Moving to Switzerland: Things to Take Care of Before Emigration

The high-peak Alps, lakes, and beautiful villages create fascinating sceneries in Switzerland to move as an expat and explore a new environment. Having more than 600 museums, this country is ideal for those who enjoy all forms of unique artistic expression. What’s more, diversity and culture accompanied by a healthy lifestyle make Switzerland so worthy to move to.

If you are one of those who aim to start a new phase of life by moving to Switzerland, IMovingTo will do its best to simplify all the difficulties associated with relocating to a new country.

Cost of Living in Switzerland: Briefly About Swiss Economy

Switzerland is characterized by a strong economy with a stable outlook and low inequality, as it is one of the most advanced and highly developed countries. Regarding economic opportunities, Switzerland has a low unemployment rate with an index of 4.8%. Contrary to high living costs, there is a medium-income tax rate, and the average Swiss household expenditure is considerably higher than in neighboring European countries.

Superior wages support the cost of living in Switzerland and high living standards, an advantage many expats in Switzerland find particularly appealing. However, prices are still high even if you find an inexpensive location to live. Zürich, Basel, Lugano, Geneva, Lausanne, and Bern are among the world’s most expensive cities.

How to Obtain a Swiss Residence Permit?

Obtaining your residence permit is the next step in moving to Switzerland as a non-citizen of the EU or an EFTA country. Even if you are a citizen of the EU/EFTA country, you need to apply for a residence permit. 

You must apply for a residence permit at the canton’s immigration office.  There are 26 cantons in Switzerland, and each canton is responsible for issuing residence permits and work authorization to foreigners who desire to relocate. You have only 14 days after moving to Switzerland to submit an application and ask for a residence permit.

Permits L or B will be given to expats who want to move to Switzerland for the first time. These short-term residence permits are valid for up to 1 year and can only be extended for a maximum of 24 months.

Immigrants who move to Switzerland to work in a certain position or company are granted a Swiss L Permit. You may not be granted new permission if you currently hold the L permit and want to change jobs. The Swiss B Permit is for first-time or temporary residents. It is provided to EU/EFTA citizens for a period of up to 5 years and to non-EU/EFTA citizens for 1 year. If needed, it may be renewed.

Visa Types & Regulations

Depending on whether you are an EU/EFTA citizen or not, there are many types of Swiss visas. There may even be annual distribution quotas for some visa categories. The cost of a Swiss visa is generally inexpensive unless you’re applying for permanent residency.

Even though the requirements for a Swiss work visa can seem challenging, the application process is straightforward. For instance, you need to have several years of professional experience in addition to a university degree to be eligible for a work permit in Switzerland. Additionally, non-Swiss nationals are required to have at least A1 proficiency in the language spoken most frequently in their canton of Switzerland.

A self-employment visa application is also challenging because it requires cantonal and federal approval. Furthermore, you could be required to provide documentation of your enrollment in one of the 3 languages, French, German, or Italian, when applying for any type of Swiss visa. Be aware that you will need to provide evidence of your knowledge of and ongoing study of that language when you renew your visa.

How to Manage Your Taxes?

Within 30 days of arriving in Switzerland, you should start paying taxes if you are working here. Since each of the 26 cantons and almost 2,250 municipalities in Switzerland imposes its own taxes, the country’s tax structure can be complicated as it consists of inheritance taxes, wealth taxes, property gains, etc.

As a foreigner, your tax in Switzerland will be deducted directly from your paycheck. From canton to canton, the tax rate varies. The average income tax rate has remained static at around 40% since 2010

Keep in mind that the Swiss government generally bases the amount of tax that a foreigner pays on their salary and other additional considerations like their monthly rent, childcare costs, and educational expenses to maintain their status as low-tax.

According to their business and whether they are considered a sole proprietorship, partnership, or limited liability corporation, self-employed people in Switzerland are taxed differently. Their particular taxes depend on the regulations of their canton. In general, just like any other business, self-employed people are required to pay federal, cantonal, and local taxes.

Healthcare System in Switzerland

In Switzerland, private companies provide health care, and you have to obtain insurance within 3 months of moving there and submitting an application for a residence permit or registering with a local cantonal authority.

Using the search engine of the Swiss Medical Association is one option to find over 30,000 doctors and specialists. The search options include name, region, specialty, and language. Calculating the cost of health insurance depends on your specific canton and the type of medical care you require.

Basic healthcare is covered through mandatory health insurance. Despite having a universal healthcare system, Switzerland does not offer free public healthcare. All Swiss citizens should instead buy their own private health insurance. 

Both Swiss nationals and foreign expats are affected by this approach. As a result, despite being expensive, Swiss healthcare is of the best quality. Before they become 3 months old, even newborn babies should have their own health insurance coverage.

How to Relocate Your Belongings to Switzerland?

Moving furniture and belongings to Switzerland is a simple process, but it involves a lot of paperwork. In order to avoid paying import tax, you should prove that you have used every item you are taking with you for at least the previous 6 months.

Duty should be paid if bringing a vehicle into Switzerland. You should declare your car at the Swiss border during regular business hours. Within 1 year of moving to Switzerland, you need to register your vehicle with the appropriate cantonal authorities.

You may be required to present proof of departure notice from the previous country in addition to the customs form, an itemized list of goods, an employment contract, and a rental lease to prove your domicile transfer. Switzerland allows you to transport your goods while driving across the border; however, they can also be transported by air or even by boat.

It is also crucial to be aware that certain items, including cash, drugs, cultural artifacts, pharmaceuticals, plants, radar warning systems, and weapons, may be subject to customs restrictions.

Can You Move Your Pets?

When moving to Switzerland, the majority of aquatic animals, like rodents and rabbits, simply require a health certificate. You should confirm that any “exotic” animals you own, like turtles, are not covered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).


Both dogs and cats need to be rabies-vaccinated and microchipped. Your pet should have received rabies vaccinations for at least 30 days before your arrival in Switzerland if you are from a country that the EU considers high risk for the disease. 

You must provide proof that your pet has received a vaccination within the last 1 year if you are from a country that the EU considers to be low-risk for rabies.

Cane Corsos, Pit Bulls, Bull Terriers, and other so-called aggressive dog breeds are prohibited from entering Switzerland. Depending on your canton, Savannah and Bengal cats may also be subject to restrictions.

Quality of Life & Climate

Considering the excellent quality of life, sophisticated healthcare system, social and environmental aspects, as well as great standards of education and housing, Switzerland came out on top rank as a country with the highest quality of life. In addition to having a wonderful work-life balance, Swiss expats also benefit from outstanding urban and countryside landscapes. 

Expats in Switzerland are still satisfied with their high standard of living, but many still have trouble integrating and getting used to the high expense of living there. Switzerland, regarded as an economic powerhouse, has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe and consistently ranks in the top 5 on the Index of Economic Freedom.

Even when it comes to climatic diversity, due to Switzerland’s 4 unique climate types

  • Alpine climate prevails in the highest areas.
  • Cold continental climate dominates in the middle and lowest regions (in the northwest).
  • Moderate continental climate occurs in the lowest parts. 
  • Even Switzerland’s southern region, which shares a border with Italy, enjoys a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot summers.

Pros & Cons of Moving to Switzerland


Great lifestyle


Switzerland is a stunning country with amazing mountains, lovely lakes, charming villages, and highly advanced cities. The best ski slopes, finest restaurants, marvelous outdoor activities, and a crime-free society make Switzerland attractive to expats. It is a country that offers a great lifestyle to everyone based on their individual preferences.

English speaking communities

Recently, more English-speaking expats have initiated moving to Switzerland. That is why Switzerland is trying to create favorable conditions for them and make it simple to navigate, even if you only speak English

Healthy environment 

While the standard of living in Switzerland is at a very high level, the country is characterized by a healthy environment and excellent infrastructure that functions in a sophisticated manner. Another aspect that makes Switzerland a wonderful place to live is a comprehensively arranged public transportation system.


Introverted nature of the Swiss

At first glance, Swiss people do not seem friendly or communicable. However, it does not mean you won’t be able to make local friends in Switzerland. A great way to talk with your local colleagues is to initiate and ask them to show you around and present the local culture. 

Furthermore, you can also join groups with the same interests and hobbies to find new Swiss friends.

On Sundays, everything is closed

This may be a culture shock for some expats. However, in Switzerland, everything is closed on Sundays, even museums or restaurants. The Swiss consider Sunday to be a day dedicated to resting fully. 

Final Thoughts

All in all, relocating to Switzerland is quite a simple procedure. However, moving to any foreign country is accompanied by plenty of aspects you need to be aware of. That’s exactly why you should take our recommendations into account.


For further guidance, take advantage of relocation services at IMovingTo and plan everything following our international moving practices. So, best of luck with your relocation to Switzerland!


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