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Residency Options For Living In Switzerland

4 min read

Residency Options For Living In Switzerland

Switzerland has always captivated many expats. It is one of the world's safest countries and one of the wealthiest countries. Although it is an expensive place to live in, Switzerland is still considered an international tax haven. If you have been looking to move there and get a second residency, don’t waste time. We provide you with information and help in the process.


Map and Flag of Switzerland

Map and Flag of Switzerland


Switzerland is a small, mountainous country in central Europe. The climate is quite temperate, with mild summers and chilly winters with temperatures that rarely reach below freezing. While 60% of the Swiss landmass is composed of the Alps, most of the population resides on the Swiss plateau in population centers like Zurich, Bern, and Geneva. 

Switzerland is an extremely safe country, with very little crime. Politically stable and famously neutral in foreign conflicts, Switzerland practices mandatory conscription for men who reach the age of majority. Firearm ownership is exceptionally high in Switzerland (behind only the United States and Yemen). Despite being a well-armed society, the homicide rate is only 0.5 per 100,000 as of 2020, one of the lowest in the world. 

Despite reaching a 30-year high, inflation in Switzerland is still substantially lower than in the rest of the world, reaching a year-on-year level of 3.4% as of June 2022. The USA is 9.1%, and Eurozone is 8.6%. Switzerland has the 6th highest GDP per capita, and wages are extremely high. Switzerland is also one of the most expensive countries in the world to live in.


Related Content: The Many Residency By Investment Options In The Cayman Islands

Switzerland has a purely market-based health care system, a rarity among developed nations. Private health insurance is compulsory, with low-income individuals receiving government subsidies to help cover their insurance. Swiss expenditures on health care amount to about 12% of GDP, second only to the United States among OECD nations, the cost may be daunting, but they get a lot for their money. Swiss health care has the shortest waiting lists in Europe, and the quality of care is exceptionally high.


Bern, Switzerland

Bern, Switzerland


There are several benefits to Swiss residency. As a Swiss resident, you would have visa-free travel throughout the Schengen area. You can expect to earn an excellent wage in Switzerland, and Swiss residents enjoy a very high standard of living. Crime rates are extremely low and living in Switzerland, you can enjoy the best medical treatment in the world, and the public transit system is second to none.

Switzerland is among the most beautiful countries in the world. You will routinely be greeted by views of gorgeous villages, awe-inspiring mountains, and scenic lakes. If you ever get bored of all that natural beauty and feel the urge to travel, France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, and The Netherlands are all practically next door. You can hop on a train and be in Paris in about five hours.

Switzerland routinely tops the rankings of the world’s freest countries to live. Their highly stable currency, high levels of economic freedom, solid legal system and tradition of property rights, and freedom of exchange make this country a great place to live and do business.


Related content: The Basics Of How To Get A Second Passport Or A Second Residency.



Foreign individuals interested in living and/or working in Switzerland must acquire a residence permit. There are three types of residence permits. Short-term, annual, and permanent.

Various types of Swiss residency permits include the following categories:

  • B - work and residence
  • C - permanent
  • Ci - work
  • G - commuter
  • L - short stay
  • F - temporary
  • N - asylum
  • S - provisional

L short stay permit

This work permit is for people planning to stay in Switzerland for less than 2 years or depending on a contract for employment cases. In addition to being used for employment, individuals pursuing vocational training can apply for this permit.


B work and residence permit

The B permit allows third-state nationals to live in Switzerland for one year. It is conditioned on having employment tied to your employer, and permit holders must live in the canton where the permit was granted. The B permit is valid for 5 years but can be renewed, assuming you still have employment. Only a limited number of B visas are given yearly under the quota system.


C permanent residence permit

After living in Switzerland for ten years (or five if you are a Canadian or American), you can apply for a permanent residence permit. This allows you to live in Switzerland indefinitely. To qualify, you must demonstrate that you have integrated into Swiss society, that you can speak and write in the official language of your canton, that you are not a threat to national or public security, that you have economic means, and that you do not have a criminal record.

Note that there are substantially different standards for residency and work permits for members of the Eurozone.


Swiss francs, currency in Switzerland

Swiss francs, currency in Switzerland


Switzerland has a global taxation system, so if you are considered a tax resident of Switzerland, you must pay tax to the Swiss authorities on any income you may have worldwide. If you are not a tax resident, then you only owe tax on any income sourced from within Switzerland. You are deemed a tax resident of Switzerland if you are employed there for more than a month or if you reside in Switzerland for three months without employment.


Related content: Keeping Your Assets Safe With A Swiss Foundation


The federal income tax in Switzerland has a top overall rate of 11.5%. Aside from the federal income tax, you must also pay cantonal tax on your income, so the exact percentage of your income taken as tax by all levels of government can vary considerably. The maximum combined cantonal and municipal tax rate is 36%.


Landwasser Viaduct with train, Filisur, Switzerland

Landwasser Viaduct with train, Filisur, Switzerland


Life in Switzerland is highly desirable. Unfortunately, it is not that easy to move there permanently. Essentially you need to have a job or family there that you can live with, and the regulations concerning who can immigrate are pretty strict. On the other hand, if you qualify, it is a great expat destination, with plenty of economic opportunities to take advantage of and an excellent quality of life to enjoy.


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I help my clients to move offshore for freedom, privacy and autonomy by focusing on the immigration, legal, and tax issues that you will face when becoming an expat. If you would like to work one-on-one with me on getting out of your home country (or setting up a Plan-B location), then read this important letter and fill in an application form to become a Private Client. My fees are not cheap; however, I can assure you that when you work with a professional firm like ours, the results will be worth it.



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Mikkel Thorup

Written by Mikkel Thorup

Mikkel Thorup is the world’s most sought-after expat consultant. He focuses on helping high-net-worth private clients to legally mitigate tax liabilities, obtain a second residency and citizenship, and assemble a portfolio of foreign investments including international real estate, timber plantations, agricultural land and other hard-money tangible assets. Mikkel is the Founder and CEO at Expat Money®, a private consulting firm started in 2017. He hosts the popular weekly podcast, the Expat Money Show, and wrote the definitive #1-Best Selling book Expat Secrets - How To Pay Zero Taxes, Live Overseas And Make Giant Piles Of Money, and his second book: Expats Guide On Moving To Mexico.

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