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Did you happen to receive your Swiss census forms in January? Don’t forget to fill in these important documents. Why bother? It’s compulsory to participate if you’ve been selected! Read on to learn more!

Each year since 2010, 3% of Switzerland’s residents are asked (at random) to participate in the Structural Survey. This is a relatively new development, as from 1850 to 2000 the census was conducted once every 10 years.

Another key change? Prior to 2000, the census was administered to everyone living in Switzerland, so the new representative sample (around 200K people) is vital to provide information about the “current state and development of the population, economy, society, education, research, territory and environment.” Other smaller-scale surveys are carried out on topics from cancer to crime, farming to foreign trade.

Because the information gathered by the census is so important, completing your survey (either by mail or online) isn’t optional. Rather, participation is compulsory and you might be issued an administrative penalty by neglecting to return your census.

Expect to answer detailed questions related to language, religion, ancestry and much more. Some of the questions might be considered quite nosy (especially by discreet Swiss standards.) For example, participants are asked about the number of rooms in their residence, their employment status, as well as the educational attainment of each member of the household.

Concerned about privacy? The data is strictly protected and cannot be shared among other agencies/authorities. Moreover, names and addresses are destroyed after collection, and all the data is anonymized and used only for statistical purposes. For more FAQs on the census, click here.

Once the data from the census has been analyzed, a fuller picture appears of social developments at the local, cantonal and national levels, as well as on an international basis. Later, these statistics inform planning, policy development and decision-making across many sectors (not just the federal government).

Although the initial deadline (January 28, 2021) to complete the census has passed, you still have time!

  • Initial deadline: January 28th 2021 (already passed)
  • Deadline after the 1st reminder: March 10th 2021 (upcoming)
  • Deadline after the 2nd reminder: April 20th 2021

Need help translating the survey? Click the link here for a translation guide, available in several languages (including English.)

Curious about past findings from the census? Anyone can check out the results of 2019 (or the years prior), by clicking here. The results of the previous year are published each April, followed by a flurry of news articles.

Even if you haven’t been asked to participate, it’s worth your time to read about the census results. The Federal Statistical Office (FSO) publishes many in-depth reports on issues that touch the lives of all Swiss residents. Consider reading a few (many are available in English) to understand Switzerland at a deeper level; particularly how Swiss society is changing in the long term (sometimes difficult to do in Geneva, where many of us are just passing through.)

We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland. If you would like to learn more about our activities and excursions, visit our website at  http://www.aiwcgeneva.org/