Michaela Merz

Tiny Switzerland and its 26 cantons

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Switzerland is tiny. If you want to travel from oneborder to the most distant other border, half a day is enough and so is good.At the same time tiny Switzerland is divided into 26 cantons and they aresovereign in many matters.  It ispossible that, if you have 2 children, who go to schools in different places,possibly in another canton, only seldom do they have holidays at the same time.Moving from one canton to another is like emigrating abroad.

The registration number on your car is changed and itcan be seen in which canton you live. The longer you live somewhere, the lowerthe registration number. This gives a clear distinction between the locals andthe newcomers. Swiss drivers are not particularly considerate and patient andtherefore in large cities like Zürich it’s not long before someone, who doesnot have a Zürich registration and only one second after it has turned green atthe traffic lights has not started, is hooted at as a disturbance. Seldom doesthat speed things up but perhaps it helps the stressed driver partly to relievehis or her aggression. 

Last year I moved from one canton to another. I paidthe vehicle tax for 2019 – and that‘s quite a sum – at my old place ofresidence. After changing the registration, I had to pay the vehicle tax for2019 again. A week later, at home I received a cheque for almost the sameamount that I had paid in my new canton – but after deduction of administrativecosts. The money to be collected from the post office. As my nearest postoffice, which has only short and customer unfriendly opening hours, is close towhere I work, which is in my former canton of residence, I went to collect themoney. After I had waited for 5 minutes, I was informed that the money could becollected from a post office in my canton of residence. HELP I wanted to shout.Apart from that the cheque is valid for only one month. I looked in theInternet and on Saturday afternoon I went to the post office close to thestation in my place of residence. Only to discover that it is not open and ofcourse the letter boxes cannot cash a cheque for me. There was no time to go tothe next post office, because it was already 4.00 pm.

This week I’m working in New York and unfortunatelythere too I cannot cash the cheque. So I’m getting dangerously close to thecheque’s maturity date. God knows how I’m going to get my money.    

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