Living in Switzerland – Information and counselling online  


Switzerland has a dual system for allowing foreigners work in the country.  One set of rules applies to nationals of EU-28/EFTA countries* (except Croatia); the other to all other countries.

*EU-28: Austria, Belgium Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic,  Denmark,  Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. EFTA: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway,


Under the Agreement on the free movement of persons signed between Switzerland and the EU, nationals of EU-28 and EFTA countries (except Croatia) have unrestricted access to the Swiss labour market. This applies to all occupations and skills. For the rules on the recognition of diplomas see the Training section for more information. 
Transitional arrangements apply to Croatian nationals wishing to take up employment in Switzerland: i.e., preference is given to Swiss and foreign nationals who are already seeking work on  the Swiss labour market; checks are carried out on compliance with pay and working conditions; specific quotas are set for both short-term L residence permits and for B residence permits granted in any given year. Those quotas are decided annually.
You do not require a work permit or residence permit for short-term employment of up to three months, or 90 days per calendar year. There is nevertheless a requirement to notify the authorities of your employment. This can usually be done on line.

For employment lasting longer than three months, a residence permit is required. You can apply for a residence permit on line to the Migration Office before you enter Switzerland or in person at the  residents’ registration office of your place of residence.  It is essential that you file your application at least 14 days before you start your job. If you apply for your residence permit at your local residents’ registration office you will be need to produce:

  • a valid ID card or passport
  • a copy of your rental agreement
  • a passport format photo
  • your employment contract.
If you have to apply for social assistance while resident in Switzerland, you will lose your residency rights. Information on the amount of the support and on residence permits can be obtained from the cantonal Migration Office.

Nationals of all other countries (“third-country nationals”): only highly qualified staff may come to work in Switzerland.  Moreover, prospective employers must show that they are unable to find any Swiss or EU/EFTA national to fill the position. It is the task of the employer to obtain the necessary work permit.. See the Training section for information on the recognition of foreign diplomas. 

The self-employed people

EU/EFTA nationals may in principle work in a self-employed capacity in Switzerland. Transitional arrangements apply to Croatian nationals. Until 31 December 2018 they have a period of six months in which to set up their activity and they are subject to quotas: see link to fact sheet below.
Third-country nationals may work in Switzerland in a self-employed capacity only if they are in possession of a  C permit (settlement permit).

Posted workers

In order to prevent wage dumping and undeclared work, special conditions apply to employees sent by their companies to work in Switzerland.
If you are posted to Switzerland by a company established in an EU/EFTA state, make sure that your employer complies with the regulations.
Transitional arrangements apply to Croatian nationals, see link to the fact sheet below.

In this section: Labour Law, Unemployment, Job-seeking, Workers Unions, Equal rights, Foreign workers

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