Biometric residence permits for foreign nationals

Recipients of biometric residence permits for foreigners

  • Third-state nationals
  • Third-state nationals who are family members of Swiss citizens
  • Third-state nationals who are family members of EU/EFTA citizens

Biometric residence permits shall be issued to holders of the following categories of residence permit:

  • Short-term residence permits (L)
  • Residence permits (B)
  • Settlement permits (C)

Compliance with EU requirements

When it signed the Schengen Agreement on 12 December 2008, Switzerland began issuing a new residence permit in credit-card format to foreign nationals. In a subsequent development in early 2011, a microchip was added to these residence permits for the purpose of storing biometric data. Switzerland introduced these biometric residence permits as part of a further development of Schengen acquis and to keep up with the global trend of using state-of-the-art technology to enhance document security and prevent fraudulent use. The new biometric residence permit indicates the foreigner’s status in Switzerland. When presented with a valid national passport, the biometric residence permit entitles the holder to travel throughout the Schengen area without a visa.


A symbol on the upper left-hand side of the front of the card indicates that the residence permit contains an embedded microchip with biometric data: two digital fingerprints and a facial image. The data are stored for five years and may only be used for the purpose of issuing a new biometric residence permit without the need for additional data processing. The biometric residence permit for foreign nationals meets stringent international standards. The data are protected by a secure access control and an electronic key. The fingerprints are especially protected. The microchip does not allow a person to be located or monitored.

Application procedure

The application procedure and issuance of a biometric residence permit are decided by the Canton of residence. Biometric data are obtained from the person by the corresponding authority in the Canton of residence. Identification of the applicant is based on his/her passport. Biometric residence permits for foreigners are produced centrally by a single company and are delivered or issued to the applicant by the usual means. Residence permit fees cover the following: application processing, issuance of residence permit and capture of biometric data. First-generation residence permits for foreign nationals (i.e. no biometric data stored) shall remain valid until the expiry date. The new biometric residence permit shall only be issued after the previous residence permit has expired or if changes in personal data require issuance of a new residence permit.



Last modification 11.10.2020

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