We all have admin to deal with in our lives.  And it seems that the Swiss in addition to loving chocolate, cheese and cows also love admin.  Well if they don’t, then they must find it much less stressful, because it always seems to be the international community driven to distraction by it all.

Last week we spoke with Louise Colassis, an independent community midwife working in the Nyon area who outlined all the key things to prioritise medically when you are pregnant in Switzerland.

Today she explains to us how births are registered in Switzerland, as the level of paperwork involved is greater than in many other countries, especially if you are not married to the baby’s father.  Forewarned is forearmed in the admin battle!

Firstly, whatever your views on this, within the Swiss system, marriage counts for a lot.  If you and your partner are not married you will need to prove your status to register your baby’s birth.

The simple stuff.  If mum and dad married in Switzerland, the authorities already have your “family” details, so you will just need to fill out the birth notification after delivery (supplied by the hospital) and the admin staff there will send it to the registry office (état civil) in Geneva (GE) or Lausanne (VD) depending on where you deliver.

If you are married (but not in Switzerland) you will need to provide a certified copy of your marriage certificate and both of your birth certificates (full certificates only are acceptable) to the état civil. These can usually be obtained from the registry office where you got married or where your own birth was registered but often it’s possible to get them online using a government website. Note: you need original copies NOT a photocopy of your original certificates, for which there is usually a small cost. 

The original copies will be stored forever in Switzerland, so If you have children that were born elsewhere, you can also supply original copies of their birth certificates so that the whole family is registered in one place.  

Now it gets more involved…….

If you are not married and wish for the father of the child to be on the birth certificate (reconnaissance de paternité), you have to provide the same paperwork mentioned for married couples i.e. original copies of both birth certificates and supply a paper that proves you are in fact both single (you may need to make a declaration that is witnessed by a lawyer or notary).

For same sex female couples, Switzerland doesn’t yet recognise the second mother on birth documents so it is worth checking with your home country to see what can be done afterwards.  It is a small recompense, but if you are already married and share a family name, you will at least be able to register your baby with the same family name.

And what is Louise’s top tip?  

Start the process early……particularly if you wish to get a passport for your baby as you will certainly need their registration details for this.  

Typically the process to recognise paternity and issue a full birth certificate can take up to 4 months and when COVID changed working practices this became even longer.  Also, bear in mind you have to contact the registry office (état civil) in Geneva (GE) or Lausanne (VD) to organise an appointment for the father to attend to sign the papers, which may also take time to schedule conveniently. 

Once you have your baby’s full birth certificate, you can apply for other official documents – residents permit, passport etc. so you and your family can start living your new life.

Thanks again to Louise for speaking with us at The HUB.  If you wish to know more about Louise and the services she provides as an independent community midwife, please take a look at her website www.bumpsandbabies.ch

The Hub Geneva