• Coffee and Creations
  • Airbnb Geneva - Your home away from home
  • Buy a copy of the latest edition


Article written by Amy van den Dijssel

There may come a time when you leave Geneva.  Many people come and go, but even those who may have had a tough time adjusting to the slower Geneva pace in the beginning, may be sad to leave.  After seven happy years in Geneva, my husband was transferred to his company’s New Jersey office.  Although I was excited to return to the US for a few years, I was also sad to leave.   Geneva had become our home.  We moved there with a 6 month old baby girl and left with two daughters, seven and five.  Once I reconciled myself with the new adventure, I snapped into action mode.  There are a lot of things that must be done before you leave Switzerland.  As I watch two good friends follow in my footsteps this year (one to Singapore and one to Korea), I decided to put together this list:

  • The KEY to the entire process is getting a form from the Service Etrangers et Confederes that authorizes you to leave the country (Attestation de Depart).  In order to get this, you will need a form that verifies that you have paid all taxes due to the Canton.  Companies, such as the phone company, will ask for this before you may cancel your account.  All forms can be found on the Service Etrangers et Confederes website: www.ge.ch/etrangers-confederes.  Start with the Formulaire d’annonce de depart form, which will guide you through the process of getting your Attestation de Depart.  You can do this up to a month before you leave, but please note that it must be done 2 weeks prior to your departure.
  • Contact the Adminstration Fiscale Cantonale, Rue du Stand 26, 1205 Geneve, www.ge.ch/df/impots/index.jsp for the verification of paid taxes.
  • If you are planning on coming back to Geneva (for example, it is your home base and you will leave on an Expat assignment), your company will need to give you a notarized letter stating this fact so that you can cancel your services.  In some cases, the Canton will freeze your permit while you are away.

    Once you have the Attestation de Depart, you can start cancelling your local providers and services:
  • Housing: if you are renting a house or apartment, you will need to send a registered letter to the Regie or Owner well in advance.  Check your lease to see what the terms are for terminating your lease (normally 3 months in advance).  Most companies will do an initial walk-thru of your home, an Etat de Lieux, and tell you what needs to be done before you leave.  Your security deposit will not be given back to you until the final inspection.  Please note that most companies are quite strict, so many people hire professional cleaners to clean before they leave.
  • Bank accounts: if you are American or have a Green Card, some banks, such as UBS, will force you to close your account when you leave the country.   BCGE, however, will allow you to keep your account while you are away.  If you keep your account, make sure to cancel any standing payments for rent, etc.
  • Cell Phones: make sure to cancel your cell phone plan.  Many contracts are two years.   My company, Orange, for example, negotiated my remaining bill down to 5 CHF/month until the end of the contract.
  • Phone: make sure to cancel your phone line.  If you use other services, such as Internet television, you will have to return your box.  I left this for last and a dear friend had to do it for me!
  • Billag: since I was on a yearly automatic renewal, I completely forgot about this one…until I got a bill recently!  You can cancel online and check a box that you are moving abroad.
  • Mail: make sure to fill out a change of address form at the Poste before leaving.  This can be done online at http://www.poste.ch/en/post-startseite/post-privatkunden/post-empfangen/post-empfangen-adressaenderung.htm or at your local post office.

    This is a great time to clean out your closets!  There are several organizations that will take your households and clothing items, such as the Armee Salud on Rte de Chene.  Please note that you must make appointments well in advance for pick-up of items.  Other organizations include Emmaus and Caritas.  On a funny note, no one would accept our old style television set – they only accept flat-screens and newer models.
  • Electronics: if you are moving to a country with a different system, you may want to sell these.  Many organizations, such as the American International Women’s Club, have bulletin boards or email newsletters where you can sell your items. (Editor's note: Try the knowitall.ch classifieds!)
  • Cars: If you are going to sell your car, you will need to transfer the title to the new owner.  This must be done at the Office Cantonal des Automobiles et de la Navigation in Carouge.  Check out their website: http://www.ge.ch/san/immatriculation/welcome.asp?titre=Immatriculation. It is also important to note that you must return the plaques (license plates) in the box located outside the office.   You will be charged for auto insurance and tax until the day you do this.
  • Insurance:  make sure to cancel any policies that you may have, such as home or car insurance.  They will reimburse a portion of the premium, if you have already paid in full.
  • Medical Issues: request all of your family’s medical records.  Don’t forget to get your dental records.  Our dentist was able to email the records to us. Make sure that all vaccinations are up to date before leaving.  You will also need your child’s updated Carte de Sante.
  • School: If you have KIDS in school: Don’t forget to request your child’s school transcripts. You will need these for their new schools.

Don’t forget that moving is stressful, even if you are moving back to your own country.  Make sure to schedule time for yourself throughout the moving process and don’t forget to plan a fantastic goodbye party!