Basel is a beautiful place to live and work. Understandably, it takes time to get accustomed to a new language, a different currency, and the local way of life. Moving to another country always raises many questions. Below, you will find answers to some of the most pressing among them.
Information and Registration Offices in Basel-Stadt
The Kundenzentrum (Customer Centre) located in Spiegelgasse is the first address for everything you need to know about living in Basel. Here, you will also find the most important forms and applications concerning all dealings with the authorities (school registration, passports, papers for your car, etc.), all brochures and official leaflets published by Basel-Stadt as well as important contacts and addresses.
Change of address
Changes of address must be reported to the Einwohneramt (Residents’ Registration Office) within 14 days. If you move to another canton, you need to register in the new municipality in addition to cancelling your registration at the Residents’ Registration Office of Basel-Stadt.
Basel Tourism is the main tourist office in Basel. It provides extensive information about the city and the area, offers packages and guided tours, and runs several information centres and a souvenir shop in the city centre.
Payment Transactions and Shopping
The national currency is the Swiss franc (1 CHF = 1 franc = 100 rappen). Banknotes come in the denominations 1000, 200, 100, 50, 20 and 10, while the coins in circulation are 5, 2, and 1 franc, and 50, 20, 10 and 5 rappen.
Several banks have branches throughout the city in which all transactions are possible. The opening hours are usually Monday to Friday, 8.30 am to 5 or 5.30 pm. Outside Basel, some banks may close for lunch. Identification documents must be presented when opening an account.
Means of payment
With rare exceptions, credit/debit cards are accepted everywhere. In addition to the Swiss franc, stores in Basel frequently also accept the euro. Cashpoints are available
throughout the city at banks and post offices.
The shop opening times in Basel are somewhat liberally regulated. The shops can vary their opening times from Monday to Friday between 6 am and 8 pm and between 6 am and 6 pm on Saturdays. Shopping centres, even those on the outskirts of the city, M-Parc, St. Jakob-Park and Stücki, are open until 8 pm during the week. Smaller supermarkets usually open at 8 am and close at 6.30 pm. Only a few shops are open on Sundays, except on the official shopping Sundays before Christmas. Family businesses and shops in the train station can remain open until 10 pm, seven days a week.
Basel lies in the Central European Time Zone (CET), which is one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Twice a year, between 2 am and 3 am on a Sunday morning at the end of March and at the end of October, all the clocks in Europe go forward or back by one hour to allow for daylight saving time.
There are post offices in almost every neighbourhood. Current opening times are usually from 7.30 am to noon and from 1.30 pm to 6 pm In some districts, the opening times have been shortened, and cash transactions cannot be performed. The main post office at the SBB railway station is open all day on Saturdays and Sundays. Postboxes in Switzerland are yellow. A-Post letters delivered within Switzerland arrive the next working day, whereas the cheaper B-Post letters arrive within 2–3 days.
The largest daily newspaper in the region is the Basler Zeitung. The online web service Onlinereports has also secured its place in the regional media landscape. The bz – Zeitung für die Region Basel is issued in Basel and Liestal. The main paper in neighbouring Germany is the Badische Zeitung, while in France there is Dernières Nouvelles d’Alsace and L’Alsace. The free Swiss commuter paper 20 Minuten enjoys
a wide readership. This daily newspaper, with the highest circulation in Switzerland, has a local editorial team and a special edition for Basel. In addition to various national radio and TV stations (Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen SRF), there are the German-speaking local radio stations Radio Basilisk, Radio Energy Basel, Radio X and the local television station Telebasel. Radio X broadcasts ‘The English Show’ every week for the international community.
Facilities for the disabled
Basel-Stadt takes great care to provide satisfactory facilities for the disabled. The city works closely with disabled people and their organisations. Equal opportunities is the guiding principle of all policies in Basel.
As a rule, all the prices in restaurants, bars, taxis and other services include a service charge. However, if the service is good, it is customary to give a small tip (10–15% with meals).
Smoking is not allowed in most public buildings in Switzerland. In the Canton of Basel-Stadt, smoking is also not permitted in restaurants and bars. However, some restaurants offer separate rooms for smokers.
Speed limits, alcohol limit
Standard speed limits are 50 km/h in built-up areas, 80 km/h on country roads and 120 km/h on motorways. A special speed limit of 30 km/h is being introduced in an increasing number of residential districts. The alcohol limit for drivers is 0.5‰.
As Switzerland is not a member of the European Union, foodstuffs imported into Switzerland are essentially subject to customs duties. However, a customs-free allowance is permitted for small quantities.
International system of units of measurement
The following provides an overview of the international system of units of measurement. Selected conversions of imperial or US units into standard international units are shown.
1 kilometre = 1000 metres
1 metre = 100 centimetres
1 centimetre = 10 millimetres
1 inch = 2.54 cm
1 foot = 12 inches = 30.48 cm
1 yard = 3 feet = 91.44 cm
1 mile = 1760 yards = 1.609 km
1 hectolitre = 100 litres
1 litre = 10 decilitres
1 pint = 0.47 litres
1 quart = 2 pints = 0.95 litres
1 gallon = 4 quarts = 3.78 litres
1 ton = 1000 kilograms
1 kilogram = 1000 grams
1 grain = 0.065 grams
1 ounce = 28.35 grams
1 pound = 16 ounces = 453.59 grams
1 short ton = 907.18 kilograms
32°F = 0°C
50°F = 10°C
68°F = 20°C
86°F = 30°C
104°F = 40°C
Important Telephone Numbers
Kantonale Verwaltung Basel-Stadt
Cantonal Administration Basel-Stadt
+41 61 267 81 81
Kundenzentrum des Kantons BS
Customer Centre, Residents’ Registration Office
+41 61 267 70 60
Eidg. Zollverwaltung für Basel-Stadt
Swiss Customs Authority Basel-Stadt
+41 58 469 11 11
Cantonal Veterinary Office
+41 61 267 58 58
Basel Tourist Office
+41 61 268 68 68
Emergency telephone numbers
Fire brigade: 118
Automobile breakdown service: 140
Addresses of Embassies and Consulates
The following section shows the addresses of the embassies and consulates of selected English-speaking countries.
Chemin des Fins 2 CH-1211 Geneva
+41 22 799 91 00
Great Britain (embassy)
+41 31 359 77 00
Kirchenfeldstrasse 68 CH-3005 Bern
+41 31 350 03 80
Kirchenfeldstrasse 88 CH-3005 Bern
+41 31 357 32 00
New Zealand (consulate)
Chemin des Fins 2
CH-1218 Le Grand-Saconnex
+41 22 929 03 50
+41 31 357 70 11