Live and Work in Switzerland

Swiss Business WorldEU/EFTA nationals and third-country nationals are subject to different conditions.

EU/EFTA nationals

Gainful employment

The agreement on the freedom of movement between Switzerland and the EU entitles people to enter the country and stay, and to take up employment. Full freedom of movement is only being introduced gradually however: For citizens from the EU15, Cyprus, Malta and EFTA (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) full freedom of movement has been in place since 1 June 2007; a residence permit is still required. For the countries of central and eastern Europe which joined the EU in 2004 (EU8), transitional rules apply concerning access to the labour market (until 2011). For Bulgaria and Romania, which joined the EU in 2007, these transitional rules are expected to apply until 2014. In their case, the priority for Swiss nationals and wage and working conditions will be examined. Information regarding procedures and the issue of permits can be obtained from the cantonal migration authorities and local authorities. The brochure entitled ‘EU citizens in Switzerland’ contains all of the important information on the applicable rules.

Job mobility within Europe

Eures, the European job mobility portal, has useful information and services for persons who would like to take advantage of the opportunities of the Freedom of Movement Agreement. EuresInfo Switzerland provides specific information for people who want to live and work in Switzerland.

Informative brochures can be downloaded from the FDEA website

Third-country nationals

Gainful employment of third-country nationals (non-EU/EFTA) is subject to different requirements. As far as legislation is concerned, authorisation is at the discretion of the authorities.

Gainful employment
Employment of third-country nationals is in principle subject to the following restrictions:

  • Authorisation is only possible within fixed quotas.
  • National employees and members of states with which Switzerland concluded a free movement agreement, have precedence on the Swiss labour market. Third-country nationals can only be employed if there is no-one suitable from Switzerland or an EU / EFTA country to fill the post.
  • Personal requirements must be met. The following people are authorised to work: executives, specialists as well as other qualified workers, who primarily include persons with university or polytechnic qualifications and several years of professional experience. Depending on the profession or specialisation, persons with special technical training and several years of professional experience may also be authorised to work. The issuing of residence permits is based not only on professional qualifications, but also on integration criteria. A person's ability to adapt professionally and socially, their language skills and age should be such that there is a strong likelihood of long-term integration in the Swiss employment market and the society.
  • Salary and working conditions must be the same as for Swiss nationals.

Information and contact information

The FOM provides extensive information about the existing provisions on access to the labour market for third-country nationals. To apply for a residence permit in Switzerland, please contact the cantonal partner authorities of the FOM. Third-country nationals interested in immigrating to Switzerland can obtain information on the conditions for immigration to Switzerland at the Swiss representation in their country.

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14.04.2011 | 10:12:27
Berne, 30.03.2011 - On 30 March 2011, the Swiss Federal Council (government) adopted a revised ordinance on origin rules for tariff preferences for developing countries. The revised ordinance will pave the way to an enhanced access to the Swiss market for goods from developing countries.
Hans-Peter Egler, Head Trade Promotion SECO
28.02.2011 | 16:22:00
Following a comprehensive investigation into the large-scale theft of data from HSBC Private Bank (Suisse) SA, FINMA has reprimanded the bank for deficiencies in its internal organisation and IT controls. FINMA has also called on the bank to see through the measures it has already initiated to comply with the legal requirements. FINMA will ensure that these measures are implemented promptly.
FINMA - Tobias Lux, Media Spokesperson,
21.02.2011 | 12:44:40

All businesses wanting to export successfully should take note of an important date: 7 April 2011. On this day, you will be presented with a load of know-how at Osec's Swiss foreign trade forum.

Swiss exporters will explain how they have made it on new markets, and experts from all over the world will give you valuable practical tips en masse. You'll feel the pulse of the Swiss export industry during catchy speeches, exciting panel discussions, in-depth workshops and promising networking breaks. Be part of the action when the Osec Export Awards are presented for the best projects, chosen by a top-class jury. Get up close and personal with the superior export community, and take away as many valuable experiences and contacts from it as you can.

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10.02.2011 | 14:16:57
4th Swiss-African Business Exchange.
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Bern, 29.01.2011 - A meeting with the German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble today concluded the informal talks held by Federal Councillor Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos.
Brigitte Hauser-Süss, Head of FDF Communications
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