Visiting Switzerland as a tourist is authorised for up to 90 days without registration. It is forbidden to work during this period. Working in Switzerland for more than 8 calendar days per year also requires a work permit.
To work in Switzerland, all non-Swiss generally require some form of immigration authorisation - usually a work permit, or a combined work and residence permit.
The Swiss immigration process is complex and involves multiple government authorities. Ensure you are well informed and begin the process as early as possible.
- Clarify if you need a visa
- Clarify if you need a work permit
- Submit your documents to the Swiss authorities before you relocate
- Receive confirmation of visa
- Receive confirmation of work permit
- Complete any departure and deregistration formalities in your country of origin
Need to know
- EU/EFTA citizens with a local permanent employment contract do not need to apply for a visa. To receive a work/residence permit, register with the Swiss immigration authorities upon arrival. As the registration process varies by canton, ask the town hall in the commune of your future home which authorities you should contact
- Non-EU/EFTA citizens require a work authorisation and a visa. These must be obtained prior to leaving your home country
- Non-EU/EFTA citizens over 18 planning to stay in Switzerland more than 1 year will be required to provide a copy of their criminal record (or a confirmation that they do not have one) from the police or justice authorities in their home country
Preparing for immigration
- Gather certified copies of all standard immigration documents:
- Birth certificates and marriage certificates
- Work contract, or for students, a confirmation of admission to a higher education institution
- Do not pack your immigration documents with your household goods shipment as you will need them upon arrival
- Non-EU/EFTA citizens are advised not to travel in and out of Switzerland during the permit application process
- Local registration upon arrival is the final step of the immigration process. It will only be successful if the correct immigration process for each individual family member has been followed
How to proceed
- Scenario 1: You are being transferred by your company: Contact your HR department for required procedures
- Scenario 2: You are relocating with an independent business activity: Contact a Swiss immigration specialist
- Scenario 3: You are relocating for non-professional reasons: Contact a Swiss immigration specialist.
- For general information: Contact your local Swiss embassy or consulate
- Non-EU/EFTA citizens need to begin their immigration process 2 to 3 months before their target move date
- EU/EFTA citizens with a local permanent contract will only need to register upon arrival
- The final work permit document will be issued between 2 and 4 weeks after your registration date
Where to find help
Contacting an immigration specialist is highly recommended for non-EU/EFTA citizens and for EU/EFTA citizens arriving without a permanent local work contract. If you do not already have access to a professional immigration services provider through your employer or your relocation services provider, Hello Switzerland and BDO can help you.
Let the experts handle it for you
Gordana Muggler is Head of Global Mobility and HR Services at BDO Switzerland. Gordana and her team of immigration specialists are here to support you and your family members on any matters related to immigration.
How much does it cost
- Fees vary: the fees charged for the work and residence permit varies from canton to canton
- Practices vary: in some cantons, the authorities will request full payment in cash upon registration at the municipality, so plan to have enough cash with you. Other cantons will send an invoice.
Guideline budget for a person immigrating to Switzerland in possession of a Swiss contract of employment:
- EU/EFTA citizens: between CHF 100 and CHF 400 per person
- Non EU/EFTA citizens: between CHF 200 and 400 per person
Budget for applications from persons not in possession of a Swiss contract of employment: up to CHF 1000