Applicants from abroad
Welcome to Switzerland! On this page, you will find useful information on living and working in Switzerland. We are looking forward to receiving your application.
Cross-border commuters from EU and EFTA states may work and move freely within Switzerland’s national borders. Citizens from EU-27 (with the exception of Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia) and EFTA states are no longer subject to border zone regulations. They can live in any EU or EFTA country and work in Switzerland, on the condition that they return to their home abroad every week (usually on the weekend). The cross-border commuter permit is applied for through the employer.
Citizens from a EU-27 or EFTA state (with the exception of Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia) who wish to be gainfully employed in Switzerland are allowed to enter Switzerland. Within 14 days of arrival they must submit a residence permit application together with a contract of employment to their local Citizen Services Department.
Citizens from Bulgaria and Romania (EU-2 states) can enter Switzerland without a visa. There are a limited number of B residency permits available for Romanian and Bulgarian nationals. They are allocated on a quarterly basis. Short-term Category L residency permits are not guaranteed. (Status quo 2017)
Citizens from non-EU/EFTA countries require a visa to enter Switzerland (exceptions: citizens from Andorra, Brunei, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, San Marino, Singapore and Vatican City only require an assurance of a residence permit to enter), if they are moving to Switzerland to work. The labour-market authorities, the cantonal migration offices and the State Secretariat for Migration examine every application for an employment and residency permit. If the applicant is successful, the secretariat authorises the Swiss embassy or consulate general in the respective country to grant the visa. These external bodies issue the visa, which then has to be picked up by the successful applicant. Please note: You may only enter Switzerland after you have received the visa or the assurance of a residence permit!
Information about customs and entry requirements can be found at www.ezv.admin.ch
You must register at your local Citizen Services Department or municipal office within 14 days after entering Switzerland.
EU/EFTA citizens require the following documents to register: Passport or ID card and employment contract.
Non-EU/EFTA citizens require the following documents to register: Passport or ID card, employment contract, visa or assurance of a residence permit and a rental contract.
Please note: Registration incurs a fee.
General information regarding the Swiss pension plan
The Swiss pension plan is based on three pillars: The state pension, which is called old-age, survivors’ and disability insurance (AHV/IV), makes up the first pillar and represents the basic safety net. That means both these types of insurance are legally obliged to cover the basic costs of those insured in old age or in the case of disability. In the event of death, the insurance benefits are forwarded to the bereaved. Everyone who lives and/or works in Switzerland is compulsorily covered by AHV and IV.
The occupational pension plan is the second pillar and, alongside the benefits of AHV and IV, is designed to enable people to maintain their existing living conditions and lifestyle. All employees in Switzerland with an income of over CHF 14,100 are insured. Contributions are paid into each person’s individual account and the accounts are managed by autonomous pension funds or collective foundations.
The third pillar of the pension plan is private pension insurance, which is an optional supplement to the first and second pillars. People living in Switzerland can pay a certain amount into the third pillar each year. The third pillar is managed by banks and insurance companies.
Pension plan at Hirslanden
The Hirslanden Private Hospital Group is insured through the private hospital compensation fund against the risks of the first pillar. The employee contributions to the AHV/IV are deducted directly from people’s wages and transferred together with the employer contributions to the private hospital compensation fund. The premium rate is 10.3% and this is split 50/50 between the employee and the employer.
Occupational pension plan:
Employees with an annual income of more than CHF 14,100 are insured against the risks of the second pillar through the Hirslanden pension fund. The occupational pension plan is financed by contributions from the insured person, i.e. the employee, as well as the employer. The contributions are deducted from their wage and transferred to the pension fund.
Unemployment insurance (ALV):
Unemployment insurance is a form of national insurance that provides adequate financial compensation for a certain period of time should a person become unemployed. All employed people in Switzerland (excluding self-employed people) are insured by the ALV until they reach pension age. The premiums are split 50/50 between the employee and the employer and are deducted directly from the employee’s wage.
Die Mutterschaftsentschädigung dient der teilweisen Deckung des Erwerbsausfalles während des Mutterschaftsurlaubs und wird bis maximal 98 Tage nach der Geburt entrichtet.Accident insurance is designed to compensate for the financial consequences of accidents (which may or may not be related to work) and work-related illnesses.
Occupational accident insurance is mandatory in Switzerland for all employed people and must be organised through the employer, who also pays the premiums.
All people who work a minimum of eight hours a week are also insured by their employers against non-work-related accidents (accidents that happen outside working hours). The premiums can in part be passed on to the employee.
Unemployed people must organise their own accident insurance through an insurance company.
Health insurance is mandatory and covers treatment and healthcare costs in the case of illness. Unemployed people can also access accident insurance through their health insurers. In Switzerland, people are free to choose their health insurance provider. That means the insured person can select the health insurance provider that best suits their needs.
Sick pay insurance:
The sick pay insurance provides financial compensation for the consequences of long-term illness at work. This type of insurance is not mandatory.
Maternity leave insurance:
Maternity leave compensation serves to partially cover the loss of income incurred during maternity leave and is paid for a maximum of 98 days after the birth.
Taxation in Switzerland is based on a three-tiered system. The federal government collects income tax. The same federal tax rates apply throughout all of Switzerland. The 26 cantons and around 2,400 municipalities also collect income tax, as well as property tax (net worth tax). The rate of taxation in the cantons and municipalities varies. So the amount of tax you pay also depends on where you live.
Swiss citizens are subject to a statutory assessment. This is based on an annual self-declaration. The taxable person must submit a tax return once a year. The tax office then sends them a tax invoice that must be paid by the end of the year.
For foreign nationals (without a C permit), the “deduction of tax at source” rule applies. Tax is deducted directly from their wage – at the source – each month. The employer then transfers this tax to the respective tax office in Switzerland.
Switzerland is a small country and is proud of its four official languages: German, French, Italian and Romansh. Swiss German is spoken in the German region, French is spoken in western Switzerland (Romandy) and Italian is spoken in southern Switzerland (Ticino and parts of Graubünden). Romansh is spoken by a minority in the canton of Graubünden.
The majority of the population (over 60%) speak Swiss German, but with different regional dialects. These dialects are vastly different from standard German (also called high German). Every dialect has its own unique expressions and style of pronunciation. High German is the written language in the German-speaking part of Switzerland and is taught in schools.