10 things you need to do to relocate to Switzerland Moving to Switzerland made easy

Discover the ten things you need for a stress-free move to Switzerland

1. Prepare for immigration and registration

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. Additionally, all newcomers need to register at their local town hall (commune/ Gemeinde) within 8 days of entering Switzerland and prior to their first working day.

  • Non-EU/EFTA citizens who require a single entry work/residence visa will need to officially enter Switzerland before expiration of their visa
  • Non-EU/EFTA citizens will need to make a multiple entry request should they need to travel internationally before the final permit is issued


Read more about immigration to Switzerland and registration as a resident

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2. Think about your children's education

Choosing the right school for your children requires you to be well-informed, organised and open-minded. To make the right decision, you need to consider:

  • Age and birth date of your children
  • Your child's personality
  • Prior school experience
  • Languages spoken
  • How long you will stay in Switzerland and where you will be going next
  • Where your child's future will be centred
  • If your financial position (including corporate support) allows for private school tuition


Read more about education in Switzerland

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3. Get your pets ready for the move

Regulations and customs requirements for bringing pets into Switzerland are strict and change frequently, depending on the animal and country of origin.

This is mostly due to the level of risk of rabies in the country of origin.

Quarantine may be required.



Read more about relocating with pets

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4. Decide if you will need a car

You may decide that you need a car in Switzerland. The first decision is to clarify whether to import your current vehicle or to purchase one locally after arrival.

If you do decide to import your car there are opportunities for significant financial savings if you plan 6 months in advance or more.

However, be sure to weigh the costs of importation and potential necessary modifications to comply with Swiss specifications and pollution / CO2 requirements. These factors can be costly for cars designed for non-European markets. Also bear in mind that in case of repair or accident, obtaining replacement parts for foreign vehicles may also create delays and extra costs.


Read more about cars and driving in Switzerland

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5. Think about moving, and whether to bring your household goods

Now that you have decided to relocate, it is time to decide if all, part, or none of your personal belongings, furniture and household goods will relocate with you.

Things to consider:

  • Length of time to be spent abroad
  • Family situation
  • Budget
  • If you will sublet your home

There are hundreds of moving companies, but not all are reliable, or specialised in international household goods shipping. Quality international movers are usually associated with FIDI, the International Association of Moving Companies.


Read more about international household removals to Switzerland

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6. Get insurance


When living in Switzerland, it is compulsory by law to be covered by a Swiss health insurance policy. A basic healthcare policy covers the majority of the basic medical costs resulting from an illness. Depending on your health situation or individual needs, additional options may be required.

Within 3 months of your arrival in Switzerland, the authorities will ask you to provide proof that you have health insurance coverage. Health insurance is normally obtained from a private insurance company.

Personal insurance is also required when renting accommodation.


Read more about mandatory and optional insurance in Switzerland

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View insurance services in the Relocation Store


Get Helvetia's Swiss Insurance Welcome Pack - personal insurance for your first 90 days.

  • 90 days at CHF 1 per day means you meet mandatory insurance requirements from day 1, and you meet the requirements to rent a property.
  • There is no obligation to extend the policy. This is practical and buys you time, allowing you to handle all the details of long-term personal insurance coverage once you're arrived and are over the big move.


7. Find accommodation

Before moving to Switzerland you will need to decide whether you will need temporary or permanent accommodation.

The three main options for short term accommodation are:

1. Hotel stay: Not convenient for a family or with pets and expensive, but flexible.

2. Hotel furnished apartments: cheaper than a hotel, with less flexibility regarding notice periods, and usually studios or a 1-bedroom apartment.

3. Furnished apartments with a lease contract: cheaper but less flexible, with a minimum lease term of 1 - 6 months and a notice period of 1 - 3 months. Difficult to find.

The process for permanent housing is complicated and the prices are very high. You will need to understand the rental market, and be able to deal with real estate agencies on their terms. Be aware that the entire home-search and leasing process normally takes place in the local languages of French, German or Italian.

It is highly recommended to obtain the support of a relocation specialist in order to avoid pitfalls and potentially costly mistakes.


Read more about finding temporary accomodation in Switzerland and renting furniture for short or long stays

Read more about house-hunting and finding long-term rented accomodation in Switzerland

Ask questions and get free advice from our Relocation Helpline

View home search and related support services in the Relocation Store


8. Get a Swiss bank account

Switzerland is renowned for its excellent banking services. Non-Swiss citizens can open a Swiss bank account, but the application process varies extensively. The services, products and charges vary from one bank to another, so take time to choose a bank that best meets your needs.

Quality online banking and advisory services in English are only available with a small number of major banks.

You must be registered as a resident in Switzerland before being able to open an account, and Swiss anti-money-laundering laws require verification of the source of income and confirmation of the identity of the applicant.


Read more about banking and personal finances in Switzerland

Ask questions and get free advice from our Relocation Helpline

View banking and personal finance support services in the Relocation Store


Save CHF 360 right now - get the Bonviva Silver banking package at Credit Suisse free for two years - a unique deal only available through Hello Switzerland


9. Learn how to use Swiss public transport

Switzerland's public transport network is extensive, safe and efficient. Trains, trams, buses and boats cover the entire country. The views are scenic, and the level of comfort is high. There are several cost-saving train travelcards you can purchase:

  • The Half-Fare travelcard allows half-price travel on the entire Swiss public transport network
  • The General Abonnement (general subscription) travelcard allows unlimited travel on public transport throughout Switzerland
  • Day cards are one-day travel passes enabling unlimited travel on the Swiss public transport network
  • The Track 7 card allows free travel from 7pm to 5am for young people under 25 (they must also be holders of a Half- Fare travelcard)
  • The Junior Card allows children between 6 and 16 years old to travel with their parents

Be aware that in almost all cases, tickets must be purchased before boarding trains and buses. Not doing so generally carries a heavy fine!


Read more about public transport in Switzerland

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10. Get connected – TV, telephone and internet

There are various TV, telephone and internet providers in Switzerland. They vary in scope of products, channels, speeds, prices, etc. For both cost and organisational reasons it is often simplest to sign up for a package of TV, telephone (mobile and land-line), and internet with one single provider.

Home telephone connections in Switzerland are clear and reliable, and normally run over the cable TV connection or the telephone line. A digital modem is usually required and will be provided by the telecoms provider.

  • Inform your preferred provider that you would like to set up a contract with them and for services to be operational at the time of your arrival in Switzerland. It will be of great help if you know the name of the previous tenant.
  • Ask the provider to confirm that all required functionalities, (ie. internet speed, data package, included calling minutes and international calling minutes) are in the package
  • Make sure that the contracts and all appliances are sent to an address where your name is displayed on the mailbox. This step is a typical complication for people who are relocating and would to be connected on or soon after arrival.
  • Starting with 1 January 2019, it is mandatory for all households to pay a radio-television licence fee which costs CHF 365.- per year. This is device-independent and must in principle be paid by every household. The fee will be collected by Serafe AG. Serafe will automatically send every household an invoice, using data from the cantonal and municipal registers of residents.

Hello Switzerland provides free support services in English and Swiss local languages to ensure that you get connected with no hitches and enjoy great customer service.


Read more about getting connected to TV, phone and internet in Switzerland

Ask questions and get free advice from our Relocation Helpline

View TV, telephone and internet support services in the Relocation Store


Final tip: Get our essential mobile app

The free Hello Switzerland app is your ideal companion for relocation to Switzerland.

"Step By Step" relocation guides and checklists let you handle your relocation by yourself.

Download it now in the Apple App Store and in the Google Play Store.





Step By Step: a unique and powerful relocation checklist tool providing everything you need to know to successfully relocate to Switzerland. 

Relocation Guides: advice from the professionals, regionalised and organised along the relocation phase timeline.

Directories & Around-Me: location-based guide to over 8000 service providers and relevant addresses, especially for newcomers. 



Step By Step relocation guides



Step By Step features 15 relocation steps with essential checklists and detailed background information on each topic. You can add your own tasks to the list. Watch your relocation checklist get shorter as you take steps toward your relocation.





Author: Mike Tomsett - Hello Switzerland

Hello Switzerland helps you to live and work in Switzerland. Discover upcoming events and Swiss culture, or contact our Relocation Helpline for free advice and professional support on housing, moving, financials, telecoms, vehicles, career advice and much more! Call +41 58 356 17 77 or check our Helpline page.

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