The Swiss Alps. Pristine lakes. Delicious food and regional delicacies, like Swiss chocolate and cheese. Excellent and efficient public transportation. A commitment to innovation. The financial hubs of Zurich and Geneva.

There plenty of reasons Switzerland stands out, and it’s perfectly understandable to want to make Switzerland your home.

If you’re interested in living and working in Switzerland, we’ll show you everything you need to know. From work permits to immigration options to naturalization, we’ll cover it all. We’ll also offer you some tips for getting settled in Switzerland after you make the move.

Fast Facts About Switzerland

Official Name: The Swiss Confederation

Capital: Bern

Population: 8.7 million

Area: 15,940 square miles

Currency: Swiss franc (CHF)

Official Languages: German/Swiss-German, French, Italian, Romansh

Let’s start with a deeper look at what makes Switzerland such a special place to live.

Why Move to Switzerland?

Everyone has their own reasons for moving. Maybe you’re relocating to Switzerland to take a new position with your current employer. Or you’re hoping to accelerate your career with a job at one of Switzerland’s many prestigious financial institutions. Maybe you have family in Switzerland. Or maybe you’re just interested in all the perks of the Swiss lifestyle.

Whatever your reasons for moving, living in Switzerland means plenty of upsides, including the following:

  • Switzerland is considered one of the safest countries in the world.
  • Additionally, its famous neutrality during many global conflicts has made it a stable place to live for its residents.
  • Salaries can be higher in Switzerland, especially if you find work in banking or finance. (Keep in mind, though, that the cost of living is also relatively high!)
  • Switzerland has a top-rated education system, which can be a big plus for families.
  • The Swiss Alps and the country’s serene lakes make an excellent backdrop for those who love being outdoors.
  • English is spoken in many areas, so if you don’t speak Swiss-German, French, Italian, or Romansh, you can still make yourself understood. (But it can’t hurt to learn a few Swiss-German phrases!)

If a long stay in Switzerland is calling your name, let’s take a look at the requirements for short stays, immigration and naturalization.

Living & Working in Switzerland: Short-Term & Long-Term Employment

Photograph taken in Geneva, Switzerland Downtown. In the picture a surface train and several people on a normal day of work.

EU/EFTA Citizens

First, if you’re a citizen of the European Union (EU) or the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), you’ll have an easier time heading to Switzerland for work.

EU Member States: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden

EFTA Member States: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland

Short-Term Employment/Short-Term Stays for EU/EFTA Citizens

  • If you’re employed for three months or less: Citizens of EU/EFTA member states do not need a residence permit.
  • If you’re looking for a job in Switzerland: For the first three months of job-seeking in Switzerland, citizens of EU/EFTA member states do not need a permit. If you still haven’t found a job, you can apply for a residence permit that allows you another three months, as long as you can prove the ability to support yourself.

Longer Term Employment for EU/EFTA Citizens

  • If you’re employed for longer than three months: Citizens of EU/EFTA member states must apply for a residence permit from the Swiss commune they’re residing in. You’ll need to present an ID card/passport and confirmation of your employment.

Self-Employment for EU/EFTA Citizens

  • If you plan to start your own business: You’ll need to register within 14 days and apply for a residence permit from your commune of residence. In addition to an ID/passport, you’ll need to present documentation proving your self-employment and your means to support yourself and your family.

Third-Party Nationals

If you’re not a citizen of an EU/EFTA member state, you’re considered a “third-party national” by Switzerland. This can make staying in Switzerland a bit more challenging. In order to work in Switzerland:

  • You have to have a special type of expertise that your employer must demonstrate is currently unavailable in Switzerland. Those with this type of expertise often hold specialized degrees or professional experience of significant tenure.
  • You’ll also need a work permit for employment of any length. The number of these permits is limited.

By and large, justifying and obtaining permission for you to work in Switzerland will be the responsibility of your future employer.

UK Citizens

Since the UK is no longer a part of the European Union, UK citizens are considered third-party nationals. However, UK citizens with residence rights from before 2021 may be granted special rights.

Living in Switzerland: Other Visa & Immigration Options

Swiss passport

If you’re not headed to Switzerland primarily for work, there are a few other options for long-term stays in the country, including:

Residence Permits for Students

  • Citizens of EU/EFTA countries may move to Switzerland without a job by showing proof that they’ve been admitted to an educational institution. Students will need to register with cantonal immigration and employment market authorities. Permits are issued either for the duration of studies or on a yearly basis with the option to renew until studies end.
  • Third-party nationals have to meet similar requirements, but they’ll also need to submit a personal study plan, a CV, and confirmation they’ll leave Switzerland at the conclusion of their educational studies. Depending on the country of origin, a visa may be required before arriving in Switzerland.

Family Reunification Visas

If you have a family member in Switzerland, you may be able to join them under the family reunification visa and immigrate to Switzerland.

Requirements vary depending on your citizenship status/residence permit, as well as the status of the dependents you wish to bring over. Read all of the requirements to understand the rules that apply to your situation.

In brief:

Swiss citizens can bring over:

  • Spouses or registered partners
  • Unmarried children and grandchildren under the age of 18 (or up to 21 if they have a residence permit from an EU/EFTA country)
  • Dependent parents and grandparents who have a residence permit from an EU/EFTA country

Citizens from an EU/EFTA country may be eligible to bring over:

  • Spouses or registered partners
  • Children and grandchildren under the age of 21
  • Dependent parents and grandparents

Third-party nationals may be eligible to bring over:

  • Spouses or registered partners
  • Children under the age of 18

In order to qualify for a family reunification visa for immigration to Switzerland, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Marriages or a registered partnership must be recognized by Switzerland. Couples of two different nationalities must be officially married.
  • Your accommodations must be able to house your whole family.
  • You must not depend on social assistance. Those who are self-employed or unemployed must prove their financial ability to support their family members.

Before committing to a major move, make sure to review the official family reunification visa requirements.

Swiss Insurance Requirements


Health insurance is required in Switzerland. Plan on purchasing private health insurance no later than three months after arriving or beginning work in Switzerland. Foreign retirees, students, and diplomats may be exempt, but you’ll need to apply for exemptions through your canton.

If you’re working less than eight hours a week, you will need to purchase private accident insurance.

Keep these requirements in mind when planning your budget and checking off everything on your to-do list!

Naturalization: Becoming a Citizen of Switzerland

Swiss passport

Becoming a citizen of Switzerland offers several perks, which include the right to vote and the right to run for office. Additionally, many naturalized Swiss citizens will be able to keep their current passport, since Switzerland recognizes dual citizenship, as long as it’s not prohibited by the other country.

There are two paths to Swiss naturalization:

Ordinary naturalization, which requires:

  • A settlement permit (C permit) or a relationship in a registered partnership with a Swiss citizen
  • 10 years of residence in Switzerland, including during three of the five years before your application

Simplified naturalization, which is available to:

  • Husbands or wives of Swiss citizens
  • Children of Swiss citizens
  • Those under the age of 25 who are members of a foreign family that has lived in Switzerland for three generations
  • Stateless minor children
  • Those who have lost their Swiss citizenship

As you can see, where ordinary naturalization is concerned, becoming a Swiss citizen requires a significant commitment. (In comparison, the U.S. requires five years of permanent residency before qualifying for naturalization.) However, for those who want to live and work in perpetuity in Switzerland (and vote!), the process will be worth it.

You’ll find all the details on naturalization on the website for the State Secretariat for Migration.

Getting Settled in Switzerland

Panoramic view of historic Zurich city center with famous Fraumunster and Grossmunster Churches and river Limmat at Lake Zurich on a sunny day with clouds in summer, Canton of Zurich, Switzerland

Now that we’ve covered the legal requirements for living in and immigrating to Switzerland, we’ll offer a couple of tips for getting settled in Switzerland.

Relocating Your Belongings to Switzerland, Simply and Easily

When it comes to moving your household goods (or household goods removals, as it’s called in Europe), there are a couple of things you’ll want to be aware of to make your Switzerland move easier.


For example:

  • What are the requirements for clearing household goods duty free?
  • What’s the best way to get an accurate, all-in quote for your move/house removal?
  • Is it worth bringing your car to Switzerland?


We’ll answer these questions—and more—in our article, “A Practical Guide to US-Switzerland Moves: Logistics, Culture, and More.”


Although the article largely focuses on moves between the United States and Switzerland, many of the tips apply no matter where your move originates.


Our international move experts have experience with relocations all over the globe, so if you have questions regarding your specific origin or destination, please feel free to reach out.


Entry Requirements for Certain Types of Medicine


If you’re bringing medicine into Switzerland, you’ll want to be aware of a couple of regulations regarding medications containing narcotics:

  • You may bring in up to a month’s supply for personal use. Additional medicine must be prescribed by a doctor in Switzerland.
  • Medications containing narcotics require you to carry a certificate issued by the doctor or pharmacy that dispensed the medication.
  • These regulations apply to strong painkillers and certain sleeping aids. Review the official requirements to confirm any documentation requirements well ahead of time.


Note: Where cannabis/marijuana is concerned, products containing more than 1% THC are prohibited in Switzerland. There are some exceptions for medical cannabis. Please refer to the official regulations for more information.


Regulations for Pets in Switzerland


If you’re moving from the US, you might be surprised how formal the procedures can be for dogs in Switzerland:


Cropped or Docked Dogs

Dogs with their ears or tails clipped are prohibited from import into the country, unless you’re also doing a duty-free import of household goods.


Registering Your Dog

On arrival in Switzerland, you’ll need to register your dog with your commune, where your dog will also be registered in the Swiss dog database (AMICUS).


The Annual Dog Tax

All dog owners pay an annual dog ownership tax, which varies depending on where you live. The cost ranges from around CHF 100 to CHF 200 (~$110-225 USD).


Make sure you pay close attention to Switzerland’s pet regulations to ensure a smooth transition to Switzerland (and a smooth stay in the country)!


Setting Up a Bank Account in Switzerland


Once you’ve arrived in Switzerland, establishing a local bank account will make day-to-day life much easier. Your employer may also require you to have a Swiss bank account to receive your salary.


In general, you’ll need to provide a few pieces of documentation to open your bank account, including government-issued ID, proof of address, and, in some cases, proof of income. Some account types might also be subject to minimum deposit requirements.


The biggest snag, though, can be residence permit requirements. Banks may ask you for a residence permit to open your bank account while you’re still waiting for it to be issued. In that case, ask whether you can present alternative documentation, such as your work contract, to keep the process moving forward.


Starting Your New Life in Switzerland


Understanding the Swiss immigration, permit, and naturalization requirements will get you one step closer to beginning your new adventure in Switzerland. Whatever your reasons for relocating, with your official documentation in hand, you’ll have all the time you need to enjoy the Swiss lifestyle you’ve been looking forward to.


Need some help moving your belongings to Switzerland? Our experts know the ins and outs of removals between the US and Switzerland. Just reach out for a complimentary quote for your Switzerland move.

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