Moving to Switzerland: What Papers to Gather

Moving to Switzerland, known for its breathtaking landscapes, precision, and quality of life, is an exciting but complex process. The key to a seamless transition lies in meticulous preparation, particularly when it comes to gathering the necessary paperwork. Whether you’re from within the EU or outside it, this guide will help you prepare the essential documents needed for a smooth move to Switzerland.

For EU/EEA/Swiss Citizens:

EU/EEA and Swiss citizens benefit from agreements that allow for easier movement and settlement, but certain documents are still essential:

1. Valid Passport or ID Card: Ensure your identification documents are up to date. These will be your primary documents for entry and registration.

2. Employment Contract: If you’re moving for work, having your employment contract on hand is crucial. It can expedite various administrative processes, including residency registration.

3. Proof of Accommodation: A rental contract or a letter from a host can serve as proof of your living arrangements in Switzerland, necessary for residency registration.

4. Health Insurance Proof: While not immediately required upon entry, registering for Swiss health insurance is compulsory within three months of your arrival.

5. Registration at the Local Residents’ Registry Office: Within 14 days of arrival, you must register with the local residents’ registry office (Einwohnerkontrolle) in your municipality, where the above documents will be required.

For Non-EU/EEA/Swiss Citizens:

The process is more stringent for those outside the EU/EEA/Swiss zone, requiring additional paperwork:

1. Passport: Your passport should have at least six months’ validity beyond your planned stay.

2. Visa: Depending on your country, you might need a Schengen visa for short stays or a National visa (D visa) for long-term stays. Check the Swiss State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) for specific requirements.

3. Work or Residence Permit: Depending on the purpose of your stay, you’ll need to apply for the appropriate permit. Your employer usually initiates this process for work permits, while you may need to apply directly for other types of permits.

4. Health Insurance: Comprehensive health insurance is mandatory, and you’ll need to show proof of it when applying for your residence permit.

5. Additional Documents: Depending on your situation, you might need to provide a birth certificate, marriage certificate, proof of financial means, or a criminal record check, all appropriately translated and legalized.

Common Documents for All:

Regardless of origin, the following are essential for settling in Switzerland:

1. Swiss Health Insurance: Registration with a Swiss health insurance provider is compulsory for everyone living in Switzerland.

2. Housing Documents: Proof of accommodation, such as a rental agreement, is necessary for residency registration.

3. Bank Account Details: While not a document per se, setting up a Swiss bank account early can simplify many processes, including rent payments and salary deposits.

Additional Tips:

  • Translations and Legalizations: Ensure all non-Swiss documents are officially translated into the official language of your Swiss canton (German, French, Italian, or Romansh) and legalized.
  • Document Copies: Keep multiple copies, both physical and digital, of all documents to ease any bureaucratic processes.
  • Keep Originals Safe: Always carry original documents when dealing with Swiss authorities, but also ensure they’re kept safe from loss or damage.
  • Stay Informed: Swiss immigration laws and document requirements can change. Regularly check official sources for the most current information.

Further Resources:

For additional information on moving to Switzerland and the necessary paperwork, consider consulting:

  • State Secretariat for Migration (SEM): Offers comprehensive guides on entry and residence requirements in Switzerland.
  • Your Local Swiss Embassy or Consulate: Can provide personalized advice and information based on your specific circumstances.
  • Swiss Health Insurance Providers: For detailed information on health insurance requirements and options.
  • Community Forums: Platforms like English Forum Switzerland provide insights and advice from expatriates who have undergone the relocation process.


Relocating to Switzerland, while promising a high quality of life, demands thorough preparation, especially regarding the necessary documentation. By ensuring you have all the required paperwork in order, you’re paving the way for a smoother integration into Swiss society. Whether you’re moving from within the EU or from further afield, understanding and preparing your documents will undoubtedly ease your transition to life in Switzerland. Welcome to your new adventure in the heart of Europe!

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