Data linkages for third parties

Data linkage requirements

Once certain conditions have been met, the FSO establishes linkages for third parties for such purposes as research, planning and statistics in the framework of a linkage and data protection contract unrelated to persons.

These third parties include organisations of the federal government, cantons and local authorities as well as recognised research institutes such as universities and universities of applied sciences.

Linkages for third parties are possible only when the following criteria are met:

  • Goal-oriented: Linkages should be used exclusively for public statistics-related or scientific purposes, not for administrative or other objectives, regardless of who may be the applicant.
  • Legal certainty:
    • Linkages must conform to legal requirements and the data included must be in accordance with the FStatA.
    • The guarantee of data security/data protection, especially with regard to particularly sensitive data1.
      • Only anonymised data that cannot be linked to any individual, can shared.
      • The data must not be de-anonymised or linked to other data.
      • Once the analysis has been made the data is to be deleted or returned to the FSO.
  • Methodological requirements: the data to be linked and the resulting dataset must be of suitable quality; methodological correctness; appropriateness of the data to the subject matter.
  • Technical feasibility: there are identical (pseudonymised) identifiers for the data sources being linked.
  • Implementation: the FSO conducts linkages in accordance with its technical, organisational and human resource possibilities.

[1] It should be noted in this context that such sensitive data is often created by means of linkage (key word: the transparent man).

Linkage applications

The FSO has developed a standard procedure for dealing with linkage applications. This applies equally to internal and external requests.

To ensure that the application will be taken into consideration the following requirements must be met:

  • The application relates to the applicant’s work for a recognised research institute (e.g. a university) or for a federal, cantonal or local authority organisation.
  • The application is made in the framework of a project that has a statistical (not administrative) objective. In the case of scientific objectives these should be briefly summarised in the application, with the relevance and general interest of the research (including aim of the project, detailed description of the data to be used as output, details of specific utilisation and any plans for publication).
  • The application concerns statistical data of the Federal Administration.

Once these prerequisites have been met the following steps must be taken into consideration when submitting an application for data linkage:

1. Completion of the application form (to be downloaded, available in German and French only)

2. Forwarding the application form to the following address:

3. The FSO processes the application on the basis the information provided: at this stage the applicant may wish to contact the FSO to clarify certain points in the application

4. The FSO decides whether to accept or reject the application

5. Acceptance: if the application is accepted, the FSO will issue a data linkage and protection contract for the applicant’s signature. Once signed by both parties, the data transmission and linkage can take place.Rejection: if the application is denied, the FSO shall provide the reasons for its decision.


For further information regarding data linkage apply to the following email address or telephone 058 46 366 46.


Federal Statistical Office
Section Legal service
Espace de l'Europe 10
CH-2010 Neuchâtel