Requirements for a Work Permit

Understand the requirements for a work permit in Switzerland, and how to go about getting one...

EU citizens

EU/EFTA citizens are allowed to work up to 90 days without authorisation in Switzerland. Special restrictions apply to some member states. Employment longer than three months require residence permits. Employment status must be registered with the canton.

Necessary documents when applying for a residence permit:

  • Proof of identity
  • Passport photo
  • Copy of rental agreement
  • Employment contract

Non-EU citizens

For non EU members it is more difficult to get a work permit.

An employer has to prove that the job on offer could not be filled by a Swiss worker or an EU national. The employer has to send an offer of employment and then apply for a residence permit with the cantonal immigration or labour market authorities, which will send it to the Federal Office for Migration (FOM) for approval after their review.

If this is successful, the non-EU national will receive a pre-authorisation of residency. When the employee arrives in Switzerland to begin work, this must be shown at the local Cantonal Population Office (OCP) when application for a residence permit is made.

The whole process of obtaining a work permit can take many months and there is no guarantee that a work permit will be issued.


A self-employed or unemployed person must make their own work permit application.Third-country nationals need a settlement permit.

Application forms are available at the Cantonal Population Office (OCP).

  • For information registering as self-employed and/or starting a business see The Swiss Portal

The residence permit, issued in a folder marked as a foreigners permit (ausländerausweis or livret pour étrangers) is proof of the holder's right to live and work in Switzerland and must be carried at all times.