You have applied for a job in Switzerland and are wondering what you have to do to live in Switzerland.
You are hired, you will live in Switzerland. You are starting to settle down.
To prepare your arrival in Switzerland, it is better to start in the right order, step by step, and to know the list of documents required for each of the administrative procedures.
You will find here the steps for a successful settlement…
Where to live ?
You now know where your employer’s premises are. So you decide where you are going to live. In the city, in the countryside? Do you choose to live near your job? Does the commuting worry you? Depending on the nature of your activity and on whether working from home is feasible in your company, your decision may be very different.
If your employer is not too far from the border, you can choose to live in France, in Germany or in Italy, becoming a “cross-border commuter”. Please refer to the advice – budget, accommodation, transport for cross-border commuters.
Choosing where to live is your first decision, then there will be the following steps.
Housing prices vary a lot between Switzerland and the border area and several criteria must be taken into account: will you be alone, with a partner and / or with some children? Is being next to school important? Do you prefer city centers or countryside, an apartment or a villa? Will your spouse have a professional activity or not?
When you have found your accommodation and signed the rental lease, the first step of your administrative tasks is done
|Check-List "Signature of the Rental Lease in Switzerland"|
|Copy of your ID|
|Employment contract in Switzerland|
|For foreigners, residence permit or residence permit application (if in Switzerland for more than 3 months)|
|Certificate of non-prosecution aka “attestation de non poursuite” if in Switzerland for more than 3 months)|
|Household liability insurance (Civil Liability) offer or policy if in Switzerland for more than 3 months|
|For students, copy of the ID of the guarantor for the accomodation|
|For students, last 3 payslips of the guarantor for the accomodation|
|Bank rental guarantee or surety|
Your work / residence permit
Your employer will initiate the process to get you a work permit (aka “permis de travail” in French), which allows you to work in Switzerland.
You may need to get the residence permit (aka “livret pour étrangers” in French”) for other members of your family, which allows them to stay in Switzerland, without necessarily working.
In case you work in organizations like the United Nations (UN), you will need the “legitimation card”
Both work permit and residence permit have validity periods and renewal procedures are straightforward, provided they are done on time.
All Swiss administrative procedures require one of these documents
|"Work permit" checklist (to be sent by your employer)|
|Work permit application form|
|Certificate of payment of the tax|
|Copy of your ID (color copy)|
|Check-list "booklet for foreigners" (to be sent to the Cantonal Office or to the municipality of residence)|
|Residence permit request form|
|Certificate of payment of the tax|
|Copy of your ID (color copy)|
|Rental lease (rental contract)|
Your move and your personal belongings
With the arrival in Switzerland of your personal belongings, you have your first contacts with the Swiss customs.
You are requesting duty-free admission for your move
You need to provide a household inventory that lists the price of each of your personal belongings (in Switzerland, this includes amongst others furniture, household appliances, clothes).
If you arrive from abroad with your motor vehicle, depending on the date of its acquisition, it may be exempt from taxes; otherwise, VAT will be estimated on the basis of the market value of the motor vehicle. The Swiss tax authorities have these estimates. You must request the services of a freight forwarder to complete the expected forms (main customs in Switzerland have freight forwarders offices).
Please note that importing a used vehicle into Switzerland requires you to have its conformity checked at the “auto office” within 6 months of your arrival in Switzerland. To avoid this, many newcomers prefer to sell their vehicle before arriving in Switzerland and buy one in Switzerland upon arrival (the used vehicle market is quite dynamic in Switzerland). If you still want to import your car, you should pay attention to the name of the owner on the imported vehicle (you or your partner) and the specifics of importing vehicles.
It is feasible to arrive in Switzerland without immediately moving your belongings; then, you will have a maximum of 2 years to proceed with their importation without tax (exempt from royalties). Beyond this period, there will be taxation.
If the family arrives in two stages: first the working spouse then the rest of the family, the 2-year exemption for household effects, also called moving effects, starts from the second arrival.
|"Moving" checklist (to be sent to Swiss Customs)|
|Free admission of moving goods application form|
|List of personal belongings (vehicles, furniture, household appliances, clothes, etc.)|
|Rental lease (rental contract)|
|Employment contract (may be requested by Swiss customs)|
|Certificate of announcement in the municipality of residence (may be requested by Swiss customs)|
|Certificate of departure from the country of origin of the move (may be requested by Swiss customs)|
|Foreign driving license for the vehicle (may be requested by Swiss customs)|
|Depending on the case, residence permit or request if the permit has not been received (may be requested by Swiss customs)|
My subscriptions to general services
After finding an accommodation, informing the authorities of your arrival, you will need to subscribe to banking, phone, internet and media services; payment for these services can be made by:
- Bank card
- payment slip (ISR), payment is made individually from their web banking account or from a post office counter
- direct debit (LSV), after the registration deadline, the individual no longer has to deal with future periodic payments. Payments are made automatically
- ebill, an internet portal presents invoices, payment is made with a single click
The bank card of the country of origin can settle the first payments, but you should pay attention to the exchange rate
|"Subscriptions to general services" checklist (bank, phone, electricity, internet, etc.)|
|Bank, Current Account|
|Bank, Bank card|
|Bank, "WebBanking", "NetBanking"|
Compulsory and optional insurances when living in Switzerland
When I arrive in Switzerland with a move or without moving, my personal effects will have to be insured. I also take care of my housing and my health.
The overview of compulsory insurance and optional insurance when I come to live in Switzerland
|Compulsory (C) or optional (O) insurances when living in Switzerland|
|Fire||C||To protect the home and its contents|
|Household and household |
|C||To protect the home and its contents|
|Civil liability||C||To cover damage that family members or pets could do|
|Basic LAMal health insurance||C||Compulsory LAMal Health Insurance|
|Complementary health insurance||O||Complementary insurance to access the next level of care and expand coverage (natural medicine, dental, international ...)|
|Accident||C||For employees: Risk covered by the employer
For non-workers: Subscribe at the same time as subscription for LAMal and / or complementary health insurance
|Motor vehicle||C||To protect against damage generated by your vehicle|
|Casco||O||To reimburse the repairs of an accident on your vehicle|
|Legal protection||O||To benefit from legal assistance if required|
School for your children
There are three language regions in Switzerland. Compulsory education is done in the language of the linguistic region (in French in French-speaking Switzerland, German in German-speaking Switzerland, Italian in Ticino). From college (also called Gymnasium) preparing Swiss Maturity, the public school offers bilingual courses in English; however, even in bilingual courses in college, students are expected to speak the national language. Note that entrance test may be required.
For the children of expatriates who do not plan to stay in Switzerland for a long time, private schools offer courses entirely in English. In addition to the Swiss Maturity, private schools allow students to obtain the International Baccalaureate (IB), the French Baccalaureate, the German Abitur … If you plan to enroll your children in a particular private school, its location must be taken into account when choosing your accommodation.
|School enrollment checklist|
|Grades from the previous school|
|Civil Liability Insurance Certificate|
|Accident Insurance Certificate|
|Medical instructions and allergy declaration form|
|School bus booking|
Within 12 months of arriving in Switzerland, you need to give your driving license issued by the country of origin at the “auto office” cantonal administration and get a Swiss driving license. After the deadline, you may have to take the driver’s license exam again.
The “non-prosecution” certificate is a document provided by the cantonal prosecution office certifying that the resident in Switzerland has no unpaid debt. It can be requested by a creditor at the start of a service. Employers request it as part of the periodic audit of their employees. ficate is produced by the cantonal prosecution office. It can be requested by the internet or by going to the Office and usually takes around 5 working days.
You can request your Swiss criminal record extract by the internet through e-service.admin.ch ; it usually takes around 10 working days (you will be informed by the administration on how long it will take to process). You will need to send by mail a copy of your ID and pay by internet.
Each Swiss canton offers an internet follow-up service for administrative procedures.
|“Other steps” checklist|
|Certificate of “no prosecution”|
|Cantonal administrative procedures by internet|
Your previous residence
In the country you used to live in, there are procedures to finalize such as cancelling subscriptions, checking that the invoices for canceled subscriptions are no longer debited fom your Bank account, cancelling insurance, checking reimbursements of subscriptions for the period not covered, collecting the social and fiscal documents.
|“Previous residence” checklist|
|Check for absence of direct debits|
|Tax clearance from the previous country of residence|
|Social discharge from the previous country of residence (retirement "points", provident account)|
Your procedures at the consulate of your country of origin
If you are not Swiss, you still have to register with the consulate of your country of origin (country of nationality).
|“Country of origin” checklist|
|Register at the Consulate|
|Register as a non-resident voter|
Link to useful information
If you live in Switzerland, the above steps guide you through your settlement in Switzerland.
If you are an expatriate, a “cross-border commuter” or a Swiss, returning to Switzerland, you will find the information you need in the following articles: