As a foreign resident, what is my status in your country?
The appropriate immigration category or status depends on your specific details and those of your company. The most common category for corporate transfers is the L permit category.
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What kinds of visas are available?
The following categories of work permits are available:

  • 120-day permit with sporadic in and out trips
  • Short-term residence and work permits (L Permits) for stays of up to one year
  • Long-term (annual) residence and work permits (B Permits)
  • Cross-border Commuter Permit (Permit G)
  • Permanent Residence Permit (Permit C)
  • Ci permit (work permit for family members of an international civil servant)

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What is required to obtain these visas?

Procedures for EU Nationals
B Permits are usually valid for five years and L Permits (short-term residents) are valid for up to one year. June 1, 2007 saw the introduction of the third phase of a five-phase implementation of the bilateral agreement between Switzerland and the EU on the free movement of persons. This significant step witnessed the lifting of the preferential quota system, which was introduced as phase one in June 2002. The fifteen original EU member states that formed part of the agreement signed in June 1999 (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, Spain, United Kingdom) will no longer require prior authorization in order to enter and work in Switzerland where the intention to stay is for a period greater than four months and where the employee’s contract of work will be held with the Swiss entity. As a result, the immigration requirements for employees moving to Switzerland under a one-way transfer or permanent/localized move have become much simpler. International long-term and short-term assignments, however, will still be required to obtain a work permit under the existing rules. The new law is also valid for Cyprus, Malta, Norway, Lichtenstein and Iceland. Prior authorization from the relevant Swiss migration authorities is still required for employees arriving to work in Switzerland for a period of up to 90 days and for the 120 days permit with sporadic in and out trips. For cross-border permits, restrictions on where an individual can commute from under a cross-border permit (cross-border areas) have been removed for nationals of EU 17/EFTA countries.

Procedures for Non-EU nationals and nationals of new EU countries
For non-EU nationals and nationals of new EU countries, the quota system is stringently applied. The authorities involved have wide discretion in their decision-making process. They usually make high demands on the qualification of the future employees (university degree, e.g., three to four years of work experience and appropriate salary). Please note that work permits for employees who only work up to four months in Switzerland are not subject to quotas.

Issuance of the Work Permit
Non-EU nationals and nationals of new EU countries do need a work and a residence permit in order to start working in Switzerland. The following categories of residence and work permits are available:

  • Short-term residence and work permits (L Permits) for stays of up to one year
  • Annual residence and work permits (B Permits)

The standard duration of the application procedure is usually six to ten weeks, depending on the canton where the application is submitted. Standard required documents for a work and residence permit application are:

  • A copy of passport (for the employee and any accompanying family members)
  • A current résumé (CV)
  • Copies of higher education certificates
  • Copy of signed employment contract
  • Copy of birth certificate
  • Copy of marriage certificate

Most third-country nationals do need a visa in order to legally enter Switzerland and to take up employment. The visa needs to be picked up at the Swiss Embassy in your home country before entering Switzerland.

Criminal Record

Non-EU nationals usually need to provide the competent authorities with a Criminal Record. This document is a compulsory requirement for the work permit and residence application. Because of the fact that in each country there is another authority in charge of the issuance of Criminal Records, the employee has to provide it himself with the mentioned document.

Border Commuter Permit (Permit G)
A border commuter permit is usually valid for five years. The restriction on where an individual can commute from under a cross-border permit was removed in June 2007 for nationals of EU17/ETFA countries. Cross-border areas remain for nationals of new EU countries. Non-EU persons have to domicile for at least six months in the relevant cross-border area before the application can be submitted.

Permanent Residence Permit (Permit C)
After a continuous residence period of five years for EU and EFTA nationals and after ten years for most non-EU nationals, foreigners should normally be entitled to a permanent residence permit. A permanent residence permit entitles the foreigner to work without limitation or condition in Switzerland and to stay indefinitely, provided there is no reason for cancellation of the C permanent residence permit.
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Are spouses permitted and/or likely to find work?
NON-EU citizens:

  • For B permit holder
    The accompanying spouse (legally married) of a B work and residence permit holder is entitled to work in Switzerland. Once the accompanying spouse of the B permit holder has found a job in Switzerland, it is his/her employer’s responsibility to announce this employment to the relevant migration authorities.
  • For L permit holder

The accompanying spouse (legally married) of an L permit holder needs prior authorization from the Swiss migration authorities to be entitled to work in Switzerland.
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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.

Please refer to the Swiss Federal Office for Migration website for a list of identity document provisions according to nationality
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Are there any other important permits I must obtain, or places where I must register right away?
It is necessary to register with the local "Gemeinde oder Kreisbüro" as soon as you arrive (within eight days). It is also advisable to arrange a Swiss driving license as soon as possible, although you have a maximum of one year in which to do this.
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What items should I avoid bringing into the country?
Please do not bring the following items into Switzerland:

  • Firearms and ammunition
  • Alcohol (over 25%) in excess of 12 liters and 200 liters of wine
  • 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 band radios, cordless telephones, etc.) that are not approved for use in Switzerland
  • Radar detector

Please contact Crown Zurich's office to obtain an updated list of restricted items. 
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Is there anything else I should know about entering and remaining in the country legally?
If you respect the above, you should be able to enter and live in Switzerland without any problems.
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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.