Guidance

Living in Switzerland

Official information British people moving to and living in Switzerland need to know, including residency, healthcare and driving.

Brexit: what you need to know

There will be no change to the rights and status of UK nationals living in Switzerland while the UK remains in the EU.

While the government continues to negotiate Brexit, you should:

Before you go

See our travel advice for Switzerland and sign up for up-to-date information on local laws and customs, safety and emergencies.

See moving or retiring abroad.

Visas and residency

See entry requirements for Switzerland in our travel advice.

You must register at your local commune (town hall) within 14 days of arriving. See notification of departure and registration.

If you’re employed for more than 3 months, you’ll need to apply for a residence permit with your local cantonal authority.

Healthcare

See our travel advice for Switzerland.

The NHS has information about healthcare for British people living in and visiting Switzerland.

You need a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to get emergency medical treatment during temporary stays in EEA countries. You also need comprehensive travel insurance to cover anything not covered by your EHIC.

You have 3 months to take out compulsory insurance with a Swiss health insurance company – see health insurance for foreigners in Switzerland and social insurance for foreign nationals.

It’s compulsory to have Old-age and Survivors’ Insurance and Disability Insurance.

You can find English-speaking doctors in Switzerland. You should also check your prescriptions are legal in Switzerland.

S1 form – healthcare paid for by the UK

You may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK if you live in Switzerland and get an exportable UK pension, contribution-based Employment Support Allowance or another exportable benefit.

You need to apply for a S1 form – contact the Department for Work and Pensions’ International Pension Centre. When you get your S1 form, register it with your local state hospital or health facility before you register with your local state hospital doctor and get a medical card.

Working in Switzerland

See working in another EU country.

Some jobs may require a UK criminal records check (known as a DBS check).

If you work 8 hours or more a week, you’re covered against occupational and non-occupational accidents by your employer.

Tax

See tax if you leave the UK to live abroad and tax on your UK income if you live abroad.

Switzerland and the UK have a double taxation convention to prevent income being taxed in both countries.

We strongly recommend you get professional advice on paying tax in Switzerland, and see the Swiss government’s detailed information on paying tax.

You may be able to pay National Insurance while abroad in order to protect your State Pension and entitlement to other benefits and allowances.

Pensions

See State Pension if you retire abroad and new State Pension.

If you’ve worked in Switzerland, see how the retirement provision system works and managing my retirement provision.

If you haven’t worked in Switzerland, you should claim your UK state pension by contacting the International Pension Centre.

If you’ve worked in several EU countries, see state pensions abroad.

Life certificates for UK state pensions

If you get a ‘life certificate’ from the UK Pension Service, you need to respond as soon as possible – your payments may be suspended if you don’t.

Benefits

See claiming benefits if you live, move or travel abroad.

Find out which UK benefits you might be able to get while you’re abroad and how to claim them.

Many income-related benefits such as Pension Credit and Housing Benefit can’t be paid if you’re abroad for more than 4 weeks.

You may be eligible to claim some Swiss social security benefits – see Swiss social security benefits and Swiss social insurances.

Driving in Switzerland

See driving abroad and road travel in Switzerland.

See taking a vehicle out of the UK.

You can use your vehicle in Switzerland for a maximum of 1 year without declaring it to Customs – see entering Switzerland with a motor vehicle.

You have 12 months to swap your UK licence for a Swiss one – you can do this at your local cantonal authority. When driving, you should always have your:

  • driving licence
  • car papers
  • insurance paper
  • MOT/Control technique certificate
  • passport or ID and those of your passengers

Voting

British citizens living abroad can vote in some UK elections – you’ll need to register as an overseas voter.

Although foreign nationals can’t vote in Switzerland at federal level, several cantons and communes give foreign nationals voting rights – see voting rights of foreign nationals in Switzerland.

Births

See register a birth abroad.

Deaths

See what to do after someone dies.

See also:

Getting married

See getting married abroad.

Renewing passports

See overseas British passports applications and get an emergency travel document (sometimes called an emergency passport).

Pets

See travelling with pets.

Emergencies

As well as the European emergency number 112, Switzerland also uses:

  • 117 – police
  • 118 – fire
  • 144 – ambulance
  • 1414 – Swiss air-rescue

If you need urgent help, contact the British Embassy Berne.

Accommodation and buying property

See buying a property abroad.

Other useful information

Returning to the UK

To move your pension to the UK, contact the International Pension Centre.

See tax if you return to the UK.

See bringing your pet to the UK.

Disclaimer

Please note that this information is provided as a guide only. Definitive information should be obtained from the Swiss authorities. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information.

Published 26 June 2013
Last updated 13 April 2018 + show all updates
  1. Complete revision of guidance to ensure it's up to date and accurate.
  2. Life certificates for UK state pensions updated
  3. First published.