Applying for a Visa in Switzerland



EU citizens generally do not require a visa to visit Switzerland for the purpose of tourism, business trips and visits for a maximum stay of three months if they travel with their national passport and/or with the European ID card. The no visa requirement also applies to citizens of certain countries.

Regardless if the reason is for work, residency or study, a foreign national must secure a valid permit when entering Switzerland. In general, all expats who are planning to stay in the city for more than three months should obtain a residence permit whereas the process differs depending on the applicant’s country of origin. However, all expats should register themselves with the local registry office near their new address within 14 days upon arriving in Switzerland. 

To ensure a smooth application process, all applicants must be able to present several documents such as: 

  • Valid Passport
  • Travel Medical Insurance
  • Proof of sufficient financial means
  • Visa Application Forms
  • Employment contract (if employed) 

Residence Permit (EU and EFTA Nationals) 

All citizens coming from countries that are members of the European Union and European Free Trade Association are considered as priorities when it comes to residence permit application. The EU-27/EFTA is valid for five years and is renewable for no more than 12 months on the first renewal. It can also be renewed for another five years if the expats have a minimum of a one-year or unlimited duration of employment contract in Switzerland. Nationals of these countries who don’t have gainful employment can still get a residence permit as long as they have proper accident/health insurance and sufficient source of income. 

Foreign assignees coming from non-EU and EFTA states should secure either one of these visas depending on their purpose of stay in Switzerland: 

Type B 

This permit is valid for one year and is subject to renewal as long as the holder remains employed in a local company. Residence permits are issued on a Cantonal level which means that this visa is only honoured on the specific area where it was issued. 

Type C 

Also referred to as the Settlement Permit, this visa is granted to foreign nationals from non-EU/EFTA states who have been uninterruptedly residing in Switzerland for 10 years or 5 years for those coming from Canada or the US. Type C permit allows its holder to put up a business and freely change jobs or employers in Switzerland. 

Verbleib bei ehegatten and Bei Eltern (Spouse & Dependent Visa) 

Legal spouse and dependents that are under 18 years old are allowed to accompany their partner/parent in Switzerland as long as they will be able to secure a Type B residence permit. If the permit of the spouse states a name of a local employer, it means that he/she is also legally allowed to seek employment in the area where the visa was issued. 

Student Visa 

International students who are planning on taking to study in Switzerland must secure a type D or National Visa from the Swiss Embassy or Consulate from their home country. This visa grants a student to enter the Swiss territory once and can be converted to a residence permit after the duration of the study. Applicants for the National or type D permit must secure the following requirements: 

  • Valid Passport
  • 3 Passport Sized Photos (most recent)
  • Cover Sheet for Visa Application
  • Visa Application
  • Confirmation of Admission from a licensed school in Switzerland
  • Transcript of Records
  • Proof of Sufficient Source of Income
  • Receipt of Paid Application Fees 


Important addresses for arriving expatriates: