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What are the requirements for obtaining a residence permit?

There are several types of residence permits in Switzerland that differ between nationals of EU/EFTA countries and nationals of third countries.

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EU/EFTA countries

Nationals of the European Union (EU) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) benefit from the rule of free movement. As a result, they can stay in Switzerland, even without a job, for three months to look for one.

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Third countries

An employment contract is mandatory to apply for a permit but does not guarantee it will be granted.

The various permits available

L permit

Short-term work permit

The L permit is granted for a period of between 3 and 12 months to individuals with a fixed-term employment contract who are staying in Switzerland on a temporary basis.

Find out more

Validity and renewal

The validity period of the permit reflects the term of the employment contract.

In general, the cantonal or municipal authorities send a renewal notice with instructions on what to do.

For more information, please contact us directly via the cantonal population officeor the State Secretariat for Migration SEM.

B permit

Residence permit

The B permit is for individuals with a permanent employment contract or a fixed-term contract of more than 12 months.

Validity and renewal 

For EU/EFTA nationals, renewal is in principle every five years.

For third-country nationals, permits are in principle renewed from year to year.

In general, the cantonal or municipal authorities send a renewal notice with instructions on what to do.

For more information, please contact us directly via the cantonal population office or the State Secretariat for Migration SEM.

C permit

Settled foreign nationals

The C permit is granted to EU/EFTA residents after five years and to residents of third countries after ten years of continuous legal residence in Switzerland.

This permit for settled foreign nationals entitles you to change employers and cantons. You can also stay in Switzerland indefinitely, offering you great freedom!

Validity and renewal

The C permit is granted indefinitely, but it is renewed every five years.

In general, the cantonal or municipal authorities send a renewal notice with instructions on what to do.

For more information, please contact us directly via the cantonal population office or the State Secretariat for Migration SEM.

G permit

Cross-border permit

The G permit is intended for cross-border residents, i.e. foreigners from neighbouring countries who are employed within the neighbouring border zone of Switzerland and return to their place of residence at least once a week.

Validity and renewal

For EU/EFTA nationals the permit is granted for five years provided the holder is on an employment contract of more than one year or a permanent contract.

For third-country nationals, the initial term granted is generally one year. In addition, this permit is only grandted if the individual works in a border area.

For more information, please contact us directly via the cantonal population office or the State Secretariat for Migration SEM.

Ci permit

Residence permit with gainful employment

The Ci permit allows access to the Swiss labour market to spouses and children from the same household, if they joined their parents before the age of 21, members of the staff of permanent missions and international organisations.

Validity and renewal

The Ci permit is valid for as long as the holder is in gainful employment or, in the event of loss of employment, for as long as he or she can receive unemployment benefits. However, the permit lapses when the main holder loses his or her right to the legitimation card.

For more information, please contact us directly via the cantonal population office or the State Secretariat for Migration SEM.

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B permit holders are taxed at source.

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The cantons of Jura and Neuchâtel grant foreigners the right to vote in cantonal elections under certain conditions.

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