Law on ForeignersResidence permit

Permits and naturalization: When do I need to apply for a residence permit? What is the procedure? 


You are a foreign national and wish to settle in Switzerland? You don’t know how to do it? Lawrence is here to assist you and explain everything! 

Two criteria are to be considered: type of stay and nationality.

For citizens of the European Union and the European Free Trade Association : 

An entry visa is not required for stays of less than 90 days. 

After this period, a residence permit is required. This is valid for any type of stay, whether the visitor is in gainful employment or not. 

There are different types of permits in Switzerland (L, C, B, G). The one you will be granted will depend on your situation. Here are a few criteria: the activity carried out, the presence of a work contract, the length of stay (fixed or indefinite), whether or not you are a cross-border commuter. 

We invite you to read this article, which explains everything about the residence permits in Switzerland. It will allow you to find out which one suits you best. 


For third-country nationals : 

An entry visa is required. It must be obtained from the competent Swiss representation abroad.

Obtaining a residence permit for a third-country national is more complex than for a European citizen.
There are constraints related to place of work and residence, contingents by permit and nationality, the need for a contract and a national preference that employers must adhere to. 

We explain all this in detail in our article on work and residence permits in Switzerland


Obtaining a residence permit can be a complicated process if you don’t know where to start. We have summarized the process in a few steps.

  1. Entry visa (only for third country nationals) 

Citizens of third countries will need a visa to enter Switzerland. The application must be made to the competent Swiss representation abroad. 

EU and EFTA nationals benefit from the Free Movement Agreement and therefore do not need it. 


  1. Announcement of arrival 

All residents and workers of foreign nationality must register with the State Secretariat for Migration upon arrival. 


  1. Application for a residence permit 

Is done at the Cantonal Office for Population and Migration of the canton where you reside/work. 

An application has to be completed and certain documents have to be provided, such as: a copy of identity papers, CV, diplomas, employment contract, proof of residence, criminal record etc. 

The documents to be provided depend on your origin, i. e. EU/EFTA and third countries. 


  1. Attestation of financial responsibility 

Should be attached to the application if necessary. It is usually the employers who forward it to the competent authority. 


  1. Announcement to the commune of residence 

It is imperative that you register with your commune of residence when you wish to obtain a residence permit. 


In conclusion, a residence permit is only required after 90 days in Switzerland, regardless of whether or not you are gainfully employed. However, you will have to register with the State Secretariat for Migration if you wish to settle in Switzerland and obtain a residence permit. 

We advise you to anticipate this process to avoid being stuck in the administrative paperwork for too long! We remind you that third-country citizens will only be able to start their professional activity after obtaining a permit. 

Need personalized assistance to relieve you of these procedures? Lawrence answers all of your questions and helps you during your legal procedures!

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