Guidance

Living in Switzerland

Official information for UK nationals moving to or living in Switzerland, including guidance on Brexit, residency, passports and driving.

Brexit: what you should do

Stay up to date

The UK is leaving the EU. This page tells you how to prepare for Brexit and will be updated if anything changes. You should:

Attend a citizen outreach meeting

The British Embassy regularly holds events across Switzerland for UK nationals. Attend one of our citizen outreach meetings to keep up to date on working and living in Switzerland after Brexit.

You can also:

The UK-Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement

The UK has reached an agreement with Switzerland, which protects the rights of UK nationals in Switzerland, whether or not the UK reaches a deal with the EU.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the agreement will apply from the day the UK leaves the EU.

If the UK leaves the EU with a deal, the agreement will protect UK nationals resident in Switzerland from the end of the implementation period.

The agreement protects UK nationals’ right to stay and to work, including frontier workers, family reunification and access to healthcare. It also protects social security benefits, access to an uprated state pension and export benefits, and the continued recognition of professional qualifications.

For more information read the UK-Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement and our Explainer.

Visas and residency

Check the entry requirements for Switzerland.

If you move to Switzerland, you must register at your local office of resident services (Einwohnerdienste or Centre du contrôle des habitants) within 14 days of arriving. Read the guidance by the Swiss government on notification of departure and registration.

If you stay and are employed for more than three months, you will need to apply for a residence permit with your local cantonal authority (Einwohnerdienste or Centre du contrôle des habitants).

Read our guidance on moving or retiring abroad.

Visas and residency after Brexit

The UK-Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement will protect UK nationals resident in Switzerland after Brexit. If you are in scope of the Agreement, you will not need to take any special action to benefit from it.

You should reapply for a new permit before your existing one expires, as usual. This applies whether you hold a short or long stay permit, or a frontier worker permit.

If there’s no deal, UK nationals would not need a visa to enter Switzerland for short stays of up to 90 days in a 180 day period.

If there is a deal, current travel rules between the UK and Switzerland will apply until the end of the implementation period.

The UK and Switzerland have reached a transitional migration agreement, which will apply if there’s no deal. The agreement would allow UK workers to access the Swiss labour market and Swiss workers to access the UK labour market until December 2020. If there’s no deal, UK workers would be able to move to Switzerland in similar numbers as now until the end of 2020. The Swiss government has already confirmed that 3,500 work permits will be made available to UK nationals in 2019. The Swiss government announcement has more information on this.

There will be no restrictions for those coming to Switzerland to work for less than 4 months.

International permits (cartes de légitimation)

International permits (cartes de légitimation) will not be affected by Brexit. Special provisions will continue to apply to international permit holders wishing to retire and remain in Switzerland.

UK nationals with an international permit are not in the scope of the UK-Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement.

Passports and travel

You can apply for or renew your British passport from Switzerland.

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

Passports and travel after Brexit

After Brexit, the rules on travel will change. Check your passport is valid for travel before you book your trip. You’ll need to renew your passport before travelling if you do not have enough time left on your passport.

If there’s no deal, you must have at least 6 months left on an adult or child passport to travel to most countries in Europe (not including Ireland). If you renewed your current passport before the previous one expired, extra months may have been added to its expiry date. Any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count towards the 6 months needed.

If there’s no deal, UK nationals will not need visas for short stays elsewhere in the EU, including Switzerland. You will be able to stay up to 90 days in another EU, EEA or EFTA country, within a 180 day period. You must retain evidence of travel (for example, train and plane tickets), in case these are requested by national authorities. If you hold a residence permit from an EU, EEA or EFTA country, you will be able to transit through other EU, EEA or EFTA countries to reach your country of residence.

If there is a deal, nothing will change until the end of 2020. During this time you can continue to travel freely in the Schengen area with your UK passport. What happens after 2020 will form the next part of negotiations.

Driving in Switzerland

If you are resident in Switzerland you have 12 months to swap your UK licence for a Swiss one. You can do this at your local cantonal authority. Your UK licence will be accepted in Switzerland for up to 12 months. This will not be affected by the UK leaving the EU.

For information on driving in Switzerland, read the guidance on:

When driving in Switzerland, you should always have your:

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

Bringing a UK-registered vehicle to Switzerland

Read our guidance on taking a vehicle out of the UK.

If you use your vehicle in Switzerland for more than one year, you need to declare it to customs. You can read the Swiss government’s guidance on entering Switzerland with a motor vehicle.

Driving after Brexit

If there’s a deal, driving licence rules will stay the same during the transition period. Read our guidance on driving in the EU after Brexit.

Healthcare

You must take out compulsory insurance with a Swiss health insurance company no later than 3 months after arriving or beginning to work in Switzerland. You can look at the Swiss government’s website for information on:

If you are living or working in Switzerland, you need to have old-age and survivors’ insurance and disability insurance.

State healthcare: S1

If you live in Switzerland and receive an exportable UK pension, contribution-based Employment Support Allowance or another exportable benefit, you may currently be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK. You will need to apply for a certificate of entitlement known as an S1 certificate.

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

If you are resident in Switzerland, you must not use your EHIC from the UK to access healthcare in Switzerland.

When you travel from Switzerland for a temporary stay in a European Economic Area (EEA) country, you can use an EHIC to access state-provided healthcare in that country. During that short stay:

Read more information about healthcare for UK nationals living in and visiting Switzerland.

If you are a student, read the NHS guidance on healthcare and studying abroad.

You can find an English-speaking doctor in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

Check if your prescriptions are legal in Switzerland.

Healthcare after Brexit

If there’s no deal, the UK-Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement protects the rights of those UK nationals resident in Switzerland on the day that the UK leaves the EU. Your access to healthcare will not change for UK nationals resident in Switzerland, including students and S1 holders.

Your EHIC may not be valid if there’s no deal. The UK has offered to maintain the EHIC scheme if there’s no deal, however this is reliant on Switzerland continuing to accept UK EHICs.

If there is a deal, there will be no changes to your access to healthcare until the end of the implementation period. After the implementation period, the UK-Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement will protect the rights of UK nationals who are resident in Switzerland at that time.

Read the guidance on healthcare for UK nationals in Switzerland and how it may change after Brexit.

Working in Switzerland

Read our guidance on working in the EU, EEA and Switzerland. You will need to register your residence for work purposes in Switzerland.

If you live abroad and require a police certificate from the UK, apply to the ACRO Criminal Record Office.

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

Working in Switzerland after Brexit

Read the guidance on providing services after Brexit if you’re planning to start a business, provide a service, or do a job in a regulated profession after Brexit.

If there is a deal, your right to work will stay the same until the end of the implementation period.

Money and tax

The UK has a double-taxation agreement with Switzerland to ensure people do not pay tax on the same income in both countries.

Read guidance about:

See the Swiss government’s detailed information on paying tax.

You should obtain professional advice on paying tax in Switzerland. Find an English-speaking lawyer in Switzerland.

National Insurance

Find out if you can pay National Insurance while abroad so that you can protect your state pension and entitlement to other benefits and allowances.

If you are employed or self-employed in the EU and you have a UK-issued A1/E101 form, you will remain subject to UK legislation until the end date on the form.

If there’s no deal and the end date on your form is after the day the UK leaves the EU, you should contact the relevant EU, EEA or Swiss authority. They will confirm whether you need to start paying social security contributions in that country after Brexit, as well as UK National Insurance contributions.

Find out more about social security contributions after a no-deal Brexit.

Money and tax after Brexit

If there’s no deal, it may become more expensive to use your UK bank card in Switzerland.

Read more about using a bank card, insurance or other financial service in the EU.

The UK leaving the EU will not change existing double taxation arrangements for UK nationals living in Switzerland. You should send your taxpayer questions about double taxation to the relevant tax authority.

Pensions

You will need to tell the UK government offices that deal with your benefits, pension and tax if you are moving or retiring abroad.

If you retire in Switzerland, you can claim:

For more information on your Swiss retirement provision, you can read the Swiss government’s guidance on:

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.

Pensions after Brexit

The UK government will continue to pay an annually uprated UK State Pension in Switzerland for UK nationals living in Switzerland by exit day, for as long as they remained covered by the UK-Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement.

Read our guidance on benefits and pensions if there’s no deal.

Benefits

You may still be able to claim some UK benefits like child and disability benefits if you live in Switzerland. You should:

Many income-related benefits such as pension credit and housing benefit cannot be paid to you if you’re abroad for more than four weeks.

You can request proof of the time you’ve worked in the UK from HMRC if you are asked for this.

Swiss benefits

You may be eligible to claim some Swiss social security benefits. To find out if you are entitled to Swiss benefits and how to claim, read the guidance on social security benefits and social insurances.

Benefits after Brexit

The UK government will continue to pay an uprated State Pension, child benefits, and disability benefits to eligible UK nationals living in Switzerland after the UK’s exit from the EU in any scenario. These rights are protected under the UK-Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement for those in scope.

You can also read further guidance on benefits and pensions if there’s no deal.

Voting

You may be able to vote in some UK elections. You can:

Although foreign nationals can’t vote in Switzerland at federal level, several cantons and communes give foreign nationals voting rights. You can find information on the voting rights of foreign nationals in Switzerland on the Swiss government website.

Births, deaths and getting married

If your child is born in Switzerland, you will need to register a birth abroad

If someone dies in Switzerland you can:

Find out about how to get married abroad

You may need:

Pets

For travel to EEA EFTA countries from the UK, pet owners must check the requirements of their destination country. Read the Swiss government guidance on travelling with pets.

If you’re travelling with your pet for the first time you’ll have to visit your vet to get a pet passport.

Read guidance on returning your cat, dog or ferret to the UK.

For moving pet horses and other equines read guidance on export horses and ponies: special rules.

Emergencies

You can dial the European emergency number 112 or you can dial in Switzerland:

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

If you’re the victim of crime, have been arrested, or are affected by a crisis abroad, contact the British Embassy Berne.

Accommodation and buying property

Read the guidance on buying a property abroad. If you already own a property, property rights are protected under the UK-Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement.

Returning to the UK

Tell the UK and Swiss authorities if you are returning to the UK permanently.

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

If you get healthcare in Switzerland through the S1 form, you must contact the Overseas Healthcare Team on +44 (0)191 218 1999 to make sure your S1 is cancelled at the right time.

Read the guidance on returning to the UK permanently which includes information on, amongst other things, tax, access to services and bringing family members.

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 3 September 2019 + show all updates
  1. Brexit update: Pensions section updated to include further details on State Pension uprating.
  2. EU Exit update: Latest information on passports, heatlhcare and return to UK
  3. We have updated the contact details you need to apply for an S1 form.
  4. EU Exit update: We included a summary of the citizens' rights agreement reached with Switzerland, and more information on the implications of EU exit on healthcare and residency.
  5. Updated information on passports: you must use the checker tool to see if your passport is still valid for your trip
  6. Information on the double-taxation agreement with Switzerland. The UK’s exit from the European Union will not change existing double taxation arrangements for UK nationals living in Switzerland.
  7. EU Exit update: updated information on access to healthcare
  8. EU exit update - updated information on pensions and driving
  9. EU Exit update: added information about the UK-Swiss Citizens Rights Agreement in the EU Exit section
  10. EU Exit update: Link added to Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement
  11. We have included links to our upcoming outreach events for UK nationals in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
  12. EU exit update: New information in residency and visa section on draft withdrawal agreement in principle between the UK and EU. Plus information on travelling with pets in Europe in pet section.
  13. Complete revision of guidance to ensure it's up to date and accurate.
  14. Life certificates for UK state pensions updated
  15. First published.