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Working in Switzerland as a citizen of an EU/EFTA member state

Citizens from EU-27*/EFTA** states enjoy full freedom of movement. This means that citizens of those countries are free to travel to Switzerland, and to live and work here.

Short-term employment up to three months (EU-26/EFTA citizens)

Citizens from EU-26/EFTA states do not require authorisation for short-term employment up to three months or 90 days per calendar year. However, the future Swiss employer is required to register the employment using the electronic reporting procedure. The report must be submitted at least one day before employment is due to begin.

Registration procedure for short-term work in Switzerland

Employment longer than three months (citizens of EU-26/EFTA states)

For employment lasting longer than three months, EU-27/EFTA citizens require a residence permit. Register with the communal authorities in the place you reside before taking up work. You will be required to present a:

  • valid ID card or passport

For non self-employed you will also need a:

  • statement of engagement from the employer or a certificate of employment (e.g. an employment contract)

For self-employed you will also need a:

  • accounting records, in order to prove that you are effectively self-employed and that you can earn a decent living. If you apply for welfare benefits, you will lose your right to remain in Switzerland. For more information about residing in Switzerland and working in a self-employed capacity, contact the cantonal migration authority or check the web page of the State Secretariat for Migration, > Entry & Residence > Living and Working in Switzerland.

Registering with the communal authorities

Cantonal immigration and labour market authorities

Special rules applying to UK nationals

The United Kingdom (UK) left the European Union on 31 January 2020. In the withdrawal agreement, both parties agreed on a transition period until 31 December 2020. This meant that the existing bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU remained in force with respect to the United Kingdom until 31 December 2020.

The Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons between Switzerland and the EU no longer applies with the UK from 1 January 2021. From this date, UK nationals are no longer EU/EFTA nationals, but are considered third country nationals. 

Special rules applying to Croatian nationals

Since 1 January 2017, Croatian nationals have also benefited from the freedom of movement; however they are still subject to transitional provisions.

Croatian nationals interested in working in Switzerland are subject to transitional provisions. For the time being, they may only work in Switzerland subject to the following restrictions:

  • Priority given to Swiss nationals (preference given to Swiss and foreign nationals who are already on the Swiss labour market)
  • Salary and working conditions
  • Separate, annual, gradually rising quantitative limits for temporary residence permits and residence permits.

Conditions for taking up self-employment:

With regard to taking up self-employment, as of 1 January 2019, the rules are the same as those for citizens from EU-26/EFTA member states. Croatian nationals must be able to demonstrate that they are self-employed when submitting their application, but are no longer subject to a set-up period or quota restrictions.

Factsheet Croatia

Looking for work in Switzerland

EU/EFTA nationals may enter Switzerland to look for work. They may stay in the country for up to three months without a permit. If the job search takes longer than three months, EU/EFTA nationals may apply for a temporary residence permit valid for three months within any calendar year (total stay = six months), provided they have the financial means to pay their living expenses.

Croatian citizens must be in possession of a valid work permit before the first day of employment in Switzerland, even if the period of employment is less than three months.

*The EU-26 comprises the following countries: Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Romania, Sweden, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Hungary and Cyprus.

**EFTA: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland