As a foreign resident, what is my status in your country?
Your status in Switzerland is determined by the length of your stay, classified as either a shorter or longer stay or a residence in Switzerland (i.e., the limited residence permit and the permanent residence permit).
- A limited residence permit provides the status of a seasonal worker (seasonal permit), annual resident or short-term resident.
- A permanent residence permit gives the same rights to a foreigner that Swiss persons enjoy, with the exception of some political rights and military service duty.
Tourists do not need approval to stay in Switzerland for up to three (3) months. Tourists for whom an entry visa is required must obtain a visa at the Swiss consulate in their country of origin or residence before entering Switzerland. A foreign tourist who wants to stay for longer than three months must notify the Fremdenpolizei (police) prior to expiration of his/her three-month stay.
What kinds of visas are available?
A visa will have several distinguishing characteristics: whether it's for tourism or business, or whether it's a visa with a restricted number of entry clearances or a permanent visa with multiple entries.
Types of visas:
- Annual Residence Permit (Permit B) - A residence permit gives right to a foreigner and, under certain conditions, to his family to stay in Switzerland for a fixed time. Normally, the first permit will not be given for a period longer than one year to non-EU citizens and can be combined with certain conditions. The annual residence permit must be renewed every year after its expiration date. Non-EU citizens will receive the European “plastic card” version of the residence permit whereas European citizens will still receive the standard paper booklet that has been used in Switzerland for years.
- Short-Term Residence Permit (Permit L) - A short-term residence permit entitles the holder to stay for up to 18 months. Such permits are administered by the Federal Office for Trade and Industry. The Cantons may grant permits for short-term residents for up to a period of six months, within fixed quotas. The status of a short-term resident gives the right to stay in Switzerland for further professional education and for gainful employment for a limited period, as well as for persons in key positions (i.e., setting up a firm, joint venture projects, and supervising new personnel). Normally, the short-term permit only entitles the holder to stay in the Canton that issued the permit. For a change of the Canton, a new permit will be needed.
- Permanent Residence Permit (Permit C) - After a continuous residence period of generally 5 years, a permanent residence permit will be given.Based on international treaties, after a residence period of five years, it is possible to obtain this type of permit. For example, citizens of EFTA and EU states may obtain a permit after five years. A permanent residence permit entitles the foreigner and his family to stay without limitation or condition in Switzerland.
- Border Commuter Permit (Permit G) - A border commuter permit is valid for five years and must be renewed after its expiration date. A border commuter permit can be given to foreigners who have domicile in the border area of one of Switzerland’s neighboring countries for at least six months. Permit holders must return to their non-Swiss residence each day.
What is required to obtain these visas?
To obtain a visa:
- The visa will most likely be arranged by the employer.
- The employee will need to supply a valid passport, a completed application, a recent photograph and a letter from the employer.
- The employer will need to detail the project, its duration, procedures and associated salary.
- The employer will also need to demonstrate that adequate effort was made to find a suitable candidate locally prior to hiring a foreigner.
Also, the assignment cannot start until after the visa has been approved.
Are spouses permitted and/or likely to find work?
If a spouse wishes to work, he or she will need to obtain the proper visa. Most accompanying spouses enter with a non-working visa, courtesy of the working spouse. Once they find a job, their new employer submits the request for the work visa on their behalf.
What are the main forms of identification and how does a newcomer obtain them?
For long-term assignments, you are encouraged to bring important original documents such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, insurance policies, medical prescriptions, employment information, academic certificates and entry permits.
Nationals of Western Europe may enter Switzerland with a valid ID card/passport. A valid passport is required also for those nationals from Eastern Europe or other parts of the world.
Are there any other important permits I must obtain, or places where I must register right away?
The administrative office that is your interlocutor is called "Fremdenpolizei." All applications need to be started through this office.
A work permit is required to work in Switzerland. The following documentation is typically required to apply for a work permit:
- A copy of passport (for the employee and his/her family members who will accompany them)
- A current resume (CV)
- Copies of higher education certificates
- Signed employment contract
- Birth certificate (original)
- Marriage certificate (original)
Also upon entry into Switzerland, you must obtain a Residence Permit (see above) by registering with the Residents' Registration Office (Kreisbüro) within eight (8) days of arrival. The following documents are typically required for registration:
- Original passports for all family members
- Two valid passport photos
- Entry permit/visa
- Marriage certificate (original)
What items should I avoid bringing into the country?
Restricted items include:
- Firearms and ammunition
- Alcohol (over 25°) in excess of 12 liters and 200 liters of wine
- Animals and birds, whether dead or alive (i.e., stuffed)
- Any articles derived from protected species, including fur skins, ivory, reptile leather and goods made from them
- Controlled drugs
- Indecent or obscene videotapes, films, books, magazines and other articles
- Flick knives and certain offensive weapons
- Counterfeit currency
- Radio transmitters (walkie talkies, citizen’s band radios, cordless telephones, etc.) that are not approved for use in Switzerland
- Radar detector
- Meat and poultry and many other animal products are also prohibited or restricted
Please contact Crown Basel to obtain an updated list of restricted items.
Is there anything else I should know about entering and remaining in the country legally?
If you respect these guidelines, you will enter and leave Switzerland without any problems.
Crown Relocations has made every effort to present accurate information. However, regulations, rates and other variables are subject to change and Crown Relocations cannot accept responsibility for the errors that might result. Should you have any questions or need additional information, please contact your local Crown representative.