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Is there cash assistance available? Who is eligible? How does someone apply?

Refugees from Ukraine are entitled to asylum social assistance from the date of registration at a federal asylum centre (FAC) or from the date on which they submitted their application. However, asylum social assistance can only be paid once the refugee has received confirmation of their protection status S from the SEM. This will be sent by post. It will take some time before you receive this written confirmation (issue process, post delivery time). Municipalities or the authority responsible for asylum social assistance need confirmation in order to pay the money correctly. In the event of major financial difficulties, municipalities can provide you with emergency assistance before you have received SEM confirmation. Here are the websites for the individual cantons mceclip0.png with their points of contact for those fleeing Ukraine.

As of August 11, 2022, Switzerland has changed the conditions for obtaining financial aid for Ukrainians. Previously, all refugees who obtained S status in the state were entitled to monthly support in the amount of 1,500 Swiss francs (โ‚ฌ1,510). However, each application for payment is considered separately, taking into account the financial situation of a specific person or family. All types of income are taken into account, regardless of whether they are received in Ukraine or Switzerland. More information here mceclip0.png.

How do I set up a bank account?

If youโ€™re looking to open a bank account in Switzerland, the documentation youโ€™ll need is:

  • a valid passport;
  • verification of the origin of your income (this could be a statement from your last bank);
  • confirmation of the address you listed (they might choose to send some mail to your address to verify this).

However, if youโ€™re looking to open a Swiss account from abroad, youโ€™ll need to get your documents authorized. You can do this by getting notarized copies or an Apostille stamp, or you can visit either a local branch of your Swiss account or the correspondent bank they chose for you.

More information here mceclip0.png.

How do I withdraw cash or exchange my currencies?

You can withdraw cash at ATM machines. See this link mceclip0.png for an ATM finder. Adults with Protection Status 'S' may exchange one amount of up to 10,000 hryvnia at selected branches of UBS and Credit Suisse. The exchange rate is set by the National Bank of Ukraine.

Banks accept banknotes with denominations from 100 to 1000 hryvnias for exchange.

To carry out the exchange, you must be an adult citizen of Ukraine and obtain a permit for a temporary stay in the Swiss Confederation.

How do I pay taxes in a country?

Ukrainian refugees with protection status S have to pay taxes only if they work in Switzerland. Free housing, as well as cash payments in the form of emergency or social assistance, are not taxable. If you work, that is, you receive a salary, then the employer must automatically deduct taxes from your salary (the so-called tax withholding procedure). If free accommodation is included in the conditions of work (as is the case for hotel workers or housekeeping allowances), then it is part of the earnings and is also taxed.

If you are self-employed, meaning you have started your own business, then you must file your own tax return. In this case, you should seek the advice of a professional.

If I already work remotely, how should I pay my taxes?

Whether you need a work permit or not, if you work remotely in Switzerland for a Ukrainian employer, you must pay tax on your wages here in Switzerland. In general, this is governed by the current double taxation agreement between Switzerland and Ukraine. In this case, you must contact the tax office and fill out a tax return. If Ukrainian taxes have already been deducted from your salary, you can claim a refund, but it is not known if this will work in practice.

How can I send money back to Ukraine?

You can transfer money from Switzerland to Ukraine via an international transfer or money transfer at a corresponding provider or a bank.

For an international transfer at the bank you have to fill out a special form and usually pay fees. Other special money transfer providers (e.g. Western Union, Moneygram, Wise, Revolut, Paypal) are often a cheaper and faster alternative.