Free movement between Switzerland and the European Union

In Switzerland, European nationals benefit from agreements on the free movement of persons.

In Switzerland, nationals of European Union (EU) Member States benefit from agreements on the free movement of persons. These agreements make it easier to obtain a work permit and move to Swiss territory. The bilateral agreements entered into between Switzerland and the EU also apply to the Member States of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) which, in addition to Switzerland, includes Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland.

EU nationals can spend three months working in Switzerland without a prior permit, simply by completing an online declaration with the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM). After this period, they must obtain a residence permit which will allow them to carry on working in Switzerland. It should be noted that freelance workers must declare themselves within 14 days of their arrival in Switzerland before starting work, and apply for a residence permit with a view to carrying on a self-employed activity.

Different residence permits confer entitlement to carry on a gainful activity. These authorizations, also called L, B, C or G permits or livrets in French, correspond to different lengths of stay.

Competent cantons

Cantons are responsible for granting permits. Therefore the competent cantonal authorities are able to answer questions about the specific formalities concerning the granting of permits (who exactly should be contacted, what forms need to be completed, how long it takes to process forms, etc.).

To protect workers in Switzerland against wage dumping, certain laws are attached to the decree on free movement. These are explained on the website of the Swiss Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO): Das Observatorium zum Freizügigkeitsabkommen Schweiz - EU (only in German).


Last modification 23.03.2020

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