Remo BreussFrom Switzerland back to Austria in reverse
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The following bizarre story from 2004 started with me crossing the Austrian border to go to a business meeting in Switzerland. For years I had been travelling from my home in Vorarlberg to Switzerland to support local projects and establish partnerships, so it was nothing unusual. Until one day. I can still remember it clearly: it was Shrove Tuesday. The customs officer checked my documents and suddenly demanded a work permit for Switzerland. I didn't have one, but what I did have was a document from Vienna's Chamber of Commerce that identified me as a technical consultant for EVVA. I had never had any issues with this document before. The customs officer just said: “I have to check this.” After an hour of waiting in the car, the order suddenly came: “Step out of the car, come with me!” At first I thought it was a joke and I was pretty angry. But he was being serious: “I have already notified the police. They will pick you up!” I then spent hours sitting in the police station until an officer finally informed me that "technical consultant" is a registered profession in Switzerland and as I had no local work permit, I was classed as an illegal worker. I was arrested, interviewed and only released late that evening – I had to reverse back over the border to Austria. Two weeks later I received a letter from a court – it was a fine of CHF 2,500. Me? An illegal worker? Obviously I had to do something about this. I notified the headquarters in Vienna and shortly after I received a work permit for Switzerland. This bizarre story consequently led to EVVA expanding my one-man office in St. Gallen into an independent subsidiary in Switzerland by 2006.