At the end of 2015, over 760,000 Swiss nationals were living permanently abroad. This figure represents just under 11% of all Swiss nationals and is comparable to the population of Switzerland's third largest canton, Vaud. In recent years, the number of Swiss citizens living abroad has grown by 2% per year, an increase that is indicative of the high level of mobility of the Swiss people.
Swiss nationals abroad
As a result of growing mobility and globalisation, the make-up of the Swiss diaspora community has undergone significant change in recent years. The days of permanent emigration are gone. More and more Swiss nationals are moving to a foreign country for a limited period of time and subsequently return to Switzerland or move to another foreign country. The international mobility of Swiss nationals has created complex needs and also influences the work of Swiss representations abroad.
In order to better serve the needs not only of the fast growing number of Swiss living abroad but also of Swiss tourists, business travellers and globetrotters, the FDFA has increased its resources, offered more specialised consular services and carried out technical upgrades in recent years. With the Federal Act on Swiss Persons and Institutions Abroad (Swiss Abroad Act), the Confederation has provided Swiss citizens abroad with a modern instrument that sets out their rights and obligations in a coherent and simple way and informs them about the relations between the community of the Swiss abroad and the Confederation.
A key task of Switzerland's diplomatic and consular representations is to cultivate links with the community of the Swiss abroad and to support local Swiss clubs and associations. Promoting exchanges among young Swiss citizens abroad and links between them and Switzerland is an important aspect of this.
Statistics on the Swiss Abroad
Every year, the FDFA's Relations with the Swiss Abroad division compiles statistics on the number of Swiss nationals abroad as at 31 December of that year. These statistics are published in February of the following year.
Spotlight on the Swiss community abroad
The Swiss community abroad and the Confederation