Living in Switzerland – Information and counselling online  

Social Welfare

The Swiss Constitution guarantees a basic living to anyone in need and everyone has the right to assistance towards economic independance and social integration. 

Social welfare costs are paid by cantons and communes; the only exception ar benefits for asylum seekers which are paid by the Federal Government.   

Reglementations are made by the Cantons; there are therfore variations in conditions and payments.

Who may receive social welfare?

All people resident in Switzerland who cannot cover their own basic living costs. 
Please note!
People who are illegally residing in Switzerland, including failed asylum seekers, may not receive social welfare.  Their constituional rights are guranteed in the form of "Urgent Assistance" which varies from canton to canton and is usually in kind. 

Social Welfare provision

Social welfare includes provision for:
  • basic living costs (food, clothes, travel, household costs)
  • housing costs (rent) 
  • health insurance 
A calculation is made of the spending habits of people on a low income in Switzerland (based on the lowest-earning 10% of the population).  Current payment levels are 986 CHF per month for a single person and 2110 CHF for a family of four.    
If you think that you are unable to cover your basic living costs, contact your commune's social services for an assessment of your situation and advice on how to get help. 
Contact details for cantons and communes are available at  :
Please note!
Anyone who claims social welfare must provide truthful  information on their personal situation, their income and fortune. Authorities treat ommissions or untruthful declarations with great severity and can terminate support.  Applicants must actively collaborate with the assessment of their needs and must inform the authorities of any relevant change in their situation. 

Refunding social welfare

Most cantons expect social welfare to be paid back in case of substantial change in situation (large inheritance or winnings, a good income) or in case of fraudulent claims.  


Family responsibility

Swiss law (Civil Obligations Code) states that family members must provide each other mutual support (parents, children, granparents and grandchildren).  Authorities can request family members to cover all or part of social welfare payments.  This obligation is not valid for families on a low income.   

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