Work and residence permits for Switzerland Getting the right permit

Learn more about the different types of work and residence permit available to foreigners in Switzerland.

When applying for Swiss work and residence permits, different regulations apply to EU/EFTA and other nationals.

The processing time of the application, possible quotas, and differing requirements of the applicant are only a few of the several differences.

EU/EFTA nationals

Nationals of an EU-27/EFTA country can benefit from Switzerland's participation in an Agreement of Free Movement of Persons with the EU/EFTA states.

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.


Non-EU/EFTA nationals

Non-EU/EFTA nationals always need to apply for a work and residence permit before officially entering Switzerland, or when planning to work or stay in Switzerland. The result of the application has to be awaited in the home country.

The nationality, the length of the stay and the contractual set-up will define which work and residence permit type one may receive.

Work/residence permit types for Switzerland

Common types of permits in Switzerland are:

Online registration procedure

Mainly suitable for people who wish to undertake gainful employment of up to 90 days per year in Switzerland. The person must be employed in an EU/EFTA country.

Non-EU/EFTA nationals that have been employed for at least 12 months in an EU/EFTA country may use this simplified, fast-track registration procedure.

120-days permit

This type of permit is intended for foreign nationals who work in Switzerland regularly but occasionally. Individuals who obtain this permit may stay in Switzerland for up to 120 days during a 12-month period and work flexibly within the framework of the allowed purpose.

Short-term residence permits L and B

Both of these permits are aimed at foreign nationals who live and have their place of residence in Switzerland. These people are granted either an L or a B permit, depending on the length of their stay or contractual agreement.

Residence permit C - settled foreign nationals

Individuals can apply for a C-permit after having lived continuously in Switzerland for five or ten years. This permit is not subject to any time restriction or conditions.

Cross-border commuter permit G

Cross-border commuters are foreign nationals, working in Switzerland for a Swiss employer, whilst keeping their official place of residence abroad in an EU/EFTA country.

Cross-border commuters must return to their official place of residence at least once a week.


Getting help with immigration to Switzerland


Do you require assistance with your visa, residence or work permit?


Hello Switzerland can assist you. Please contact the Swiss Relocation Helpline on +41 58 356 17 77 or at  

Author: Gordana Muggler

Gordana Muggler is Head Global Mobility and HR Services at BDO Switzerland. BDO's experienced specialists are here to advise and support you and your family members on all aspects of international assignments, be it concerning the arrival to Switzerland or the deployment abroad, from the beginning of the preparations through to the return home.

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