Anyone wishing to stay in Switzerland for more than 3 months or to pursue a job needs a residence permit. This is issued in the form of an identity card. A visa for Switzerland is not required for EU/EFTA citizens.
For citizens of an EU-27/EFTA member state, this is usually granted without any problems after the application has been made. However, if there are previous convictions or the application is not filled out truthfully, it may happen that the application is rejected.
For most forms of permit, a valid employment contract must be presented. Self-employed persons must provide proof that they are able to earn their own living. This also applies to pensioners, students and job seekers. Those who have a lot of capital and bring it with them usually also have very good chances of obtaining a residence permit. The state is usually only concerned with ensuring that it does not have to provide unnecessary social benefits for immigrants. In my opinion, this is understandable.
The following permits are available for EU/EFTA citizens:
Cross-border commuter permit G
Cross-border commuters are those who live outside Switzerland and work in Switzerland. Cross-border commuters must return to their main foreign residence at least once a week. Citizens of the EU-25 states may live anywhere in the EU and work anywhere in Switzerland. The cross-border commuter permit is valid for five years, provided there is an employment contract that is valid for an unlimited period or for more than one year. If the employment contract was concluded for a period of validity of less than one year, the period of validity of the cross-border commuter permit depends on the employment contract. For an employment period of less than three months, the registration procedure applies.
Short stay pass L
As a rule, short term residents stay in Switzerland for less than one year or for a specific purpose. This can be with or without gainful employment. Citizens of the EU-25 states are entitled to this permit. The prerequisite is a fixed-term employment contract with a term of 3 to 12 months. For an employment period of less than three months, the registration procedure applies. L permits without gainful employment are issued to jobseekers from all EU/EFTA states, provided that they can prove that they can provide for their living expenses.
Residence permit B permit
The B permit is intended for foreigners who are staying in Switzerland for a longer period with or without gainful employment. As a rule, this permit has a validity of 5 years. For citizens of EU-27/EFTA member states, it is granted if proof can be provided of a fixed-term employment contract of at least 365 days or an unlimited employment contract. The permit is extended for another 5 years if the requirements continue to be met. However, it may be limited to one year at the first renewal if the person concerned has been involuntarily unemployed for more than twelve consecutive months. Persons without gainful employment from all EU/EFTA states are entitled to the "Permit B without gainful employment" if they can prove that they have sufficient financial means and adequate accident and health insurance.
Settlement permit C permit
The settlement permit can be issued to citizens of EU-27/EFTA member states after an uninterrupted stay of at least 5 years. The right of residence is then unlimited and may not be tied to any conditions.
Residence permit with gainful employment Ci permit
This is intended for family members of officials of intergovernmental organisations (e.g. United Nations, European Union) and for members of foreign missions. Family members in this case include spouses and children up to the age of 25. The validity is limited to the duration of the principal holder's function.
Residence permit for pensioners and retirees
Pensioners from abroad have the option of a residence permit without gainful employment.
The following conditions must be met:
- The pensioner must be at least 55 years old
- May no longer be in gainful employment. Neither abroad nor at home.
- Must have sufficient financial resources.
- Have a personal relationship with Switzerland. Either through close relatives (parents, children, siblings or grandchildren) living in Switzerland or through an earlier longer stay in Switzerland.
- Must have accident and health insurance that covers all risks.
Declaration on EU-25 and EFTA countries
Whenever we talk about EU-25 countries on this page and in general, we are talking about the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom.
Belong to the EFTA States: Principality of Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. EFTA means European Free Trade Association, these states are not members of the EU, but have some special rights in the European Union.
Images of the foreigners' identity cards courtesy of the Federal Office for Migration.
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Frequently asked questions and answers
In most cases, you can apply for a residence permit at the same time as registering with the municipality. Otherwise, the municipality will inform you about the further procedure when you register.
In addition to the residence permit, a work permit is also required. The employer applies for the work permit at the cantonal labour market or migration authority. Depending on the third country, you should also check whether there is a visa requirement.
The following requirements apply for the employment of third-country nationals:
- There is a macroeconomic interest
- The framework of the fixed quotas has not yet been reached
- No one was found in Switzerland or from the EU/EFTA states
- Managers, specialists and other qualified workers are admitted. Qualified workers are primarily persons with a university or technical college degree, special technical training and several years of professional experience.
- Integration criteria are also taken into account when issuing residence permits: professional and social adaptability, language skills, age, etc.
- Salary and working conditions must be equivalent to those of nationals.
The Office for Migration can provide further information on residence permits for third-country nationals. There may be differences depending on the canton, so you will not find many general answers on the pages of the authorities.
Yes, citizens from an EU/EFTA country can apply for a short-term residence permit for a further 3 months (6 months total stay) to look for a job. The short-term residence permit for job search can be extended up to one year if concrete efforts for job search are proven. The following evidence is required for the permit:
- Adequate accommodation
Confirmation from a hotel can also be submitted. In the case of subletting, a confirmation from the landlord is mandatory.
- Efforts to find a job
Proof of concrete and intensive job search in Switzerland.
- Health insurance and accident insurance
The insurance must cover all health risks in Switzerland.
- Sufficient financial means
Assets and income: Evidenced by bank statements or commitment by third party resident in Switzerland: Evidenced by financial statement from the third party.
Current claims from unemployment insurance can be imported into Switzerland. Further information on this can be obtained from the employment agency of the home country.