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Know the Swiss Culture and Social Etiquettes Before Settling in Switzerland!

Do you have a plan to visit Switzerland for a vacation or for a business tour? Then you must know some Swiss social courtesies. If you have a plan to settle in Switzerland, you should get accustomed to the cultural and social etiquettes.

The swiss are strongly protective of their culture, customs, and ethics. They are also extremely organized and strictly follow some unrecorded social norms in their daily life. The swiss people are honest, and straight forward. They are great admirers of peaceful and polite interaction with the newcomers in their land.

Hence, it is better to be aware of what parameters you need to maintain for being polite in Switzerland to strengthen the bonding with the Swiss.


The Swiss are admired for their work ethics and punctuality. Even a 5-minutes late is considered impolite. If the Swiss Federal railways timings state that a train will depart at 14:15, then it is an unwritten guideline that you should be at the station by 14: 13. Otherwise, the train will leave you behind.

Tolerance of 5 minutes

Punctuality is a great Swiss virtue. According to them, 5 minutes is very precious and they cannot tolerate more than 5-7 minutes delay. Appearing late for a business meeting is considered to be unprofessional, extremely rude and intolerant. When a seminar and business meeting is scheduled at 1:30 pm, the unnotified rule is to reach there at least 10 minutes early.

You will also get a few minutes to get acquainted with the other people present in that meeting.

Even for a friendly outing, if you run 5 minutes late, you must inform and apologize to them via text messages. However, when you are invited to a party, it is acceptable for a 15 minutes delay that too with prior notification.

Littering is strictly prohibited

The swiss people are cleanliness freaks. There is zero tolerance for disposing of waste in the streets. They have pledged to keep this beautiful country clean. You will find garbage dumps at a yard distance and at every corner. Even Public ashtrays are there above the dust bins to put the cigarette butts.


They are known for conservative, neat and clean dressing sense. They are very selective of their attires. While attending business meetings, men stick to suits and ties. On the other hand, women must be clothed in suits or formal dresses.


The habit of asking someone about their private income, properties and wealth are not entertained in Swiss culture. You better avoid questioning about these to any Swiss as these questions are considered to be impolite. They give a high priority to privacy and respect the people who value it.They prefer to invite only their trusted circles in a house party to respect their privacy.

Body-language and gestures

While interacting with the Swiss people, you must adhere to a formal posture. Start your conversation with a firm handshake and a warm eye contact. Chewing gums, biting nails, triggering your hairs, folding your sleeves are looked upon as impolite. During a conversation, standing too close is not a welcome gesture. You should keep at least an arm’s distance from the people you are speaking to.

Don’t be loud!

Swiss people hate drawing attention with a loud voice. So, do not engage in loud conversation over the phone while dining in a restaurant, queueing at the bank, ticket counters and post office, and in public transportation. Keep your tone minimal while gossiping over a cup of coffee at a public café. Giggling, yelling and laughing out loud are marked as rude manners.

Be respectful while greeting

Swiss people are extremely respectful to each other. While greeting, address them with professional and academic titles like ‘Dr’. You can also address them with Mr, Mrs, or Miss with their title. You have to utter the whole hyphenated surnames with both words. You cannot call anyone with half surname using only a part. It is considered rude. Over the telephone, Swiss introduces themselves first with a hello before asking the caller’s name and the reason for the ring.

Strict House Rules

While checking in a hotel or rent an apartment in Switzerland, you should strictly follow the rules. They want to maintain a peaceful environment. So, if you are instructed not to play loud music after 10 pm, then switch off the music within the mentioned time.

In case, you do pay any heed to the instruction and tuning on the loud music after 10, you can face repeated warnings from your neighbour, and even land on to jail for perturbing the peace in the apartment.

No noisy activities are entertained on Sundays in the house as it is considered as the day of rest in Switzerland.

Invitations and social gatherings
  • When you invite the Swiss neighbours- The swiss people are delighted to get an invitation from the newcomer to their country as an occasion to know each other better. You can introduce yourself simply over snacks and a glass of wine.
  • When the Swiss neighbours invite you- You should greet the hosts with small gifts like flowers, a bottle of wine, and books. Also, carry chocolates for the children if you are invited for a meal. Before having your meal, say, 'bon appétit' / 'Guten Appetit'! You can ring them up before dropping for a visit to your neighbours.

As a new bee in the country, do not expect to break the ice between you and the Swiss people at the drop of a hat. It will certainly take time to cement the bond. But once you made it, you may cherish a lifelong friendship with the Swiss!

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