- Who benefits from the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons?
- Taking up residence and gainful employment
- Residence permits
- Cross border commuters
- Notification procedure
- Service providers
- Changing jobs or place of residence
- Job loss
- Residing in Switzerland without gainful activity
- Family reunification
- Further information
This agreement applies to any national of an EU or EFTA state.
Nationals of an EU/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).
Gainful employment of up to three months (employed for a period of up to three months):
EU/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.
Gainful employment of more than 3 months:
Within 14 days of their arrival and before actually taking up work, nationals of EU/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
EU/EFTA citizens are required to register within 14 days of arrival at the latest with the local authorities of the commune in which they are residing and apply for a residence permit. They must present a valid identity card (or passport) and documents proving that they are or will be engaged in a self-employed activity and able to support themselves and their family members. The self-employed activity may not begin until the documents required by the competent cantonal authorities have been submitted.
The steps necessary for obtaining a residence permit may be taken after arriving in Switzerland.
The cantonal migration authorities will provide you with more information on this subject:
Cantonal immigration and labour market authorities
Learn more about customs clearance of your own household effects under the following link:
Federal Customs Administration
For further information on business start-up, go to:
SME Portal - Establish an SME
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/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.
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.
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 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/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.
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/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/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/EFTA nationals) based in an EU/EFTA member state.
The notification form is submitted by the employer of posted workers and of EU/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 and Integration Act (FNIA), a work permit is required for all services to be rendered beyond this 90-day threshold.
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 FNIA 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.
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/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.
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.
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.
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/EFTA nationals who will be working for a Swiss employer in Switzerland for a period of up to three months.
In the following economic sectors, a notification is required from the first day on, both for
- self-employed service providers (EU/EFTA nationals) based in an EU/EFTA member state as well as
- posted workers from a company based in an EU/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
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.
EU/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 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:
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,
- sex industry)
a notification form must be submitted from the very first day of work, regardless of the duration of work.
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.
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.
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.
Short-term residence permits, residence permits, settlement permit are valid for the whole of Switzerland (geographic mobility). This means that EU/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.
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).
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/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.
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.
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.
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
- Children or grandchildren 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.
Under the terms of the AFMP, the right to family reunification is subject to the condition that housing be adequate to lodge the entire family..
Spouses and children of EU/EFTA nationals who are admitted to Switzerland under family reunification are legally entitled to work regardless of their nationality.
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.
The purchase of real estate/land by foreign nationals
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
Last modification 01.07.2022