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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.

The Swiss government intends to encourage Ukrainians to return home with one-time financial payments. Payments will range from 1,000 to 4,000 Swiss francs (or 1,037 to 4,150 euros) per person, depending on the time of departure. Read more 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 to avoid double taxation?

There is an ingenious, but not perfect, solution โ€” to prove to the tax authority of the state in which the citizen does not plan to pay taxes that he is a resident of another country where he fulfills this duty.

A natural person has such a right, as Ukraine has valid conventions and treaties on the avoidance of double taxation with 73 countries of the world. Among them are almost all European countries, as well as the USA and Canada. According to these conventions, Ukrainians who pay taxes in Ukraine have the right to avoid taxation in the country of residence.

If such a situation arises in which a citizen falls under the criteria of a tax resident of Ukraine and at the same time another state defines him as its resident, he has the right to contact the tax authorities of the country of residence and make a request to the Ukrainian tax authorities to confirm that he pays taxes.

That is, in order to prevent double taxation, it is necessary to determine the resident status of an individual and, if necessary, obtain a document that will confirm it. But this may require the help of specialists - tax consultants or lawyers. Specialists advise in advance to collect evidence of the presence of a center of economic interests in Ukraine (if you plan to pay taxes only in Ukraine).

Among them may be:

  • certificate of payment of taxes in Ukraine;
  • certificate of tax resident of Ukraine (soon to be available in electronic form);
  • actual place of registration in Ukraine;
  • evidence of the presence of an individual entrepreneur registered in Ukraine (registration documents and tax declarations);
  • certificates of current accounts in Ukrainian banks;
  • certificates about the child's attendance at educational institutions in Ukraine;
  • receipts for the payment of utility bills.

If a citizen of Ukraine is recognized as a resident of Ukraine, but paid taxes in another country, the taxes paid can be credited in Ukraine. But if a person does not meet the criteria of a resident of Ukraine, it allows to change the tax resident status and consider another country as the place of tax payment.

It is important to check the registration of a natural person as a subject of entrepreneurial activity in the Unified State Register. Even if the activity has not been carried out for a long time, but the registration has not been terminated, this is a criterion for recognizing a person as a resident of Ukraine, which is accompanied by the obligation to pay taxes on income received abroad in Ukraine.

Being a citizen of Ukraine, but a tax NON-resident, you will still have to pay taxes in Ukraine for some types of income:

  • when receiving inheritance and gifts from persons who are not relatives of the 1st and 2nd degrees of kinship;
  • when receiving an investment profit;
  • when selling/leasing immovable and movable property to a natural person.

Source mceclip0.png.

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.