still rely on 9 years olds to get notes to parents rather than leaving them smashed in the bottoms of their bookbags.
As for me, right now, I should be packing, but I thought this was infinitely more fun. The movers come on Tuesday and I’ve already packed 3/4 of the kitchen. My teen said, excitedly, “does this mean we get to eat junk from now until we move?” I said no, but the real answer is probably yes. Thank goodness for pizza delivery.