Grüezi, Bonjour, Buon Giorno, Allegra – Welcome to Switzerland!
Our country is not only beautiful, but also has a lot to offer for those who want to work here. We have put together the most important information for you to help you make the right decision. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions. We will be happy to assist you.
Switzerland has jobs that pay very well. On a global scale, salaries are at a very high level. There is no statutory minimum wage, but there are collective labour agreements (CLAs) in many sectors that set minimum wages for individual occupations. However, not only salaries and wages that are among the highest in the world. The cost of living in Switzerland is also among the highest. It is best to compare prices for rent, food, public transport, etc. locally.
You can find out how much you can earn in Switzerland here: www.lohnrechner.ch, the salary calculator of the Swiss Trade Union Federation (SGB).
Health insurance is compulsory for everyone in Switzerland. The monthly costs vary significantly depending on the type of insurance, age, region, insurance model, etc. Visit www.comparis.ch/krankenkassen to compare premiums.
Switzerland is very attractive for EU citizens in terms of taxation, even though there are major differences in the tax rates of the individual cantons. You have to complete and submit a tax return every year so that your income and wealth tax can be calculated.
If you are a foreign employee and are a resident in Switzerland for tax purposes, but do not yet have a permanent residence (C) permit, you do not need to complete a tax return. In this case, you pay what is known as a “withholding tax”, which is deducted directly from your salary. You can calculate the amount of your withholding tax here: comparis withholding tax calculator.
You can find more information on living and working in Switzerland in the brochures for workers from the Federal Office for Migration and EURES.
Public transport in Switzerland is highly developed. You can get anywhere quickly even without a car or driving licence.
There are monthly and annual passes for regional transport services. A Half Fare Card is well worth it for anyone who travels by train regularly (1 year: CHF 175, 2 years: CHF 330, 3 years: CHF 450). With this card, you only pay half the ticket price for trams, buses and trains.
A GA Travelcard is recommended for anyone who uses the train every day. This card allows you to travel freely by tram, bus, train and boat across the entire public transport network. The GA Travelcard costs, at this time, CHF 3550 (2nd class) and CHF 5800 (1st class) a year. Current prices of the Half Fare Card and GA Travelcard as well as schedules can be found at www.sbb.ch.
In Switzerland, people drive on the right side of the road. The legal speed limit is 50 km/h in built-up areas, 80 km/h in other areas and 120 km/h on motorways. The rules regarding drink-driving are strict. The maximum limit is 0.5 grams of alcohol per kilogram of blood, for new drivers and professional drivers a total ban on alcohol (<= 0.1 grams of alcohol per kilogram of blood) has been in effect since 2014. You need a motorway vignette, or sticker, to use the motorways. It costs CHF 40 and is valid from 1 December to 31 January of the year following that printed on it.
In Switzerland, school attendance is compulsory for eight to nine years (primary school and lower secondary school). Public schools do not charge tuition.
There are various opportunities after compulsory education. Children go on to an upper secondary school to be admitted to a university or university of applied sciences, or they start a vocational apprenticeship of three to four years.
Your future municipality of residence in Switzerland will be happy to help you find a suitable pre-school, primary or secondary school. For other schools such as upper secondary schools, universities, etc., please contact the respective institutions directly. Visit www.edk.ch for more information on the school system and helpful addresses. For information on vocational education available in Switzerland, visit: www.berufsberatung.ch.
The length of time you work in Switzerland determines whether you need a work and residence permit.
As an EU citizen, you can work for three months per calendar year without a residence permit. Your recruitment consultant only has to register you with the cantonal Office for Migration before you start your job (IMES registration). If you want to stay in Switzerland for a longer period of time, you will have to apply for a residence permit at the municipality or the cantonal Office for Migration. There are the following types of residence permits:
Cross-border commuter permit (G permit)
Cross-border commuters and weekly residents must return to their main foreign residence at least once a week.
Short-term residence permit (L permit)
Short-term residents are foreign nationals who stay in Switzerland for a limited period of time, usually less than one year, for a specific purpose of residence with or without gainful employment.
Residence permit (B permit)
Valid for five years and issued if the EU/EFTA national provides proof of employment for an indefinite period or for at least 365 days.
Permanent residence permit (C permit)
Issued after a period of residence of five or ten years.
Foreigners who have integrated well in Switzerland and have lived there for 12 years can apply for naturalisation. The years spent in Switzerland between the ages of 10 and 20 are counted twice.
If you decide to take up a job with Opus, we will take care of the registration with the Office for Migration and assist you in applying for a permit.
Compared to the rest of Europe, Switzerland has a very low unemployment rate of 3.2% (October 2020). There is always work here for qualified workers.
If you want to work in Switzerland as a foreign skilled worker, the easiest and most efficient way is to contact an employment agency. It is important that you choose an agency that specialises in your field. At Opus, we specialise in construction, trades, technology, industry, pharmaceuticals, facility management and healthcare. We are happy to assist you in your job search and help you find a job.
Some occupations, such as most trades and construction jobs, may be pursued with foreign credentials. In other fields, such as healthcare, you will need to have your qualifications recognised by the local authorities.
Here, you will find important information on the recognition of foreign qualifications in the health sector:
The availability of housing varies greatly depending on the region and city. Arranging flats through property managers is free of charge for tenants. It is worth looking for ads in local newspapers and on the internet:
Kitchens in Swiss rental flats come fully equipped with kitchen appliances (refrigerator, stove and oven). A shared laundry room with a washing machine is also part of the basic amenities of rental flats.
If you decide to take a job at Opus, we will be happy to help you find your first accommodation. Simply contact your Opus Personal consultant directly and specify your ideas and the maximum rent.
You will need the following documents to conclude a lease:
You should organise and arrange these documents as early as possible.
All those entering Switzerland from outside the Schengen area must present a valid identification document recognised by Switzerland, such as a passport/identity card.
When you transfer your legal residence to Switzerland, you may import household effects, pets, vehicles and personal effects free of charge, collectively referred to as “household effects”. Household effects are items that are intended for personal use or for the exercise of a profession or trade, were in personal use abroad for at least six months and continue to be used in Switzerland.
The following documents must be presented to the customs office at the time of importation:
Cars, motor boats and aircraft may be imported duty-free as household effects if they have been used abroad for more than six months.
The following documents must be submitted to the customs office for the import of vehicles:
After entering Switzerland, the vehicle must be registered for technical inspection at the road traffic office responsible for the place of residence.
If you want to live and/or work in Switzerland for more than three months, you must register with the municipality of residence within 14 days of arrival. In any case, you must register before taking up gainful employment. You will require the following documents:
EU/EFTA citizens who have acquired the right of residence in Switzerland may bring immediate family members to whom they provide support to join them in Switzerland.
The following documents must be submitted:
Your foreign driving licence will remain valid in Switzerland for another twelve months. During this time, you are allowed to drive all vehicles that are registered on your driving licence. After the twelve months have expired, the driving licence may no longer be used in Switzerland. You can exchange it for a local driving licence at the road traffic office in your canton of residence. Anyone who has taken their driving test in an EU or EFTA country will be issued a Swiss driving licence without having to take a new test.
If you live in Switzerland, you must register yourself or your newborn child for health insurance in Switzerland within three months. The insurance policy must be submitted to the municipality. You should do this within the three-month period; otherwise, you may be compulsorily insured by the municipality with a Swiss health insurer.
You can choose your health insurance freely. You pay the premiums yourself.
The amount of the premium varies depending on the health insurance and depends on your place of residence, age and gender as well as on the selectable deductible.
To calculate and compare premiums, visit: comparis health insurance premium comparison.