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  • Writer's pictureWalter Ponce

Emigrate to Switzerland with a European passport. Where do I begin?

Updated: Jan 19, 2023

Do you have a European passport like Spanish, French, Italian or from any country of the European Union looking for working in Switzerland? You don't know where to start?

I moved 2 times to this lovely country so let me share some insights with you.

When I was offered my first job in Switzerland back in 2014, I didn't understand a thing. I only knew that according to what I had understood, having a European passport would make things easier for me when requesting permission to reside and work in Switzerland.

I want to clarify one thing for you first of all, Switzerland is NOT part of the European Union so you cannot enter and stay to live just like that. The main thing you need is a job.

Once I got the confirmation and signed the contract with the company, I said.... now what do I do ?

As for the procedures that you have to do when you arrive, in reality it does not vary much for you if you have a European passport or not. The variant is in the possibilities that they give you on the residence permit.

An important and not minor fact is that in Switzerland the residence permit for work is given by the canton. Being a federal country, the cantons have a lot of independence within the country, that is to say that if you go to work in Zürich, the person who grants you the residence permit is the canton of Zürich and not the Swiss government. In the event that in the future you change jobs and, for example, go to work in the canton of Geneva, the transfer of cantons must be done with the cantonal migration office.

It is also important to know that the permit is related to the place of work, not housing. In other words, if I am going to work in Biel but I am going to live in Lausanne, the permit is granted by the canton of Bern and of course I can give my address anywhere in Switzerland. In short, the permit is given by the canton where the address of your workplace is.

Work, how do I get one?

This is the most difficult part, since it is the one that takes the most time and preparation. Getting a job in Switzerland is a bit difficult since the population is highly educated, has languages ​​and on top of that many Europeans want to work here, so the competition is high.

According to what type of work contract you obtain, it is the type of residence permit that you will be given. It can be an unlimited employment contract or a contract with a duration of 1 year.

The main key to finding a job in Switzerland is Linkedin. It is currently the social network most efficient for that, most companies post their job opportunities there.

Note that its a long process and can take you months to find a job on your field. Don't get discouraged and keep applying!

In almost 5 years living in Switzerland, I managed to get good jobs in 3 different companies: Laureate Hospitality School + Calvin Klein + Swatch.

Also I did managed to get other job opportunities but I didn't want to move forward with them.

House Rental or hospitality letter

This topic is also a bit controversial, since in general, to be able to rent a long-term house they will ask you for a residence permit in Switzerland and for the residence permit they will ask you for a rental contract, so how do we do it?

A good option is to sub rent. Whether renting a room or an apartment, many times when you do it this way the main tenant only asks for your European passport and with that they make the contract.

Keep in mind that renting in Switzerland is quite an adventure, you need to prepare a folder with certain documents and even a letter telling a little about who you are and why you are interested in renting.

The key to renting as soon as we arrive is checking on the Facebook groups, Facebook Marketplace and Airbnb.

In my case, the first and second time I went to live with my ex partner so it was not such a shock for me. The time I moved by my own was still not that complicated to find an apartment and to get it.

How is the permission granted to me?

This question, as I said before, varies a lot according to the work contract you have, but in general, as a European, you are granted a residence permit B.

This residence permit is related to your work contract. This means that you are kept as long as you continue to hold your position. In the event that, for example, you lose your job or your company closes, you have a calendar year to apply and be able to find another job.

In general, for Europeans we find 4 most important types of permits related to residence:

  • Permit B: Long-term residence permit (5 years)

  • Permit L: Short-term residence permit (less than 1 year)

  • Permit C: Establishment Permit

  • G permit: Permit for cross-border workers, for example those who work in Switzerland but are domiciled in France or Germany.

Some important sites to consider for insertion in Switzerland are:

Three pieces of advice if you want to emigrate to Switzerland:

1. Prepare and translate all the important documents of your life, be it birth certificate, marriage certificate, high school and/or university degree and whatever you think is necessary. It will save you time and money since, for example, translating in Switzerland is surely much more expensive than translating in another country, not only because of the cost of the services but also because it can be more complicated to find translators into your language.

2. Before coming, I asked for your criminal record. I know that in many jobs they are usually asked to make you the contract. It was not my case, but I have heard that many foreigners have been asked so, if you can do it, I think it would not hurt. Obviously also translated.

3. Come with patience and enthusiasm. Switzerland is a country that is used to foreigners, but everything works in a very bureaucratic way and both the job search and the residency process are not far behind. The companies usually do at least 2 or 3 interviews as well as in the immigration offices they usually ask you for a lot of papers, face-to-face procedures, etc.

I hope this information has been helpful to you and don't forget to join the community on my social networks!


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