Living in Switzerland

Information and useful links are listed below regarding work permits and longer residence, relocation, buying property or land, withholding tax, social insurance, family reunification and foreign nationals living but not working in Switzerland.

Old city of Bern with the Alps in the background
Old city of Bern with the Alps in the background © Swiss Image/Stephan Engler

Residence permits

Anyone who works during his/her stay in Switzerland or who remains in Switzerland for longer than three months requires a permit. Residence permits are issued by the Cantonal Migration Offices. A distinction is made between short-term residence permits (less than one year), annual residence permits (limited) and permanent residence permits (unlimited).

The authorisations required for a stay of over three months in Switzerland are dependent on the applicant's nationality

State Secretariat for Migration SEM – Cantonal immigration authorities

Family reunification

You live in Switzerland and your family lives abroad. Here you will find information on the requirements that must be met in order to bring family members to Switzerland. You will also find information on the services available to help your children enter the Swiss school system.

Family reunification

Foreign nationals without gainful employment

Switzerland’s migration policy makes a clear distinction: On the one hand, the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons makes it much easier for EU and EFTA citizens to enter and stay in Switzerland. However, conditions are more restrictive for third-country nationals.

Foreign nationals without gainful employment

Living in Switzerland as a foreign national

Living in Switzerland as a foreign national: everything you need to know about entry, residence and employment. Information about changing residence, land purchases, withholding tax, social insurance, visa requirements for travel to EU member states and special courses for foreign children.

Living in Switzerland as a foreign national


“together” - the integration app from the SRG SSR

Living in Switzerland – this is the theme of the SRG SSR’s integration app, "together". Users can find out about life in Switzerland in a fun way with a quiz, discover the ins and outs and stay up to date with the latest information thanks to a news feed – and all of this in German, French, Italian, English, Spanish, Portuguese or Arabic. 

Why do bin bags have a certain colour in Switzerland? How long is a "vignette" (motorway tax sticker) valid for? Which language is spoken at the southernmost tip of Switzerland? What does "simplified naturalisation" mean? The "together" app, developed by all of the SRG SSR’s business units (RSI, RTR, RTS, SRF and SWI), tackles questions from day-to-day life, provides answers and reveals other useful information. Its is based on the practical guide to Switzerland produced by SWI The integration app currently comprises 10 topics with around 300 questions, background information and a news feed. The app is set to be expanded on an ongoing basis – and users can help one another with this by sending questions and images to the "together" team via an online form on the website

Download the app from GooglePlay or iTunes for free and off you go: test your knowledge of Switzerland here and find out about everyday life in the country!