Who has to serve and for how long?
Every Swiss man is obligated to serve in the military or the alternative civilian service . Swiss women can serve on a voluntary basis. For Privates (E1 and E2) and NCOs, the obligation to serve lasts until the end of the tenth calendar year after their promotion. The number of training days depends on the soldier’s rank and function.
All Swiss men receive a summons the year they turn 18 to attend an information day on basic training and the mandatory military service. On this day, conscripts decide when they will be doing their basic training (between the ages of 19 and 25). Swiss women are welcome to attend an information day on a voluntary basis.
You must attend a recruitment event at the earliest the year you turn 19 and at the latest the year you turn 24. The recruitment process takes two to three days. A doctor determines whether you are fit to serve in the military. Those who are found fit to serve go on to attend an assignment interview based on which they are assigned the function they will be trained in at basic training.
How long does basic training last?
You can start basic training at the earliest three and at the latest twelve months after recruitment. Basic training generally takes 18 weeks. For more information on the process and dates, visit the Armed Forces’ website.
Requesting leave during basic training
Recruits in basic training are entitled to two extra days off that they can take at their convenience. You can request your time off in writing using this form. You do not need to state a reason.
If you need to take personal time off, if possible put in a request in writing with your commander before you start your service term. In this case, you must state a reason and include the necessary proof/confirmation.
You can also request personal time off during your service term, for instance in the case of unforeseen circumstances, emergencies or a death in the family.
Deferring basic training
Do you need to defer your basic training because of school, your job or for medical reasons? In that case, you must put in a request with your canton’s military authority. Your request must be signed, state the reason for your deferral and include proof/confirmation. Requests for deferral are usually granted.
Recruits who fail to complete their basic training before the year they turn 25 are discharged from the Armed Forces and are required to pay the Military Service Exemption Tax.
Where, when and for how long
After you have finished basic training, you remain a member of the Armed Forces for nine years and in this time complete six refresher courses lasting three weeks each. At the end of the tenth calendar year after you have finished your last refresher course, you are discharged from military duty.
The dates of your refresher courses (call-up dates) are published ahead of time on the website of the Swiss Armed Forces. You will be notified by post or electronically at least 21 weeks before the start of your next refresher course, and at least six weeks before its scheduled start you will receive your marching orders, which include the location of your refresher course.
Deferring a refresher course
Do you need to defer your refresher course because of school, your job or for medical reasons? Put in a request with your canton’s military authority as early as possible. Your request must be signed and state the reason for your deferral and include proof/confirmation. Deferral requests are usually granted. If your deferral is approved and you do not serve in the military that year, you will have to pay the Military Service Exemption Tax.
You cannot be fired from your job while actively serving in the military, or during the four weeks preceding or following your service if your service term is at least eleven days and you are no longer in your probation period.
Salary and compensation for loss of income
Because soldiers cannot work while they are actively serving in the military, they receive a salary and compensation for loss of income.
The compensation for loss of income is CHF 62 gross per day or 80% of the most recent salary received, for soldiers who worked for at least four weeks or 160 hours in the twelve months preceding the service term. Recruits in basic training who do not have children receive at least CHF 62 gross per day.
A soldier’s salary is based on his or her rank. Recruits receive a salary of CHF 4 per day. This military salary is not subject to income tax.
For questions about the military service, contact the Armed Forces Personnel Service: +41 800 424 111
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