Hello in swiss – Hello in Swiss

Relocation Store — Hello Switzerland

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How To Say Hello In Switzerland

Switzerland is an extremely charming and unique country for many reasons, but my favorite one may be in respect to its languages. German, French, Italian, and Romansh (an obscure Romance language spoken by less than 1 percent of the population) are all official national languages.

Yup, you read that correctly. There are four official languages for the relatively small country of Switzerland. Naturally this leads to an interesting linguistic mix, one in which elements of one language easily blend with another. Considering this factor, you can probably gather that how to say hello in Switzerland depends quite a bit on your context.

We’ve been attempting to learn German with the help of a tutor during our stay in Zurich and found this topic particularly useful. Without further ado, here are the different ways you can say hello in Switzerland and the cases in which it’s appropriate to use each one according to what we’ve learned thus far.


Phonetic pronunciation: kroot-zee
Language: Swiss German
Level of formality: Formal
Where to use: German-speaking regions of Switzerland

Learn this word. Grüezi is by far the most common greeting we’ve heard used while staying in Switzerland. It was also a word we’d never heard (or heard of) before, causing a little confusion our first few days when we had no idea what people were saying to us.

This is the greeting you receive at the cash register at the grocery store, when out at restaurants, or when passing a friendly stranger.


Phonetic pronunciation: hoy
Language: Swiss German
Level of formality: Informal
Where to use: German-speaking regions of Switzerland

“Hoi” is a great way to casually greet people you know, similar to how “hi” is used in English. This is the second most common greeting that we’ve heard used during our time in Switzerland.


Phonetic pronunciation: sal-ee
Language: Swiss German
Level of formality: Informal
Where to use: German-speaking regions of Switzerland

“Sali” is an alternate way to greet people you know, similar to “hoi.” We haven’t heard “sali” used quite as much, but it’s a good word to have in your language toolbox.


Phonetic pronunciation: sal-oo
Language: French
Level of formality: Informal
Where to use: French-speaking regions of Switzerland

This is a fun word to say. Go on, just give it a try. It’s pretty evident in the sound that this one has a French flair. We haven’t visited the French-speaking region of Switzerland yet, but we look forward to testing this greeting out when we do!


Phonetic pronunciation: chow
Language: Italian
Level of formality: Informal
Where to use: Italian-speaking and German-speaking regions of Switzerland

It’s pronounced just like the Italian “ciao,” the spelling is just derived from German. “Tschau” is a word that we’ve seen used regularly during our visit. It’s also a word that Kevin’s grandparents (both of whom are Swiss from German-speaking regions) use frequently.


Phonetic pronunciation: haul-loh
Language: High German
Level of formality: Informal
Where to use: German-speaking regions of Switzerland

It’s not difficult here to see a striking similarity to “hello.” “Hallo” is a less formal greeting in High German. From our experience, “hallo” is used often, but not quite as often as “hoi.”

Guten Tag

Phonetic pronunciation: goo-ten taug
Language: High German
Level of formality: Formal
Where to use: German-speaking regions of Switzerland

This literally translates to “good day” in English, so you can imagine that it is used in a formal context. Our tutor told us that “guten tag” is really more of a German greeting than a Swiss one.

So while people will understand you if you choose this greeting, it’s not that commonly used by the Swiss.

That’s what we have so far! I hope this article has provided some insight for you and will make your trip to Switzerland a little easier from the get-go. Let us know if learn how to say hello in Switzerland in different ways via the comment section below!

How’d we do? Do you have any experience with this topic, or are you planning to get some soon and have some questions in advance? Let us know about them in the comments below! Or, if we made any mistakes in this article, please kindly let us know in the comments below and we’ll strive to make this website an even better resource.


Immigration — Hello Switzerland

Visiting Switzerland as a tourist is authorised for up to 90 days without registration. It is forbidden to work during this period. Working in Switzerland for more than 8 calendar days per year also requires a work permit.

To work in Switzerland, all non-Swiss generally require some form of immigration authorisation — usually a work permit, or a combined work and residence permit.

The Swiss immigration process is complex and involves multiple government authorities. Ensure you are well informed and begin the process as early as possible.

Contacting an immigration specialist is highly recommended for non-EU/EFTA citizens and for EU/EFTA citizens arriving without a permanent local work contract. If you do not already have access to a professional immigration services provider through your employer or your relocation services provider, you can get in touch with Hello Switzerland‘s free Relocation Helpline for advice and support:

Swiss Relocation Helpline

— free advice from locals


Call +41 58 356 17 77 (regular rates)
Skype: helloswitzerland.helpline (free)
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.helloswitzerland.ch/helpline


  • Fees vary: the fees charged for the work and residence permit varies from canton to canton
  • Practices vary: in some cantons, the authorities will request full payment in cash upon registration at the municipality, so plan to have enough cash with you. Other cantons will send an invoice.

Guideline budget for a person immigrating to Switzerland in possession of a Swiss contract of employment:

  • EU/EFTA citizens: between CHF 100 and CHF 400 per person
  • Non EU/EFTA citizens: between CHF 200 and 400 per person

Budget for applications from persons not in possession of a Swiss contract of employment: up to CHF 1000


Enrol in Swiss schools — Hello Switzerland

The enrolment process for public, private and international schools differ significantly. Enrolment requirements and deadlines should be integrated into your steps towards relocation. It is essential to know your options, to be organised, and to adhere to these specific enrolment requirements.

Identifying the right school for your child is an essential part of relocation. For guidance in this process, read the article, Choose the right school in Switzerland. Once you make your decision it’s time to get them enroled. There are different requirements for enroling students, depending on if they will attend public or private schools. Here is what you need to know.


Admission to local schools is assigned by the local education board based on your home residence and class placement availability. 

Important: you do not choose the local school. Visits to the school are not scheduled until enrolment is confirmed.  

Class placement is based on birth date. It can still vary by canton so please inquire locally. 



  • Birth certificate
  • Swiss residence permit
  • Proof of local residence: lease
  • Health insurance certificate



Admissions can take place at any time during the school year but preferably at the beginning of a term or with at least one month’s notice to prepare teacher support. Extra support is available in language instruction during the first year or special grading dispensation.

Please note that enrolment in a local school for a foreign language child will require approximately 2 or more years of commitment for the child to see full benefits from their instruction in the new language. Local schools should preferably not be chosen as a temporary solution due to the effort required from both student and school to make it successful. Placement tests may be required depending on the age of the student.


  • Application form: available on school web site 
  • Application fees: fees may be due with the application or maybe only registration fees are due on confirmation of the child’s acceptance (this is dependent on school procedure) 
  • Photo, passport copy, personal essay, or picture, as stated on application form
  • Swiss residence permit or student visa possible for full time education


A visit to several schools in your requested area is strongly recommended before making final decisions. International and private schools offer excellent education, however each has its particular personality and curriculum details which can make all the difference between an acceptable and an excellent fit for your child.

Early filing of your applications is strongly advised since the reception date of your application will be a determining factor for your place on the waiting list. Admissions are not examination based, but placement examinations may be requested on arrival.


There is no application deadline, however admissions for the start of the academic year in September will normally not be confirmed before April/May of that year. Mid-year admissions are only possible on a space available basis and will normally be confirmed in the month prior to your arrival date.


Registration — Hello Switzerland

  • All newcomers need to register at their local municipality (commune/Gemeinde) within 8 days of entering Switzerland and prior to their first working day
  • Non-EU/EFTA citizens who require a single entry work/ residence visa will need to officially enter Switzerland before expiration of their visa
  • Non-EU/EFTA citizens will need to make a multiple entry request should they need to travel internationally before the final permit is issued
  • Proof of local residence/address is required for registration. This can be a temporary accommodation address which must be valid until issue of the final residence/work permit
  • Change of address within the same canton can be easily processed when permanent accommodation is confirmed
  • The residence permit issued for non-EU/EFTA individuals will enable them to travel throughout the Schengen area without a visa

Note: The authorities in some cantons will require full payment of fees in cash upon registration, so plan to have the cash with you. In other cantons, the authorities will send an invoice. 

All newcomers need to register at the town hall of their local municipality (commune/Gemeinde) within 8 days of entering Switzerland and prior to their first working day.

The final work permit document will be issued between 2 and 4 weeks after your registration date.

Non-EU/EFTA citizens need to begin their immigration process 2 — 3 months before their target move date.

Contacting an immigration specialist is highly recommended for non-EU/EFTA citizens and for EU/EFTA citizens arriving without a permanent local work contract.

If you do not already have access to a professional immigration services provider through your employer or your relocation services provider, Hello Switzerland‘s free Relocation Helpline can offer advice and support:

Swiss Relocation Helpline

— free advice from locals


Do you have all the right documents? Can you communicate with the officials at town hall?

Call +41 58 356 17 77 (regular rates)
Skype: helloswitzerland.helpline (free)
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.helloswitzerland.ch/helpline



Volunteer in Switzerland — Hello Switzerland

Don’t let language barriers slow you down! From cultural events, to sporting events, to charity work, there are many opportunities for English speakers to volunteer in Switzerland.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to Swiss events and organizations that interest you. They often have volunteer positions for English speakers, even if they are behind the scenes. If you have even a small second or third language ability, that can go a long way. Contact the organizations you are interested in directly to find out the specifics for their volunteers.

This article is a starter list to give you some inspiration about your opportunities in Switzerland. You will certainly find even more opportunities for English speakers as you begin to look around. Please share your findings in the comment section so we can add them to the list!


All Switzerland

ICVolunteers – international non-profit specializing in communications and conference support

Salvation Army – international evangelical charity organization  

Swiss Volunteers (DE/FR/IT) – the platform for anyone wishing to get involved in Swiss sport

WWF (DE/FR/IT) – committed to maintaining global biodiversity



Centre Point Basel – helps to integrate English speakers into the local community

Basel Connect – promoting integration of expats in the greater Basel region

Swiss Indoors – October tennis tournament (note: basic German skills are required to volunteers at this event)


Elena Nikitina volunteers at Centre Point Basel, which helps to integrate English speakers into the local community.

«A voluntary job is not only the best way to discover a new environment, this process inspires you for new ideas and may (as in my case) even lead to a job opportunity.»


Sarah Schroth volunteers at the SHNIT International Short Film Festival Bern.

«It’s amazing to see a small city like Bern come to life around an interesting, international festival like SHNIT. I met so many awesome people volunteering. It was a lot of work, but definitely worth it!»

Photo: © Alejandro Garcia



Shnit International Short Film Festival (DE) – annual international short film festival held in October


100km in Biel – annual marathon through Biel (note: volunteer jobs are limited so get in contact early before the June event)



Morat-Fribourg (DE/FR) – city run between the two cities in October

Kerzerslauf (DE/FR) – March city run in Canton Fribourg


Morat-Fribourg run

The success of this fun city run relies each year on the help of many volunteers, who help with many different aspects of the event.

Photo: © Morat-Fribourg


Serve the City Geneva (STCG)

Melissa (right), an STCG volunteer, makes pancakes at the La Corolle centre for people with light handicaps. With her is Anne (left), one of the residents of the several houses run by L’Arche in the Geneva countryside.

Photo: © STCG



Simply Theatre – Youth acting academy and professional theatre in Geneva and Zurich

Serve the city – partners with many existing organizations serving the poor and marginalized

Cancer Support – provides a welcoming and supportive environment for cancer patients and their loved ones to share their experiences

Geneva International Film Festival – Film festival held in November (note: they prefer volunteers who can speak basic French)


Chernobyl Children’s Summer Camp – a non-profit organization offering a fun yearly camp for children from the Chernobyl region


Kevin and Shirley have been supporters of the Chernobyl Children’s Summer Camp in Switzerland for nearly 10 years and last year he volunteered for a week at the camp itself.

From Kevin: «I couldn’t have asked for a more rewarding week volunteering, peeling and cutting vegetables in the kitchen at the Chernobyl Children’s Summer Camp in Vaud. Introducing the kids to Swiss culture was amazing. I’ll be back next year!»


Carolyn Luond (right) has been volunteering at Room to Read for five years. The organisation has centres In Rhein Main and Zurich and offers literacy skills and gender equality to millions of children in developing countries.

«I personally volunteer with Room to Read because I believe that learning to learn (and becoming a lifelong learner) is the key to raising people out of poverty.»



Lucerne Film Festival – international film festival in November

International Comix-Festival Luzern – annual art festival held in March



Swiss Mountain Film Festival – an August film festival paying tribute to the mountain areas of Switzerland and the world (note: they prefer a bit of German and/or Italian skills as well)



Zugerberg Classic (DE) – mountain bike and running race held in May



Zurich Film Festival – one of the largest film festivals in Switzerland, held in September/October

Wintherthur Short Film Festival – held annually in November

Simply Theatre – Youth acting academy and professional theatre in Geneva and Zurich

Room to Read – focusing on global literacy and gender equality in education

Zurich Marathon – annual marathon, team run and city run held in April (note: some basic German is necessary)


Swiss Culture — Hello Switzerland

Introduction to Swiss Culture: What is Switzerland really like?

Many people have preconceived ideas about Switzerland which may include some or all of the following: snow, mountains, skiing, cheese, chocolate, banks, watches, cuckoo clocks, and cows. Beyond these admittedly real clichés is a complex and layered reality. In spite of having one of the highest foreign to local resident ratios in the world, the Swiss are fiercely protective of their culture and customs.

First impressions of Switzerland include its cleanliness, safety, efficient infrastructure, and high prices. Considerate behaviour that shows awareness of others and general helpfulness are held in high regard.

The Swiss are also known for their reserved, extremely organised nature and strict adherence to a set of unwritten social rules for daily life. Everyone is expected to follow these rules, which can make integration challenging. Many newcomers stick with familiar expat groups, but those who make the effort to get to know the Swiss better are rewarded with loyal friendships in the long term.

Getting to know the culture and people better with tips for settling in may help you to navigate through daily life and ease the integration process in Switzerland.

Social courtesies in Switzerland

Everyday life in a Swiss neighbourhood

Swiss neighbourhoods are compact and planned around local services and infrastructure. They are generally safe, clean, and orderly places, where failure to stick to ‘the rules’ may be commented on. 

As a newcomer, you are expected to make the first move and invite your neighbours over to introduce yourself. An introduction over a glass of wine and snacks is sufficient. The Swiss are reserved and generally limit their invitations to trusted circles. This is a sign of respect for your privacy and not intended to cause offence. They are usually delighted to be invited as a way of getting to know you better. Don’t expect barriers to break down immediately: this will take time. Once you do get to know the Swiss better, there is great potential for lifelong friendship.  

Swiss form of greeting

Swiss people over the age of 30 generally greet each other by shaking hands on introduction, using family rather than first names, and addressing each other using the formal word for ‘you’ (‘vous’ in French or ‘Sie’ in German). Neighbours are greeted by name and a polite ‘bonjour’ / ‘guten Tag’ during the day or ‘bonsoir’ / ‘guten Abend’ in the evening. This courtesy is returned and greatly contributes to your being gradually accepted. When entering an establishment a greeting is expected, as is a goodbye or ‘au revoir’/ ‘auf Wiedersehen’, on leaving.  

Only start using the familiar form of ‘you’ (‘tu’ in French and ‘du’ in German) form once invited to do so by the person you are speaking to. When a Swiss colleague feels ready for a friendly relationship on a first name basis along with use of the familiar ‘tu’/ ‘du’ form of ‘you’, you may be invited to partake in a special ‘tutoyer/ dutzen’ ritual, usually over a drink. After this, the use of first names and a dependable relationship will always be expected. Younger Swiss practise this less. 

Common Swiss social courtesies

  • Bring a small gift such as flowers, chocolate or a gift for the children when invited for a meal
  • Be on time (or even 5 minutes early) for appointments or cancel in time
  • When offered a glass of wine, wait for the host to make a toast before drinking
  • Before beginning a meal say ‘bon appétit’ / ‘guten Appetit’ (‘enjoy your meal’)
  • Call before dropping in for a visit
  • On the telephone: Swiss people introduce themselves first before asking to speak to someone or explaining the reason for the call.
  • If a workman is at your home for a longer period, offer him something to drink or eat
  • Sunday is a day of rest, and noisy activities are not appreciated
  • If you’re planning a party, neighbours appreciate being informed or even invited

Photo:swiss-image.ch/Andreas Zimmermann


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