AFS – Association of Swiss Families

What is the AFS?

In many European countries, there are associations of individuals who come from noble families. In Switzerland, such an organization was founded in 1982, taking the form of an association under Articles 60 et seq. of the Civil Code. The association was named the “Swiss Family Association (SFV),” and its headquarters is located in Bern. The AFS unites Swiss individuals from noble families and those of foreign noble descent who have decided to settle in Switzerland across cantonal borders.


The AFS aims to promote the following goals:

  • The interest of its members in the history of their families and Switzerland in connection with Europe;
  • Contacts with similar foreign associations and members of historical families in various parts of Europe;
  • The interest of young people in public affairs;
  • Mutual assistance in all forms, both nationally and internationally.

Its Members

To become a member of the AFS, one must meet one of the following conditions:

For Swiss citizens:

  1. Belonging to the feudal nobility (so-called Uradel);
  2. Belonging to a patrician noble family from Bern, Fribourg, Lucerne, or Solothurn;
  3. Belonging to a noble family from the former Principality of Neuchâtel or other Helvetic territories before 1798;
  4. Belonging to a Swiss family that has acquired a foreign noble title recognized in the respective country;
  5. Belonging to a foreign noble family that was noble in their country of origin before acquiring Swiss citizenship and meets the membership requirements of the noble association in their country of origin.

For foreigners: Belonging to the hereditary nobility of their country of origin and fulfilling the conditions required in that country for membership in the noble association.

Candidates are required to submit a dossier proving the noble origin of their family lineage and to secure the sponsorship of two AFS members. Their admission is decided by the board after a commission has reviewed the noble proofs. Members participate in various activities of the association and contribute to the expenses of the AFS through their contributions.

Its Activities

In addition to the general assembly followed by a lecture, the association organizes visits to historical houses with expert guides, exhibition visits, and lecture evenings focusing on cultural, political, and social topics, creating additional opportunities for informal encounters. Every two years, the association hosts a ball with a program for young and older nobles from home and abroad. Many activities, however, are aimed at young people: seminars, cultural and social activities, and especially the International Weekends in various European countries. These events facilitate particularly interesting contacts among young people with similar education and lifestyles but different cultures. Young people aged 13 and over can participate in the “youth exchange” – a stay in a country of a member association of CILANE to immerse themselves linguistically and culturally in the local environment.

Its Organization

The AFS consists of:

  • The General Assembly, which takes place once a year. It reviews the activity reports and the accounts presented for approval, elects the board members, and sets the membership fee;
  • The Board, currently comprising several members, supports the president in managing current affairs and decides on the admission applications of new members submitted to them;
  • The Youth Committee, which oversees the group of unmarried members under 35 years old. The chairperson is an ex-officio member of the board;
  • The Examination Commission, which is tasked with reviewing dossiers and preparing them for the board.

Why You Should Join the AFS

  • To give everyone interested in public affairs the opportunity to become more engaged and prepare for an active role in tomorrow’s society;
  • To meet and connect with members of other noble associations in Europe;
  • To promote exchange at all levels;
  • To show solidarity with people of similar origins who have experienced and continue to experience difficult times in Eastern European countries;
  • Generally, to contribute to the preservation and development of a noble Europe based on common values.

The C.I.L.A.N.E. (

The Commission for Information and Liaison of Noble Associations in Europe (CILANE “La Commission d’information et de liaison des associations de noblesse en Europe”) currently unites representatives from Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Finland, France, Italy, Croatia, Malta, the Papal nobility, Portugal, the United Kingdom, the noble emigration of the Russian Empire, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Spanish youth nobility. Its goal is to maintain contact between national associations. As a member of CILANE, AFS is obliged to adhere to its admission rules. Every three years, CILANE organizes a congress attended by several hundred participants from across Europe. To network members of the various associations, the CILANE LinkedIn platform was created.