Register harmonisation aims to standardise communal and cantonal registers in order to increase their use for statistical purposes and to reduce the administrative burden.
In today's world there is an ever-growing need for up-to-date information. This trend motivated the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) to modernise its data collection with the aim of using resident data from administrative registers and thus reducing the burden on communes and respondents. Additionally, basic demographic analyses were to be made available on a more frequent basis.
The necessary basic demographic data (sex, date of birth etc.) are available in the cantonal and communal residents' registers which keep records for all persons residing in Switzerland. The rules by which these records are kept, however, differ from canton to canton. To be suitable for statistical purposes, the registers had to be harmonised or standardised. This was the reason for setting up the register harmonisation project: a major project on which the Confederation, the cantons, communes, software providers, the Swiss Post and other partners collaborated. Register harmonisation became operational when the first register-based survey was conducted with the reference day 31.12.2010.
As well as benefiting statistics, register harmonisation has also reduced the administrative burden for the registers concerned. It has made possible the statutorily regulated electronic exchange of data between various official registers. For example, births are now announced electronically by Infostar to the residents' registration offices which can automatically integrate this data into their register without having to enter it manually. This saves time and guarantees improved data quality.
The legal basis for register harmonisation is the Register Harmonisation Act (RHA) that came into force on 1 January 2008.