Büsingen am Hochrhein
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Büsingen am Hochrhein
|• Mayor||Markus Möll|
|• Total||7.62 km2 (2.94 sq mi)|
|Elevation||395 m (1,296 ft)|
|• Density||190/km2 (490/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)|
Büsingen am Hochrhein ("Buesingen on the High Rhine"), commonly known as Büsingen, is a German municipality (7.62 square kilometres (2.94 sq mi)) in the south of Baden-Württemberg and an exclave entirely surrounded by the Swiss canton of Schaffhausen and south across the High Rhine, by the Swiss cantons of Zürich and Thurgau. It has a population of about 1,450 inhabitants. Since the early 19th century, the town has been separated from the rest of Germany by a narrow strip of land (at its narrowest, about 700 metres (2,300 ft) wide) containing the Swiss village of Dörflingen.
Politically Büsingen is part of Germany, forming part of the district of Konstanz, but economically it forms part of the Swiss customs area, as do the independent principality of Liechtenstein and though unofficially, the Italian village of Campione d'Italia. As such there have been no border controls between Switzerland and Büsingen since 4 October 1967.
Büsingen is as a holiday destination for much of the year and attracts a significant number of visitors from around the area as well as from further afield, for its recreational areas along the Rhine and proximity to the Rheinfall waterfalls in nearby Neuhausen am Rheinfall. Many dwellings in Büsingen are holiday flats which are accompanied by a number of small guest houses.
In 1918, after the First World War, a referendum was held in Büsingen in which 96% of voters voted to become part of Switzerland. However, no transfer took place as Switzerland could not offer anything suitable in exchange. Later attempts to transfer the village to Swiss sovereignty were unsuccessful and consequently Büsingen has remained an exclave of Germany ever since.
During the Second World War, Switzerland effectively shut down the border, leaving Büsingen cut off from the rest of the Third Reich. German soldiers on home leave were required to deposit their weapons at the border guards' posts in Gailingen am Hochrhein. The Swiss customs officers would then supply them with greatcoats to cover up their German uniforms for the duration of their short through Dörflingen (Swiss territory) to their homes in Büsingen.
Büsingen's official name was altered from Büsingen (Oberrhein) to Büsingen am Hochrhein on 6 December 1961.
A treaty signed much later (on 23 November 1964) came into effect on 4 October 1967. The exclave of Büsingen was formally defined in this treaty. At the same time, the West German exclave of Verenahof, consisting of just three houses and eleven West German citizens, became part of Switzerland, whilst Büsingen officially entered into a customs union only with Switzerland. In reality, Büsingen had already been in a de facto customs union with Switzerland from 1947.
Büsingen has an area of 7.62 square kilometres (2.94 sq mi). Its border with Switzerland is 17.141 kilometres (10.651 mi) long and is marked by 123 stones. One named stone, the Hattinger Stone, marks the Büsingen-Dörflingen boundary. Along with several other border points, it is situated in the river Rhine.
Büsingen is situated close to the city of Schaffhausen. In the outlying hamlet of Stemmer the border between German and Swiss territory runs down the middle of a road. Houses on one side of the road are in Switzerland, houses on the other side are in Germany.
Büsingen is not part of the customs territory of the European Union. Although Büsingen is otherwise a German village, because it belongs to the Swiss customs territory, EU economic regulations (other than those covered by Swiss–EU treaties) do not apply there.
Peculiarities of Büsingen am Hochrhein
Büsingen is the only German village in which people mostly pay with Swiss francs, although technically the euro is legal tender as throughout Germany. Until the late 1980s, the Deutsche Mark was not accepted in Büsingen. Even Büsingen post office only accepted Swiss francs for payment of German stamps. Despite the Deutsche Mark and later the Euro being accepted, today Swiss francs are still more popular, since most residents in employment are cross border commuters working in Switzerland and as such are paid in Swiss francs.
Residents of Büsingen can opt to take out health insurance in Switzerland or in Germany.
Law and policing
The treaty between the two countries defines which areas of law are governed by Swiss legislation and which ones come under German legislation. Since there are no border checks between Büsingen and Schaffhausen, the cantonal police of Schaffhausen are permitted to arrest people in Büsingen and bring them to Switzerland. The number of Swiss police officers is limited to ten at any one time, whilst the number of German police officers to three per 100 inhabitants. German police officers travelling to Büsingen however must use designated routes and refrain from all official acts whilst crossing Swiss territory.
Post and telecommunications
There is a German post office in Büsingen which also provides Swiss postal services at Swiss inland rates. Büsingen has two postal codes, one Swiss, CH-8238 and one German, D-78266. Letters from Büsingen may be franked with a Swiss or a German stamp. A standard letter from Büsingen to Switzerland needs either an 85 Rappen Swiss stamp or a 70 euro cent German one. Outside of the post office, there is a Deutsche Telekom public telephone alongside a Swisscom telephone box. Similarly, residents of Büsingen can be reached by telephone using either a German number (with the prefix +49) or a Swiss one (with the prefix +41) or both depending on which provider(s) the resident has opted to have a contract with. Dwellings generally have both countries' phone sockets.
Büsingen has a Kindergarten, the current building of which opened in 1987. By 1988, however, it was overcrowded, so the building was extended. Children attend primary school in Büsingen, and subsequently their parents may choose either a Swiss school or a German school for their secondary education.
The much lower (compared to standard German VAT at 19%) Swiss VAT is applied to purchases made in Büsingen. It is levied at a rate of 7.7% on most commercial exchanges of goods and services. Certain exchanges, including those of basic or essential foodstuffs, drugs, books and newspapers, are subject to a reduced VAT of 2.5%. A special rate of 3.7% is in use in the hotel industry.
Büsingen residents, regardless of nationality, are treated as third-country nationals with regards to VAT payable in the rest of Germany and the EU. As such residents who export purchases made in the EU to Büsingen are able to claim back the VAT paid on said purchases subsequent to exporting. Nevertheless, imports into Büsingen (via Switzerland) are subject to Swiss importing limits, duty and VAT.
Despite further income tax breaks specific to Büsingen, younger Büsingers who work (in Switzerland or Germany) pay approximately double the amount of income tax compared to their colleagues who reside in neighbouring Swiss towns and villages, causing many young people to move away from Büsingen into Switzerland and thus the village's population to decrease notably in recent years. Büsingen has the highest average age of residents in the whole of Baden-Württemberg.
Most Büsingen residents are pensioners, many are from Switzerland, for as in the rest of Germany they pay little or no tax on their pensions. This advantage is however progressively being phased out and by 2040 will no longer exist. Büsingen is one of the few municipalities in Germany not to levy any property tax. The business tax levied in Büsingen is the lowest in Baden-Württemberg.
In the time zone database there is a special area Europe/Busingen which had a different time compared to the rest of West Germany in 1980 when West Germany, but not Switzerland, observed Daylight Saving Time.
Büsingen is served by PostBus Switzerland with a regular connection to the German village Randegg, the Swiss villages Ramsen, Buch and Dörflingen, as well as the city and railway station of Schaffhausen.
Südbadenbus from Germany also serves the village with a bus connection to Gailingen am Hochrhein. The bus passes through Swiss territory to reach the main village of Büsingen and the outlying settlement Stemmer.
Büsingen has its own licence plate (BÜS), even though it is part of Constance district which has the KN sign. These special licence plates were created to simplify the job of the Swiss customs officers. Vehicles with BÜS licence plates are treated as Swiss vehicles for customs purposes.
BÜS is one of the rarest license plates in use in Germany as there are only around 700 in use at any one time. The letters BÜS are almost always followed by an A with the occasional exception for provisionally admitted vehicles or those purchased in Switzerland which have the letter Z.
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