Top 5 Things to Know When Arriving in Switzerland

  1. Make sure to register at the nearby “Kreisbüro” registration office (in smaller towns this office is called the “Gemeinde”). This is only necessary when you have a contract for more than 3 months. You can go there with your passport and a copy of your rent and work contracts to register yourself; make sure to ask for a printed confirmation. Sometimes it can take a long time to receive your actual permit, so at least you will have your proof of registration in the meantime.
  2. Health insurance is a private matter in Switzerland and thus each individual must make their arrangements. You must sign a contract with one of the various health insurance companies on the market. Ask your employer – perhaps they have a special offer, which can be deducted directly from your salary. A useful tool is www.comparis.ch, which is a website that compares all different types of insurance policies. You have 3 months to select a health insurance company, otherwise some cantons will forcibly ask you to make arrangements. In this case you would no longer have a choice of provider. Note: the monthly premiums vary by canton and Gemeinde as well as by provider, where the premiums are dependent on various factors such as types of coverage and the provider themselves.
  3. We also recommend you take out an insurance policy covering third-party liability; you will need it if you rent an apartment and should you cause any damage to a third party you are covered. This is supplemental to all other necessary insurance policies covered by your employment contract is separate from your health insurance (but can be from the same provider) and is not mandatory but highly recommended, especially if you plan on staying for longer than 6 months.
  4. When you move in to a new residence, quickly say hello to your neighbours and introduce yourself! It will earn you brownie points for the future.
  5. As a foreigner you are taxed at source in Switzerland. This means you will see the monthly deduction on your payslip automatically. Please be aware that if you earn over CHF 120’000.- a year you may also receive a tax return form to fill out.

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New to Switzerland? Here are some great resources for expats: