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Working in Switzerland as a Foreign National

Obtaining a Work Permit in Switzerland is everything but an easy Task. Your success depends on many Factors, especially your Skills, where you are from and quotas.

Citizens from EU-25*/EFTA** states enjoy full freedom of movement. This means that citizens of those countries are free to travel to Switzerland, and to live and work here.

Zurich Bahnhofstrasse

Short-term employment in Switzerland, up to three months (EU-25/EFTA citizens)

Citizens from EU-25/EFTA states do not require authorisation for short-term employment up to three months or 90 days per calendar year. However, the future Swiss employer is required to register the employment using the electronic reporting procedure. The report must be submitted at least one day before employment is due to begin.

Employment longer than three months (citizens of EU-25/EFTA states)

For employment lasting longer than three months, EU-25/EFTA citizens require a residence permit. Register with the communal authorities in the place you reside before taking up work. You will be required to present a:valid ID card or passport

For non self-employed you will also need a:

Statement of engagement from the employer or a certificate of employment (e.g. an employment contract)

For self-employed you will also need a:

Accounting records, in order to prove that you are effectively self-employed and that you can earn a decent living. If you apply for welfare benefits, you will lose your right to remain in Switzerland. For more information about residing in Switzerland and working in a self-employed capacity, contact the cantonal migration authority or check the web page of the State Secretariat for Migration,

www.sem.admin.ch > Entry & Residence > Living and Working in Switzerland.

Bulgaria and Romania (EU-2):

Citizens from EU-2/EFTA states enjoy full freedom of movement. This means that citizens of those countries are free to travel to Switzerland, and to live and work here.

The Federal Council has decided however to invoke the safeguard clause provided for in the Agreement between Switzerland and the EU on the free movement of persons, applying it to the EU-2 Member States. From 1 June 2017, Type B EU/EFTA residence permits granted to citizens from Bulgaria and Romania are subject to quotas. 996 Type B EU/EFTA residence permits (residence permits valid for 5 years) are available.

This measure is in force for a year.

This measure applies to citizens from EU-2 countries who wish to take up employment in Switzerland with an employment contract lasting over a year or an unlimited contract. The same applies to self-employed persons who wish to settle in Switzerland.

You can find more information on the website of the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM): www.sem.admin.ch > Entry & Residence > Living and Working in Switzerland > Bulgaria/Romania (EU-2)

Special rules applying to Croatian nationals

Since 1 January 2017, Croatian nationals have also benefited from the freedom of movement; however they are still subject to transitional provisions.

Croatian nationals interested in working in Switzerland are subject to transitional provisions. For the time being, they may only work in Switzerland subject to the following restrictions:

Priority given to Swiss nationals (preference given to Swiss and foreign nationals who are already on the Swiss labour market)Salary and working conditionsSeparate, annual, gradually rising quantitative limits for temporary residence permits and residence permits.

Looking for work in Switzerland

EU/EFTA nationals may enter Switzerland to look for work. They may stay in the country for up to three months without a permit. If the job search takes longer than three months, EU/EFTA nationals may apply for a temporary residence permit valid for three months within any calendar year (total stay = six months), provided they have the financial means to pay their living expenses.

Croatian citizens must be in possession of a valid work permit before the first day of employment in Switzerland, even if the period of employment is less than three months.

*The EU-27 comprises the following countries: Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Romania, Sweden, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Hungary, the United Kingdom and Cyprus.

**EFTA: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland

Working in Switzerland as third-country nationals

Work permits for non member EU/EFTA

Self-employed

Generally speaking, third-country nationals who are resident in Switzerland must obtain authorisation under the cantonal and federal authorisation procedures before doing any work on a self-employed basis.

Authorisation may be granted if justified on economic grounds, if certain personal, financial and business requirements are met, and if the possible limits on the number of foreign nationals permit.

Foreign nationals who are married to Swiss citizens or to persons with a permanent resident permit do not require additional authorization to become self-employed.

Non self-employed

If you are a third-country national who has been offered a job in Switzerland, your prospective employer must submit an application to the cantonal immigration or labour market authorities. If the application is accepted, it will be forwarded to the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) for approval. The SEM will then notify the parties and the cantonal authorities of its decision, but this decision does not constitute authorisation to enter Switzerland.

If you require a visa, the cantonal migration authorities will send a visa clearance certificate via e-mail to the Swiss diplomatic/consular mission in your home country. You can then obtain the visa there. Within 14 days at the latest of your arrival and before taking up employment, you will need to register with the communal authorities in the place where you are living and only then can you begin work.

The following requirements apply to employment of third-country nationals:

Persons are admitted when it is in the general economic interest. Authorisation is only granted if established quotas have not been used up. Third-country nationals may only be hired if no one with equivalent qualifications can be found in Switzerland or in an EU/EFTA member state. Only managers, specialists and other qualified workers will be admitted. “Qualified workers” are primarily the holders of higher education qualifications (i.e. from a university or university of applied sciences) who also have specific technical expertise and several years of professional experience. Integration criteria will also be taken into account when issuing residence permits: ability to adjust to a new occupational and social environment, language skills and age.Salary and working conditions must also be equivalent to those that apply to Swiss inhabitants.

Social Insurance for foreign nationals

Compulsory health insurance

Foreign nationals must take out insurance for themselves and for their families with a Swiss health insurance company no later than three months after arriving or beginning work in Switzerland. Cross-border commuters domiciled in certain EU states have the option of taking out insurance in their country of residence instead of Switzerland.

Accident insurance at the workplace

If you work eight hours or more a week, you are covered against accidents by your employer.

Old-age, Survivors’ and Invalidity Insurance

Persons who live or work in Switzerland must be insured by the Old-age and Survivors’ Insurance scheme (AHV) and by the Invalidity Insurance (IV).Employees earning over a certain income must take out insurance with a pension institution (pension fund or vested benefits institution). Self-employed persons may join a pension fund voluntarily.

What you need to do in the event of unemployment

If you are looking for work or lose your job, you must register with the regional unemployment centre (RAV). If you live abroad and work in Switzerland, you will receive your unemployment benefits in your country of residence.

Support for families

All women living or working in Switzerland are entitled to maternity leave and maternity benefits.Employees, and since 1.1.2013 also self-employed persons, are entitled to family allowances (child and education allowances and depending on the canton adoption and birth allowances). Non-active persons are also entitled to family allowances under certain circumstances. Nationals of an EU or EFTA country, whose children live in an EU or EFTA country, are entitled to full family allowances.

Pamphlet with information for foreign nationals on the Swiss social insurance system, published by the Federal Office for Migration (FOM)

Foreign nationals unemployed in Switzerland

As a foreign national working in Switzerland, you do not need to immediately leave Switzerland if you lose your job or if your employment contract expires.

If you hold a valid short stay permit you may remain in Switzerland for up to six more months. This will give you time to find another job. However, you will need to obtain authorisation from the cantonal immigration or labour market authorities.

Cantonal immigration and labour market authorities

Unemployment benefits

If you live in Switzerland, i.e. hold a valid Swiss residence or settlement permit (see list of questions on entries and stays in Switzerland) and meet the requirements, you will be entitled to receive unemployment benefits. Your nationality does not affect your entitlement to unemployment benefits.

You are a cross-border commuter

If you live abroad and have a cross-border commuter permit (permit G) which allows you to work in Switzerland, you pay contributions in Switzerland. If you have to work short-time you receive compensation under the Swiss unemployment insurance scheme. If you lose your job you receive unemployment benefit in your country of residence but can benefit from the services of the public work placement scheme in Switzerland. In order to do this, contact the job centre in the region where you last worked.

More Information.

Facts about Switzerland

Population                         8'500'000

Capital                                Bern

Largest City                       Zurich

Calling Code                      +41 

Time Zone                          GMT + 1

Currency accepted            CHF - Swiss Franc 

Official Language              German

                                              French

                                              Italian

                                              Romansh

Places to see- Travel and Activities

  • Zurich Old Town

  • Mt. Pilatus

  • Bernese Highland

  • Lausanne

  • Grindelwald

  • Matterhorn

  • Mt. Titlis

  • Davos

  • Stanserhorn

Getting around -  All about Transportation in Switzerland and how to use it

Online Train and Tram Tickets Shop
Switzerland Guide App
app store
google play

The Zurich Card

For 24 CHF provides you with free Public transportation in the City, including Trip to Airport, for 24 Hours. Includes Access and Discounts at Museums, Restaurants and various Tourist Attraction

How to get from Zurich Airport to Zurich.

Zurich Airport is only 10 km (6 miles) away from the city center, so it is quick and easy to get there after your plane has landed. There are various ways of traveling from the airport to Zurich.

How to Travel from  Zurich to Interlaken

The best way to reach Interlaken from Zurich, and eventually Lauterbrunnen and Jungfrau Mountain, is by Train.

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