FAQ – Frequently asked questions

 
Who benefits from the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons?

This agreement applies to any national of an EU or EFTA state.

The extension of the AFMP to Croatia was negotiated in protocol III, which came into force on 1 January 2017. During the first implementation period, special transitory measures with quotas and restrictions regarding the access to the labour market are applied on Croatian nationals.

More information regarding the admission of Croatian nationals is provided in the factsheet "Croatia".

Since 1 June 2017, category B EU/EFTA residence permits (5-year residence permits) granted to citizens of Bulgaria and Romania are again subject to quotas.

The Federal Council decided on 10 May 2017 to reinvoke the safeguard clause provided for in the Agreement between Switzerland and the EU on the free movement of persons. This measure is to remain in force for one year.

It applies to persons from an EU-2 country who possess an employment contract in Switzerland, which is valid for a year or more as well as for self-employed persons. 

Taking up residence and gainful employment

Nationals of an EU-27/EFTA state only need a residence permit: this residence permit doubles as work permit. However, a residence permit will only be issued if you have a written confirmation of employment (e.g. the contract of employment containing details of the duration of employment and the number of working hours).


Croatian citizens

Until further notice, Croatian citizens may only take up salaried employment in Switzerland under the following conditions:

  • Priority given to Swiss nationals and resident foreign nationals already on the Swiss labour market
  • Verification of salary and working conditions
  • Separate, annually increasing quotas for short-stay permits and residence permits.


Citizens from Bulgaria and Romania (EU-2)

Since 1 June 2017, category B EU/EFTA residence permits (5-year residence permits) granted to citizens of Bulgaria and Romania are again subject to quotas.

The Federal Council decided on 10 May 2017 to reinvoke the safeguard clause provided for in the Agreement between Switzerland and the EU on the free movement of persons. This measure is to remain in force for one year.

It applies to persons who possess an employment contract in Switzerland, which is valid for a year or more as well as for self-employed persons.

Gainful employment of up to 3 months:

EU-27/EFTA nationals taking up a job in Switzerland may stay in Switzerland without a residence permit for three months in a calendar year. However, they are subject to notification with the appropriate authorities.
More information about the notification procedure

Croatian citizens must be in possession of a valid work permit before the first day of employment in Switzerland, even if the period of employment is less than three months. Croatian citizens are unable to use the online notification procedure, even if the period of employment is less than three months.


Gainful employment of more than 3 months:

Within 14 days of their arrival and before actually taking up work, nationals of EU-27/EFTA states have to register with the local authorities of the commune in which they are residing and apply for a residence permit. A valid ID or passport and a written confirmation of employment (e.g. the contract of employment containing details of the duration of employment and the number of working hours) have to be presented. A residence permit will be issued depending on the duration of employment: a short-term residence permit (type L permit) for employment of up to 364 days or a residence permit (type B permit) for employment of at least one year or for an unlimited period.

The steps necessary for obtaining a residence permit may be taken after arriving in Switzerland.

Learn more about customs clearance of your own household effects under the following link:
Swiss Federal Customs Administration

Croatian citizens must be in possession of a valid work permit before the first day of employment in Switzerland. Such a work permit has to be requested beforehand by the employer in Switzerland.


Citizens from Bulgaria and Romania (EU-2)

Since 1 June 2017, category B EU/EFTA residence permits (5-year residence permits) granted to citizens of Bulgaria and Romania are again subject to quotas.

The Federal Council decided on 10 May 2017 to reinvoke the safeguard clause provided for in the Agreement between Switzerland and the EU on the free movement of persons. This measure is to remain in force for one year.

It applies to persons who possess an employment contract in Switzerland, which is valid for a year or more as well as for self-employed persons. 

Within 14 days of their arrival and before taking up any gainful employment, EU-27/EFTA nationals must register with the communal authorities of their place of residence and apply for a residence permit for self-employment at the cantonal labour or migration authorities. Also required are a valid ID or passport and documents proving that the requirements for self-employment are met (business plan, start-up capital, under certain conditions also listing with the register of commerce etc.). Before the permit has been granted, you are not allowed to take up self-employment.

For further details, go to:
Cantonal immigration and labour market authorities

If you can prove that you can successfully maintain self-employment, you will be granted an EU/EFTA residence permit valid for five years. The competent local authorities may check whether you are genuinely self-employed, whether your self-employment is sustainable, and economically viable. If these requirements are no longer met, your permit may be revoked.

For further information on business start-up, go to:
SME Portal - Establish an SME


Croatian citizens

Until 31 December 2018 by virtue of Protocol III, Croatian citizens who wish to carry out a self-employed activity in Switzerland shall have six months to set up their activity and are subject to established quotas.


Citizens from Bulgaria and Romania (EU-2)

Since 1 June 2017, category B EU/EFTA residence permits (5-year residence permits) granted to citizens of Bulgaria and Romania are again subject to quotas.

The Federal Council decided on 10 May 2017 to reinvoke the safeguard clause provided for in the Agreement between Switzerland and the EU on the free movement of persons. This measure is to remain in force for one year.

It applies to persons who possess an employment contract in Switzerland, which is valid for a year or more as well as for self-employed persons.

Residence permits

Type L EU/EFTA short-term residence permit:

People holding a contract of employment of less than twelve months duration are issued a type L EU/EFTA permit. The permit is valid until the contract expires or the posting has ended. Nationals of an EU-27/EFTA state in employment not exceeding three months do not need a work permit; however, commencement of such employment is subject to online notification by the Swiss employer.


Type B EU/EFTA residence permit:

This permit is issued to EU/EFTA citizens holding a contract of employment of twelve months or unlimited duration and people who prove they are genuinely self-employed. Persons not in gainful employment are issued this permit if they can prove that they possess sufficient financial means to support themselves and their family and have taken out adequate accident and health insurance policies. The permit is valid for five years and can be extended.

Students are issued this permit for one year and are granted yearly renewals until the completion of their studies, if they continue to fulfil the respective conditions.

Citizens from Bulgaria and Romania (EU-2)

Since 1 June 2017, category B EU/EFTA residence permits (5-year residence permits) granted to citizens of Bulgaria and Romania are again subject to quotas.

The Federal Council decided on 10 May 2017 to reinvoke the safeguard clause provided for in the Agreement between Switzerland and the EU on the free movement of persons. This measure is to remain in force for one year.

It applies to persons who possess an employment contract in Switzerland, which is valid for a year or more as well as for self-employed persons.


Type G EU/EFTA cross-border commuter permit:

Employed or self-employed persons domiciled in an EU/EFTA state and working in Switzerland (place of work or company headquarters) may apply for a cross-border commuter permit. They need to return to their main domicile abroad at least once a week.

Cross-border commuters holding an employment contract of less than one year’s duration are issued with a permit for the period of employment. In employment of twelve months or more, the permit is valid for five years.

Cantonal immigration and labour market authorities


Type C EU/EFTA settlement permit:

Under agreements concluded with the respective states, nationals from an EU-15/EFTA state who have resided in Switzerland for five continuous years and according to the rules are granted a settlement permit (C-permit). While holders of a settlement permit are entitled to stay for an unlimited period of time, their permanent residence status needs to be confirmed every five years. The free movement agreement does not cover permanent residence. No such agreements with the other EU-states are in force; nationals of states other than those mentioned above are granted a settlement permit after a regular period of ten years.

Cross border commuters

Cross-border commuters are EU/EFTA nationals who are domiciled in an EU/EFTA state but who work in Switzerland (either as employees or as self-employed persons with company headquarters in Switzerland). They are required to return to their main domicile abroad at least once a week. Cross-border commuters may choose to stay in Switzerland throughout the working week; but like Swiss citizens they have to register with the local authorities of the place they are staying. Cross-border permits are issued by the appropriate authorities of the canton of employment (place of work). No border-zone regulations apply to EU-27/EFTA nationals; they are free to take up residence in any one of the EU or EFTA states and work in all parts of Switzerland.

Croatian citizens who reside within a border zone of a neighbouring country of Switzerland and who wish to work in a border zone on Swiss soil, may apply for a cross-border worker permit (type G EU/EFTA). The conditions for issuance of these permits are set forth in bilateral agreements on cross-border work signed by Switzerland and neighbouring countries.

The cantonal authorities will verify the following labour market aspects:

  • Priority given to Swiss nationals and resident foreign nationals already on the Swiss labour market
  • Salary and working conditions

The cantonal labour market authority provide more detailed information on the border zones.

Cantonal immigration and labour market authorities

Factsheet: Cross-border commuters

Notification procedure

The following categories of individuals are authorised to work in Switzerland for up to three months or 90 days per calendar year by virtue of the notification procedure:

  • EU-27/EFTA nationals who have been employed to work in Switzerland by a company based in Switzerland for a period of up to three months.
  • Posted workers from a company based in an EU-27/EFTA member state, regardless of this worker’s citizenship. Third-state nationals, however, must have been admitted permanently in a labour market of an EU/EFTA member state before being sent to Switzerland. Generally speaking, this criterion is deemed to have been met if the individual has held a standard or permanent residence permit in that country for at least twelve months.
  • Self-employed service providers (EU-27/EFTA nationals) based in an EU-27/EFTA member state.

Croatian citizens: The notification procedure is limited to services provided in the general service branches. For these branches, no distinction is drawn between citizens of an EU-27/EFTA member state and Croatian citizens. The activity is subject to a notification requirement if the work in Switzerland exceeds eight days within a given calendar year.

However, during the transitional period, Croatian citizens who will be providing services in Switzerland must obtain a work permit, from the first day of work, if the services relate to one of the following four economic branches:

  • Construction and secondary contract work
  • Gardening and landscaping
  • Cleaning in companies
  • Monitoring and security services

Service providers in these economic branches require a short-stay permit covering the entire period of employment, from the first day of work. The notification procedure does not apply.

The notification procedure does not apply for all other categories of persons.

The notification form is submitted by the employer of posted workers and of EU-27/EFTA nationals who have found employment in Switzerland. Self-employed service providers must submit this notification form themselves.

Generally speaking, the notification form is submitted online. Submission of a notification form by post or fax is recommended only for exceptional cases when online notification is not possible for technical reasons.

A work permit must be obtained by service providers or individuals taking up employment with a Swiss employer if the work is to be performed for longer than 90 days or three months in a given calendar year. In such cases, a corresponding application must be sent to the cantonal authority of the location where the worker is assigned or where the work is to be performed. This must be done before commencement of work.

This also applies when the originally planned permit-free stay is extended or if a person without employment (e.g. jobseeker) has spent three months in Switzerland. In such cases, an application for a permit must be submitted to the competent cantonal authorities in the place of work or residence after the permit-free period of 3 months or 90 days has elapsed.

Under the provisions of the Foreign Nationals Act (FNA), a work permit is required for all services to be rendered beyond this 90-day threshold.

Transitional conditions apply to Croatian nationals. Until further notice, Croatian citizens may only take up salaried employment in Switzerland if they are in possession of a valid work permit before the first day of employment in Switzerland. The notification procedure is limited to the general service branches for service providers who are based in Croatia.

Excluded from the notification requirement is the rendering of services by companies based in EU/EFTA member state in the fields of job placement, staff leasing and financial services (e.g. banking). This is because these three activities do not fall within the scope of the AFMP; they are therefore not included in the liberalisation of the services sector. Direct and indirect staff leasing from abroad is not permitted. Therefore, the notification procedure does not apply. Authorisation of foreign workers is mostly governed by the provisions of the FNA and ASEO.

For these activities, it is always necessary to submit an application for a permit in advance. However, there is no entitlement to a permit.

For further information, please check the following circular (available in German, French or Italian):
Gemeinsame Weisung über die Folgen des Abkommens über den freien Personenverkehr mit der EU und des EFTA-Abkommens auf Vermittlung und Verleih
(1. Juli 2008)
Directive commune sur les incidences de l’Accord sur la libre circulation des personnes avec l’UE et de l’Accord AELE sur les prescriptions régissant le placement et la location de services
(1er juillet 2008)
Istruzioni comuni concernenti l’impatto dell’Accordo sulla libera circolazione delle persone con l’UE e dell’Accordo AELS sulle prescrizioni in materia di collocamento e di personale a prestito
(1° luglio 2008)

Online notification

The online notification procedure is the standard notification procedure. Employers wishing to post workers to Switzerland as well as self-employed persons wishing to provide services in Switzerland should fill out the online notification form over the Internet. It is free of charge. This procedure enables simple processing of data.

The online notification procedure is also recommended for Swiss employers who wish to hire foreign workers (EU-27/EFTA citizens) for a brief period of time (up to three months) for work to be performed in Switzerland.

The first step is to create a user profile and follow the instructions given. Once registered in the system, a simple login enables online notification forms to be submitted for each worker.

Transitional conditions apply to Croatian nationals. Until further notice, Croatian citizens may only take up salaried employment in Switzerland if they are in possession of a valid work permit before the first day of employment in Switzerland. The notification procedure is limited to services provided in the general service branches.
 

Written notification (paper form)

Paper forms can be sent to the competent cantonal authorities via post or by fax in exceptional cases. You may not submit notification forms via e-mail. The written notification procedure is only permitted if online notification over the Internet is not possible for technical reasons

Addresses

The corresponding notification form must be filled out completely and correctly and then sent by post or fax to the competent cantonal authority of the location where the worker is assigned or where the work is to be performed. The employer’s confirmation must then be signed and included with the notification form. As soon as the cantonal authorities have processed the notification form, you will receive an e-mail message confirming receipt. A hardcopy confirmation of receipt will only be provided to the employer upon request for a fee of CHF 25 per notification form.

Notification form

For posted workers and self-employed service providers, the notification form must be submitted no later than eight days prior to commencement of work.

Notification must be made on the very first day in the following cases:

  • EU-27/EFTA nationals who will be working for a Swiss employer in Switzerland for a period of up to three months;
  • Self-employed service providers (EU-27/EFTA nationals) based in an EU-27/EFTA member state;
  • Posted workers from a company based in an EU-27/EFTA member state who will be working in the following fields:
    • Construction, civil engineering and finishing industries
    • Gardening and landscaping
    • Hotel, restaurants and catering
    • Industrial and domestic cleaning business
    • Guard and security services sector
    • Itinerant trade (exception: circus operators and market traders only have to submit a notification form from the ninth day of work)
    • Sex industry

Reasons:
Experience has shown that in these branches, there is a risk of wage dumping and circumvention of labour law (see. Art. 6 PWO and Art. 14 ASEO).

In other branches, the notification requirement applies only when services are to be rendered for longer than eight days within a given calendar year. This rule is valid regardless of whether the activity takes place over an uninterrupted period of time or whether it is broken down into individual days spread out over the year.

Generally speaking, each assignment and place of work must be reported. All planned days of work must be indicated in the notification form.

A one-time notification is enough if:

  • Different tasks for same assignment will be carried out for a single client at the same location. The corresponding days of work for individual tasks must be indicated;
  • Work will be carried out at the same location without interruption.

In exceptional cases, a single notification is enough if:

  • Maintenance and service assignments are to be carried out in several locations for a single client. The corresponding days of work spent for individual assignments and the first place of work must be indicated in the notification form. These assignments include assembly work on powerlines or pipelines, construction work on roads and railways (e.g. installation of safety equipment on a stretch of highway).

If changes need to be made to an already submitted notification form, then the competent cantonal authorities in the location where the worker is assigned or where the work is to be performed must be notified without delay.

If the notification form is submitted online, the competent cantonal authorities must be notified via e-mail of the following changes:

  • Rescheduling of work to a later date
  • Change in the duration of work (longer or shorter)
  • Interruption of work

For all other changes, a new online notification form needs to be filled out.

In all cases, reference to the previous notification form must be made in the new notification form or e-mail message sent to the cantonal authorities.

If the notification form is submitted by post or by fax, then any changes to the notification must be made by fax or e-mail. The same rules apply as those described above.

Service providers

EU-27/EFTA: Service providers may stay in Switzerland without a residence permit for up to 90 working days per in a calendar year; however, you need to have registered with the authorities no later than eight days before work begins.

The 90-day regulation applies per self-employed person or per company posting staff to Switzerland. For instance, a company posting three employees on five days has used up five of the 90 working days. Therefore, a company is free to choose the number of workers to be posted on any specific day. What counts is not the number of employees a company posts at any given day, but the aggregate number of days on which employees of a company go to Switzerland for work.

This regulation is valid for posted workers irrespective of their nationality, whose employer is based in an EU-27 or EFTA state.

Citizens of a third state may only be posted to Switzerland if they have already been working for an extended period on the regular labour market of an EU/EFTA member state. Generally speaking, this criterion is deemed to have been met if the individual has held a standard or permanent residence permit in one of the EU/EFTA member states for at least twelve months.

Further information about posting:
www.entsendung.admin.ch
(not available in English)

 

For general branches, there is no requirement to notify the authorities if the provision of services in Switzerland does not exceed eight working days per calendar year.

However, persons working in specific branches (construction, civil engineering and finishing industries, gardening and landscaping, Hotel, restaurants and catering, industrial or domestic cleaning business, guard and security services sector, itinerant trade or sex industry) a notification form must be submitted from the very first day of work, regardless of the duration of work.

Croatian citizens: The notification procedure is limited to services provided in the general service branches. In these branches, no distinction is drawn between citizens of an EU-27/EFTA member state and citizens of Croatia. The activity is subject to a notification requirement if the work in Switzerland exceeds eight days within a given calendar year.

However, during the transitional period, Croatian citizens who will be providing services in Switzerland must obtain a work permit, from the first day of work, if the services relate to one of the following four economic branches:

  • Construction and secondary contract work
  • Gardening and landscaping
  • Cleaning in companies
  • Monitoring and security services

Service providers in these economic branches require a short-stay permit covering the entire period of employment, from the first day of work. The notification procedure does not apply.

Factsheet: Cross-border service provision (EU-27/EFTA)

Notification procedure

 

Providing services for a period exceeding 90 working days in a calendar year is not subject to the free-movement agreement.The cantonal labour market authorities issue a residence permit for the provision of services that exceeds the 90-days period at their own discretion. These services are subject to verification (Swiss citizen worker priority, controlling salary and work conditions) and quotas. Applications for permits authorizing service provision for more than 90 working days are to be submitted to cantonal labor market authorities of the place where service will be provided.

Cantonal immigration and labour market authorities

 

All trade control regulations must be met. Practitioners of regulated professions (physicians, registered nurses, architects, etc.) must have their foreign qualifications recognized in Switzerland. For further information, go to:
Recognition of Foreign Qualifications
(State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation).

Article 5(1) of the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons defines service providers as either individuals (self-employed service provider or a posted worker) or as companies. The 90-day regulation applies per self-employed person and per company posting staff to Switzerland. Therefore, a company is free to choose any number of employees to be posted on any specific day. What counts is not the number of employees a company posts at any given day, but the aggregate number of days on which employees of a company go to Switzerland for work.

The providing of services for a period exceeding 90 working days in a calendar year is not subject to the free-movement agreement. Applications for work permits authorizing service provision for more than 90 working days are regulated by national law. The cantonal labour market authorities issue a permit for the provision of services that exceeds the 90-days period at their own discretion.

Cantonal immigration and labour market authorities

Under these agreements (public procurement, air and land transportation) foreign nationals are entitled to enter and stay in Switzerland for the whole period of service. Stays of fewer than three months are not subject to authorization; however, registration is required. Stays of more than three months or 90 days in a calendar year are subject to authorization. Under special service agreements, foreign nationals are entitled to authorization.

Notification procedure

Factsheet: Cross-border service provision

Changing jobs or place of residence

Geographic mobility

Short-term residence permits, residence permits, settlement permit are valid for the whole of Switzerland (geographic mobility). This means that EU-27/EFTA nationals and their family members do not require a new permit if they move to another canton. However, they must register with the authorities of the new canton and have their new postal address entered in the permit. To this end, the foreign national shall present his/her permit when submitting the declaration of arrival form at the new place of residence. The same rules shall apply in the case of change of residence within the same canton or commune.
 

Professional mobility

An EU/EFTA residence permit entitles the holder to change jobs or take up self-employment (professional mobility). Holders of these types of permits are subject to the same regulations on health and employment as Swiss nationals (i.e. trade laws, permits to carry out an occupation, etc.). However, holders of such permits are not allowed to take up positions that involve sovereign functions (e.g. in the army, police or judiciary).

Croatian nationals who hold an EU/EFTA residence permit are entitled to change the canton of residence, jobs or profession. Only the change to an independent gainful activity is subject to prior authorisation.

The short-term EU/EFTA residence permit (L-permit) entitles EU/EFTA nationals to change their job or profession if they are employed. These persons are also subject to the same regulations on health and employment as Swiss nationals (i.e. trade laws, permits to carry out an occupation, etc.) and are not permitted to take up positions that involve sovereign functions (e.g. in the army, police or judiciary). If L-permit holders take up self-employment, they are required to register the change in status with the authorities and will require a new residence permit (EU/EFTA B-permit, valid for five years).

Citizens of EU-27/EFTA member states who work in a self-employed capacity in Switzerland may keep their EU/EFTA residence permit when changing to a salaried employment.

The change from an independent activity to a salaried employment remains for Croatian citizens subject to the application of the transitional measures as they need a new short term residence or residence permit. These measures include the verification of salary and working conditions, priority given to Swiss nationals and resident foreign nationals already on the Swiss labour market as well as the availability of a contingent.

Job loss

Generally, you may stay in Switzerland for at least six months to seek new employment. However, you will have to apply for a permit as a job-seeker with the cantonal migration authorities.

Cantonal immigration and labour market authorities

Residing in Switzerland without gainful activity

To take up residence in Switzerland without pursuing a gainful activity, people such as pensioners, students, or those of private means need to register with the local authorities of the place they reside and apply for a residence permit for non-working persons. Registration has to be done 14 days after arrival at the latest. This type of residence permit will be granted if you can prove that you possess sufficient financial means for you and your family members not to have to rely on Swiss social security benefits. Financial means are defined as being sufficient if Swiss nationals in the same situation are not entitled to claim benefits. Furthermore, you need to show that you have taken out adequate accident and health insurance. Contact the appropriate cantonal migration authorities for detailed information.

Cantonal immigration and labour market authorities

 

Students need to show that they have been admitted to a state-recognized institution of learning, and that they can support themselves for the duration of their studies. Students are granted a permit for the duration of their studies, or for one year, and may apply for annual renewals until they have completed their studies, providing the requirements are fulfilled. Students must apply for an extension to their permit 14 days before it expires.

 

Please note: If you take up residence in Switzerland for more than 3 months, you are required by law to take out a health insurance with a Swiss health insurance company! For further information, go to:

Federal Office of Public Health  

Factsheet: Residing in Switzerland without gainful activity

Family reunification

  • Spouses
  • Children who are under 21 years of age or who financially depend on the petitioner
  • Parent(s) and grandparent(s), provided that they financially depend on the petitioner (they must prove that they were dependent on the petitioner before entering Switzerland).

For students the entitlement to family reunification is limited to the spouse and children entitled to financial support.

Factsheet: Family Reunification

Spouses and children of EU-27/EFTA nationals who are admitted to Switzerland under family reunification are legally entitled to work regardless of their nationality. However, they have to inform the appropriate cantonal migration authorities before doing so.

Croatian citizens enjoy this legal right without having to submit a notification or obtain authorization, provided that a long-term permit has already been issued. If the spouse and children of a Croatian citizen hold a short-stay permit, then they are entitled to take up employment, subject to compliance with salary and working conditions for the given location and branch of activity. However, the underlying permit must have already been issued before the spouse or son/daughter has taken up employment.

Cantonal immigration and labour market authorities

Factsheet: Family Reunification

Visa

Third-state citizens living in Switzerland and holding a foreign nationals ID card of the type B, C, L, or C issued by Switzerland do not need a visa, provided they are not staying in the Schengen area longer than 90 days; however, they are required to carry a valid foreign nationals and a valid residence permit for foreign nationals and a valid travel document. The free-movement agreement does not affect current visa provisions on trips to non-Schengen states.

Further information

The purchase of real estate/land by foreign nationals

Federal Office of Justice
 

Taxation matters

If you are already residing in Switzerland: Cantonal tax administration in your canton of residence.

If you are not yet residing in Switzerland:
Federal Tax Administration
 

Recognition of foreign diplomas

State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation
 

Social insurances

Federal Social Insurance Office

 

to the top Last modification 30.05.2017