Residency in Switzerland

Understand the residency permit system in Switzerland, and how to apply for residency...

Residency applications and the issue of permits are handled at a local, cantonal level. A distinction is made between short-term residence permits (less than one year), annual residence permits (up to ten years) and permanent residence permits (unlimited duration). Within this, there are five types of permits issued.

They are:

  1. B permit: residence permit
  2. C permit: settlement permit
  3. Ci permit: residence permit with gainful employment
  4. G permit: cross-border commuter permit
  5. L permit: short-term residence permit

Applying for residency in Switzerland

Application forms are available from the cantonal authority, usually the Migration or Foreigners Department (Migrationsamt or Office Cantonale des Etrangers), which is responsible for approving applications and issuing permits.

The application differs depending on status as employed, self-employed or resident without income. The relevant application form details the documents that must be presented. All applications require the following:

  • Completed application form
  • Passport photo
  • Valid ID card or passport
  • Proof of address (a copy of the rental contract)

Employed applicants must include the employment contract. Self-employed people require accounting records, to prove they can earn a decent living. Retirees are also required to show proof of funds and Swiss health insurance.