Registration in Switzerland: how to register at the local commune or Gemeinde

Guide byPackimpex

• Takes around half a day

• Ensure you prepare all the right documents

• You need to apply in person

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  • All newcomers need to register at their local municipality (commune/Gemeinde) within 8 days of entering Switzerland and prior to their first working day.

  • If your registration is successful you will usually receive either a work permit, or a combined work and residence permit, or a residence permit with no right to work.

  • Handling registration will take you around half a day

  • You must attend registration in person

Video © 'Welcome To Switzerland'


Registration with the Swiss local authorities

All newcomers need to register at their local municipality ('commune' in French / 'Gemeinde' in German) within 8 days of entering Switzerland and prior to their first working day.

Plan your registration

You do not need an appointment at your local commune to register. It is advisable to visit the municipality in the morning, as experience shows that there are fewer people present at this time of the day. 

Here you can find the address and the opening hours of all registration offices.

In smaller municipality offices you should not assume that the officials will able to speak to you in English. In such cases it may be worth being accompanied by someone who can translate for you.

Timeline

If you have all required documents at hand and your registration is successful, you will normally receive a provisional document on the day of registration.

The final work and/or residence permit document will be issued between 2 and 4 weeks after your registration date.

Be sure to ask at your commune/ Gemeinde when you can expect to receive your final permit. In the event of a long delay, request an attestation of residence to help you with other admin tasks you will encounter during your relocation process.

Note that non-EU/EFTA citizens need to begin their immigration process 2 - 3 months before their target move date, as it normally also includes a visa application process.

Documents required

Prepare these documents in advance:

  • Valid ID or passports of each family member

  • Up to 3 passport photographs of each family member

  • Birth certificates of children

  • Marriage certificate or decree absolute (if applicable)

  • If your documents are from a non EU country, you most likely will need to provide certified translations

  • Your residential lease contract. Proof of local residence/address is required for registration. This can be a temporary accommodation address which must be valid until issue of the final residence/work permit. Change of address within the same canton can be easily processed when permanent accommodation is confirmed. Change of address into another canton can create complications.

  • Work contract or confirmation of admission to higher education institutions

  • For non-EU/EFTA citizens: police record from your home country, work permit and entry visa

  • Other documents may be required depending on the local authority's requirements.

  • Certificate proving competence in the local language of Level A1 at a minimum, or proof of registration in a language course with this qualification as its goal (Not applicable for nationals from Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, France, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, principality of Lichtenstein and Portugal).

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 or hired to a new employer in Switzerland: Contact your HR department for required procedures

Scenario 2: You are researching the possibility of finding a job in Switzerland: Contact a Swiss immigration specialist

Scenario 3: You are relocating with an independent business activity: Contact a Swiss immigration specialist

Scenario 4: You are relocating for non-professional reasons: Contact a Swiss immigration specialist.
 

Expected timeframe

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

Tip: Call your local commune/Gemeinde first to inquire about required documents before going there to register

Costs involved

The authorities in some cantons will require full payment of fees in cash upon registration, so plan to have the cash with you. In other cantons, the authorities will send an invoice. 

Guideline budget for a person immigrating to Switzerland in possession of a Swiss contract of employment (fees vary from canton to canton):

•    EU/EFTA citizens: between CHF 100 and CHF 400 per person
•    Non EU/EFTA citizens: between CHF 200 and 400 per person

To register adult non-EU/EFTA citizens who are not in possession of a Swiss contract of employment, you may have to pay up to CHF 1000.

Additional need-to-knows

Specifically, for non-EU/EFTA citizens: 
•    Non-EU/EFTA citizens will be instructed to visit the relevant cantonal office to submit their biometric data. This is to comply with Schengen regulations, as the residence permit will enable them to travel throughout the Schengen area without a visa.

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