Divorces - Registering a Death


Divorce and legal separation

Swiss courts in Switzerland's place of residence are competent to hear cases of divorce or separation. Swiss courts in the plaintiff's place of residence are competent if the plaintiff has lived in Switzerland at least one year, or is Swiss.

Divorce and separation are governed by Swiss law. It can be otherwise if the spouses are of the same foreign nationality, and are domiciled in Switzerland. In such cases it is the law of their common nationality that applies.

  • Examples: the divorce of a French-Swiss couple living in Lausanne will be subject to Swiss law, as will the divorce of a Spanish couple living in Zurich. If, however, at the time the divorce proceedings are started, one of the Spanish spouses has left Switzerland to settle in Spain, or even Germany, Spanish law will apply.

If the common foreign national does not allow divorce, or makes it subject to overly stringent conditions, Swiss law may apply if one of the spouses also has Swiss nationality, or if one of them has resided in Switzerland for at least two years.

The Hague Conventions are applicable to questions of alimony during and after the divorce proceedings (see Pension alimentaire - Recouvrement) (alimony-debt collection)

(Source: Guide social Romand (GSR) - Social Guide for French-speaking Switzerland)

Useful links

  • The chapter on "Divorce" on the site of the Canton of Geneva

Registering a Death - Obtaining a death certificate

How to register a death

In the event of a death at home, it is essential to contact a doctor who will issue a death certificate.

When and where
Within 2 days, at the local register office where the death occurred.
By whom
If the death took place at home: the spouse, the children or their spouse, then in descending order, the closest parent of the deceased in the locality, the head of the family where the death took place or finally, any person present at the death. 

If the death took place in a hospital, an old people's home, a place of detention or internment or any other institution, the management of that establishment will register the death.

The easiest way
Engage an undertaker. They will take care of all the formalities from register office notification to the burial.

A short explanatory guide can be obtained free of charge from the City of Geneva Undertakers Service. 

Required documents
Swiss nationals
  • Family book or individual citizenship certificate (Citizenship d'état civil) or family certificate (Family certificate)
  • Passport or ID card
  • Death certificate
  • Residents permit (permis d'établissement) if not originally from Geneva
Foreign nationals
  • please contact the General Register office.

How to obtain a death certificate

  • Return the annexed document by post, fax or e-mail.
  • Over the counter at the local register office for the area where the death took place, on production of an ID card or of a family book.
CHF 25 (+ postal charges):
  • CHF 16 for Switzerland
  • CHF 23,40 for Europe
The death certificate contains the particulars of the deceased and details when and where the death took place. It does not indicate the cause of death.
This document is issued as proof of death for administrative purposes. It must not be confused with the death certificate issued by the doctor called, which is kept for internal use.

Find all the information you need on the web site of the City of Geneva (FR-EN-DE-IT-PT-ES)

Le Service des pompes funèbres et cimetières de la Ville de Genève (Cemetery Service of Geneva) 

4 rue du Vieux-Marché
CH-1207 Genève. Case postale 6178, CH-1211 Genève 6.

Tél. : (+41 22) 418.60.00. Fax : (+41 22) 418.60 01.
Accès TPG: tram 12 ou 16, arrêt Villereuse.
Chef de service : M. Jean-Claude Schaulin. 
E-mail : jean-claude.schaulin@ville-ge.ch

Useful links