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In accordance with Swiss law, every Swiss male must fulfil military service obligations from the age of 18. This principle also applies to Swiss men who reside abroad. However, allowance is made for their particular situation and the military obligations of Swiss nationals living abroad are governed by separate regulations.
Swiss men (aged 18 to 42) who are subject to military service obligations and who live abroad for an uninterrupted period of more than 12 months require an “Auslandurlaub” (exemption from service while abroad). They must apply for this from the relevant District Command (Kreiskommando) and then notify the Section Controller (Sektionskontrollführer) of their departure. The service booklet is deposited with the District Commander. Persons living abroad who are in possession of these papers are exempt from military service for the duration of the period spent abroad. Every Swiss male who does not fulfil his military obligations, or only partially fulfils them, through military service must pay a duty in place of military service. When exemption papers are issued, a adequate duty is levied from the District Command.
In principle Swiss men in possession of the appropriate exemption are obliged to register abroad until the end of the calendar year in which they have lived abroad for an uninterrupted period of three years. They must register in person or in writing with the Swiss diplomatic post responsible for their place of residence one month at the latest after their departure from Switzerland, and must present their exemption papers. If the period abroad does not exceed 2 years the person may remain registered with the Section Controller.
It is possible for young Swiss men to complete the 15-week course at military training school (“Rekrutenschule”) on a voluntary basis. This usually takes place at the age of 18. However voluntary attendance at military training school is subject to various conditions; in particular applicants may not be nationals of the state in which they reside.
For more information:
Personelles der Armee (J1)