Guidance

Living in Switzerland

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

What you should do

Coronavirus

You should follow the advice of the Swiss Government and your local authority. You can also read our Switzerland travel advice for our latest guidance.

For information on getting a COVID-19 vaccine as a UK national in Switzerland see our coronavirus travel advice.

Stay up to date

You should:

The British Embassy regularly holds events across Switzerland as well as online (Facebook) for UK nationals.

You can also:

The UK-Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement

If you were legally resident in Switzerland before 1 January 2021, you are covered by the Agreement, and your rights will be protected for as long as you remain resident. You continue to have broadly the same entitlements to work, study and access public services and benefits.

For more information read:

Visas and residency

Check the entry requirements for Switzerland.

Residency

If you were legally resident in Switzerland before 1 January 2021, you can stay and your current residence permit remains valid.

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

Read the Swiss government’s FAQs for UK nationals.

Moving to Switzerland

You have to meet the terms of the Foreign Nationals and Integration Act. If you are planning to move to Switzerland you have to obtain a work permit and are subject to a quota for UK nationals.

Read the Swiss Embassy guidance on residency permits.

Within 14 days of arriving you must register at the local office of resident services in the municipality where you are staying (Einwohnerdienste or Centre du contrôle des habitants).

If you stay in Switzerland for more than 90 days, you will need to apply for a residence permit with your local cantonal authority in the municipality where you live (Einwohnerdienste or Centre du contrôle des habitants).

International permits (cartes de légitimation)

International permits (cartes de légitimation) are not affected by the UK leaving the EU. Special provisions 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 should carry your residence permit, as well as your valid passport when you travel. If you have applied but not yet received your card, carry your certificate of application.

If you have not yet applied for a residence permit, you should carry evidence that you are resident in Switzerland. This could include a tenancy agreement or a utility bill in your name, dating from 2020.

If you cannot show that you are resident in Switzerland, you may be asked additional questions at the border to enter the Schengen area, and your passport may be stamped on entry and exit. This will not affect your rights in Switzerland.

Passports

Check your passport is valid for travel before you book your trip. You can apply for or renew your British passport from Switzerland.

You must have at least 6 months left on an adult or child passport to travel to most countries in Europe (not including Ireland). This requirement does not apply if you are in scope of the Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement.

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.

Renew your passport before booking your travel if you do not have enough time left on your passport.

As a non-EEA national, different border checks will apply when travelling to other EU or Schengen area countries. You may have to use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queueing. You may also need to show a return or onward ticket.

Entry requirements

You can travel to other Schengen area countries for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa for purposes such as tourism.

To stay longer than 90 days in any 180-day period, to work or study, or for business travel, you must meet the entry requirements set out by the country you are travelling to. This could mean applying for a visa or work permit.

Periods of time authorised by a visa or permit will not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit.

Different rules will apply to EU countries that are not part of the Schengen area. Check each country’s travel advice page for information on entry requirements.

Travel to the UK and Ireland has not changed.

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.

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

Driving in the UK with a Swiss licence

You can use your Swiss licence in the UK for short visits, or exchange it for a UK licence without taking a test.

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.

Healthcare

The UK-Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement protects the rights of UK nationals resident in Switzerland before 1 January 2021, for as long as they remain in scope. Your access to healthcare in Switzerland will not change, as long as you are covered by the agreement.

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.

Read our guidance on healthcare in Switzerland and make sure you’re correctly registered for your circumstances.

State healthcare: S1

You may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK if you live in Switzerland and you:

  • are receiving a UK State Pension
  • are receiving some other ‘exportable benefits’
  • are a frontier worker who lives in Switzerland and commutes to work in the UK
  • have been sent to Switzerland temporarily by your UK employer

Read our guidance on using an S1 form in Switzerland to ensure you are correctly registered for healthcare.

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC)

If you are resident in Switzerland, you must not use your UK-issued EHIC or GHIC for healthcare in Switzerland, unless you are a student or a detached (posted) worker. Current EHICs will remain valid until the expiry date on the card.

If you are living in Switzerland, you may be eligible for a new UK-issued EHIC if you’re:

  • a UK student in Switzerland
  • a UK State Pensioner with a registered S1
  • a frontier worker with a registered S1

The card you receive will depend on when you moved to Switzerland.

Apply now for a new UK EHIC or GHIC.

An EHIC or GHIC is not a replacement for comprehensive travel insurance.

For more information read our guidance on healthcare when travelling in Europe and advice on foreign travel insurance.

You should also read guidance on:

Working in Switzerland

If you were legally resident in Switzerland before 1 January 2021, you have the right to work, as long as you remain legally resident.

Read the Department for International Trade’s guidance on:

and sign up for their updates.

If you are planning to move to Switzerland you have to obtain a work permit and are subject to a quota for UK nationals. Read the Swiss Embassy guidance on residency permits.

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

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

Frontier workers

If you live in Switzerland and were regularly commuting to work in another EU or EFTA country before 1 January 2021, you may need a permit to show that you are a frontier worker.

If you live in the UK or another EU or EFTA country and commute to work in Switzerland you need a permit. Read the Swiss government’s guidance on the Swiss cross-border commuter permit (Permit G).

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. Ask the relevant tax authority your questions about double taxation relief.

Existing double taxation arrangements for UK nationals living in Switzerland have not changed.

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 need to pay National Insurance in the UK or social security contributions in Switzerland.

Pensions

Read our guidance on entitlement to UK benefits and pensions while you are living in Switzerland.

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.

Benefits

Read our guidance on entitlement to UK benefits and pensions while you are living in Switzerland.

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

Check which UK benefits you can claim while abroad and how to claim them.

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.

Voting

Although foreign nationals cannot vote in Switzerland at federal level, several cantons and communes give foreign nationals voting rights. Read the Swiss government guidance on voting rights of foreign nationals.

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

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.

A GB-issued EU pet passport is not valid for travel to the EU or Northern Ireland. You should speak to your vet before you travel to get the necessary pet travel documents and ensure you’re compliant with the EU Pet Travel Regulations.

Read guidance on:

Check the rules of the country you’re travelling to for any additional restrictions or requirements before you travel.

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, Commonwealth & Development Office will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information.

Published 26 June 2013
Last updated 19 April 2021 + show all updates
  1. Healthcare section updated including guidance on the S1 form and applying for EHIC and GHIC cards; working in Switzerland section updated with links to Department for International Trade (DIT) guidance on working or providing services and DIT guidance on recognition of professional qualifications.

  2. Coronavirus section updated with a link to guidance on vaccines.

  3. Updated as the transition period ends with new information on pet travel and moving to Switzerland.

  4. Passports and travel section updated on carrying proof of residence when travelling.

  5. Healthcare section updated on how to apply for a new UK EHIC as a student or S1 holder. Working section updated with information on frontier workers.

  6. Passports and travel section updated to include information on passport validity and entry requirements when travelling to other European countries from January 2021

  7. Brexit update: includes further details on passport validity if the UK leaves the EU with a deal.

  8. Brexit update: Pensions section updated to include further details on State Pension uprating.

  9. EU Exit update: Latest information on passports, heatlhcare and return to UK

  10. We have updated the contact details you need to apply for an S1 form.

  11. 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.

  12. Updated information on passports: you must use the checker tool to see if your passport is still valid for your trip

  13. 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.

  14. EU Exit update: updated information on access to healthcare

  15. EU exit update - updated information on pensions and driving

  16. EU Exit update: added information about the UK-Swiss Citizens Rights Agreement in the EU Exit section

  17. EU Exit update: Link added to Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement

  18. We have included links to our upcoming outreach events for UK nationals in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

  19. 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.

  20. Complete revision of guidance to ensure it's up to date and accurate.

  21. Life certificates for UK state pensions updated

  22. First published.