The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) is a centre of expertise for all issues concerning Swiss citizens living abroad and the international mobility of Swiss people. It is a non-political, non-denominational and independent, non-governmental organisation.
It was founded in 1916 by the New Helvetic Society. In 1918 the first Conference for the Swiss Abroad was held during the Basel Trade Fair. In 1919 a permanent secretariat was established in Geneva. In 1923 it moved to Fribourg and then in 1928 to Bern where it is located at 26 Alpenstrasse since 1957.
The organisation is made up of the legislative body – the Council of the Swiss Abroad (CSA), the Executive Board, the Parliamentary Group ‘Swiss Abroad’ and the Secretariat.
The OSA works in collaboration with the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, Switzerland Tourism and is supported by some 750 Swiss expatriates’ associations and Swiss institutions all over the world.
The OSA cooperates closely with the federal, cantonal and communal authorities. The FDFA has concluded a service-level agreement with the OSA in which the OSA's tasks are defined on the basis of the ‘Swiss Abroad Act‘. The Confederation provides financial support.
The OSA maintains close relations between Switzerland and its citizens abroad. It supports the cross-border mobility of Swiss citizens and encourages exchange between Switzerland and its diaspora. It also focuses in particular on young Swiss people abroad. In the implementation and delivery of the youth program, the OSA works in partnership with the Foundation for Young Swiss Abroad (FYSA) and educationsuisse.
For one hundred years the mission of the OSA has been to provide support and services to Swiss expatriates world-wide and represent their interests before Swiss authorities and the public. The delivery of this mission is segmented into four pillars:
Keeping Swiss Abroad informed and in touch with current affairs and politics in Switzerland.
Providing a wide range of specialised services to promote good relations between Swiss living abroad and strengthen their ties with Switzerland.
Representing and defending the general interests of Swiss citizens living abroad before the Swiss authorities and with the public at home.
Providing free, up-to-date advice to Swiss living abroad as well as to Swiss citizens wishing to emigrate or return to Switzerland.
Click on the icon for more details about the mission or visit the website of the OSA.
OSA PRESS RELEASE: Bern, 3 November 2017 – The federal referendum ‘Yes to the abolition of radio and television fees (abolition of Billag fees)’ intents to abolish the reception fees for licensed radio and television broadcasters with a public service obligation. The Federal Council is of the opinion that Switzerland needs a comprehensive public service in the media sector and that it cannot be financed exclusively on a commercial basis. It therefore rejects the initiative.
The Executive Board of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA), like Parliament and the Federal Council, opposes the initiative, which will be voted on 4 March 2018. Public services in the information sector are of the utmost importance for Swiss Abroad.
OSA PRESS RELEASE: Bern, 25 October 2017 – On Tuesday, 24 October, the governors and state secretaries of the Swiss cantons have received a letter signed by ten federal parliamentarians from the most important political parties, demanding that all Swiss Abroad be able to choose their National Councillors in the 2019 Swiss Federal Elections. The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA), which has been working for years to ensure that the Swiss Abroad are able to use this voting channel, is delighted about this initiative and fully supports it.
On 27 September, the National Council (Nationalrat) followed the recommendation from the Economic Commission of the Lower House and rejected implementing the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) with New Zealand. The majority of the members are of the opinion that the Swiss in New Zealand are disadvantaged over other Swiss living abroad, because of the Swiss pension (AHV) being confiscated by the New Zealand Government.
On 19 September, 2017, National Councillor and Swiss Abroad, Tim Guldimann (SP/ZH), together with 70 co-signatories, submitted a motion obliging the Federal Council to inform in the event that a draft law or a proposed amendment affects Swiss citizens abroad. This would allow deliberating such effects at an early stage in parliament.
The Swiss Council of States yesterday adopted a motion which requires all Swiss banks that are “too big to fail” to accept Swiss citizens living outside of Switzerland. The motion was submitted by Filippo Lombardi (CVP/Ticino) and adopted with 23 votes to 14 and 6 abstentions. The banks in question are UBS, Credit Suisse, Zuercher Kantonalbank, Raiffeisen and Postfinance.
OSA PRESS RELEASE: Bern, 11 September 2017 – the National Council (NC) today adopted, by 178 votes to 4 with 7 abstentions, a motion tabled by the Foreign Affairs Commission of the NC on 4 July 2017. This motion requires that PostFinance revises its universal financial services to extend them to Swiss Abroad in order to enable them to fulfill their financial obligations. PostFinance, the main shareholder of which is state-owned Swiss Post, has a special responsibility towards Swiss citizens.
In the lead-up to the Congress of the Swiss Abroad held in Basel, 116 delegates from all over the world assembled in the historic town hall on Friday 18 August for the constituent meeting of the new Council of the Swiss Abroad (CSA) for the term 2017-2021.
The Swiss expatriates are turning up the heat on Swiss institutions to grant discrimination-free access to financial services. The issue has plagued the community for nearly a decade.
Adrian Plitzco from SBS Radio interviews Katja Wallimann Gates who has been elected as a member of the Council of the Swiss Abroad. She explains what the organisation stands for and how she herself wants to contribute (Swiss-German). Echo Helvetia
OSA PRESS RELEASE: Bern, 4 July 2017 – The Foreign Policy Commission of the National Council has lodged a motion (19 to 0 votes with 1 abstention), calling on PostFinance to investigate the extension of basic financial services for Swiss Abroad. Since 2008 Swiss Abroad find it increasingly difficult to maintain a banking relationship in Switzerland. Our countrymen abroad need a bank account to maintain health insurance, facilitate social security contributions or to conduct financial transactions related to real estate ownership.
Swiss citizens residing in New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Niue and American Samoa will have the opportunity to apply for a new Swiss passport and/or ID card in Kaponga or in Timaru instead of flying to Wellington for this purpose. This service will be available from 2 to 6 October 2017.
OSA PRESS RELEASE: Bern, 28 June 2017 – GENEVA: Yesterday, in the presence of the directors of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA), representatives of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and the canton of Geneva, as well as National Councillor (SP/GE) and member of the Council of the Swiss Abroad (CSA), Carlo Sommaruga, the electronic urn containing 1,378 ballots from Swiss citizens living in Mexico and Australia was opened. 7.43% of the eligible voters in Australia and 6.96% of those in Mexico participated in this premiere. For the first time, they were able to elect their delegates to the CSA online, using the CHVote electronic voting system made available by the canton of Geneva.
Through an interpellation*, National Councillor, Roland Rino Büchel (SVP/SG), has asked the Federal Council when it intends to conclude a social security insurance agreement with New Zealand.