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Old Age and Survivors’ Insurance

AHV - Old Age and Survivors’ Insurance  (Basic Pension) is the largest social security fund in Switzerland. Founded in 1949, it ensures a minimum income for people of retirement age, as well as widows, widowers and orphans. Men are entitled to a state pension from age 65 and women from age 64. In 2007, AHV paid a pension to 1'755'827 people. 

Who pays contributions?

Anyone living or working in Switzerland – migrants included – must pay contribu­tions.
All working age people must make contributions. From 1st January of the year following their 17th birthday, individuals in work must pay AHV contributions. Individuals who are not in work must start paying contributions on 1st January of the year following their 20th birthday.
Persons who are not in work (students, unemployed persons, non employed parents) must pay minimal contributions. This is especially important for married women who are not gainfully employed. 
Please note
Non-payment of contributions may lead to a reduction in pension payments (2% reduction per year of unpaid contributions). Such reductions may have serious financial consequences for women over 64. (Link to Protection of Elderly Women)

How much do I pay?

Persons in employment contribute 4.2 % of their salary.
Self-employed persons pay between 4.2 and 7.8 % of their income.
Persons who are not in gainful employment pay an annual contribution between 370 and 8’400 Swiss Francs and, according to their income.

Insurance certificate

Each person receives a personal social security certificate upon joining the scheme. The insurance certificate must be kept safe. It must be given to the new employer each time the holder changes job and must be presented when claiming AHV benefits.

Who is entitled to a pension?

You are entitled to a pension if:

  • You have made contributions for at least a year.
  • Your spouse or civil partner has paid double the minimum AHV con­tribution for at least one year.
  • You receive sufficient child-care or care-giving bonuses.
  • What happens to your AHV when you leave Switzerland?
  • Depending on your nationality, retirement pensions may be paid in Switzerland or abroad or contributions repaid upon departure. There are special provisions for recognized refugees or stateless persons.
Please note
In order to facilitate claims at a later date, make sure announce your departure to the competent authorities. You may need to prove each place of residence.

Payment of retirement pensions

Switzerland has concluded social security agreements with EU members (except Romania an Bulgaria), EFTA member states, USA, Canada/Quebec, Bosnia-Herzogovina, Serbia-Montenegro, Macedonia, Kosovo, Turkey, Croatia, San Marino, Israel, Philippines, Australia and Chile.
On reaching retirement age, nationals of these states may receive a Swiss pension either in Switzerland or in one of these countries. Pensions corresponding to the period of insurance from each of these countries may be received independently and cumulatively.
Nationals of non-contracting states are entitled to a retirement pension only if they reside in Switzerland.
Please note
Supplementary benefits that provide fi­nancial help if a pension and other income do not cover basic living costs. These benefits are paid only in Switzerland. To qualify for these benefits, individuals who are not Swiss nationals or EU/EFTA nationals must have lived in Switzerland for a fixed and uninterrupted period of time.

Refund on departure

Nationals of countries that have Social security agreements with Switzerland cannot apply for a refund of accumulated AHV contributions on departure.
If there is no social security agreement between your native state and Switzerland, you can apply for a refund of your AHV contributions when you leave.
Repayment of AHV contributions is possible if:

  • you have paid AHV contributions for at least one full year
  • you leave Switzerland definitely with your family (spouse and children age under 25)
  • you do not receive a Swiss AHV pension.
Please note
If you have received AHV or IV benefits and no longer receive these when you leave Switzerland, you may apply for repayment of contributions. Any amount received will be deducted from the total refund payment.  

In this section: Occupational retirement pension, Retirement provisions, Old-Age and Survivor's insurance

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