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“I keep hearing about members who have been fined.”

An expat in Zurich received a fine for an incorrectly disposed of cardboard box. This is not the only stumbling block for newcomers, says Janet Prince, founder of an expats association.





That's what it's about

  • The Swiss disposal rules have become a disaster for a US expat: he will be fined 320 francs for an incorrectly disposed of cardboard box.

  • Janet Prince, founder of an association for international people, knows the small and large problems faced by foreigners who have moved here.

  • In addition to the disposal system, the ticket system for public transport is difficult to understand, as are the Swiss laundry room rules.


A US expat had to deal with the Swiss waste police in Oerlikon. He received a violation notice from the police because of a piece of cardboard that he said he disposed of in a trash bin at a tram stop . He faces a fine of 320 Swiss francs.

“I know a lot of newcomers who find our waste disposal system brilliant, but very complicated,” says Janet Prince (57), English and founder of the expats association “The Glocal” in Zug. In her community, the members often exchange ideas about exactly these little stumbling blocks in Switzerland.

“That’s very strict”

“You sometimes wonder where you can buy the right bags or at which disposal point something can be disposed of. I know of cases of people who threw something in the wrong way at the disposal point and were fined as a result. “That’s very strict, especially since the information isn’t always available in all languages,” says Prince.

She thinks: Basically, the waste police should first warn before they punish. Because: “Expats sometimes don’t even know what they did wrong.”

Also difficult: buying train tickets

In addition to the complicated disposal system, there are also other everyday stumbling blocks: For example, public transport tickets. "I keep hearing about members who were fined even though they had a ticket - but unfortunately not the right one."

If you end up traveling by bus, the train ticket from the airport to Cham costs a little more because it goes via Steinhausen - and in no time there is a bus, even though you have bought a ticket from the airport to Cham. “This is just an example of how you can fall into a trap. It's a shame that the error isn't simply pointed out first."

Laundry room rules are also tricky

Also difficult to understand: the Swiss laundry room rules. “If you leave the laundry hanging for too long or take more than a day after the holidays to wash everything, or if you don't clean enough, the other residents in the house get angry. Many foreigners are not even aware of the shared laundry room system.”

Prince thinks: “In general, common sense is sometimes lacking. You could be a little friendlier to the expats and explain things to them nicely instead of immediately punishing them or nagging them.”

But the biggest challenge for expats, apart from the little things of everyday life, is finding connections. «Many are lonely. That's why they should definitely network. If you maintain good contacts like we do with the groups, then you can just ask someone about things like this.” 

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