Ten of the wackiest Swiss laws

Written by
Emily Rose Mawson

We love Switzerland and its pristine nature. And there’s no doubt about it: the country wouldn’t be the same without its idiosyncratic rules. Some of them are sensible, some of them keep things running smoothly and others are just plain kooky. Here are ten of our favourites.

1. Every house must have a nuclear bunker or access to one. Well, you never know when disaster might strike.

2. Parents must not give their child a name that might damage the child’s interests, as Swiss musician Christine Lauterburg knows only too well. The authorities banned her from naming her daughter Lexicon.

3. ‘Social species’ such as guinea pigs, goldfish and budgerigars must be kept in pairs or have contact with others of their own kind. Switzerland’s advanced animal rights laws see isolation as abuse, and we think that deserves applause.

4. Some places are not so animal friendly, though. In 2011 officials in tiny village Reconvilier dredged up a bylaw from 1904 that would allow them to kill pet dogs if owners did not pay their dog tax.

5. Yes, you have to pay a tax on your dog. The annual fee is determined by the dog’s size and weight.

6. On Sundays you must not hang your washing out to dry …

7. … or mow your lawn …

8. … or recycle. Last year German native Judith Schulte got on the wrong side of Zurich’s authorities when she dared to drop off her recycling on the wrong day. She was offered the choice between a fine and two nights in jail.

9. In some cantons it is forbidden for men to have a wee standing up after 10pm. The reasoning? It creates too much noise.

10. And our favourite: In 2009 Canton Appenzell banned hiking in the nude following an influx of ‘naked tourists’ from Germany. Two years later a man caught wandering naked past a picnic site was fined CHF 100.

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